Tag Archives: Kurt Russell

F9 (2021) Review

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F9

Time: 145 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence
Cast:
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej Parker
John Cena as Jakob Toretto
Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto
Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey
Sung Kang as Han Lue
Michael Rooker as Buddy
Helen Mirren as Magdalene “Queenie” Shaw
Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody
Charlize Theron as Cipher
Director: Justin Lin

Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) is living the quiet life off the grid with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and his son, but they know that danger always lurks just over the peaceful horizon. This time, that threat forces Dom to confront the sins of his past to save those he loves most. His crew soon comes together to stop a world-shattering plot by the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they’ve ever encountered — Dom’s forsaken brother (John Cena).

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The long running Fast & Furious series just had its latest instalment (technically the 10th if you include Hobbs and Shaw) with F9. They keep getting more over the top with every movie while remaining kind of endearing, and I’m quite entertained by them. So while I wasn’t expecting anything special from F9, I knew that I would have fun, and certainly had that despite some issues.

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The overarching plot with the main goal does feel very familiar, even by the standards of the recent movies. The team have to get this particular world-ending weapon which that the antagonists are after, and the plot just so happens to be more larger scale than the last movie. It already turned into a spy series in Furious 7, becoming a more over the top Mission Impossible with further emphasis on the cars, and so they now have to raise the stakes with every future instalment. With that being the case, I do actually wonder how much they can really do for the last two movies of the series before the plot becomes literally about saving the world from being destroyed. Something that was very apparent when I was watching F9 is that it is absolutely packed with side quests, and that stood out even after having recently re-watched the movies in the series from 5 onwards. Sometimes the characters split off in groups to do different things and somehow it ends up being hard to follow everything that’s happening. At the same time there are some things that don’t make sense even by Fast & Furious standards, and is somehow complicated. That aside, the more recent Fast and Furious continues its interesting mix of not taking itself seriously while being genuine with the way it takes its characters and story somewhat seriously. There is a further emphasis on the story and characters in this movie to a degree, with the soap opera reveal that Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) has a brother that he never mentioned before in the prior films, and whom they are up against in this movie. Not only that, but there are a number of flashbacks which show Dom and his brother Jakob when they were much younger, and what caused their rift and put Jakob where he’s at presently. Not that I don’t appreciate that the filmmakers went through the effort to actually show what happened, but by the end it doesn’t really resonate as much as it was intended to. Overall, the story is very flawed, is sillier than before and even feels formulaic, however I was still interested in it throughout. For those interested, F9 does have a mid-credits scene, and if you’re a fan of these movies I think it’s worth sticking around for.

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F9 has the returning cast of Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, they don’t really have a huge amount to do by Fast and Furious standards but are still enjoyable as usual. It really is lacking Dwayne Johnson from the past few movies but it is nice to see Jordana Brewster back as one of the team in her role as Mia Toretto. After Fast Five she was only making brief appearances and now she’s back as one of the main players. Also as hinted in the trailers, there’s the return of Han played by Sung Kang, who was shown to be killed off in Tokyo Drift, the mid credits scene of Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7. It’s nice to see him back in the team again, though he doesn’t do quite as much in this movie as you would think. As for the explanation for how he’s back from the dead, it’s a little unbelievable, convoluted and very far fetched, yet still rather underwhelming. However I think I’m fine with it, as long as the series doesn’t pull another one of these retcons again. Kurt Russell and Helen Mirren provide some good supporting work as they reprise their respective roles. John Cena was one of the most advertised actors in this movie, as he’s playing Dom’s long-lost brother. Cena can actually act well, although despite the critical role he has to play in the film, he doesn’t really have much to work with. He has a past with Vin Diesel and that’s it, he doesn’t have much personality really, which is strange considering that Cena is definitely a charismatic actor. Charlize Theron as the character of Cipher seems to be intended to be the overarching villain for the Fast and Furious series from Fate of the Furious onwards. However she doesn’t have as much involvement with the plot of F9 as you would initially think, unlike how the trailers showed it, she’s not teaming up with Jakob against Dom. For much of the movie she just spends her screen time in a plastic prison cell, Hannibal Lecter style. I get that they are trying to connect her to every movie in the series from this point but really, she could’ve been written out of this film, and not changed the plot that much. It’s hard to say Cena’s Jakob is the full on main villain of the film, and Theron’s Cipher certainly isn’t. So if there is a clear cut villain in this movie, then the only one left would be the character of Otto played by Thue Ersted Rasmussen, who’s usually in the background and is incredibly forgettable. If he really was intended to be the main antagonist of the film, than he would have to be the worst main villain in the entire series.

