Double Feature: The Kissing Booth 2 (2020) & Skyscraper (2018)

Welcome to the next double feature! I have to say that I may have given up on the alphabet format but I don’t think anyone else was really following that anyways…always get stuck at Q. Either way, next pairing are two movies I saw as breathers in between Fantasia screenings. The first is The Kissing Booth 2 (which I’m still wondering why I saw since I didn’t like the first one) and the second is Skyscraper which has Dwayne Johnson which is almost guaranteed a nice mindless entertainment movie night. Not exactly the typical sort of pairing but it is what it is.

Let’s check it out!

The Kissing Booth 2 (2020)

Director (and co-writer): Vince Marcello

Cast: Joey King, Joel Courtney, Jacob Elordi, Taylor Zakhar Perez, Molly Ringwald, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Meganne Young, Stephen Jennings

In the sequel to 2018’s THE KISSING BOOTH, high school senior Elle juggles a long-distance relationship with her dreamy boyfriend Noah, college applications, and a new friendship with a handsome classmate that could change everything. – IMDB

Following the events of The Kissing Booth (review), The Kissing Booth 2 resumes after a summer of Elle and Noah being together and they have to part ways because of Noah having to go to Harvard. Between juggling her emotions for Noah not being there, keeping herself busy, spending time with her best friend (and his girlfriend) and then trying to find money to fund possibly college in Boston without burdening her family and keeping her own secrets, Elle has quite a lot on her plate. Not only from Elle’s angle, The Kissing Booth 2 also focuses a little on Noah and Lee’s side. The Kissing Booth 2 is probably exactly as I’d expected it would go seeing as I still am wondering why I started it in the first place since I didn’t really enjoy the first one and not a huge fan of Elle’s character setup.

The whole world of The Kissing Booth 2 just always seem to have this missing thing that they aren’t hitting. This one tries to cover a lot of ground with different supporting characters and more conflicts. Its about friends and relationships and planning for the future. I just sometimes have this hard time believing that these characters and how they talk are teenagers in high school in this current day and age. Its a predictable sort of story and to be honest, this film was more enjoyable than the first because of one element and that’s the Second Lead Syndrome where I thought the new character and Elle’s new friend and dance partner that has some sparks, Marco portrayed by Taylor Zakhar Perez was fun and one of the better characters of this whole story. There seemed to be some good chemistry between the two of them especially in the dance competition part which was a lot of fun to watch overall. But then I have this deep love for Dance Dance Revolution so the whole Dance Mania competition was a highlight.

The Kissing Booth 2 is really nothing to call home about. I’d love to see Taylor Zakhar Perez in something else although it was announced that The Kissing Booth 3 is happening and was filmed back to back or something and just to finish this thing up, I’ll probably still check it out and cross my fingers that maybe the 2nd lead will get the girl (which probably won’t happen) but then I’m getting ahead of myself at this point. If you liked The Kissing Booth then you might like the sequel, if you didn’t, then maybe you are like me and found some joy with the second male lead and the dance competition.

Skyscraper (2018)

Skyscraper

Director (and writer): Rawson Marshall Thurber

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Moller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber, McKenna Roberts, Noah Cottrell, Hannah Quinlivan

A security expert must infiltrate a burning skyscraper, 225 stories above ground, when his family is trapped inside by criminals. – IMDB

Dwayne Johnson is definitely one of those actors that makes some fun and entertaining sort of action movies packed with one liners and just altogether a straightforward good time. The stories sometimes don’t have a ton of depth and are fairly predictable but if you already know what to expect then its almost always a decent little action romp. With that said, Skyscraper fits the bill of exactly what to expect. Set in a rather fictional Hong Kong (to anyone who knows the city well enough) in a fictional tall skyscraper, it might break the reality just a tad on that front as well as how ridiculously over the top a few of the action sequences are. For frequenters of Fast and the Furious franchise who has just been packed with these over the top unrealistic moments that people like to make Youtube videos to debunk how accurate it can be, Skyscraper is a usual deal especially when Dwayne Johnson’s character goes to jump off a crane to another building, there’s some strange physics going on there.

