Furious 7 – Part Deux Vroom Vroom

Furious 7 is currently playing in theaters.

Furious 7

 

Furious 7 (2015) – Rated PG-13

Dominic Torretto and his crew thought they left the criminal mercenary life behind. They defeated an international terrorist named Owen Shaw and went their seperate ways. But now, Shaw’s brother, Deckard Shaw is out killing the crew one by one for revenge. Worse, a Somalian terrorist called Jakarde, and a shady government official called “Mr. Nobody” are both competing to steal a computer terrorism program called God’s Eye, that can turn any technological device into a weapon. Torretto must reconvene with his team to stop Shaw and retrieve the God’s Eye program while caught in a power struggle between terrorist and the United States government.”

Well I spent yesterday detailing how atrocious the script for Furious 7 was. The thing is there’s another movie here. The other Furious 7 is all about the casting and that film is knocked out of the park.

All of the previous crew return in Furious 7 although Sung Kang as Han only appears in the scene repeated from the end of Fast & Furious 6. The multi-ethnic portion is a good sell for the international market. Obviously there is a lot of sentiment for Paul Walker’s final performance. Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson are given star roles but there are plenty of good moments for Tej (Ludacris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), and Mia (Jordana Brewster).

Jason Statham is a great tough guy and it’s a wonderful coup that Furious 7 was able to convince him to play a villain. While not a great actor, he oozes danger. Unfortunately, they go overboard with this and make him unstoppable. He is a former special forces assassin with obvious psychic abilities.

Kurt Russell is brought out of retirement to play the enigmatic Mr. Nobody. I honestly thought that the next time I would see him would be in The Expendables 4 (or 5). He is suitably cool and appeals to older audiences. They also give him a kick-butt action sequence.

In smaller henchmen roles, they have wisely cast MMA champion Ronda Rousey and martial arts master Tony Jaa. Naturally, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Kara (Ronda Rousey) have a rousing good fight that is a highlight of the film. Kiet (Tony Jaa) has several scenes but his inside the bus fight with Brian (Paul Walker) is one of the other highlights.

Unfortunately, while director James Wan has a fantastic stunt team on his hands, he still resorts to the now standard shaky cam and fast editing of action sequences. The sequences aren’t ruined but most of them aren’t allowed proper room to breathe. Wan often seems more interested in various camera tricks than in the mutlimillion dollar stunts.

While the cast is excellent, the movie is not. It is quite watchable however. If all you want is to see some good fights, pretty people, and fast cars then Furious 7 will take care of you. It is also a loving homage to Paul Walker, that is one part they did get right.

Furious 7 – Brain Dead or Brain Deader?

Furious 7 is currently playing in theaters.

Furious 7

 

Furious 7 (2015) – Rated PG-13

Dominic Torretto and his crew thought they left the criminal mercenary life behind. They defeated an international terrorist named Owen Shaw and went their seperate ways. But now, Shaw’s brother, Deckard Shaw is out killing the crew one by one for revenge. Worse, a Somalian terrorist called Jakarde, and a shady government official called “Mr. Nobody” are both competing to steal a computer terrorism program called God’s Eye, that can turn any technological device into a weapon. Torretto must reconvene with his team to stop Shaw and retrieve the God’s Eye program while caught in a power struggle between terrorist and the United States government.

I want to talk about two movies. Back in 2013, I spent some time ragging on the aggressively stupid Fast & Furious 6. I would not have thought it possible for the franchise to get stupider but I was so wrong. Furious 7 easily has the dumbest, most poorly plotted, cliched excuse for a script since the last Transformers fiasco.

Although I am certain that much of this is by committee, blame must be laid at the feet of scribe Chris Morgan. He has written the script for five of the Fast & Furious movies and, if he was trying before, he certainly isn’t now.

I congratulate Morgan on coming up with the single most irrelevant MacGuffin in the history of cinema. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and the F&F gang join a not-so-clandestine organization to recover an item that would tell them where Deckard Shaw is. The thing is that the group is unable to go ANYWHERE without Deckard Shaw being there.

Seriously, I mean ANYWHERE. They literally parachute onto an obscure highway in Azerbaijan and *SURPRISE* Deckard Shaw shows up on that highway. They crash a party in Abu Dhabi and *SURPRISE* who steps off the elevator but Deckard Shaw. Morgan doesn’t even bother with a reason why he would be there. They jaunt off to Los Angeles and, well, you get the picture.

Deckard is also quite psychic in several other scenes. When he confronts Hobbs, he says “like I said…” and then proceeds with information that he never actually said or even hinted at. Deckard is able to, in the span of 36 hours per a news report, attack Hobbs, steal information about the crew, jet off to Tokyo, track down and kill Han, and mail a package containing a ‘smart’ bomb back to Toretto’s house. He also has some mystical knowledge that Toretto is right by the bomb, even though Deckard is in Tokyo.

I say smart bomb because, while it entirely destroys Toretto’s house, it does absolutely no damage to the house next door, even the windows. Moving on from the plotting, the dialogue is just dreadful. I would say that it’s a throwback to 80s action cinema but if so, it’s to bad 80s action cinema. The one-liners fall with dull thuds and there are no clever retorts.

You just earned yourself a dance with the devil, boy.”

“Did you bring the cavalry?” – “Woman, I am the cavalry” (although he actually says calvary)

“The thing about street fights… the street always wins.”

“Would you believe I knocked him out with my charm?” – “You’re not that charming, b*tch.