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Director Justin Lin makes a welcome return to the Fast and Furious series, after directing Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6. As expected he brings such an energy to the movie that gives it a lot of life, it’s shot and edited well, and there’s a lot of attention to detail. The action goes into further levels of absurdity, even more so than the past movies. To a degree, it does feel like its running out of steam in terms of what action can be done with cars. However they still manage to be fun, there’s particularly some fun action involving magnets. Then there’s a particular moment hinted in the trailers that may involve outer space, and while I won’t elaborate on that, it is quite the highlight.

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I do actually wonder how much there’s really left in this series, with the absurd twists and retcons, the physics breaking action and the like. There’s a fine line that the series has walking, and while they haven’t crossed it yet, with F9 it’s pretty clear that they are pretty close to doing that. Speaking of the movie by itself though, I did enjoy it. I think at the very least, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7 are better than F9. However I can’t deny that I had a lot of fun watching it, and I’m looking forward to watching the next movies.

The Hateful Eight (2015) Review

Time: 168 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence, sexual violence & offensive language
Cast:
Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren
Kurt Russell as John Ruth
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue
Walton Goggins as Chris Mannix
Demián Bichir as Señor Bob
Tim Roth as Oswaldo Mobray
Michael Madsen as Joe Gage
Bruce Dern as General Sandford “Sandy” Smithers
James Parks as O.B. Jackson
Director: Quentin Tarantino

While racing toward the town of Red Rock in post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) encounter another bounty hunter (Samuel L. Jackson) and a man who claims to be a sheriff. Hoping to find shelter from a blizzard, the group travels to a stagecoach stopover located on a mountain pass. Greeted there by four strangers, the eight travelers soon learn that they may not make it to their destination after all.

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I had been meaning to rewatch The Hateful Eight for a while. I remember looking forward to The Hateful Eight ever since its announcement, mostly because of Quentin Tarantino’s involvement. We nearly didn’t get this movie when the script leaked and Tarantino initially wanted to not do it, but I’m glad he changed his mind because The Hateful Eight ended up being really great. Having rewatched it (the recently released extended version), I now consider it to be one of his all time best movies. The acting from its large and talented cast is fantastic and Tarantino’s script is great, it had me riveted from start to finish.

Quentin Tarantino is generally great when it comes to writing, and his script here is among his best work. This movie like his many of his others are dialogue driven, and unsurprisingly the dialogue is fantastic, no one writes dialogue like him. The theatrical cut is very long at 168 minutes and people need to know that going in. Also it’s not like an explosive action movie, it’s a suspenseful mystery film and moves at quite a slower pace. Once all the main characters are in the same place in the same house, it builds up the suspense as we spend time with the characters and have to try to figure out if they are trustworthy or not. It definitely improves on a repeat viewing, because you know exactly what is going on. People only really start dying around the halfway point, from then on it becomes very tense. So if you are a little bored during it, the second half should pick up for you. None of these characters are particularly good people, in fact in terms of lineups of Tarantino characters in each of his movies they are easily the most despicable group, but they are entertaining and interesting enough that you’re still willing to watch them for just under 3 hours. This movie was surprisingly darkly hilarious as well, it really had me entertained throughout. As for people who have seen the movie already and are wondering about the extended cut, Netflix broke it up into 4 50 minute segments, making the movie about 3 and a half hours long. I looked up at some parts of it, and the parts that did add in were written pretty good. Otherwise for the most part I didn’t notice too many differences, and you’re not necessarily missing out anything major. So if you’re watching the movie for the first time, it might be better to go with the theatrical cut.

