Tag Archives: John Ortiz

Fast & Furious 6 (2013) Review

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Fast & Furious 6

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner
Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs
Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz
Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej Parker
Sung Kang as Han Lue
Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar
Luke Evans as Owen Shaw
Gina Carano as Riley Hicks
Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves
John Ortiz as Arturo Braga
Director: Justin Lin

Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is tasked with catching a team of mercenary drivers who manage to evade him every time. However, he enlists the help of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team in exchange for full pardons for their past crimes.

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Fast Five injected some much needed life and energy into the Fast & Furious franchise. It was a street racing action series, but its fifth movie made the switch to being a heist action movie and that worked really well. Not only was it the best film in the series at that point, but critics and audiences alike really enjoyed it. Director Justin Lin, who made Fast Five (as well as Tokyo Drift and Fast & Furious) directs the follow up with Fast & Furious 6. Whether or not its better or worse than the previous instalment, I think it’s around the same level, and I really enjoyed it.

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While I’m not sure on the whole it’s a better movie, I do think that the story of Fast and Furious 6 is more engaging than Fast Five. Rather than it just being another heist, it does take a slightly different story direction. It is definitely still in the heist/crime tone established with Fast Five, which is definitely to its benefit. However what makes it interesting is the way it changes it up. They team up with Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs this time instead of being chased by him. They are also up against another team of criminals led by Luke Evans, and as its pointed out in the movie, his team is like an evil mirror to Dom’s team. While you really only remember a couple of them, they do make for memorably formidable antagonists. Unlike the villain of 5 who’s just a guy they need to rob, you really feel that they are on the level of Dom’s team. And of course family is a notable part of the movie, this time the big family draw is the fact that the character of Letty (played by Michelle Rodriguez) is not only back from the dead after being assumed dead in the 4th movie, but is also in Luke Evans’s team and doesn’t appear to remember anything. This is a key reason why Dom decides to work with Hobbs and so it is a key part in the plot. I will say though that some of the reasons behind her return are very convoluted and farfetched to say the least. That aside, both aspects come together to make a story that I was interested in. Once again it is the strange but nonetheless effective mix of an approach that doesn’t take things too seriously, while being endearing in how it handles the story and characters and of course family. It also has a good mid credits scene that leads into Furious 7, well worth sticking around to watch.

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The main cast of Fast Five return, with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Sung Kang and Gal Gadot. They come into their own here, with great chemistry between them. I’d actually say that they are better here than they were in the last movie. The newcomer of the main cast in the last movie was Dwayne Johnson has Luke Hobbs, and as mentioned earlier is working with Dom and his team instead of pursuing them, he makes a great addition with them and they play off each other really well, as can be expected considering it’s The Rock. One of the main aspects of the movie is Michelle Rodriguez returning as Letty, and she’s a welcome returning player. The villain of Owen Shaw played by Luke Evans works quite well. He’s not great and isn’t that interesting of a character, however he’s definitely a step above the villains in the previous Fast and Furious movies. He isn’t intimidating and imposing especially when he’s put up against Vin Diesel or Swayne Johnson, but he is nonetheless shown to be ruthless and a different kind of threat that wasn’t in the past movies.

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Director Justin Lin returns from Fast Five for this, at this point he’s pretty familiar with the franchise. It mainly comes down to the action, and there’s not much to complain about there. There are some great set pieces and clearly a lot of thought went into them. They really benefited from energetic camerawork, solid editing and good practical effects. The action is even crazier and sillier than Fast Five, not at all worrying about the laws of physics, yet you are constantly focusing on what’s happening and entertained throughout.

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Fast & Furious 6 is around the same level of Fast Five for me. The action might not be quite as memorable as the action scenes in Fast Five, but here the story is a little more interesting, and the cast actually worked better. It’s a solid follow up to Fast Five and was quite enjoyable, among the better entries in this franchise.

Narc (2002) Review

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Contains Graphic Violence, Drug Use & Offensive Language
Cast:
Jason Patric as Nick Tellis
Ray Liotta as Henry Oak
Chi McBride as Captain Cheevers
Stacey Farber as Young Kathryn
Alan van Sprang as Michael Calvess
John Ortiz as Octavio Ruiz
Busta Rhymes as Darnell ‘Big D Love’ Beery
Director: Joe Carnahan

Tells the dark story of suspended undercover narcotics officer, Nick Tellis (Jason Patric), who is reluctantly drawn back onto the force to find the truth behind the murder of a young police officer killed in the line of duty. He is teamed with Henry Oak (Ray Liotta), the slain officer’s partner, a rogue cop who will stop at nothing to avenge his friend’s death. As Tellis and Oak unravel the case, the dark underbelly of the narcotics world reveals itself in surprising ways.

