The Fast & Furious Spinoff Is One of the Best Decisions In Years

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham are getting their own movie together. It was announced by Universal Pictures that Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw, introduced in Fast Five and The Fast & The Furious 6, are teaming up. I loathed The Fate of the Furious. The movie gave me a headache. But these two were the two bright spots in such a meandering film. They seemed to be the only ones who were aware of what kind of movie they were in.

Instead of Vin Diesel being ultra serious in every scene or Tyrese Gibson being a walking stereotype, they seemed to get it. Hamming it up at almost every turn but always serious when the action started kicking in. A real throwback to some of the films of the 80’s and 90’s.  There was always this goofy charm whenever they were onscreen especially when interacting with one another. The Fast franchise has become an ultra serious movie where the main character grumbles his way through darkness. The two characters bring some levity to proceedings.

Rumor has it that Universal Pictures to write and direct the film. I hope that this is true because Shane Black is someone who keeps the whole “buddy action” film genre alive. Last year’s, The Nice Guys, was one of the best films of the year. If he could bring something like to the bombastic world of The Fast and the Furious then it would be all the better for it. I am hoping that this film works out as I’m a big fan of Dwayne Johnson and find Jason Statham enjoyable.


The Mummy (2017) Review

On one hand this is another reboot of The Mummy which started in the 1930’s. On the other hand it is the start of Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe. A franchise of interlinked monster characters that Universal has the rights to. It was originally supposed to start with 2014’s Dracula Untold but that movie was dead on arrival. So how does this start of a new franchise hold up? You have Tom Cruise who really doesn’t do franchises unless he has a substantial amount of control over. You have Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll. You have the titular mummy who this time is a woman.


Well the movie is okay. It suffers from the fact that it has many masters to serve and thus you never really get a complete film. It’s like if they started the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man 2.  The movie follows Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) who is some sort of mercenary. He and a team of other military personnel unearth the tomb of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) who was entombed because of her ambition for power led her down a path of evil. After an accident leads Nick crossing path with Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe), who is the head of a secret organization who is dedicated to stopping monsters in the world. it is up to Nick and others to stop Ahmanet from beginning another reign of destruction.

As stated earlier, the biggest conflict comes with the movie having to serve too many masters. As a Mummy movie, the film works for me. I like Ahmanet and her power set which helps differentiate her from the versions of Imhotep from previous Mummy movies. If the film had stuck to just that, it would have worked. The problem is when they are trying to really hammer home the shared universe thing. The film comes to something a halt whenever Dr. Jekyll appears and especially when Mr. Hyde finally makes his appearance. The whole product does not gel together to make a complete picture.

Dr-Jekyll-Mummy.jpgTom Cruise is serviceable in the role but the role is thin. The best thing about it is that his character is a complete jerk. There is something refreshing about seeing a movie where the main character is actually scared of the danger around them. Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll is pretty much doing his Jor-El thing. Sofia Boutella as Ahmanet is the standout as the physicality and presence that she carries is great and you never doubt her threat. The other characters played by Jake Johnson and Annabelle Wallis are okay. Wallis is probably the worst though as her character is just the designated love interest but the only problem is that she and Cruise have no chemistry.


The action and special effects are top notch. The destruction of London while being something of a repeat of the 1999 Mummy is still a sight to behold. The fight scene between Nick and Mr. Hyde is also interesting even if it takes away from the actual Mummy. The airplane crash scene that is featured in the trailer is quick but still stressful. Don’t see this film in 3D though as even though I saw it in 2D, it was still very dark. Couldn’t imagine seeing two particular set pieces with a dark lens over my eyes.

The Mummy isn’t a bad thing. It just crumbles under its own ambitions. The rush to create a franchise ultimately hurt the main starting film. The potential is there and if they had simply taken a few steps back and focus more on The Mummy herself and the plot, it would have been a much better film. It is still enjoyable and it is a movie that you can go into and watch. You probably won’t love the film but there are worse ways to spend your money. Plus the film is only a little over an hour and a half long. It’s an easy watch.

SCORE: 6.5/10

Defending The Incredible Hulk (2008) aka The Red Headed Step Child of the MCU

When it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as of this writing there has been fourteen films. The franchise came out the gate roaring with the very first Iron Man movie. But something the franchise seems to always brush aside unless absolutely necessary is the second film in the franchise. That would be The Incredible Hulk. Directed by Louis Letterier and starring Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk, the movie is very divisive. But I frankly love it and think it is one of the better MCU films. So it shouldn’t be treated so wishy washy.


The story is very familiar to anyone who knows anything about the Hulk. Bruce Banner is on the run as he is being hunted by very morally dubious General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. Banner worked with Ross on a project years ago that Banner believed was one thing but actually another. After testing it on himself, Banner became the Hulk and indirectly hurt Ross as well as Ross’ daughter, Betty who just happened to be involved with Banner. After a chain of events leads Ross learning Banner’s whereabouts, he enlists a special operative to help capture him. Enter: Emil Blonsky. An aged soldier who only knows how to fight and is uncomfortable with being older. This leads to Banner reuniting with Betty in an attempt to rid himself of the Hulk as Ross begins experimenting on Blonsky and turns him into another Hulk-like creature: The Abomination.