This cast is large and talented with Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern and James Parks and they were all fantastic, there were a few highlights though. This is one of Samuel L. Jackson’s all time best performances, he just absolutely nails this role. This was actually the first movie I have seen Walton Goggins in, and if I was forced to pick a highlight performance among plenty of other great performances in this movie, it would be his. Another showstealer was Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is amazing here as the prisoner being taken by Kurt Russell’s bounty hunter. I do feel like the writing didn’t give the character quite as much to do in the movie as she could’ve, but JJL really brought it to the performance. Channing Tatum also makes an appearance that’s a little more than a cameo, and I will say that he is great in his screentime, very different role for him.

Tarantino once again directs this film really well. One of the first things you’ll notice about this movie is Robert Richardson’s cinematography, it’s a stunning looking movie. It really felt like we were back in the 19th Century and it really places you in this snowy environment, we don’t really get that with Westerns. The Hateful Eight is a much smaller movie compared to Django Unchained, there are very little action or scenes with violence. It’s very much a suspense and mystery film, almost like a longer and Western version of Reservoir Dogs. There aren’t a whole lot of people being killed like in Kill Bill or Django Unchained but when people die, it is unsurprisingly violent in pure Tarantino style. However this time it’s much more brutal than you’d expect it to be, which fits the tone of the movie. The soundtrack from Ennio Morricone was masterful, he actually used some unused music from The Thing as part of it. It fits absolutely perfectly for this movie.

The Hateful Eight is yet another fantastic film from Quentin Tarantino that has gotten a bit of a mixed response from some people, but it really worked for me. From the fantastic writing, the great performances and direction, everything about this movie I really loced. This Hateful Eight definitely does hold up on repeat viewings, in fact it gets better upon rewatches. Both this and Inglourious Basterds are now my favourite movies from Tarantino, and I’m looking forward to seeing if Once Upon a Time in Hollywood manages to be at that level.

Death Proof (2007) Retrospective Review

Death Proof

Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Offensive language, violence and content that may offend
Cast:
Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike
Rosario Dawson as Abernathy
Vanessa Ferlito as Arlene
Jordan Ladd as Shanna
Rose McGowan as Pam
Sydney Tamiia Poitier as Jungle Julia
Tracie Thoms as Kim
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Lee
Zoë Bell as Herself
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) is a professional body double who likes to take unsuspecting women for deadly drives in his free time. He has doctored his car for maximum impact; when Mike purposely causes wrecks, the bodies pile up while he walks away with barely a scratch. The insane Mike may be in over his head, though, when he targets a tough group of female friends, including real-life stuntwoman Zoe Bell (who served as Uma Thurman’s double in “Kill Bill”), who plays herself.

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I remember when I first saw Death Proof many years ago, I heard it was his worst movie, but I was expecting that going in, and I was just expecting a reasonably okay movie. I was still immensely disappointed in the end result, it was overlong and dull, and for a tribute to exploitation movies in general, it partially misses the mark. Having rewatched a lot of Quentin Tarantino’s movies in the lead up to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, I decided to watch Death Proof again, to see if I still felt that way about the movie. While I didn’t dislike it as much when I first saw it, most of my feelings on the movie haven’t really changed all that much.

As it’s a second review of the movie, I might delve into spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the movie yourself that just know this. Personally though I don’t think much of the experience could be ruined by spoilers. The biggest problem of the movie is that it tries to do two things at once, and they doesn’t work together. On one hand it’s meant to be an exploitation tribute movie, it was even paired with Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror in a collection called Grindhouse. It certainly gets the sleaze aspect correct, and it does have some moments of the graphic violence that you’d expect. There are no doubt some grindhouse elements, and the concept alone sounds like a exploitation movie. However, Death Proof movie also tries to be dialogue driven, and it just doesn’t fit the movie at all. All of Quentin Tarantino’s movies, save for Kill Bill Vol. 1 (and maybe Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds) are dialogue driven, and Death Proof is no exception. For those who don’t know, exploitation movies are rather trashy, and usually filled with a bunch of explicit content, whether it be violence or sex. Not that I necessarily need that to enjoy the movie, but considering what it’s supposedly aiming to be, the focus on a lot of dialogue is just rather confusing. Even if you were going to try to make it work, the dialogue in the movie isn’t necessarily bad but it’s nowhere near as captivating as his other movies, it’s really weak. I didn’t dislike it as much as the last time I saw the movie but its pretty underwhelming. Usually Tarantino writes some very memorable characters. Taking Kurt Russell’s Stuntman Mike out of it however you don’t really remember the characters outside of the actors playing them.

