Cast your mind back to the release of 2 Fast 2 Furious, a film that was derided from nearly all corners, and then look at this week’s release of Fast & Furious 6. It took a decade, but Universal’s car-racing franchise has evolved into “event” status. Whether you like the films or not, there’s no arguing that under the stewardship of Justin Lin, who took over as director with the third movie, this series of films has exploded as a fan favorite. Lin knows how to manage action, and he’s had a long-term plan to consistently up the ante on that front.
Much more importantly, Lin realized that consistent characters are what bring people back to the films. He talked Vin Diesel back into the fold and then developed a suite of characters to fill out four individual films that ultimately work as one interlocked narrative. It’s an action-movie soap opera, sure, but one featuring precisely the sort of reliance on character that very few other action series get right.
The sixth film pushes outward in every direction: there are more characters and amped-up drama, and the action setpieces are more improbable and ridiculous than ever. Fast & Furious 6 won’t ever be held up as a major moral statement, but there’s a lot to be said for the series’ general tendency to trumpet values in friendship and family. There’s a sense of values here that could also be present in, say, the Die Hard movies, if the last couple McClane sequels weren’t such botch jobs.
With Fast & Furious 6 in theaters now, we’re curious to know how you feel about the film. Does the action work, and do the interlinked stories and characters provide enough meat to flesh out all the time between setpieces? Let us know in the comments below, where spoilers are allowed and encouraged. Read More »
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It’s in theaters now, and all the secrets are out in the open. Star Trek Into Darkness, the second Trek film from J.J. Abrams, has been locked (mostly) in the producer/director’s “mystery box” for over a year. For hardcore fans, at least, the secrecy around the precise nature of the character played by Benedict Cumberbatch has been a big part of the marketing allure, but the energy Abrams and his cast brought to their first outing on the Enterprise has been enough to make a huge audience curious about their encore.
And in the end, the irony is that, while there was a type of secret to preserve with respect to the character, in the end he plays a weird role in the plot. (There’s a certain kinship to Iron Man 3 in that respect.)
Abrams has said that he wanted to make Star Trek for people who aren’t Star Trek fans, and in that respect he might have succeeded. Into Darkness has a few well-executed setpieces, and loads of the same winning cast presence that made the first Abrams Trek a success. But does it work? Does the film’s wide divergence from many well-established Trek characteristics fly, and does it even really matter who Cumberbatch is playing? Weigh in below, where full spoilers are in force. Read More »
We’ve come to know Michael Bay as the maestro behind a very specific type of huge movie, as he has defined the image of glossy pictures full of gorgeous women and explosions. His work, as that suggests, isn’t really known for subtlety.
But since before Bay latched on to the Transformers franchise, he has wanted to shoot a film based on the story of a few Miami bodybuilders who concocted a plan to kidnap a businessman and steal his wealth. Years later, that story has become Bay’s “little movie,” Pain & Gain, starring Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie, and Dwayne Johnson. The movie isn’t likely to change Bay’s image, but it does represent something (slightly) different from the director. Reviews have been coming in for a few days, but now we want to know what you think about Bay’s true-crime tale. Read More »
The remake of Sam Raimi‘s first signature film is now open. After a long period of speculation about the possibility of a fourth Raimi Evil Dead film, or a remake by some other filmmaker, audiences have a chance to see what Fede Alvarez has done with Evil Dead. This remake has some ideas of its own, as it follows a group of young friends to a remote cabin where one plans to detox. But it also has a heavy reliance on Raimi’s set pieces, many of which are firmly entrenched as calling cards for his career.
Beginning with its premiere at SXSW there has been mixed reception to the remake — some love it for the over the top violence, while others (myself included) think that, yeah, the gore is good, but there’s not enough of a movie there. So weigh in on the conversation — let us know what you thought of Alvarez’s Evil Dead, and keep in mind that spoilers are fully encouraged in the comment thread below. Read More »
Today’s the day — over a decade after the premiere of Peter Jackson‘s The Fellowship of the Ring, the director returns to Middle-Earth with the first of three planned films adapting J.R.R. Tolkien‘s first novel The Hobbit. The films won’t adapt only that book, however, as Jackson and co-writers Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Guillermo del Toro have also incorporated elements from appendecies and supplements to The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien eventually devised a dense amount of parallel story to buttress the episodic adventure of The Hobbit, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey incorporates some of that material.
