‘Fast & Furious 6’ Review

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Dir: Justin Lin

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Ludacris, Luke Evans, Elsa Pataky and Gina Carano

Synopsis: Hobbs has Dom and Brian reassemble their crew in order to take down a mastermind who commands an organization of mercenary drivers across 12 countries. Payment? Full pardons for them all.

 

 

*Review Note: This is a non-spoiler review as always. If you want to comment feel free but please don’t spoil anything in the comment section.*

 

The tag line “All roads lead to this” was truly a great tag line for Fast & Furious 6. Faced with the task of trying to top Fast Five (which is easier said than done), Furious 6 (as the movie is titled in the opening credits) offers a more international feel and some mind-boggling car stunts even as its story strives to bring the characters full circle while also setting up future installments (which is currently being worked on). But does it actually do that? Yes, yes it does.

Furious 6 finds our favorite street racers and thieves (Diesel, Walker, Tyrese, Ludacris, Sung Kang, and Gal Gadot) having to team up with the man that tried to bring them down before Hobbs (Johnson). Hobbs brings them in to track down an even worse criminal: former British Special Forces soldier Owen Shaw (Evans), who is pulling off a series of auto-centric crimes that are more dangerous and thought-out than our good guys.

Hobbs mentally is like the old saying “it takes a thief to catch a thief.” But the only reason Hobbs has any leverage is the return of the presumably dead Letty (Rodriguez) and the fact that she is for whatever reason working for Shaw. The team agrees to work with Hobbs and his new partner Riley (Gina Carano) only if they get full pardons so they can return home to the U.S). Fast paced actions then ensues.

While many think the Fast and the Furious franchise is all about ridiculous car chases, stunts, and cheesy one-liners (although it sometimes is) one of the prime focuses is the family aspect, which will get to in a minute. However, Fast & Furious 6 primary focus is on the past and bringing the characters’ stories full circle. Letty’s not the only blast from the past here (I won’t say who else returns), but these callbacks should definitely please those who’ve been fans of the series since the beginning. That’s not to say Furious 6 doesn’t also have the future on its mind. Some characters’ arcs reach their conclusion, while big seeds are also planted for what might come next for the rest.

Of course the highlight of the franchise is the car scenes. Fast Five really made it hard for the filmmakers to make whatever set-pieces they had in this movie a bit tough to surpass. However they did succeed with some of the big chases like the tank sequence and the takedown of the plane. Even the first chase that introduces a new car that Shaw drives and we briefly see in the trailer is pretty damn impressive. Although I wouldn’t put it pass anybody that thinks the car chases get a little redundant. One sequence in particular is like that. There is of course humor in the movie which is always nice although some of the jokes fall a bit flat.

As for the cast, they all do a great job although after playing the characters for so long you would think they would. Diesel and Walker being the faces of the franchise still have the strong chemistry they had in the first movie. Although you really can say this movie is all about Diesel’s Dom and him trying to bring back Letty. Speaking of Letty, Rodriguez is nice to have back and is still tougher than she was before they “killed” her. Ludacris, Tyrese, Sung Kang and Gal Gadot all have their moments to shine and Jordana Brewster again doesn’t really have much to do, although this time it’s for a descent reason. Johnson of course shows off more of his muscles and with a future spin-off in the works I’m glad there stretching out his character more.

As for Luke Evans as Shaw, he is really a threat the team has never faced before. He’s not afraid for putting people at risk to get what he wants and isn’t afraid to expose somebody’s weakness so he can get ahead. Finally, director Justin Lin. Lin has already said he’s leaving the franchise due to being a bit burnt out and a fast production date for part seven. Lin has done an amazing job in the movie and has made us care about this characters. He made the family dynamic as important as the crazy car chases and has fleshed out this characters that may have been just one dimensional if another director was bought in.

All in all, who knew the Fast and the Furious franchise would have six movies under its belt and have been getting better as they continued. Does the movie have some over the top moments? Yes, a car comes out of a plane damn it! But, lets be realistic here, it’s an action movie. Would you really want it any other way?

Lastly, stay a little while after the first part of the credits. It’s a nice little surprise and totally worth it.

Fast & Furious 6

5 out of 5

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‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Review

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Dir: J.J. Abrams

Cast: Chris Pine,Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin,Alice Eve, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bruce Greenwood and Peter Weller

Synopsis: After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world tocapture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

 

*Review Note:This is a NON-SPOILER review and if you comment PLEASE DO NOT PUT SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS.*

J.J. Abrams has once again made a Star Trek movie for not just Star Trek fans (although they are mostly likely to catch the small winks and nods), but also for the general going audience. Some people will say Into Darkness had some plot holes and falls apart in certain areas (I slightly agree with some aspects but not entirely) but it will still be one of the most fun experiences you will have.

The opening sequence in the movie really sets the tone for the movie. It’s filled with humor, tension, suspense and action that is only pumped up as the movie moves along. We see the Starfleet still struggling with their adventures and how to come together as a crew. We see how Kirk (Pine) is still doing things his own way and ignoring regulations and Spock (Quinto)being by the book.

However, all there is really put to the test when John Harrison (Cumberbatch) shows up and sets in motion a series of events beginning with attacks on a futuristic London and having Starfleet big wigs setting up a manhunt into deep space for him. Of course, things don’t go as planned and Kirk and his crew are put to the test against Harrison’s smarts andnerve worthy intention.