Its really hard to talk about movies likes these. On one hand, for serious moviegoers, its very obvious that there are a ton of flaws whether in shallow plot or some computer effects or even how some events flow and how certain scenes are structured. Its not going to be some award-winning movie. On the other hand, if you go by the standpoint of having exactly what is expected and for the mindless entertainment and some fun Dwayne Johnson moments, this is fairly harmless especially when a lot of his skyscraper moments involve duct tape, a common every day man trick which does keep the movie grounded a little more than expected.

Not to mention, Dwayne Johnson is accompanied by a supporting role by Neve Campbell who plays his wife in the movie. She actually has quite a useful point to make and actually speaks some decent Cantonese line. I always praise actors/actresses who are given these foreign lines and get it right on point. Although, that is definitely more of a personal thing. With that said, there are some good characters here plus I do usually enjoy Chin Han’s roles. Overall, Skyscraper was plain and simple a fun time. I acknowledge all the issues with it but at the same time, it was exactly what I needed when I chose to watch it.


That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019)

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019)

Hobbs and Shaw

Director: David Leitch

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren, Eiza Gonzalez, Eddie Marsan, Eliana Sua, Cliff Curtis, Lori Pelenise Tuisano

Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity. – IMDB

The ninth film in the Fast and Furious franchises heads into a change in gear as it turns around to focus on what used to be two side characters that rose over the last few films: Luke Hobbs, appearing first in Fast Five and played by Dwayne Johnson and Deckard Shaw, who made his appearance as a cameo in the 6th part and was the baddie in the 7th. Hobbs and Shaw are definitely fan favorites despite not being in the leading roles in the previous films. Breaking free (mostly) from racing and heists, this one puts them on the other side of the table as they are recruited to retrieve a stolen virus suspected to be taken from Shaw’s MI-6 agent Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) when she only did it to prevent it from getting into the hands of Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) but causing her to have a limited amount of time to take it out of her body before it kills her and the world. A true everyday hero story, right?

Its important to go into Fast and Furious films with rather simple expectations of being fulfilled by mindless entertainment. With Hobbs and Shaw, its expected also that it rides heavily on the love of these two characters specifically. The story takes the time to make this a little bit more of a personal adventure for the two as each of their families and backgrounds get revealed a little deeper from their family relationships, sibling rivalries and such. There are some absurd scenes and illogical moments but it all comes with the Fast and Furious title and is also expected. Hobbs and Shaw did everything that was expected of it, which is pretty good.

Except…Hobbs and Shaw also has a ton of flaws. Nothing about those expectations that were met but rather, in its polish of it all. For one, it runs quite long and in some parts does overstay its welcome. One of the main deals is that the Hobbs and Shaw insult sequences start off to be quite funny but as it happens over and over and over again, it does tend to be less so. At the same time, it also underuses a great villain role like Idris Elba which is like Terminator with a Transformer bike as Brixton Lore and yet, he never reaches the level of dangerous villain that would have been expected probably because of not so much screen time and most of it being caught in enhancements, chase scenes or fight scenes making his character fairly shallow (not sure if thats the right word to use here).

Talking about those fight scenes. On one hand, its great that everyone here has the ability to do the scenes and there is an attempt of keeping it a lot of close combat melee and such with props and whatnot. It has a nice angle with the finale which was a big one to say the least that had its great bits. When not in the chase scene or anything else, the big fight which was especially apparent compared to the previous scenes was the amount of cutting shots as the camera moves around too much, making the scenes less immersive to watch because there was no flow. It was honestly a bit too much with the size of the scene and amount of action going on.

Overall, Hobbs and Shaw is fairly on par with my expectations and also has elements that was slightly disappointing. Disappointment is a hard thing to get over with, possibly worse than a bad movie in general. Fact is, Hobbs and Shaw is still fun entertainment and it still has a lot of decent moments and funny one liners and comedic comebacks. The acting is alright and falls in character with these two characters especially and its hard to not love Hobbs and Shaw’s family like Shaw’s mother is played by Helen Mirren or especially Hobbs mother who commands her family by waving a flip flop around. Thing is, Hobbs and Shaw, if you look at it, is like a reboot of The Fast and the Furious but without the focus on cars and heists and yet for these two characters, its about family and two rivals finding friendship together right down to the romantic angle. It stays true to the values of the franchise, which is okay. At the same time, it does need some credit for bringing in some fun cameo roles like Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart for example.