The movie is split into two halves. The first half is mostly at a bar, it’s not that good but at least you feel like it’s really building up to something, with Stuntman Mike around the group of characters. The second half is much different. It starts with Stuntman Mike but then he disappears and doesn’t really come back till like the last 20 minutes of the movie, so there’s like no tension whatsoever and you’re just watching these uninteresting characters just talk about random things, except (as I mentioned the earlier) the dialogue isn’t all that good. Sure, there really wasn’t a lot happening in the first half but at least you felt like he was around to pose a threat. The second half also contains a questionable at best scene where the girls leave Mary Elizabeth Winstead with a guy who just so happened to play a trucker rapist in Kill Bill, and they ended the scene with some very unnerving implications to say the least. I’m not even sure what the point of that scene even was, because if anything that just makes us not care about these characters. While I do like the idea of making having a switch around with Stuntman Mike then being chased by the lead women, the fact that he just went after them in broad daylight was a little far fetched and kind of out of character for him considering how slowly he took his time planning his murders in the first half. Still, the last act was entertaining and a fitting way to end the movie. The movie is under an hour and 50 minutes long and it definitely feels far too long, probably shouldn’t have been more than 80/90 minutes. Honestly if you cut out (or at least shortened) quite a lot of the dialogue, you might’ve been able to make the movie shorter and overall a lot better.

Kurt Russell is one of the most recognisable actors in the movie as Stuntman Mike, although being listed as the lead, he just sort of appears on screen every so often. With that said, he kills it in all of his scenes as a serial killer who uses a car instead of a knife or a chainsaw. And when he gets shot in the third act and finds himself on the run, his sudden change in acting was effectively hilarious. The first group of women included Vanessa Ferlito, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Jordan Ladd and Rose McGowan, with the second group consisting of Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Zoe Bell (as herself). All in all they are at about the same level, they are alright but can only do so much. I really just didn’t care about these characters, which really was the main problem.

Quentin Tarantino directed this, and I think he mostly did a good job with it. He manages to make Death Proof look like an exploitation movie, some of it works, other parts don’t. The effects and filter on the screen is done to make it look like an exploitation movie, there’s even parts where the screen blacks out a second, meant to look like it’s changing to the next film reel. In the first part of the second half, the screen turned black and white (I guess it’s meant to be like meta with projectors losing colours) and when it returns, the scratchy effects are completely absent all the way to the end of the movie, never really understood why that happened. The car scenes themselves are good, it really consists of just 3 though, the crash with the first group of women, the bit where Russell is chasing the second group of women with Zoe Bell on the roof on the car, and him getting chased himself. The crash scene is straight out of a grindhouse movie, with the impact happening and rewinding to see the absolute damage it happened on everything and everyone. The chase with Zoe Bell on a car (who’s a real stuntwoman and she certainly performed that scene well that well) was very thrilling. And of course the final chase was gratifying as Russell found the tables turned against him. I don’t remember the soundtrack of Death Proof that much but I remember the songs fitting the movie reasonably well, which Tarantino does well in all of his movies.