Of course Cumberbatch’s Harrison character has been the spark of many fans on whether it is or isn’t a certain character. And since being a non-spoiler review I won’t confirm or deny but the reveal is pretty cool in my opinion. Cumberbatch, in no surprise, is excellent as John Harrison and you can truly see his character is willing to go anywhere to get what he wants.

Chris Pine has made Kirk his own bringing in his roguish,young, and humorous back but also bearing a lot of the emotional weight this time round. Zachary Quinto’s Spock is once again the soulful figurehead of this series, remaining clueless, in a good way, of “normal human interactions” while also dealing with two different both relationships in the film.

The rest of the cast tend to fade into the background behind this central trio (Cumberbatch, Pine, Quinto), fulfilling their roles when need be. Urban’s Bones has a lot more wise cracks than the first film while Pegg’s Scotty has his own sub-plot that involves him disappearing for a while but will still be a fan-favorite (if he wasn’t already). Zoe Saldana’s Uhura has a much smaller role than usual and when she’s not having her comic relief moments, she is having her romantic moments with Spock which honestly kind of slows the movie down just a bit. Also the addition on Alice Eve as Carol Marcus isn’t really all that besides her quick scene when she’s in her bra and panties.

I mentioned earlier that people will find problems with the movie. Which is fine by me because honestly what movie is absolutely perfect? Anyway,the movie does have fan-service and some might find it eye-roll worthy but I see it as Abram just doing that, fan-service, but also making general movie audience conformable and for many, it won’t matter.

All in all, Star Trek Into Darkness is a hell of a lot of fun, maintaining all of its tones in order that they don’t over power each other and ensures the viewer that this is a franchise you want to keep seeing.

Star Trek Into Darkness

5 out of 5

‘Iron Man 3’ Review

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Dir: Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Jon Favreau, James Badge Dale and Ben Kinsley

Synopsis: When Tony Stark’s world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

 

*Review Note: This is a NON-SPOILER review and if you comment PLEASE DO NOT PUT SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS.*

 

To fair to say Iron Man 3 could have been a tough sell. First, some people still have a bad taste in their mouths with the mention of Iron Man 2. Second, the movie finally has the famous arch-nemesis from the comic in The Mandarin. Lastly, the movie is following The Avengers which was a massive success and is still in many people’s minds. So is Iron Man 3 any good? Well, the short answer is yes.

The movie interestingly starts at a party where we see a pre-Iron Man and Iraq cave Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) being the playboy party guy that we saw briefly in the past. It’s there where we get introduced to Maya Hansen (Hall), who we see is just as smart as Tony and wants to do some good in the word, and Aldrich Killian (Pearce) who at that point is trying to make a name for himself. Fast forward to the present and we see the Tony in his workshop working on his new Mark 42 that he can now summon by will to attach to him.

But while all that happens we are finally introduced to The Mandarin. In the comics he’s more of a magical being but here he’s more of a real world terrorist that delivers some pretty chilling video messages throughout the movie. Speaking of differences, we see a different Tony Stark. We still get the smart quick witted Tony but now we get a Tony that knows aliens and demi-gods exist. He struggles with that and suffers nightmares with a few other things that makes the Tony we fell in love with distant to everyone. And Downey Jr. does another amazing job of playing Stark and gives him a lot more depth which is good to see.

The plot itself revolves around Extremis, a serum which comes from the comics but here concerns a process by which humans can be biologically enhanced by tapping into their DNA, resulting in hugely entertaining sequences that we won’t spoil here.

Something happens to someone close to Tony which results in Tony getting a little emotion and sending a message without thinking of the consequences. Of course this leads to the heavily marketed house invasion and destruction that eventually sends Tony to go off on his own and try to find a way to fight back. It puts him back metaphorically back in the cave where he has to rely on his smarts to get him out.

Of course the world isn’t without an armored hero. War Machine, now called Iron Patriot, is the government’s response for the attack on New York and goes around trying to find The Mandarin too. Don Cheadle by the way comes into his own as ‘Rhodey’ this around especially when it comes to his friendship with Tony. If there was ever any doubt that Cheadle couldn’t handle a spin-off movie then this movie puts those doubts to rest.

So, I’ve mentioned The Mandarin a lot in the review so let’s talk about him, sort of at least. It’s certainly an interesting take on the character to say the least and some fans were already bashing the idea but it works quite brilliantly in the context of this story. And Ben Kinsgley owns the role, stealing the majority of the scenes that he is in and clearly having a blast playing this character. Another standout is Guy Pearce as Killian and you almost can’t keep your eyes off him whenever he’s on screen.

As for the women, Rebecca Hall does the best can with her character that a little underwritten, which is a shame since Hall could have done so much with the part. Gwyneth Paltrow fares better and even has a lot more to do than just be the damsel in distress.

Of course one of the big differences in the movie is the new director in Shane Black who replaces Jon Favreau, who does come back as Happy Hogan. Black is known for his buddy back and forth conversation (Lethal Weapon) and that does happen in the movie through Rhodey/Tony and another relationship that Tony develops. However, Black also proves he can handle action sequences and not just with the house destruction. There is the plane sequence and the last big fight were all of Tony’s suits show up to help the fight.

All in all, Iron Man 3 is definitely going to get a mixed reaction, especially from the comic book fans, but overall it is a good movie. It’s smart, fun, funny, has some great drama filled moments and twist and turns. So really an overall a great experience to enjoy whether you know the comic book arc or not.

Iron Man 3

4.5 out of 5