Be sure to check out The Lambcast episode where I was guest on for a discussion/review of Hobbs and Shaw HERE.

Sunday Lists: Dwayne Johnson Roles, Ranked

Dwayne Johnson

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been one of the actors that have been very high on my radar. For one, he’s always made very entertaining movies regardless of what the movie feedback is or the depth of the story itself. There is always an impressive quality and character and that is because he always manages to make his character shine and in turn, the movie becomes a fun ride. Sometimes, that is what we all just need – to sit back and relax. With that said, there was no doubt that his roles were going to be ranked.

This list will be updated regularly as I see the films that I haven’t yet seen.

Hobbs – Fast Five (2011)/Furious 6 (2013)/Furious 7 (2015)/The Fate of the Furious (2017)

hobbs

David Okoye – Rampage (2018)

Rampage

Bob Stone – Central Intelligence (2016)

Central Intelligence

Maui (voice) – Moana (2016)

Maui

Spencer – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle

Raymond Gaines – San Andreas (2015)

San Andreas

Hank – Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)

Sarge – Doom (2005)

doom

Mitch Buchannan – Baywatch (2017)

baywatch

Captain Charles T. Baker (voice) – Planet 51 (2009)

Planet 51

Paul Doyle – Pain & Gain (2013)
Agent 23 – Get Smart (2008)
Chris Vaughn – Walking Tall (2004)
Jack Bruno – Race to Witch Mountain (2009)
Elliott Wilhelm – Be Cool (2005)

Movies Haven’t Seen/Can’t Remember

The Scorpion King – The Mummy Returns (2001)
Mugger – Longshot (2001)
The Scorpion King -The Scorpion King (2002)
Beck – Welcome to the Jungle (2003)
Boxer Santaros/Jericho Cane – Southland Tales (2006)
Sean Porter – Gridiron Gang (2006)
Joe Kingman – The Game Plan (2007)
Derek – The Tooth Fairy (2010)
Christopher Danson – The Other Guys (2010)
Driver – Faster (2010)
John Matthews – Snitch (2013)
Roadblock – G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)
Det. James Ransome – Empire State (2013)
Hercules – Hercules (2014)
Dwayne Johnson – Jem and the Holograms (2015)
Will Sawyer – Skyscraper (2018)
Dwayne Johnson – Fighting With My Family (2019)

Are you fan of Dwayne Johnson? Which role(s) do you like the most?

Double Feature: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) & Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

Welcome to the next double feature! This time we are doing a double rental feature. Both of these were films that I rented in the last little while and its one that we’ve been wanting to see and both are sequels.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle

Director: Jake Kasdan

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Rhys Darby, Bobby Cannavale, Nick Jonas

Four teenagers are sucked into a magical video game, and the only way they can escape is to work together to finish the game. – IMDB

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel to the 1995 Jumanji film. With anything like that, it takes a lot of care. For one, it needs to keep in mind that it is its sequel and keep the heart of it but also give it the modernized world standard. At the same time, still giving respect to the success of the first one. Luckily, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle makes it slight changes to make it not a remake but a sequel that happens years after the original. It acknowledges the original board game format and then gives the reasons of how it turns into a video game format. The whole player and video game world is one that works really well also plus they add in the four players and role-playing game style.

With that said, the heart of the film really is the cast themselves and how they interpret each of their roles. Dwayne Johnson always aims to please with his humor. It becomes hilarious to just watch these characters take on the opposite of who they are in reality, for better or for worse. In the case of his character, Spencer who is a nerdy scrawny nobody in school, this transformation aims to have a few laughs as he gets fascinated at being somebody. While on the other hand, we have the jock character who turns into Kevin Hart. After Central Intelligence (review), we are already familiar with how great Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson work as a comedic duo. They bring in a lot of laughs. However, Jack Black is the star of the show as he embodies a self-absorbed high school girl. I can’t imagine anyone else excelling at that role as he did. Pure entertainment!

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel that honestly didn’t really need to happen. Being a huge fan of the original, it was one that I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Luckily, as unnecessary as it was, it was a ton of fun and that was all it needed to be.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

sicario day of the soldado

Director: Stefano Sollimo

Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Matthew Modine

The drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro. – IMDB

You can check out the review of Sicario HERE.