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I heard a little bit about Narc before going in. All I really knew about it was that it was a crime movie starring Jason Patric and Ray Liotta and directed by Joe Carnahan, who also directed Smokin’ Aces and The Grey, both of them being movies that I liked. Narc is also a pretty underrated movie that not a lot of people have seen or know about. It’s not great but if you really like crime dramas and thrillers, I’d say that it is well worth a watch.

Narc is not that long, at around an hour and 40 minutes long but it makes the most of that runtime. This is a familiar cop drama and doesn’t really do anything really new, especially with the pair up with two completely different cops. Nonetheless for what it is, it’s pretty good, and the story is pretty intriguing, and it ties together nicely towards the end. It’s a very bleak and gritty crime thriller and goes all in on that, and I liked it for that. The twists were well handled, you can’t necessarily predict which way the story is going in. Even when I had some vague idea where it might go, certain parts were different from what I expected it to be, especially the ending. I guess if I had some problems outside of the familiarity of the story, the subplots don’t work quite as well, which is mainly Jason Patric’s family life with his wife and baby. It’s a pretty typical thing for a cop drama to focus on, but it feels rather underdeveloped and we only have a few scenes of it to see, so we don’t really care about that aspect as much as I think the movie wanted us to. Though it wasn’t bad, and most of the story was handled well.

There isn’t a huge cast involved, but the acting all around was great. Jason Patric is basically the lead character in the story, an undercover cop returning from suspension after a fatal mistake that he made during a previous case. I haven’t seen Patric in a lot, but he played his role very well. It’s Ray Liotta here who particularly stands out, giving one of his best performances as a really hardened and rough cop. Liotta gives him a lot of depth and elevates the character even further. The two actors are the driving force of the movie, and while the whole younger and more straight laced cop paired with the rough and aggressive veteran cop is something that has been done many times before, Patric and Liotta’s dynamic make it really work. The supporting actors were good as well, from Patric’s wife played by Krista Bridges and even Busta Rhymes was really good.

Joe Carnahan’s direction was quite good, even though I’d say that this isn’t his best movie. At times it feels like Carnahan went a little too much regarding the editing, really stylistic at random points with split screens, montages and the like. But the really rough and messy portrayal of everything fitted the tone of the movie rather well.

Narc is a movie that hasn’t really been noticed by most people and is worth a watch, an overlooked little gem. The story isn’t really anything that special and the movie on the whole is rather familiar, but the performances from Patric and Liotta, as well as Joe Carnahan’s direction, do make it well worth watching.

Bumblebee (2018) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence & scary scenes
Cast:
Hailee Steinfeld as Charlie Watson
John Cena as Jack Burns
Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as Memo
John Ortiz as Dr. Powell
Jason Drucker as Otis Watson
Pamela Adlon as Sally Watson
Director: Travis Knight

On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee the Autobot seeks refuge in a junkyard in a small California beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the brink of turning 18 years old and trying to find her place in the world, soon discovers the battle-scarred and broken Bumblebee. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns that this is no ordinary yellow Volkswagen.

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Bumblebee was a movie I was curious about. I watched the first three Transformers movies many years ago and while I liked some of them, they were mostly just dumb action movies. However with Hailee Steinfeld but most of all Travis Knight, who directed Kubo and the Two Strings, involved, I was somewhat looking forward to it. Bumblebee is rather formulaic with its story, but it does a great job at what it is.

Now to get it out of the way, Bumblebee has a rather familiar story, it can be compared to The Iron Giant and E.T. and so it follows similar beats to those movies. Not that this is a huge negative but you can sort of tell which direction the story will head in, with not many surprises. The movie is rather straightforward, mainly driven by the relationship between Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) and Bumblebee. It also features the Decepticons hunting Bumblebee, the military trying to find Bumblebee, and that’s it. I bring this up because some of the Michael Bay Transformers movies could be overstuffed at times with plotlines and characters, unnecessarily so, Bumblebee however keeps things simple. There is nothing unnecessary in this 1 hour and 50 minute runtime. Something also really refreshing is that it feels very personal and not large scale. To get the idea about what I mean by personal story, The Iron Giant and E.T. comparisons are pretty accurate. This is really the first Transformers movie I saw really I actually care about the human characters, and the tone is very sincere and genuine. This film is set in the 1980s and throughout there is a feeling of nostalgia. For much of the movie it’s just focussed on Charlie and Bumblebee and their interactions, with much of the large scale events not necessarily being in the forefront of the movie. The stakes become world ending towards the end of the movie, but even then it still feels smaller scale and not overblown. So the third act doesn’t feel like a betrayal of the rest of the movie or anything. On top of that, while the ultimate antagonists of the film are Decepticons, it’s really just 2 of them (voiced by Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux, didn’t know that while watching), and none of them are Megatron (refreshingly he doesn’t appear in the movie at all). The writing itself was really quite good, nothing groundbreaking but it felt right for the story it was telling. Not to bring up comparisons to Michael Bay’s movies yet again … but the humour here works and isn’t like Bay’s disastrously hit or miss humour. As for the connections to the other Transformers movies, I’m not quite sure whether Bumblebee is a prequel to the Bay films or if it’s essentially a reboot. I guess we’ll find out as later films come out.