Quentin Tarantino has a near perfect lineup of movies on his filmography, but Death Proof stands out in a bad way, by far his worst movie. If you like a lot of his other movies and haven’t seen this one yet, it’s worth giving it a chance at least. Just make sure not to take the movie seriously at all. Having seen this movie twice, I still don’t think it works. As for making effective tributes to exploitation movies, Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror seemed to be way more aware of the movie it should be trying to be.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Retrospective Review

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Vin Diesel as the voice of Baby Groot
Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket
Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Pom Klementieff as Mantis
Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha
Chris Sullivan as Taserface
Sean Gunn as Kraglin
Sylvester Stallone as Stakar Ogord/Starhawk
Kurt Russell as Ego
Director: James Gunn

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his fellow Guardians are hired by a powerful alien race, the Sovereign, to protect their precious batteries from invaders. When it is discovered that Rocket has stolen the items they were sent to guard, the Sovereign dispatch their armada to search for vengeance. As the Guardians try to escape, the mystery of Peter’s parentage is revealed.

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In the lead up to Avengers: Endgame, there were a few movies I wanted to rewatch beforehand. The first was The Incredible Hulk, which I reviewed very recently. The other two were Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Captain America: Civil War. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was a movie I was mixed about when I first saw it, while the second movie had some of the things that made the first movie so good, it felt like some things were missing and it just didn’t work for me. However, I decided to give it another go so that I was sure how I felt about it, and I’m glad to say that after my second viewing, I like the movie a lot more now.

As this is a retrospective review, I will be going into some spoilers throughout the movie, so if you haven’t seen the movie you should probably watch it first before reading this. I think probably the most jarring part that might’ve prevented me from liking the movie as much as I could’ve when I first watched it was that it wasn’t as fast paced and action packed as the first one, it’s a very different kind of movie. Most of the movie is most of the Guardians of the Galaxy (aside from Rocket and Yondu who have their own plotline elsewhere) on planet Ego, so for a large portion of the movie, not much is happening plotwise. It seemed to be much more focussed on characters, and in that it did rather well, even if it took me 2 viewings to appreciate it. The movie is about family, when it came to Peter and Ego, Peter and Yondu, Gamora and Nebula, and so on. It’s by no means anything original, even when it comes to comic book movies, but still they pulled it off rather well. The jokes worked a lot better for me this time too. One of the main criticisms of the MCU is that some of the jokes can take away from the dramatic and emotional impactful scenes, and I regarded this movie in my original review as suffering from that heavily. On a second viewing however, I found that it doesn’t take away as much as I thought it did. With that said, I I feel like it really only is effective on an emotional level at the end of the movie. I still consider the Yondu death scene one of the highlight MCU scenes, very well executed, the final moments on the whole were really well handled. With a lot of the other MCU movies building up to Infinity War and setting up things, it is nice seeing an instalment that’s working as its own story first and buildup second.

The cast generally did well, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and the rest all do commendable jobs in their roles. Dave Bautista’s Drax in this movie wasn’t as bad as I remembered him being. I remembered him as being such a laugh machine (as in he would laugh a ton) compared to the first movie, and was just really distracting and annoying. While it’s still kind of true, I didn’t mind him as much now. Baby Groot from the trailers look like they were going to overuse him to an annoying amount and rely on him too much, but they utilise him well and don’t overdo it. Michael Rooker’s Yondu got to shine a lot more here and he was paired with Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Racoon for a large amount of the film, the two of them played off each other very well. Karen Gillan’s Nebula also has her storyline with Saldana’s Gamora, which further developed both characters and their relationship. The newer additions were also good. Mantis (played by Pom Klementieff) unfortunately in both this movie and Infinity War hasn’t been utilised a lot (I’m unfamiliar with the character from the comics), but still she was a nice addition to the group. Kurt Russell was great as Star Lord’s father, Ego, the secret main villain of the movie. In my original review, I mentioned that his character kind of goes downhill after he’s revealed and becomes a typical big CGI villain that needs to be dealt with (or I implied it at least, with it being a non-spoiler review). While he’s not as strong (as in interesting) in the third act, seeing the movie again he still works reasonably well. Sylvester Stallone also appears here, and while the idea of him in a Guardians of the Galaxy movie sounded fantastic, he appears for like two scenes, with the first just being to deliver a bunch of exposition about Yondu. Unless he reappears in the sequel, I’m not exactly sure why he’s here (unless it was only just meant to be a cameo). The characters who suffer the most no doubt were The Sovereign. You see them at the beginning as the Guardians try to escape them after Rocket stole some of their batteries and then at the end when they track them down when they’re facing off against Ego. It’s like they’re only in this movie so that Rocket could steal something that would eventually be used in the climax. When they do show up at the end, they don’t pose really any threat against the Guardians. I guess it wouldn’t feel as bad if a talented person like Elizabeth Debicki wasn’t in the role of the leader of the Sovereign, she really isn’t given anything to do here. Hopefully they get a chance to actually do something in the third movie, one of the credits scenes at least implies that they’ll play a part in the sequel.

