The Fate of the Furious (2017)

There is an undeniable love for The Fast and the Furious franchise over here. My husband and I are huge fans. We own all the movies and have seen most of them in theatres. No doubt, we got our tickets and went to go check this one out.

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

fate of the furious

Director: F. Gary Gray

Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Charlize Theron

When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of terrorism and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trials that will test them as never before. – IMDB

Bigger, badder and a whole new meaning of family comes together in the eighth instalment of The Fate of the Furious. And we can’t and shouldn’t expect anything less. There is no doubt at this point that as any franchise running this long, the die-hard fans will eat this up and love every minute of it. For newcomers, this might not be the one to start with. Perhaps one of the biggest flaws of long franchises is that it is hard to be self-contained. The Fate of the Furious is also prone to bring back characters and build on past events and storylines. The best way to describe sitting down to watch a Fast and the Furious movie, particularly the later instalments starts from the fourth till this most recent one, is a gathering with old friends or even a family reunion. If you walk in on this one, well, you might just get caught up in a lot of inside jokes and feel like you walked into someone’s life and really trying to grasp onto what happened before. However, this storyline isn’t overly complex as they usually aren’t and focuses a lot on high octane action with car chases and explosions, lots of witty and funny one liners and a team that can really bring it on with the best cars and fantastically well-plotted heists. If over the top action is what you like, this movie definitely delivers. Everything you expect of a Fast franchise movie is all here and I loved every minute of it starting from the beginning. About maybe half an hour in or probably more since this movie flew by so fast, it was obvious that I had a grin and just enjoying it so very much.

Image: Universal Pictures

The Fate of the Furious is about family. This franchise is about cars and action and crazy stuff that just gets bigger and badder but in the core, it is about the family and the team. This time, we really zero in on Dom who has some hold that has brought him to go rogue and now his team needs to go up against him. While everyone’s views are starting to falter about whether he’s really just lost it, Letty won’t let up. She knows that look in his eyes and that through everything he makes each choice for a reason no matter how dangerous or how crazy or how ridiculous. There’s something more and she’s out to find it. And everyone knows that when Dom’s not around, they listen to Letty. Michelle Rodriguez is not a great actress, I’m going to be completely honest on that and yet this tough chick thing works for her. Same goes for a lot of the team. Ludacris is getting a bigger role and I truly love his character Tej. He delivers some really fun lines especially when he always mocks Roman, played by Tyrese Gibson. There’s a great emphasis of mocking Roman’s whiny and scaredy-cat personality and just his loud screaming in general and I love how they address it by no one greater than Luke Hobbs played by Dwayne Johnson, the addition that possibility made this series even better and his presence is so appreciated all the times. This time his feud with Jason Statham’s character, Deckard that joins the team because of the common enemy, creates some great hand to hand combat moments and some great chemistry there with one-liners, particularly one that was laugh out loud and completely memorable. Finally, the rookie of the team enters where as “Little Nobody” which is somewhat of Mr. Nobody’s (played by Kurt Russell) minion who is learning the ropes and there are some funny moments with that.

The Fate of the Furious

In terms of enemy, we have the mysterious “organization” or just smart lady, Cipher played by Charlize Theron. Cipher is pretty cool character. She has some nice outfits and seems to be really philosophical about what she does and choice theories and all that talky stuff. Its good seeing as this franchise isn’t about talking so it adds a nice layer to it even though evil Charlize Theron always seems to be very similar, but then I only have Snow White and the Huntsman as my comparison and other than the different setting, it didn’t feel all that different. We know that she can drive since she was in Mad Max and she can do the badass bit well enough (which she does alright). Don’t get me wrong. Charlize Theron was fine. She is a great actress with a lot of range and you don’t really need all that much acting chops to be in Fast because of the action and yet, I kind of hoped to see some more from her. There were some parts that she seemed to channel in the right balance of cyber security hacking genius and yet, I don’t quite know how to word what is missing. Teaming up with her is the rogue man, Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto. Dom obviously has an agenda and we soon find out why he’s joined forces with Cipher. I’m not going to spoil it for you. Dom is Dom. I love him because of who he is: a man of few words and solemn expressions and yet there’s this gentle side to him when he’s with family and yet still so very manly. Anyways, its Dom and I love his character.