Hailee Steinfeld is the lead character and as usual she’s great. Her relationship with Bumblebee is one of the driving forces of the movie. Yes, the relationship does follow beats from Iron Giant and all that, but it nonetheless works really well. Steinfeld essentially has to sell it on her own as she doesn’t even have a voice to play off of, and she is great with it. John Cena plays the main military guy and he’s pretty good in his role, however he’s a little better at the more comedic aspects than the serious aspects.

Travis Knight’s direction is great and added a lot to the movie. Almost all of the CGI is great and really works, it definitely helps that it doesn’t use an absurd amount of CGI, only when it’s necessary. I think there were a couple shots in the climax where the green screen looked noticeable, that’s it really. The work on Bumblbee was particularly fantastic. Not only does he look like he’s there when he’s on screen but there are times where Hailee Steinfeld actually physically interacts with him, so you can tell that they probably built part of a seemingly real looking Bumblebee and made it look seamless. The action was also great. The Michael Bay Transformers movies can feature some great action scenes, however it can be very shaky, too up close, or completely not shown on camera, leading to some of the scenes being incomprehensible. Bumblebee’s action scenes on the other hand show everything and it’s really smooth and works well. Along with that, we do get to see some scenes featuring Cybertron and looks really great.

Bumblebee is by far the best Transformers movie. The direction and effects are great, and the story despite being familiar, feels personal and genuine and is done well overall. I know some people really don’t like the Transformers movies and that might put them off watching it (along with the fact that December is packed with plenty of movies), but I really do recommend checking this one out in the cinema because it’s really good, and I’d love to see more of these movies, especially with Travis Knight at the helm of them.

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) Review

Time: 102 Minutes
Cast:
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ava Hamilton
David Oyelowo as Kiel
Daniel Brühl as Schmidt
John Ortiz as Monk Acosta
Chris O’Dowd as Mundy
Aksel Hennie as Volkov
Zhang Ziyi as Tam
Elizabeth Debicki as Mina Jensen
Roger Davies as Michael Hamilton
Director: Julius Onah

The story, set in the near future, centers on a team of astronauts on a space station making a terrifying discovery that challenges all they know about the fabric of reality, as they desperately fight for their survival.

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God Particle was one of my most anticipated movies of 2017 and 2018. It was the talented cast, premise and the fact that it tied to the Cloverfield universe that had me interested. I admit I was a little worried since the movie was pushed back a couple times but I was still interested in it. A little while ago, the film was released on Netflix hours after the first trailer and retitled to The Cloverfield Paradox. Initially it seemed to be genius marketing for the film as the Cloverfield series had been known for its secret marketing. However after seeing it, it seems now that other reasons may have played a part in its sudden release. While I did like it, The Cloverfield Paradox didn’t quite live up to all the hype to say the least. There is some good to it though with the actors and some aspects of the story. Overall it just feels rather okay and not too much more than that.

I’ll first of all talk about this movie itself without all the ties to the Cloverfield universe. On the whole it feels like a passable normal sci fi horror movie, so pretty much like 2017’s Life, only not as good. The mystery wasn’t as interesting as it could’ve been, there are aspects of it that were intriguing but it really doesn’t do anything special with them. There were also some really out of place scenes that take place on Earth, which were apparently reshoots added because of test audiences’ reactions (more on reshoots later). The Cloverfield Paradox doesn’t particularly deliver on the horror either, it doesn’t help with the tone of some scenes, including a gag involving an arm. Speaking of the arm scene, there’s also some parts about the film that don’t really make sense. While I understand the Cloverfield aspects not being explained, most of the film’s plot should’ve been explainable, some things just happen with no logical explanation whatsoever. It’s just rather confusing looking back at what happened. Now onto the part about the connections to the other Cloverfield movies. The connections do feel a little forced, they weren’t as seamless as the connections in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Not only that, without spoiling anything, the connections it does have opens the Cloverfield universe up to so many possibilities that I’m not sure it was the right decision, future films will decide that. It seems that there was a reason why the connections feel forced. God Particle when it was written was originally not supposed to be a Cloverfield film. 10 Cloverfield Lane’s script was a spec script that was reworked into having connections but prior to filming (and when it was written) God Particle didn’t have any Cloverfield connections. Because of this, reshoots eventually were needed later on so that it would be a Cloverfield movie. Finding out all of this really explained a lot. I can’t tell how the movie would’ve been just as a non Cloverfield movie but I have a feeling it would’ve been better, without all the reshoots. The best part of the film was actually the ending, it may raise questions for some but it was the most effective scare in the whole film.