James Gunn directed the movie as well as he did with the previous movie. This movie is visually stunning, it really is one of the best looking movies in the MCU. While there weren’t as many action sequences as in the previous movie, they are fast paced and very entertaining. Probably my favourite of these scenes are when Yondu and Rocket are taking back the ship from the mutineers and Yondu’s arrow is flying all around the ship killing people, so well edited and put together (and plus the use of Come a Little Closer by Jay & the Americans helped quite a bit. I loved the soundtrack from the first movie, however the music picks for the second movie are taken to the next level. Brian Tyler’s score also shouldn’t be overlooked.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 worked a lot more for me when I saw it again. It’s a visually stunning and entertaining movie, while also having some very effective emotional bits to it. I still think that the first movie works better but I can appreciate the second movie, and consider it to be in the top 10 best MCU films so far.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) Review

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Vin Diesel as the voice of Baby Groot
Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket
Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Pom Klementieff as Mantis
Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha
Chris Sullivan as Taserface
Sean Gunn as Kraglin
Sylvester Stallone as Stakar Ogord/Starhawk
Kurt Russell as Ego
Director: James Gunn

The team struggles to keep its newfound family together as it tries to unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) true parentage in the outer reaches of the galaxy.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 was one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. At the same time though, I felt a little worried about the movie as its release date got closer and closer, the marketing didn’t really sell this movie as being much more than just more of the same Guardians of the Galaxy. After seeing it I have to say that while it was a lot better than I thought it would be, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. is one of the weaker entries of the MCU. It’s balancing of the humour and handling of the characters really didn’t always work, and it could’ve been handled a lot better. With that said, the movie is entertaining, some of the humour worked and there are some surprisingly effective emotional moments. This movie is still decent overall, the MCU still hasn’t made a bad movie.

This plot of the movie is more personal, as Peter Quill is finally meeting his father Ego. This storyline is the main focus of the movie, and it was great. However, the conclusion of this storyline was quite underwhelming. There are surprisingly some emotional moments, some of them worked, others didn’t work so well (I’ll get to that in a moment). Despite some of the emotional scenes being hit or miss, I can say that there is a certain scene in the last act which is probably one of the best scenes in the MCU, you’ll know exactly which scene I’m referring to when you see it. Now a reason that some of the emotional scenes didn’t work was because a lot of times the humour actually decreases its impact. Something that really needs to be addressed is the humour in this movie. The use of humour was very hit or miss. The first movie had a lot of jokes but it was balanced out well with the characters and story. This movie however hammers you with an overload amount of jokes and at times it felt like (at least early in the movie) it was just relying on that. The first half of the movie is all fun and humour, the second half is more dramatic and ultimately better, even though there is still a little too much humour in there. Overall this movie had my full attention throughout, even if at the times the story wasn’t the strongest, I was at least entertained. As for post credits scenes, there are like 5 mid-credit scenes in the movie, all of them really weren’t needed, some of them could’ve been fitted inside the ending of the movie before the credits rolled. But some of them at the very least have me interested to see what the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie will be. There’s definitely a lot of potential for a great movie.