The fate of the furious

How do we not talk about action, right? The last part is all about that. While others have issues with the unrealistic and over the top ridiculous action and the bigger and badder, it comes at no surprise at this point that its my cup of tea. I love it for the high octane adrenaline rush fun. This time, we get auto-drive cars down New York City and the ice fields in northern Russia or something and submarines and missiles. Its full of explosion and destruction. I love how the movie starts with the face-off for pink slip or respect. It is a great time through and through.

This review was supposed to be so objective and yet, it ended after the first paragraph, maybe. There’s a lot to love here and a lot of it has to do with the love of the team and just the franchise and its over the top action that works all the time. It helps to cheer the characters over and over again. It might not live up again to the awesomeness of Fast Five but its definitely somewhere in line with Furious 7. The Fate of the Furious, I believe, was sprouted because of Paul Walker’s desire to make this so although we all know he isn’t there anymore, the spirit of his character still lives in this one as he gets one mention and its something that I like a lot. This movie has its flaws, no doubt about it. Its not very deep and Charlize Theron leaves a lot to be desired in a villain and yet, the emphasis on family is never as important, plus there’s a few new characters that work well.

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Recap: Oscars 2016!

Following tradition of the last two years, here’s a little recap! I wasn’t sure if I’d end up catching Oscars but we changed up our plans and ended up joining my mom for sit down and dinner together to enjoy the ceremony. My conclusion is that I make better guesses when I haven’t seen any of the movies than when I do.  I guess bias comes into play at that point and it affects my judgement.

I am glad that Mad Max: Fury Road did so well because it was well deserved.  I gave a personal standing ovation in my mom’s dining room to Ex Machina for winning Visual Effects.  There was a bit of cringing when I felt like Sam Smith was about to go off-tune and he looked nervous as heck to be up there but his speech was inspiring and he looked genuinely enthused to win it even if probably Lady Gaga’s song would have been the win that was deserved but I don’t care much for the “Original Song” category.  The only one I was genuinely a little angry at was Mad Max winning Costume Design because Cinderella may not have been a great movie but it was all about costumes while I mean how many costumes were there for Mad Max.  On a happier note, I am happy that Mark Rylance won for supporting actor.  Even if I didn’t see The Revenant, I was fairly certain Innaritu would win for Best Director and Leo for Best Actor because just from the trailers, it looked like the sort of movie that had the calibre and achievement to rightfully earn it. However, I did end up catching Spotlight over the weekend right before Oscars and even posted my review for it and I’m telling you that to me, it was a justified Best Picture winner.  I don’t think I’ve agreed much to these winners in the last few years but then I haven’t caught up with the majority of them either but Spotlight really connected with me in presenting their story and the content.  Out of all those movies, as wonderful and fantastic as they were, Brooklyn didn’t stand a chance in my book and even The Revenant probably wouldn’t have the depth of telling a story that reflected an issue that is maybe probably unfortunately still present today. For none of the other movies I saw in the Best Picture did have as much of a discussion at my home than Spotlight either and we finished that movie at 2am on Saturday night or something (just to give you an idea).

This year I decided to do my Oscars recap of the winners in advance and now, let’s check out the Top 5 Best Dresses.

Oscars 2016

Cate Blanchett

Oscars 2016

Charlize Theron

Oscars 2016

Alicia Vikander

Oscars 2016

Saoirse Ronan

Oscars 2016

Priyanka Chopra

Elegant, beauty, grace: These ladies all had it.  Not to mention, Cate Blanchett picked the perfect dress for the category she was presenting for: Costume Design. Just look at the intricate flowers on her dress! Its amazing! And kudos for Charlize Theron pulling off that style because normally, I’m not a fan of that cut of the deep V plunge (or whatever you call it) but she accessorized well and made it look very nice.

And then for some great moments that I liked quite a bit.

Jacob Tremblay & Star Wars

Oscars 2016

Mark Ruffalo Winking for his Nomination

Oscars 2016

Michael Keaton Fist Pump for Spotlight Win

Oscars 2016

I was equally as happy as Michael Keaton was when I heard that Spotlight won.  This reaction is just priceless!