The film is also Jackson’s first film set in Middle-Earth to be shot on a digital camera and in 3D, and the first studio feature film ever to be shot and projected at a high frame rate of 48 fps, compared to the standard 24fps.
Suffice to say, despite the presence of familiar Lord of the Rings faces such as Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Christopher Lee, and Hugo Weaving, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is very much a different look at Middle-Earth. Germain has weighed in on the film itself, and I’ve put down some thoughts on the high frame rate presentation. Now, tell us what you thought of the film, below. Spoilers follow in the text after the break, and are encouraged in the comments to facilitate full discussion of the film. Read More »
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We’ve been pretty high on the idea of Rian Johnson‘s third film, Looper, since the movie was first announced, especially as we learned that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would play a near-future assassin who kills mob victims illicitly sent back in time. Add Bruce Willis as the older version of the same character, who becomes a target for JGL, and things got really interesting. Then a test screening last fall got word out that Johnson may have really knocked Looper out of the park, and expectations for the film went through the roof.
And now, as we fairly easily begin to forget the unsatisfying sumer of 2012, Looper has hit theaters. And I’m happy to say that it is an excellent film. Not only is Johnson firing on all cylinders as a storyteller and director, the film is both a great piece of sci-fi and a satisfying character piece that really puts that central assassin character through the wringer. And even for those who have been paying attention to all the marketing, Sony left a few things unrevealed, so Looper gets to keep a few tricks hidden up its sleeve right until the end.
Moreso than for any other recent genre film, I’m curious to know what people think about Looper. So have at it in the comments below, where spoiler discussions of the film’s story and meaning are fair game. Read More »
The summer of 2012 — a summer that turned out to be rather a mixed bag, as so many hotly-anticipated movie seasons tend to — ends with a bang, or at least an explosion. The Expendables 2 is the Simon West-directed sequel to the Sylvester Stallone film that crammed together a whole bunch of aging action stars in one film.
For the sequel the roster has expanded, with Chuck Norris showing up, Jean-Claude Van Damme as the bad guy (and getting some of the best notes in reviews so far) and expanded roles for Bruce Willis and the post-political Arnold Schwarzenegger. Some of the action looks great, much of the script looks silly, and the guys are all ripped and grimacing, for most of the time, at least.
So how did The Expendables 2 turn out? Germain enjoyed it, with his review highlighting both the silliness and the fact that the film, unlike the first one, does most of what it promises. We’d like to know what you think, too. So sound off after the break, where spoiler comments are encouraged. Read More »
One of the final big films of summer 2012 is Tony Gilroy‘s The Bourne Legacy, which casts Jeremy Renner as a new super agent brought up in a secret government program similar to the one that created Jason Bourne. The movie also stars Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, and Oscar Isaac. It has some of the frenetic action of the previous Bourne films, but doesn’t always hit the heights of the existing trilogy, especially the latter two films directed by Paul Greengrass.
Critics have been weighing in on the film ever since the review embargo broke earlier this week. Germain was slightly more positive about the film than many, and I tend to agree with him for reasons I’ll go into below. But we want to know what you think. Chime in below, and be aware that this series of posts always encourages spoilers. Read More »
The third film in Christopher Nolan‘s series of Batman movies is in theaters now. The Dark Knight Rises is Nolan’s biggest movie to date, and a particularly ambitious superhero film. This isn’t a movie in which fight scenes substitute for all the usual conversations between characters — in this film Nolan tries to bring everything together, from setpieces to fan service to deep character moments.
Christian Bale‘s Bruce Wayne deals with the lingering despair that plagued him after the events of The Dark Knight; Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and young beat cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) try to come to terms with what Gotham City has become in the wake of the death of Harvey Dent; and Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and the masked mercenary Bane (Tom Hardy) have their own plans for the city’s elite.
The film has been the subject of rumor and speculation for years. So now that you’ve had a chance to see Nolan’s finale, tell us what you thought of the film after the break. As always with these posts, spoilers are acceptable, and even encouraged. Read More »