In a nutshell, I was pretty enthralled with Sicario. Probably not so much that I went running to watch its sequel for a few specific reasons, the main one being that the ending of the first one was pretty gloomy and I wasn’t really down for anything like that. In many ways, Sicario: Day of the Soldado takes a different approach. It still has its twists and turns and it still maintains a pretty decent atmosphere and locks in those ethics and morals and the right and wrong of the situation. In that sense, the characters and the situation at hand all work out pretty decently. Plus, it takes the whole wondering how messed up a situation is when the government okays their people to make up a situation controlled by them to push the tension on other situations. It also looks at the extents of what is the greater evil and the means to meet the ends of a situation. Sicario has always been about making those big choices that feel wrong and its the heart of these stories especially when fighting cartels.

As great as watching Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin was in this film. Their roles are pretty great. Their characters do get quite a bit of change. However, if anything what it feels like here is that after Sicario, we already know to expect that things aren’t going to go as planned and that something is going to happen as a twist and there’s going to be something deeper to the story that is at hand. Because of that, it doesn’t quite hit as poignantly as the first one. I’m going to be honest that in my mind, I didn’t think that Sicario needed a sequel. The first movie shone because of Emily Blunt (for me) and taking her out of the equation now (because there was no way she was coming back), didn’t seem like it would work. Good news is that the movie still works, just not as effectively as the first one. Its still pretty good though.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films?

Double Feature: Central Intelligence (2016) & Rampage (2018)

What better way to start the week than with a Dwayne The Rock Johnson double feature, right? That is really all I have to say. Today’s pairing is one that happened to work out so I deliberately delayed Central Intelligence to pair with Rampage which I rented a few weeks ago.

Lets check it out!

Central Intelligence (2016)

central intelligence

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Smith, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, Jason Bateman, Aaron Paul

After he reconnects with an awkward pal from high school through Facebook, a mild-mannered accountant is lured into the world of international espionage. –IMDB

Jumping into comedies is a scary thing because you never know what type of humor is going to be on the other side. Baywatch (review) is a fine example of how humor didn’t work but the action did. Central Intelligence reminded me a little of Get Smart. There is a lot of over the top humor and somehow a part of me enjoyed it because Kevin Smith and Dwayne Johnson paired up and reminded me of the good old days in Hong Kong cinema when Stephen Chow and Andy Lau did God of Trickery (one of my fave films ever). Before long, I did buy into the humor and the random action and how great Dwayne Johnson’s character is and how scared and random reactions Kevin Smith had.

On top of all that, you get some great cameos with Jason Bateman and Aaron Paul which is pretty cool as well. Plus, there is this secondary story of how high school affects the present with a message about bullying and a positive message about standing up for who you are and all that good stuff. Its an action comedy and it remembers that all the time which makes it pretty well-paced with some exciting moments.

Rampage (2018)

rampage

Director: Brad Peyton

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Malin Akerman, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello

When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago. – IMDB

Rampage was on my anticipated list (I think) but my cinema track record this year is not too good so its all down to rentals to catch up. While Rampage didn’t get really good ratings, this sort of film is always up my alley. Big creatures, check. Dwayne Johnson in action, check. Video game adaptation, check. I went into this with the only expectation to have fun and let me tell you, I had some really pleasant surprises. It isn’t a masterpiece but there are some key things that I found here which I liked a lot and for those points, this one was entertaining.

Lets start with the elements I like, all the things I wanted delivered worked out really well. Three big creatures were done so well with the effects and graphics especially with Joe’s facial expression. Dwayne Johnson is also so charismatic in films and this one is no exception. There are some odd forced parts however, overall he wasn’t the issue. As a video game adaptation, it has the reputation to be a guilty pleasure and this one does fit into that category but then I do argue that most of The Rock’s films fall in that mindless entertainment category and it works for that purpose especially as I love not having to think too much during a film and just have fun.