Brie Larson in Awe

Oscars 2016

And her speech thanking everyone including the movie-goers! It warms my heart even if I didn’t see it in theatres and bought it on the Play store 😉

Leonardio diCaprio Winning Speech

Oscars 2016

Leonardo diCaprio winning was *almost* set in stone.  I was pretty sure he made a solid performance even if I only saw trailers.  However, he didn’t just win an Oscar.  He also delivered a meaningful speech and the best part was his final line about not taking the planet for granted, he wouldn’t take his Oscar win for granted.

I think to wrap it up this year, Lady Gaga’s song deserved more recognition.  I haven’t found the time to watch The Hunting Ground but it does intrigue me. While I can’t find the video for the Oscars performance she made and I only saw a snippet as I left my mom’s at that point and only had snippets online.  The song holds true meaning that deserves to be heard.

That’s it for Oscars 2016! It was a great year with some outstanding movies this year! 🙂
Did you watch the Oscars 2016? What were your fave moments? Did any winners surprise you? Any disappointments?

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

I’m about the most clueless person when it comes to Mad Max.  Maybe its shocking or maybe it isn’t, I have a hard time getting through the first movie of the franchise. I’ve tried over and over again and I just can’t stay awake to finish up the second half of the movie (it might be more than that). It could also be that I just fall asleep in a lot of stuff now and it doesn’t even matter the quality. Its one of the reasons Mad Max: Fury Road wasn’t quite as appealing to me as it was for a lot of Mad Max fans, my husband included and its also because of him that I ended up buying the movie. With that said, its time that I should give this one a watch since I’ve heard its fantastic.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Mad Max Fury Road 

Director: George Miller

Cast: Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Josh Helman, Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley

A woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in postapocalyptic Australia in search for her home-land with the help of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshipper, and a drifter named Max.-IMDB

 Jumping in at a revival of a franchise is a little weird.  For one, I don’t hold that love for Max that some of you franchise lovers might even if its not Mel Gibson playing it anymore.  Plus, I don’t like going into movies that everyone has hyped up a lot because I usually don’t like it quite as much and it makes me have such high expectations.  Mad Max: Fury Road is kind of a mixed bag.  I do think its a very entertaining movie and maybe its just the fact that every time I sit down to watch it, its after a really long day of work and I’d prefer to be sleeping but I did want to get this one done before Oscars (which is this coming Sunday) so I gave it one final go.  I’ve started the movie like 2 times before so I have the first 30 minutes down already and I just continued on.  This is what I realized, while this is a high octane movie and one that has some fantastic action scenes and production design which it boasts quite a bit at the first 30 minutes, it is still rather “slow”.  But the rest of the movie after that point the first chase scene slows down or whatnot, it gets to a point that things pull together and the story it wants to tell is pretty great.

mad max fury road

Mad Max: Fury Road is a thrill ride.  There is no doubt about it.  It packs in some great themes and a really grandiose post-apocalyptic world.  I pondered on what the first 30 minutes was trying to show.  I mean the first car chase scene even.  Because that opening with Max being caught and trying to escape was so awesome.  We get to embrace Max and what haunts him. Even the introduction of the tyrannical ruler of Immortan Joe was done well because we get he controls life in essence because he controls water and calls it an addiction which makes his life a contradiction most likely. What I’m saying is that its a sophisticated post-apocalyptic world, one for the adults and not the teens that we usually see hovering around the theatres of late.  It gets you even know what sort of person Immortan Joe is.  That’s already two of the front runners.  But it doesn’t stop there. The most inspiring roles go to Nicholas Hoult as a war boy who just makes you sympathise and feel a little weirded out by his brainwash of believing this Immortan Joe and his Valhalla and witnessing him and all that jazz. And well, who is the rebel here?  Its Charlize Theron playing Furiosa.  What else is there to say, she is incredible! As for what that car chase bit before it slows down a little might just be showing the brainwash level these War Boys have and their beliefs that they’ve been lead to believe which are so off track and far gone and well, to introduce the second plot of why Furiosa is running.