The actors all do a great job in their roles but the handling of the characters in this movie was a mixed bag. The best character in the movie by far is Michael Rooker’s Yondu, there is more focus on him this time than in the previous movie. He just has so many great moments in the movie. Also, the interactions between him and Rocket Racoon was absolutely perfect. Fantastic paring. Kurt Russell was also a highlight of this movie, it was great seeing him as Ego interact with his son Peter Quill (played of course by Chris Pratt), however as I said earlier, the payoff of that relationship was underwhelming and weak. Still, Kurt Russell played his part well, and was a scene stealer. Most of the original cast worked well. Zoe Saldana’s Gamora got to interact with Karen Gillan’s Nebula quite a lot, which worked well because of the conflict between them, and we also get to learn about Nebula’s history with her father Thanos. However, I felt that the storyline could’ve been a bit stronger and had more focus on it. Baby Groot wasn’t annoying like I thought he would be but he did feel overused and constantly forced into the movie just to be adorable. As for Dave Bautista’s Drax …. he really wasn’t used well at all. When he’s not a complete joke machine, he is laughing, like all the time. Also, there wasn’t really any arc to him. Sylvester Stallone makes an appearance in the movie, he doesn’t play a huge role but he was great in his short screentime and I can’t wait to see more of him in the future. As for the villain of the movie, I won’t go into spoiler territory. But I will say the villain for was great for most of the movie, but then the last act just reduced them to a simplistic typical MCU villain just to make an explosive climax, and ultimately had a poor payoff. Speaking of villains, there are some secondary villains in the movie who pop up every so often to cause problems, they were incredibly pointless and distracting. While in the long run I understand why they were in the movie, they really could’ve been handled better.

Directionwise, what you saw in the first film is what you get in the sequel, just on a much larger scale. The CGI and action were all really good, no real complaints there. The designs of everything from the ships, to the characters, aliens and the worlds are very creative. The makeup on all the types of aliens were also excellent. The soundtrack (as expected it being a Guardians of the Galaxy film) was very entertaining and well suited for the movie and tone with its use of the score and classic music.

Personally, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 wasn’t as good as the original. The handling of the plot was a bit of a mixed bag, not all the characters were used that well, there was a complete overload of jokes, most of it didn’t work within the movie and a lot of it detracted the effectiveness of the emotional moments. Despite all its many faults however, I do think that it’s worth checking this movie out. This movie is still entertaining overall and it has many elements which work very well (with some surprisingly emotional moments too), it’s just that most of them could’ve and should’ve been done better. Still, I recommend watching this, even if you didn’t like the first movie.

The Fate of the Furious (2017) Review

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs
Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw
Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges as Tej Parker
Scott Eastwood as Eric Reisner/Little Nobody
Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey
Kurt Russell as Frank Petty/Mr Nobody
Charlize Theron as Cipher
Director: F. Gary Gray

With Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) married, Brian and Mia retired and the rest of the crew exonerated, the globe-trotting team has found some semblance of a normal life. They soon face an unexpected challenge when a mysterious woman named Cipher (Charlize Theron) forces Dom to betray them all. Now, they must unite to bring home the man who made them a family and stop Cipher from unleashing chaos.

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I wasn’t sure about how I would feel about The Fate of the Furious. I liked all of the previous instalments of the Fast and the Furious franchise (haven’t seen the fourth though), especially the more entries in the series. However, the series has started to feel tired and forced, so I had no idea what I would think of the movie. Honestly, The Fate of the Furious surprised me, it’s one of the best movies in the series, with it being completely over the top, but also having a fitting story which tied everything together well.

What this movie did better than the past two Fast and Furious movies (which I still enjoy) is that it doesn’t focus unnecessary attention on other plot points. In Furious 7, while it’s a revenge story with Statham hunting down Diesel and his crew, it unnecessarily focussed on a pivotal device called ‘God’s Eye’, which it really didn’t need. Fate is a lot more straightforward and benefits a lot from that. I was never bored throughout the movie, the pacing of the movie was quite fast and at the same time it never felt rushed. As for the main plot point of the movie, the reason for Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto betraying his team (without spoiling anything), it is really well done and works for the movie. This movie does work on an emotional level surprisingly, it’s not just entertaining, there’s enough in this movie to actually care about what is going on. I was entertained from start to finish, Fate of the Furious was a very fun ride.