Now, some good and some bad follows that part. I loved Malin Akerman as the villain here. She was quite impressive especially since the last thing I remember her in was 27 Dresses. I’m sure I’ve seen her in other things but I don’t remember right now. She did a fine job here. Now, I’m a little lukewarm on Jake Lacy, someone I thought did a fine job in Miss Sloane albeit a fairly smaller role. Here, he bordered a little on the annoying part. Talking about short roles though, Joe Manganiello has a cameo here and it comes and ends so quickly but his presence is always appreciated. My fave part though, has to be Jeffrey Dean Morgan and his role. Same goes for Naomie Harris who is an admirable actress that I really like in a lot of the roles she’s done. The cast here gave a lot of life to Rampage along with its creatures. Everything else was something of a generic sort of set-up but it managed to keep me interested and entertained so its a fun time overall.

That’s it for this Double Feature!
Have you seen these two films? Thoughts?

Moana (2016)

Its a lovely Sunday morning! Nothing like talking about some Disney! Today’s we look at 2016’s Disney film, Moana.

Moana (2016)

moana

Director: Ron Clements, John Musker, Don Hall, Chris Williams

Voice Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk

In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by the Demigod Maui reaches Moana’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the Demigod to set things right. – IMDB

The 2016 Disney film went to Moana. There was a lot of love for it because of its story and its strong female character and that this story isn’t the traditional princess finding a prince story but an independent girl following her destiny and saving her island. For all the above, I do like Moana a lot.

moana

 

Is Moana my favorite Disney movie? It isn’t. I can think of a few that are better crafted. However, it is a solid entry and a nice way for Disney to embrace the stronger women image. We had started seeing it in Frozen with Elsa and now at Moana, she truly is doing what she can without the added love story (like in Mulan). There is nothing wrong with love stories and for my own roots, I loved to see Mulan get its spot in Disney even if the story was never about love but about her courage, bravery for her family, much like Moana’s is. Seeing that Moana took the angle to simply avoid the love story angle and be about her getting over her obstacles was a really nice take. Moana also is colorful and visually appealing. It has to do with the warm setting and the vast open sea adventure that she takes. It still has the magical element which works well. In terms of characters, it also has of course, Dwayne Johnson who plays Maui, the demigod who caused all the problems in the first place and she has to find to fix it all. There are some cute sidekicks like the Moana pig and a silly one which is a weird and dumb chicken called Heihei. The grandmother plays the other role as an inspirational figure and something of a guiding light.

moana

 

Finally, a Disney film isn’t one without its musical elements. Moana definitely has a few fun and catchy songs. Our house is obsessed with You’re Welcome. The mention of it usually has that song stuck in our head for a while (guess what song is in my head now…). I can’t say that I love the soundtrack all that much though. It has some fun songs but nothing stuck a whole lot. But that might be because its so new and I haven’t watched it a ton of times. As nicely constructed and visually appealing as Moana is, its still somewhat of a good but not great experience. I love what its trying to do and it honestly all works together but somehow, I feel like its missing a certain grab for myself and I’m not completely sure why.

However, putting my own preferences aside, Moana is a well-crafted film. Its one that will have elements for both adults and children alike especially with its colorful environment and fun songs as well as its inspiring and silly characters, both human and animals. Its is a nice direction for Disney to take and I appreciate all of what it has achieved with Moana. Hopefully, we will be seeing more of these sort of films which help empower women characters and send them on some fun and adventurous quests.

Double Feature: A Bigger Splash (2015) & Baywatch (2017)

Time for the next double feature! I’m back on Netflix trying to get through some A-Z sequence, which I’ve failed the last few times due to different interruptions. I have a lot of catching up to do so here’s another go!

Let’s check it out!

A Bigger Splash (2015)

a bigger splash

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Cast: Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson

The vacation of a famous rock star and her boyfriend in Italy is disrupted by the unexpected visit of an old friend and his daughter. – IMDB

A Bigger Splash is already set for success with its stellar cast. I’m personally a fan of everyone here, except maybe Dakota Johnson but that is only because I haven’t really watched anything from her or I don’t remember since I’ve a few of the titles listed on IMDB. I know she’s in Fifty Shades of Grey but I haven’t seen that either. I will however say that in terms of acting and the location, A Bigger Splash has set itself up with quite a nice touch. This cast acts their pants off (in some cases, literally) because its quite the psychological drama here as we dive into the relationships. The story takes place mostly in the present however, we still see the past of how Tilda Swinton’s character Marianne was when she was dating Ralph Fiennes character Harry and then how Harry sets her up with this younger director, Paul played by the incredibly handsome and talented Matthias Schoenaerts.