mad max fury road

Everyone seems to be looking for something here.  The story is about getting these ladies out and finding the Green Place.  Max joins in for the ride.  The ladies are Immortan Joe’s rebellious wives who want out.  They don’t want to be his objects so they run, hoping for a better tomorrow to control what they want.  Furiosa (and maybe even Max) is looking for some kind of redemption while Nux (Nicholas Hoult) goes on a journey of his own as he sees the truth but in reality he is the most loyal character here for what he chooses to follow. This gives the story a decent amount of character development (which is something I love).

mad max fury road

However, the show stealer here is not even the great cast but the production value from the appearances of the characters and the War Boys, even that guitar playing dude strung up on the mission (who is actually super disgusting to look at up close). The production design and the cinematography and just how its all set up.  Its so pleasing and atmospheric.  If you have seen it,  that crow place gave me the chills.  The vehicles, war rigs, action scenes: it was a lot of fun and completely entertaining to watch.

mad max: fury road

Overall, Mad Max: Fury Road is mostly a thrilling and entertaining movie done with so much heart.  It has a great cast with some fantastic well-developed characters.  The action is awesome and cinematography is pleasing.  My only issue was the little sequence in the beginning that dragged on for too long but it was overshadowed by the fantastic story that followed when the plot thickened and things got all crazy. However, I can’t help to wonder whether Immortan Joe should even come to discussion since it doesn’t seem to matter.  He was the tyrant who causes this whole thing and who they need to escape from but is he a meaningful villain? Was it even needed? I don’t know.  He’s just incredibly uncomfortable to look at, as are a lot of the villainous cast.  While I think that this movie is awesome, there is an unsettling feeling.  Maybe its the fact that it didn’t live up to the hype that everyone else has.

Have you seen Mad Max: Fury Road? What do you think about it? 

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

I’m not going to lie..I almost forgot about this Snow White adaptation that I had to write up.  I saw it so long ago as I’m writing this that I can’t even remember it all that much.  Well, it wasn’t that long, maybe a month or so.  Regardless, my final Snow White adaptation that I’m writing up and I’ll get the baking part done and we’re on our way to the next movie on the Disney Classics list, Pinocchio. That one is easy because there is no available adaptations for me to watch.  If you have any to suggest, or anything loosely based on it, I’d give it a go to. Not to mention baking for that one is going to be crazily hard.  Anyways, one thing at a time. Let’s finish this Snow White business with Snow White and the Huntsman.  I wasn’t excited to watch it, had low expectations.  Now you know where I stand before I fired up this one.

Let’s check it out!

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

Snow White and the Huntsman

Director: Rupert Sanders

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Sam Spruell, Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Brian Gleeson

In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen. – IMDB

The journey of watching Snow White adaptations has been a long one.  There is no doubt that Snow White is one of those very frequently adapted story plots that seem to always be a good way to go.  Whether the movies themselves are of what quality, well, that changes.  Snow White and the Huntsman is one that I mentioned before where I didn’t have a lot of expectations. For one, I’m really not a huge fan of Kristen Stewart and while I love seeing Chris Hemsworth and his handsome body, I’ve learned to also not watch anything in hopes of seeing them take their clothes off.  I really don’t know to say it any other way.  I did that for Clash of the Titans (remake) and it was disappointing along with the fact that it was a terrible movie.  But, that is for another post (which will never happen probably because I refuse to put myself through it again). Except, I like Disney Princesses and while Snow White isn’t my favorite one, there has been okay adaptations of it in some unexpected entertaining pieces and even though its hard to believe but the hopeful part of this is Charlize Theron as the Evil Stepmother.