As per the norm, Furious 7 has no idea of what a hacker is or does. Unfortunately for a 2015 movie, Furious also has no idea how the internet works or for that matter cell phone service, towers in particular. Honestly, the ignorance on display here is embarrassing. Talk about setting the bar low.

More tomorrow – I have to go wipe the froth from my lips.

Guardians of the Galaxy Go Into the Storm

I was lucky enough to catch Guardians of the Galaxy and Into the Storm in the theaters recently. Here are a few thoughts:

Guardians of the Galaxy

 

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Rated PG-13

Light years from Earth, 26 years after being abducted, Peter Quill finds himself the prime target of a manhunt after discovering an orb wanted by Ronan the Accuser.

Yes, this is really as fun as the buzz. No, this is not the best comic book movie this year (Captain America: Winter Soldier holds that distinction). It is certainly far better than The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I still marvel that we got four comic blockbusters this year that would have blown my mind in childhood.

Guardians of the Galaxy is not only fun but doesn’t take itself too seriously. The original Marvel characters are not very well-known, even among comic readers. This allows writer/director James Gunn to have a bit more leeway and a lot of fun with the concept. As with his much smaller scale Super, there are a lot of very funny bits.

He throws a lot of Marvel’s non-Earthbound characters into the mix. The Guardians are Peter Quill/Starlord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket, and Groot. Ronan the Accuser and Nebula are the villains. Thanos (Josh Brolin), Nova Prime (Glenn Close), Yondu (Michael Rooker), and The Collector (Benicio del Toro) also put in appearances. The end credits sequence features another Marvel character that may have you yelling “Noooo!” at the screen.

Into the Storm

 

Into the StormĀ (2014) – Rated PG-13

Storm trackers, thrill-seekers, and everyday townspeople document an unprecedented onslaught of tornadoes touching down in the town of Silverton.

I expected Into the Storm to be pretty bad. It was being dumped at the tail end of summer in direct competition with two of the last big summer films. It starred no big names. Richard Armitage is in The Hobbit movies and Sarah Wayne Callies starred in The Walking Dead but neither are really household names.

The Twister special effects in the trailer looked good. I always enjoyed the disaster genre growing up, watching Airport 75, The Towering Inferno, and Airport 77 in theaters with my mom. Newer disaster movies like Twister, Dante’s Peak, Volcano, and Daylight I either took my girls to or they became staples at home.

Rain

My eldest wanted to go to Into the Storm so we actually braved a bit of a rainstorm to go see it. Into the Storm is a WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) production. Do you want to see a cast of cardboard characters threatened by some rather awesome tornado effects? If the answer is yes, then Into the Storm is for you.

 

 

The Iron Giant – Size Matters week

In honor of the wonderful Valentine’s/Birthday/Father’s Day/Christmas present my wife gave me, I am featuring giant things this week. Today it is a giant robot. The Iron Giant is currently available on instant Netflix.

The Iron Giant

WATCH: The Iron Giant (1999) – Rated PG for fantasy action and mild language.

“In rustic 1957 Maine, 9-year-old Hogarth finds a colossal but disoriented robot (of unknown origin), and the two form a strong bond of friendship. Before long, however, a government agent is on their trail — and he’s intent on destroying the automaton. This beautifully rendered parable based on British poet Ted Hughes’ feted short story features the voices of Jennifer Aniston, Vin Diesel, Harry Connick Jr. and Cloris Leachman.”

“A peaceful stay at home kind of day in a town very much like your own but then, suddenly, without warning ATOMIC HOLOCAUST!” – Beginning of a duck and cover school film.

“This is espresso – it’s like coffeezilla.”

Director Brad Bird made this film after an eight year run as executive consultant on The Simpsons (among other things). He does an absolutely marvelous job here. Later he would go on to both write and direct The Incredibles and Ratatouille.

Bird’s most important accomplishment here is capturing a wonderful sense of nostalgia. Even though it’s for a different era (late 50s instead of 40s), the closest comparison for this film would be A Christmas Story. We have a lovable beatnik (shades of Maynard G. Krebs), a duck and cover school film, worry about Sputnik. The best one is a brief glimpse of a horror movie on TV (The Brain from Planet Arous).

The details are simply marvelous. The cars aren’t generic – there are representations of an Oldsmobile 98, Chevy Pickup, Chevy Fleetmaster and more. There is a scene echoing and lit like the classic Bambi. The headline in Dean’s newspaper is a double joke – not only does it foreshadow an event but it also echoes a scene in The Lady & The Tramp.

Bird also has a wonderful time with directorial flourishes not normally found in animated features. There is a wonderful scene where our government agent gets back in his car. The camera then pans over to reveal half the car is missing. A scene of Kent Mansley explaining things and pointing his finger in the air cuts to a scene of Hogarth in the same pose.

This is one of those, admittedly few, animated features that appeal just as much to adults as they do to children. Don’t be put off by the fact that this an animated movie. Like most good science fiction, this is a parable.

Vin Diesel (with some manipulation) provides a wonderful voice for the robot. Harry Connick Jr. is the voice of our beatnik, Dean McCoppin. Jennifer Aniston is our harried waitress mother, Annie Hughes. Even with all the big names, it is Eli Marienthal who has to carry the film as Hogarth Hughes and he does a very good job.

I highly recommend this classic science fiction story. Netflix is nice enough to present it not only in its original aspect ratio but also in HD.

People Watch: The marvelous character actor M. Emmet Walsh voices Earl Stutz.