I can’t say that I was particularly charmed by the story itself so much as the characters themselves. The four characters here were distinctive in their own way and they each have their own mysteries and depth to explore. The contrast of the characters was what caused a lot of the friction. It was a test of tolerance and acceptance and just change in life that brought on different perspectives. In fact, that was the most thrilling part to watch the relationship and the tensions build throughout the film. However, it makes sure to have these diverse characters to still have these fun moments as much as the quieter moments.

Overall, A Bigger Splash is quite the movie experience. Its most attractive part is its visual location and its cinematography as well as its complex characters.

Baywatch (2017)

baywatch

Director: Seth Gordon

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfanesh Hadera, Jon Bass

Devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchannon butts heads with a brash new recruit, as they uncover a criminal plot that threatens the future of the bay. – IMDB

For those who actually  had Baywatch, the TV series to compare with, they probably would have a lot of bad stuff to talk about. My husband definitely had his comparisons. However, I only watched maybe like 2 episodes of it in passing glance when I was young so I don’t really have anything to compare the source material. With that said, I am also a big fan of Dwayne The Rock Johnson because his films, no matter how dumb it may be, is always a harmless, entertaining time. Its mindless entertainment which happens to work in the beginning of 2018 as I’ve never been so busy and stressed before. With that said, there are obvious flaws with this film and it won’t be for everyone and its obvious it wasn’t since it got some incredibly low scores (aka 18% on Rotten Tomatoes).

To be honest, there is a lot of dumb jokes and bad humor however, in some really weird way, I spent a lot of time both laughing at the movie for its stupidity but also some time laughing at some of the other jokes. Is this my typical type of comedy film that I’d watch, or even a first choice? The answer is absolutely no. However, it was a surprisingly entertaining viewing experience. However, I do think that it is a movie that is in the completely mindless entertainment. Its for those who want to just shut off your brain completely and can enjoy some silly humor and extremely over the top action sequences. If that isn’t something you enjoy, then Baywatch is definitely not going to work.

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.

San Andreas (2015)

The first in a bunch of 2015 movies is going to be a disaster film.  If you missed the weekly adventures and updates, I got a good few 2015 movies for Boxing Day at some sweet deals. Instead of leaving them to sit on my shelf and forget about them until a few months later, I decided that I’m going to try and watch a few more 2015 a little earlier than a week before the Academy Awards.  As you can see, I chose to start with San Andreas so that is definitely not an Oscar choice, not by a long shot.  However, point is that I’m going to aim to get some 2015 titles watched, more than my little 25 movies or so that I’ve seen so far.

Enough of the rambling, let’s check out San Andreas! 🙂

San Andreas (2015)

San Andreas

Director: Brad Peyton

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Hugo Johnston-Burt, Art Parkinson, Paul Giamatti, Archie Panjabi, Ioan Gruffudd

In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey with his ex-wife across the state in order to rescue his daughter.-IMDB

Disaster films (based on natural disasters) always work their hardest to make sure their audience needs to suspend their belief as much as possible.  Thing is, its got itself stuck in a category that almost guarantees to be bad movie-making with just a lot of crumbling buildings, floods, and other natural disasters when Mother Nature decides to tell the world (or the city) to go to hell. We’ve seen it in 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow for somewhat more popular choices. Despite saying that, you all know that I’m one to be able to suspend my belief quite a bit and plus, I change how I talk about a movie based on my expectations of it. San Andreas is a fun film.  Its predictable and has those normal natural disaster film tropes but you know what those other movies don’t have? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This man can make (almost) any film work with his expressions, one-liners and just his towering build.  There are a thousand things that don’t make sense in San Andreas, like him leaving his post to save his almost ex-wife and daughter but for all those things, there’s also a decent cast and story that kind of works. My best comparison would be like watching Uncharted as a movie because the moment you feel safe, impending danger happens almost immediately after. That is what disaster films need to be.