Snow White and the Huntsman

I ramble a lot when I don’t know how to word my reviews.  I realize that.  I guess the easiest way is to start with what was good. Snow White and the Huntsman is not a great film.  Its a tad boring, a little pointless but there are some good parts.  Its doesn’t really make the film one I’d sit down to watch again which is why I’m writing this on a very vague memory because it simply is forgettable. The first good part is the dark take on the Snow White tale.  The harsh evil from the Stepmother, the dangers and dark environment, the black magic in the air, just how the movie is a lot darker in nature.  Second, it makes Snow White into a warrior, someone who will fight, and not the weak princess cleaning up after the dwarves and waiting for her Prince to save her.  Honestly, the recent take of making out the princesses to be stronger in nature is one I’m enjoying a lot. Even if its Miss Stewart playing the role.  We will discuss her a little later. Three, the dwarves are always chosen and played with such character.  The same goes for here especially when we have some unexpected recognized actors here.  Four, it has to be the outstanding role of The Evil Queen played by Charlize Theron.  She just takes command of her role and every scene she is in make it so much more enjoyable.  Five, the visuals are pretty in this one.  There’s dark tones as I mentioned in point 1 and there are some bright parts of it as well.  The CGI is done very nicely and makes it feel that much more like we are in a fantasy/fictional land.

Snow White and the Huntsman

 That’s a fair bit of positive but you know what. The cons of Snow White and the Huntsman far outweighs those five points above.  For one, the movie was way too long.  It was over 2 hours long.  That is absolutely crazy.  That’s because it had a ton of really pointless scenes.  I felt like it was all added for dramatic value.  Except this leads to my second thing that I didn’t like: Kristen Stewart.  Look, I know its horrible to be ragging on Kristen Stewart and to be honest, it seems she’s gotten better but this was her right out of the Twilight series and her face does not make me feel anything.  Its not happy, always sad, maybe constipated and her as a tough girl doesn’t quite make me feel convinced.  As I watched this, I did think of one thing: how her career might be like Channing Tatum where she was pegged for certain roles and one day, she’ll find that role and break out of her shell and be a better actress.  I’m trying to be positive here.  Oh and I have to hate on Kristen Stewart just a little.  She got to liplock with Chris Hemsworth!

Snow White and the Huntsman

I guess what it all comes down to is that the sum of the positives can’t even outweigh that of the negatives.  Long, boring, convoluted, got lost in itself and I just couldn’t get into it or feel connected to any of the characters.   Sure, the premise was good, the take of this classic tale was good in all its dark glory but it just doesn’t seem to be able to pull itself out of its own mess.  Charlize Theron couldn’t do it.  Chris Hemsworth, huntsman and narrator, didn’t even have the chance.  Snow White and the Huntsman has the right intentions but with a bad script and messy execution, it falls short of what it could be.

Have you seen Snow White and the Huntsman? 

Fantasia Fest 2015: Dark Places (2015)

That was a fun ride, wasn’t it? Fantasia Festival this year had some great movies.  And I think I made some fantastic choices covering a range of horror with different pacing and styles.  There was thrillers and even one foreign film (which there was more though).  But, we are at the end and with a rather late showing of Dark Places (which was even later because the entrance was delayed).  I’m a huge fan of Gillian Flynn and Dark Places was written before Gone Girl.  Check out my book review here. I had mixed feelings about how Dark Places would turn out but there is no doubt that it has a pretty awesome looking cast.  Plus, hey, Nicholas Hoult non-zombie version. I’m down for that 😉 Plus, its an advanced screening, even if I only got the review up today, after its been released in theatres.

Let’s check this out! 🙂

Dark Places (2015)

dark places

Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner

Cast: Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Sterling Jerins, Christina Hendricks, Corey Stoll, Tye Sheridan, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sean Bridgers

Libby Day was only seven years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. Twenty-five years later, she agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night.-IMDB

I’m a huge fan of Gillian Flynn (like I said before). HUGE! I love all of her three books.  Even though, Gone Girl is by far the best one and the movie adaptation is just pure awesome and I’m not as big of a fan of Dark Places (its the last favorite of the three), the cast of Dark Places was one that made me at least know the performances would stand out. I’m going to tell you right away that Dark Places is an okay adaptation of the book, bordering okay.  One, its a bit long and dragging out in a lot of parts and two, it feels a little disjointed because of the interpretation of how the book was set up and how they did it. The one thing I worried about for this novel being not a good match for the big screen was that in the novel, we learn about Libby Day through what is going on in her mind, and she is one ugly inner beauty sort of person.  She’s really not all that likable because that helps her character build as the story goes along.  In the movie, even with a fantastic actress like Charlize Theron, its hard to show what is going on someone’s mind as they observe the situation and react silently and in their own way.  Its easy to lose or just never build the connection with the main character.