The main theme in the film is really different from most superhero films. Banner does NOT want to be a hero. He was just a simple scientist wanting to make the world a better place through science before tragedy struck. When we meet him, he is willingly isolated. He has a beautiful neighbor who is obviously interested in him but he willingly chooses not to reciprocate. All he has for companionship is a stray dog and an internet buddy named Mr. Blue. The only thing he dreams of is ridding himself of the Hulk. The struggle for Banner to accept that he cannot get rid of the Hulk and just embrace it is a running theme that carries through the movie. The first time he turns into the Hulk is to protect himself from thugs, the second is because Ross wants to bring it out him and by the final time, Banner willingly throws himself out of a helicopter to stop his opposite. By the final shot of the movie, it ends with him intentionally triggering a transformation.

1200.jpgThe supporting cast are standouts. William Hurt as Thunderbolt Ross is the standout. Ross is always a complicated character in the comics and this carries into the movie. We see him as a General that commands respect and for reason. We also see a fanatic who is obsessed to an unhealthy degree with Banner/Hulk. It is clear that he loves his daughter but it is also clear that he will let his obsessions override his more empathetic feelings. Tim Roth as Blonsky is also one of the few standout villains in the MCU. Blonsky is just an old soldier who can’t accept that his body is failing him. It is mentioned that with his record that he can be a high ranking officer but he turns it down just so he can be in the fight. This self loathing and seeing the power of the Hulk also drives him into obsession and experimenting on himself to achieve said power. Liv Tyler as Betty Ross is a bit more of a mixed bag. She’s never been the strongest actress but she is serviceable as Betty Ross. She is much more actively involved in the origin of the Hulk and helping Banner embrace the Hulk side of himself.


Louis Letterier is a solid director but you can tell that this film is plagued by behind the scenes drama. Edward Norton is notorious for being something of a control freak and difficult to work with. Though I do love Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, I still would have loved to see Norton return to the role. His Banner is soft and beaten down and Norton conveys that perfectly. When watching the blu-ray, there are many deleted scenes that give more character interactions. There is a particular one between Banner and Betty’s new boyfriend, therapist Doctor Samson. It is a relatively short scene so the only reason I can see it being cut is that it would be considered too “heady” for a summer blockbuster film. If this film was made after The Dark Knight, I think the scene would have been left in. There is also a longer scene between Ross and Blonsky that explains their frustration with the military complex focusing more on tech than people.

the-incredible-hulk-2008This film also has one of the best fight scenes in the MCU film. The climax is battle between the Hulk and Abomination in Harlem. It really is two brutes going at it and trashing the city while they’re at it. The standout bit is when Hulk crushes a car to form makeshift boxing gloves out of them to help even the odds between he and Abomination. This makes sense because Letterier is an action director so it would make sense that the action scenes are top notch. Especially when compared to the earlier Iron Man which were so choppy.

The Incredible Hulk is not a perfect film. There are some scenes with some odd editing which knocks the wind out from the scenes. There are also the earlier backstage issues that are kinda obvious. But does it deserve to be treated like it does in the MCU? No. There are many reasons why as the film was a minor success and the whole distribution rights to the Hulk are a mess. At first they tended to shy away from the film other than little references here and there. With the return of William Hurt as Ross in Captain America: Civil War, it seems that more things are being integrated. There are rumors that Liv Tyler will be returning as Betty Ross. But Marvel Studios should embrace this film more than it does. It is a far better film than Thor: The Dark World or Iron Man 2 which they proudly display.


The Fate of the Furious Review

Remember when these guys were just ghetto street racers who could barely rob a semi-truck? When exactly did they become The Avengers?

That being said, this is the eighth installment in The Fast and The Furious franchise. All of the crew who are alive (both in universe and reality) are back for this latest adventure. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) has betrayed his family and begun working for the elusive Cipher (Charlize Theron). So now the crew of Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Tej (Chris Bridges), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) must team up with former enemy, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to find and capture Dominic and his new cohort. What does Cipher want? What any generic bad guy from a cliche action movie wants, the nuclear codes. Will the team be able to stop her and her plans? What’s up with Dominic who only cares about family?


If that sounds like a lot, that’s exactly what it was. The film is seemingly two movies mashed into one and makes something of a mess. It is hard to get into the specifics about Dominic’s half of the plot as it is spoiler heavy. But let’s say that it is dark. It would seemingly be fine in any other movie. But it does not mesh well with the other half of the movie with the exploits of the other characters. That half is what you have come to expect from the more recent Fast and Furious movies. Machismo up to the max, corny jokes, and over the top and nonsensical action.


Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham save this movie. They seem to be the only ones who know what kind of movie they are in and play it to their strengths. There have always been rumblings about spinning off Hobbs into his own movie separate from the others. If they could add Statham to that mix, then that is a movie I would watch. There is a jailbreak sequence with the two that is one of the strongest set pieces in the film. Jason Statham also has a great action scene on an airplane that is something absurd but fun. Now why is Statham suddenly on the side of good while in the previous movie, he was a cold blooded murderer? That is another one of the film’s convoluted messes.


The other cast members do not fare so well. Tyrese Gibson as Roman is just buffoonish in this movie. Constantly yelling, making dumb jokes and doing frankly dumb things. Why anyone would take a Lamborghini to a mission in the Arctic other than to look “cool” is beside me. This is an actor that the director really needed to reign in. Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Nathalie Emmanuel are fine in their roles as the hackers but there is nothing really to them either. Kurt Russell and Scott Eastwood as Mr. Nobody and Little Nobody are just fine as the government types. I’m positive that they give Eastwood’s character an actual name but I could have cared less. Charlize Theron as Cipher is serviceable if generic as this terrorist/hacker. She plays the character with icy coolness that sometimes comes across as her just coasting. The biggest problem in the cast is Vin Diesel himself. Despite being the star, his character is just boring. He has not changed since the first movie and the whole grumbling/low talk/constant talk of family thing is running thin. The same goes for Letty and these two seem like relics who don’t really belong anymore.


F. Gary Gray is the director of this film but there’s really nothing about it that makes you think he left his mark on this franchise. Justin Lin who direct the third through sixth films of this series left a permanent stamp that ultimately can’t really be changed at this point. The action scenes are great but how much of that is up to Gray or just his second unit director. It really does feel like he could have chosen a better project to do instead of this one especially after Straight Outta Compton. But I’m sure the paycheck was nice and I can’t fault someone who wants a nice paycheck.


If you’re a fan of these movies, I’m sure nothing I’m saying will change your mind. This series is set in stone as to how it’s going to be. Continuity overload to previous films/talk about family/action scenes that make no sense, etc. I really find it increasingly hard to write these films off as “dumb fun” especially when it tries to play it both ways with some of the drama elements. If the series just shifted to Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham then I would be okay with it. But other than that, there are too many nonsensical elements that just take me out of the movie and I’m someone who can buy a super soldier fighting with a big green monster. The movie is fine but nothing to write home about.

SCORE: 6.5/10


Fifty Shades Darker Review

Ugh boy. What can I say? If you enjoy this series, then go see the movie and enjoy it. That’s wonderful and I am glad that you can find joy. That being said…this was one of the worst things I’ve seen in a while. I was equally bored and amused at the absurdity of what was going on in the screen. 

What’s the plot of this? There is no plot. Anastasia and Christian get back together after having broken up and resume their boring relationship. Sure things happen every now and then but the movie is full of meandering. There’s the reappearance of an old submissive, Anastasia’s boss is a creep, Christian’s BDSM “guru” appears, there is a random helicopter crash. These little things pop up but never really dominate the film. 

My biggest issue with these films is how sterile they are. Everything is cold and mechanical. The sex scenes are not titillating in the least. They always cut away and have some poppy song behind them to not be too graphic or realistic. It does not help when the two leads don’t seem the least bit interested in one another. Both actors are good actors and you get the feeling they regret signing up for these films. 

The only good thing I can say is that there is money put into this film. So it is shot well as it would have to be since every room is brightly lit. Also there is a cliffhanger that is so reminiscent of the ending to The Matrix Reloaded that just made me cringe. This is not a good film and you can’t help but feel that everyone involved deserves better. 

Score: 4/10

The Fate of the Furious Trailer Reaction

God that’s a really dumb title.

First and foremost…when did these motherfuckers become The Avengers? Remember when this series first started and they were just street racers? That seems like it was a completely different franchise at this point. But here we are. 

These movies are what they are now. A slick look, well choreographed set pieces, one dimensional characters who speak in bumper sticker slogans, the constant use of the word “family”. But it looks like after the events of the previous film that the characters now officially work for Kurt Russell’s mysterious government agent to take down Charlize Theron’s character. Oh and Vin Diesel’s character Dom looks to have switched sides.

Let’s be honest we know he hasn’t turned. It’s probably part of some convoluted plan to expose her. Why else would the team seemingly be working with Jason Statham’s character who killed one of their team already? 

This series is ridiculous but every entry always manages to draw me in with something. This time it is director F. Gary Gray and Charlize Theron. A great director and one of the best actors currently working. Oh and apparently Helen Mirren will be in the movie in some capacity. I can’t promise I’ll see the movie in theaters as I more than likely won’t. But I will check out.

How does this series really differentiate itself from Vin Diesel’s other action series, xXx?