Fri, May 24, 2013

: Fast and Furious 6

This is a strange film. My expectations were too high after the surprisingly decent (and first good film in the series) previous entry, but this one takes all the good stuff from that one and ruins it.

The basic plot seems fine — Dwayne Johnson’s policeman character offers the group full pardons to help catch a bad guy — except that the bad guy’s so over-the-top, a super-criminal James Bond type billionaire, that it’s absurd to think a crew of street racers could take him down. The whole car aspect is pretty much forgotten by this point, meaning the franchise has gone a billion miles from the original concept. (These are closer to the Ocean’s movies by now, elaborate cons and capers, and this one is more Bond.)

But the script can’t just stop there; instead we’ve got to convolute things with we-thought-she-was-dead Letty being part of the bad guy’s crew. And get this: she has amnesia! How’s that for a twist! Yeah, you didn’t see that coming. So original.

This storyline allows our heroes a chance to look soulful and act dramatic — and fail hilariously (believe it or not, Vin Diesel’s the best of the bunch, which should tell you something) — as well as include a bunch of action set pieces that are each more absurd than the previous one.

Nothing makes any sense and the ridiculous finale (which isn’t really the finale as the film just keeps on going and going and going) involves the crew trying to stop an airplane from taking off. They spend 20 minutes chasing it on what has to the be the world’s longest runway.

The whole thing is tiresome and cheesy, ludicrous to the extreme. There a few fun moments, some of the action is impressive from a “how-did-they-do-that” perspective, and a few oneliners are funny, but overall this just a loosely strung-together series of stunts with no rhyme or reason. I suppose if you’re a hardcore fan of the series you’ll find it fun, but if you thought other entries were poor, don’t get your hopes up for this one. A severe disappointment, so bad I doubt I’ll bother with Fast 7, which this film blatantly sets up.

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Fri, May 17, 2013

: Star Trek: Into Darkness

This is a very hard movie to write about. On the one hand, I enjoyed it. It’s great going back into the Star Trek universe and I love the casting of the rebooted series. There are also many good and fun scenes.

But the plot… oh dear. I both loved and hated it! I hated it because it’s a retread. It reminded me a lot of back during the writer’s strike when the second version of Mission: Impossible was on TV and they just reused old scripts because they couldn’t hire writers for new ones. The new scripts were modernized for the time period, tech, and new characters, but the whole thing felt like déjà vu.

I can’t say more than without spoiling it, but it’s basically the same plot as a previous Star Trek film… except a little different. And some of those differences are really pretty cool and clever and made me sort of love it.

In the end, it’s a mixed bag. Cool in some ways, great action and special effects, and a lot of fun… but sadly not very original. And these days, with all the remakes Hollywood is doing, can’t they even do an original Star Trek movie?

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Fri, May 03, 2013

: Ironman 3

Surprisingly decent sequel. I wasn’t impressed with the second movie, but I liked this one.

The plot is odd — a strange terrorist is setting off random explosions all over the world that turn out to be caused by human bombs — and Tony Stark pits himself against the man. Once he’s a target, Tony has his house blown up and a threat to Pepper Potts, so he retaliates. It’s all very silly and the “science” is ridiculous (and never really explained: I never did understand how human bodies that can heat up to 3000 degrees Celsius somehow never the burn the clothes off the actors). Tony’s suits have new gadgets and have been improved so that he can control each suit part (which all fly on their own) with his thoughts… yeah, right.

But the plots in this kind of action fare are always absurd; what makes this work is the human element, and here the movie shines. Tony’s his snarky self, and the supporting cast is terrific (particularly Ben Kingsley in a fabulous over-the-top role).

But my favorite moment and what made the movie for me was Tony’s interaction with a little boy he meets. The two are great foils, very similar in personality despite a 40-year age difference. The dialog was superb, with Tony all smarmy and the boy sneaky. A perfect example is one scene where Tony’s going to drive off and leave the boy and the boy gets all teary-eyed and sympathetic. Tony glares at him and says, “You’re trying to guilt trip me.” The boy shivers and hugs himself and says, “I’m cold,” in a perfect lost-orphan way. Tony drives off anyway and the boy, after a heartbeat, shrugs and says, “It was worth a try.”

There’s tons of humor and the action’s decent (though pretty silly). The climax is over-the-top, as you’d expect (the bad guy dies at least three times), but there’s enough other stuff going on that it’s at least interesting.

Overall, it’s a big-budget action sequel, but in those terms, it’s not bad, and much better than I expected.

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