dark places

Dark Places does use the set up of the book by jumping from present day Libby linking back to her investigation and revisiting her past to flashbacks of the day before all the murders while also using her mom, Patty and her brother, Ben’s day to piece together the events.  I like that they effectively did that.  That way to tell a story is very Gillian Flynn if you think about it.  Its the art of creating one timeline with multiple points of reference for various characters to reach for the audience to piece it all together.  It makes it engaging to watch.

dark places

Except, something also makes it hard to watch.  I’d like to say its the set up of the storyboard adapted from the book.  Maybe its the slow start to introduce us to who Libby is now, 25 years later.  Maybe its to bring us to learn more about her and the situation she is going into but something didn’t wrong so well.  I think its the details or just picking the right pieces from the book to put together that will create the right amount of suspense.  It seemed to just keep revealing certain parts as a way to roughly enter a new character or a “shocking” new situation.  I don’t know, it just didn’t work so well for me.

dark places

However, just as I expected though, the strengths of Dark Places lie in their cast.  If anyone less talented than Charlize Theron was doing present day Libby Day, it might be even less expressive of the emotions we’d like to see.  In general, the character of Libby Day was portrayed well enough for us to see that she isn’t so appealing, not quite as hated as in the novel perhaps but we can see that she basks in the world of pity and manipulation and just pure laziness to avoid being caught in work.  Her world is contingent on money and compensation while she chooses to be ignorant of her brother.  I was a little disappointed with not having the investigation group so much but at least Nicholas Hoult still got a few moments to pop up.  The character I bought the most out of was Chloe Grace Moretz.  This is a dark novel and she is an actress that can pull off these dark roles really well.  Although I felt the setup and build for her character, Diondra was great but it was effective her (at least more if you haven’t read the book).  The rest of the cast from the younger boys to everyone else was a good mesh.

 Overall, Dark Places is okay.  The premise is solid because the original was a good piece with a strong story.  However, the adaptation did  not work quite as well.  The story did get lost in itself a little and felt like it didn’t flow so well.  Plus, while the runtime might not be the big issue, it runs a little too slow and doesn’t have the right pieces to make us thrilled with the story.  However, the cast is very well chosen and they do well with they have to work with, making it more enjoyable and mildly compelling. The choice to follow the layout of the novel was a good one and the atmosphere was set pretty well.  What is sad is that Dark Places has quite a bit of potential to be a great movie thriller, however a main character which bases a lot on her inner thoughts to move a story doesn’t work so well on the big screen, especially with a somewhat flawed adapted screenplay.

Have you seen Dark Places? Have you read the book? What are your thoughts?

Double Feature: 21 (2008) & Hancock (2008)

At the end of March, there was a whole bunch of movies expiring on Netflix.  It was ridiculous.  So, in an effort to minimize backlog, here’s a double feature.  Plus, I’ve been slacking off on reviews.  I’m a little late on today’s post as well since as my vlog earlier this week explained, moving weekend. I have only a little moving but there’s a whole lot of spring prep and organizing plus, finally some nice weather today.  13 degrees Celsius felt like summer after two months of -30 Celsius weather. That’s probably why EVERYONE was out! Anyways, no complaints!

Moving along…

The first two I saw my list to expire was 21 and Hancock.  I remember 21 only because one of my friends was madly in love with Jim Sturgess at the time this came out in theatres back in 2008 and she was so excited to go see this.  I didn’t go with her but somehow this movie stuck in my head, although there was a time I confused this with 21 Grams, which is a completely different story.  It had nothing to do with each other.

Either way, lets check out these two 2008 movies!