The characters weren’t all that interesting or great but the actors did a pretty good job with the material that they have. You have a really talented cast with Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Bruhl, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris O’Dowd, David Oyelowo and more. They all do a good job with what they have, no one here is phoning it in. If there’s a main character its Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character, who’s the most developed of all the characters, so its no surprise that she’s the stand out performance out of all of them.

The direction generally was good, it is a good looking movie. As previously mentioned, this movie wasn’t very tense, and the scenes that were meant to be tense really weren’t that effective at being tense. On the whole though, my main criticisms didn’t have to do with the direction as much as it was the writing (and as I said earlier the changes to the movie).

The Cloverfield Paradox unfortunately didn’t live up to the hype. I can’t tell what caused all the problems, whether it was all the reshoots and sudden changes or if the film wasn’t going to end up being that good anyway. I’m not even sure if you’ll enjoy it if you’re a Cloverfield fan, it might just make things more confusing and frustrating. I did find some good parts to the movie, including the cast and some of the ideas but it doesn’t come close to 10 Cloverfield Lane or even the original Cloverfield. Apparently a Cloverfield 4 is set for release in 2018 called Overlord (which will no doubt will be retitled to Cloverlord by the time it’s about to release). Hopefully this will tie into the universe better without feeling forced and is a better movie overall.

Kong: Skull Island (2017) Review

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language

Cast:
Tom Hiddleston as James Conrad
Samuel L. Jackson as Preston Packard
John Goodman as William “Bill” Randa
Brie Larson as Mason Weaver
Toby Kebbell as Jack Chapman
John Ortiz as Victor Nieves
Corey Hawkins as Houston Brooks
Jason Mitchell as Glenn Mills
Shea Whigham as Earl Cole
Thomas Mann as Reg Slivko
Terry Notary as King Kong (motion capture performance)
John C. Reilly as Hank Marlow
Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

A diverse team of scientists, soldiers and adventurers unites to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific, as dangerous as it is beautiful. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden in which humanity does not belong.

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Kong: Skull Island was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. This film is also set in the same universe as Godzilla (a film that I liked) as the MonsterVerse is being created. Plus the cast and the trailers looked good, so I was definitely interested in checking it out. Although there are plenty of problems with this movie, Kong Skull Island is still a fun and solid movie, mostly due to the fantastic direction.

The story isn’t particularly special, above average, it’s serviceable for a Kong movie. The dialogue at times was hit or miss, some of it worked, some of it was cheesy and occasionally bad. Most of the comedy didn’t work, it only worked when it was delivered by John C. Reilly. One thing I will say though is that this movie definitely knows what it is. It knows its an over the top action movie and it delivers in that regard. Kong doesn’t show up a huge amount (like with Godzilla in his most recent film) but it doesn’t cut away from Kong just as he is about to do something awesome. He is in the movie in small enjoyable doses and was used very effectively, he was awesome when he was on screen. As for the last act… so fantastic.

Now this film has a lot of talented actors, including Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, and Toby Kebbell. Unfortunately the film kind of wastes them and they don’t get to do as much as you think they would. However, these actors do try as best as they can, they still were good enough, they just should’ve been given more to work with. The actor who steals the show is John C. Reilly. He is entertaining, and also the only source of comedy which actually works.

What makes this film work effectively despite its flaws is the direction. This film is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts. This is his first ‘big’ film and I can say that he is a talented filmmaker, and I can’t wait to see more movies from him. The direction of this film is so great, on a technical level, everything is excellent. Something that was perfect was the cinematography, done by Larry Fong (Batman v Superman, Watchmen, 300). The film looks absolutely beautiful, not one shot felt out of place. The action is intense, the special effects looked great, there wasn’t a fake looking creature or effect. The film also does a good job at making it feel like its set in the 70s. The soundtrack by Henry Jackman also made things a lot more epic. The only criticism I have direction wise is some of the music choices and style felt out of place but that is it.

Kong: Skull Island definitely has some flaws with regards to its plot, characters and dialogue, but the overall direction boosts the film immensely, and almost makes me completely forget about all the problems. Overall I liked this movie about the same level as Godzilla, this film does some things better and some things worse. While the movie wasn’t as great as I hoped it would be, it was still quite a fun time. Also, make sure you stay after the credits, because there’s a post credits scene, and it’s well worth waiting to see it.