San Andreas

 A huge pro in San Andreas was that the cast we have here and the decisions they make, not just our main hero, Ray (played by Dwayne Johnson) made good decisions.  We had little heroes in the younger cast who saves each other and really toughs it out.  The youngest kid, Ollie makes some good calls.  Sure, romances and family drama shouldn’t be in the forefront of disaster movies but sometimes, in moderation, I can accept its existence.  Some of those moments were to let us understand Ray a little better so that we’d connect with his character also and his relationship with his ex-wife, who had just gotten engaged to this rich real estate guy responsible for the sturdiest skyscraper. We follow four groups throughout the movie from the experts, played by Paul Giamatti and his team at Caltech, Ray and his ex-wife finding their daughter, their daughter and the two brothers that escaped the building and ex-wife’s fiance Daniel. This movie is almost two hours long so it can sustain those story lines rather well (in comparison to other disaster film plots).

San Andreas

I’m not an expert in earthquakes and tectonic plates, even US geography and where the fault lines are and all that stuff, so I’m not going to talk about how sound the expert (played by Paul Giamatti) and his research worked here.  Like I said, there is a bit of suspending belief so I’m not sure I have to understand in depth but I got the idea so you knew that imminent dangers was hitting across that area. However, I do have to give it to San Andreas that its special effects were quite spot-on.  Sometimes, there are some cheesy or bad effects but this one made it rather believable.  If there’s any truth to this, if anything like this happens, Caltech is the place you want to be 😉

San Andreas

Overall, San Andreas is a pretty decent disaster movie.  A good part of that goes out to the great cast.  I personally love Dwayne Johnson and Paul Giamatti a lot so they already had extra points before the movie started.  It satisfied that disaster movie craving and actually exceeded what I expected to be much more fun with some good effects and smart characters that I was able to enjoy it even more.

Have you seen San Andreas? What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy watching disaster films?

Furious 7 (2015)

Finally, we are at the latest addition to the Fast and the Furious franchise! Man, this franchise has gone through its ups and downs.  Mostly ups as we entered the last few movies.  The franchise as gone into a bigger and better direction with mostly great response due to whatever reasons: characters, heists, etc.  Its in its own category now and while none of them are masterpieces, its achieved its own special place in the fans’ hearts. That definitely includes me.

Before I go further into Furious 7, let’s get a little synopsis in 🙂

Furious 7 (2015)

furious 7

Director: James Wan

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Tony Jaa, Djimon Hounsou

Taking a little break from their last team-up, Dom (Vin Diesel) is home with Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) as they make a transition from the dangerous world of heists, bullets and fast cars. All this changes when the big bad brother of Own Shaw (Luke Evans), Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) calls up Dom, telling him that Han’s (Sung Kang) dead and that he’s hunting down whoever destroyed his little brother.  Already putting Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in the hospital, Dom and his team have to deal with this threat themselves.  Much to their surprise, a mysterious Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) shows up offering them a perfect chance to revenge Dekkard Shaw with the condition that they retrieve an advanced military technology called God’s Eye and protect the developer, Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), before a terrorist acquires it.

furious 7Just a matter of postponing putting up this review a few days, there’s been a ton of other reviews up.  Exactly like Guardians of the Galaxy, there isnt much I can say that hasn’t been said before.  I contemplated doing a point form post on this but then there would be too many spoilers and I don’t want that.  Fact of the matter was that, the movie was halfway through or not even, I leaned over to my boyfriend and said that this movie was already turning into one of my faves of the franchise.  Whether that feeling stuck by the end of the movie, I’ll reveal that at the end 😉

Furious 7 was my most anticipated movie of 2015.  There are various reasons.  One is Paul Walker and how they’ll get him out of the franchise after his tragic death in late 2013.  He is a key character and with that, it makes him hard to dismiss.  We’ve grown to love Brian O’Conner.  He’s a part of the family and honestly, if you are a fan, Dom’s family has pretty much turned into our family.  Each of the character’s have a spot in our hearts. Next reason is Furious 7 marks change. Partially linked with Paul Walker but the fact that even before his death, we’ve already know that Justin Lin will be stepping down as director and handing over the job to James Wan, primarily noted for his horror movie efforts.  Now, following those two points, Furious 7 is every bit intriguing to watch because there are script changes and casting to work around the circumstances they are in and that begs the question: can they live up to the last few films fun and intensity?

furious 7

Simple answer: YES!