21 (2008)

21

Director: Robert Luketic

Cast: Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne, Aaron Yoo, Liza Lapira, Josh Gad

“21” is the fact-based story about six MIT students who were trained to become experts in card counting and subsequently took Vegas casinos for millions in winnings. – IMDB

I’m just going to write this.  I’ve written and rewritten how to begin this review for the fourth time now. Why? Its because after 2 weeks of seeing this, I’m still really in between on what I feel about this.  I disliked the length.  It just dragged on and on, trying to pile on drama and relationships and whatever else.  Seriously, it didn’t need that.  My guess it was to better understand each of the character’s and the role they play, especially with the main character, Ben, played by Jim Sturgess.  I hate it when I watch movies that are like that because I think they could condense it by like 30 minutes and build the intensity properly to get it moving along to where it all matters. But it didn’t do that and its a shame.

21

21 has a great cast.  Jim Sturgess is really good at Ben, math genius, aspiring doctor, financially struggling student, and then adding on the natural counting cards ability.  He grabs the role really well.  Then we have Laurence Fishburne in the supporting “villain” role because he’s just the guy who is trying to keep his job going because of his abilities to catch people trying to con the casino with whatever tricks.  Then behind this whole counting cards crew is their leader, professor and passé counting cards “master”, Prof Mickey Rosa, played by Kevin Spacey.  Let me tell you, Kevin Spacey is a kick-ass actor.  I’m sure I don’t need to tell many of you but I think of everything that he’s done (that I’ve seen), I don’t think there’s been one disappointing role.  On the flip side, I’m oddly a fan of Aaron Yoo.  He’s not in a lot of movies but somehow, he’s pretty whacky in what he does.  I like his vibe, I guess.  Nothing significant but just thought I’d mention it.

21

So, while the story was poorly executed, the length was ridiculous, the cast was great and the concept of this story (which is inspired by true events) is pretty fun.  This makes it sadly average.  I wish it was better. All it had to do was cut the drama.  That’s really strange coming from me, because usually I kind of like drama and romance but it just felt so pointless.

 Hancock (2008)

hancock

Director: Peter Berg

Cast: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, Eddie Marsan

Hancock is a superhero whose ill considered behavior regularly causes damage in the millions. He changes when one person he saves helps him improve his public image. – IMDB

I’ve gained a really incredible love for superheroes.  Not that I didn’t before but I only knew about Superman, Batman and Spiderman.  Its not what I grew up watching but now that’s all changed, which is a great thing.  Plus, I used to be pretty impressed with Will Smith. I’ve skipped pretty much everything since I am Legend.  Hancock was released around that time more or less, maybe a year difference.  I only remember this one because I remember my best friend seeing it and telling me it was decent.  Still, I wasn’t convinced for some weird reason.

Seeing it for myself the other night, the beginning sequence was a little iffy.  I’m going to be honest.  I almost wanted to shut it off after the first 10 minutes.  Hancock seemed REALLY over the top.  Like, they were trying too hard to make him an anti-hero because he’s just incredibly destructive and yet he doesn’t seem to think anything is wrong with it. That’s a little weird also.

hancock

But, it does turn around.  The turning point has to be Jason Bateman entering the scene as Ray, a guy that he saved and wanted to help him be seen as a hero while hopefully changing his image.  Of course, this is where there’s a tad bit of sarcasm and some destruction, a little difference in opinions and some action plus a little bit of laughs from all that mixed together. It changes the dynamics a little and that helps.  I found Jason Bateman’s character really enjoyable to watch.

The story is a little all over the place though.  It starts at this weird vibe for Hancock as a character that really doesn’t seem like a hero and then gives him some dude that convinces and tries to create a new image and then they add in a twist that really was out of nowhere.  Which worked well as a surprise thing.  It felt out of place but it did give his character of Hancock some substance and origin story and that works.

While it could have been better, I did get a few laughs from it.  I’m not so sure about Hancock as a superhero but I totally think Jason Bateman was great and there’s also supporting role by Charlize Theron and we all know there’s nothing to criticize about her. And that second half (or maybe third) was pretty good. 🙂

OVERALL…these 2008 films were rather average.  Both are watchable but both were flawed in their own way. It makes me think, what else was released in 2008? I’ll have to research that a little 😉

Have you seen 21 or Hancock? Did you like either one of these? 

Hope everyone has enjoyed Good Friday! 🙂

P.S. Movie reviews slacking ends now! This long weekend, other than moving, Fast and Furious marathon and first Disney theme: everything Snow White! 😉