There is so many yes for this one. Furious 7 is as awesome as its name.  This time, its not so much about being fast as it is about being furious, as they race with a window of time to obtain the God’s Eye and Ramsey, fighting top notch fighters in the various roles form Jason Statham and Tony Jaa being in that category.  Even Rhonda Rousey appears and fights with Michelle Rodriguez.  The action sequences are as over the top as they get and yet I appreciate every single moment of them.  I guess its when I watch these movies, I feel like I’m rather different.  I like movies dripping with machoism, big guys, fighting, over the top action, sexy and sleek revving cars, high adrenaline.  I love all that stuff.  Furious 7 lives up to the franchise they’ve been building on all those levels, brings in some new characters and makes it bigger, badder, meaner and crazier than ever. More fight sequences than racing cars.  At this point, when I walk into a movie in this franchise, I suspend every disbelief I have and just enjoy everything they throw at me. Everything and anything can happen and it doesn’t have to make any sense but you know what? It doesn’t matter, because that’s exactly what I’m looking for.  And probably what you should be too 😉

furious 7

This movie also experienced something for once in its franchise. Its is actually quite surprising.  Can you guess what it is? The plot was never something to call home about. Its usually extremely simple with one very huge end goal.  I never complain about it.  For the first time, Furious 7’s plot actually feels a little convoluted. There’s a whole lot of little things going on. A lot of which gets lost in the bigger plots that kind of try to overpower each other.  This time, it brings in family and revenge as a huge theme.  Its minorly a heist for the God’s Eye but more a rescue mission.  As much as Justin Lin loved to bring in lots of asses and skimpy girls, James Wan puts it right in your face even more.  I don’t care much for that (since I’m very much into guys) but I’m sure its more for the male audience that should dominate the viewing audience here.  I sidetracked there. The plot includes Letty’s amnesia and Brian’s embrace of quiet family life as side plots.  The bigger ones was supposed to be Deckard Shaw because that is how the previous movie ended and should be the focus. By the end, I almost forgot about it as they trashed Los Angeles with the terrorist dude wrecking havoc. I literally forgot about the fight between Shaw and Dom, and kind of laughed at myself at that moment. But, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.

***Next paragraph enters a little spoiler territory**

Really, what else is there to say about this one? I’m thinking Fast Five, Furious 6 and this one is sounding very similar.  Which is why this is not so much a review as just a write-up. This may not be quite as strong as Fast 5 (or 6) but its a lot of fun and there’s drama and the meaning behind this one is so much more just because we know that Paul Walker is no longer in the picture.  Paul Walker’s death and that last scene for the tribute was done really well.  I sat through the entire film wondering and worrying that they’d kill him off  but they didn’t.  The way they did it was perfect. It was classy and heartwarming.  Brian was ready to leave the bullets behind and be dedicated to quiet family life.  Once that song started and the beach scene, it meant just so much by saying so little and my tears just started falling.  It was as much the team’s farewell as it was ours to Paul Walker and Brian O’Conner. It makes us remember also that as much as Paul Walker’s career succeeded a lot to do with this franchise, it made me think of the others movies he has been in and a few of them are underrated.

I guess the best way to end this write-up of Furious 7 is with this tribute video:

Wow..this review just got really personal and kind of heavy. Furious 7 is a fun, entertaining ride. While how the franchise would take Brian O’Conner’s character out kept running around in the back of my mind, it never stopped me from enjoying Furious 7 for exactly what it is.  Logic and reason, common sense: nothing matters here. Its family, vengeance, action and a whole lot of explosion.  Anything that happens in Furious 7 goes.  Does a car flying through buildings make sense? Sure! How about no Air Force fighter jets coming when they are trashing LA? That’s okay.  Cars flying in mid-air and parachuting down to the mountainous roads? That works! Plus, Paul Walker tribute was done perfectly well. Did Furious 7 make it to be my favorite movie in the franchise? Not really but it sure has a memorable spot in there.

Did you see Furious 7? What did you think about it? Which is your favorite movie in the franchise so far?