The acting is the same as it is in the other movies but some actual character development is here, meaning that these actors had more to work with than in other movies. Vin Diesel particularly is given quite a lot to work with emotionally and while he’s not that good as an actor, he did well enough in these certain scenes. The acting from the other cast works well enough (even though they aren’t great), there are some stand outs. Dwayne Johnson as usual brings his A-game and charisma, so entertaining to watch. I also really liked Jason Statham here, instead of serving as a villain like in the last movie, his character this time teams up with the main characters and it surprisingly works quite well. While I liked him in Furious 7, the film didn’t use him to his full potential. Here though he gets a lot to do. He is particularly fun in his scenes with Dwayne Johnson, those two verbally sparring were so entertaining to see. However the most stand out performance is Charlize Theron, who without a doubt plays the best villain in the franchise’s history. Not only is she smart, she is also very threatening and scary, making a real impression. Definitely an impressive character and performance for the franchise.

The action is even more over the top than the previous movies, and that’s saying a lot. All the action is completely entertaining. There were two stand out sequences to me, one of them was the Manhattan sequence, in which Theron’s character hacks cars. The other was pretty much the entire final act, which involves cars driving on ice as well as an submarine firing torpedoes at them, and its absolutely insane. It does go on for a little too long but I still enjoyed every moment of it. The laws of physics are defied completely, so of course do not go into this movie expecting any form of realism. If there’s any criticism I had, some of the fight scenes were filmed a little shakily but that is it.

If you don’t like any of the Fast of the Furious movies, you won’t like this movie. If you don’t like the recent movies in this series and prefer the street racer focussed movies, you won’t like this movie. However, if you enjoyed the movies 5-7, you will probably like this movie. It’s not a great movie but it knows what it is, and is endlessly entertaining. I do feel that it would be unnecessary to have more movies in this series, and Fate of the Furious would be a good way to end the main series, but I would like to see spin off movies, especially if its with Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson, it has a lot of potential.

Furious 7 (2015) Review

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Furious 7

Time: 137 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 Leticia “Letty” Ortiz-Toretto
Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto-O’Conner
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej Parker
Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody
Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw
Director: James Wan

The sins of the past seem to be catch up with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and his crew, when Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) shows up to seek revenge for the travails of his younger brother. When a young unknown hacker who claims to have developed ‘God’s Eye’ is also thrown into the mix, things go haywire and Toretto & his crew need to save the hacker and also settle their scores with Shaw.

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The Fast and Furious is a long running action franchise, starting 14 years ago with The Fast and Furious. Today it is one of the best action franchises today due to its change from street racing to heists in Fast Five. Its latest sequel had the misfortune of Paul Walker’s unfortunate death during production. Despite this, Furious 7 ends up being one of the best movies in the franchise and I have a good feeling that many more films that will follow will be great as the ones before it.

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Horror director James Wan takes over from Justin Lin and I thought he did a pretty good job, surprising seeing as this is an action movie. The plot is simple enough and it isn’t made more convoluted than it needs to be, no one is really going into the Fast and Furious movies for the plot. One thing that each of these movies must do is to up the ante of what how big the action scenes can be over the previous movies. That definitely happens and the scenes without action are done quite well and don’t feel unnecessary or long. One thing I will say is that they could’ve used Jason Statham a little more. He was great in the movie but a lot of the time he just pops up every so often during whatever they are doing. However the biggest thing that most people will want to know is how Paul Walker’s last appearance would be handled. Without spoiling anything I will say that he is sent off well and led to the best possible ending that this movie could’ve had.

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All the surviving cast from the previous movie returns and they do quite well in their roles. They aren’t Oscar worthy performances but they aren’t supposed to be. Dwayne Johnson is as usual great in this movie, however he’s not in it as much as the previous movies. I would’ve liked to have seen more of him in this movie but he’s awesome in the scenes he’s in. Jason Statham was really good as the villain and I’d even go so far as to say that he’s the best villain in the franchise. Also a mention should definitely go to Kurt Russell as a government agent, this is his best role in years and hopefully he’ll appear in future Fast and Furious movies.

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Despite James Wan mostly being a director of horror movies he’s managed to direct action very well. The action scenes are done excellently and as I said before, they even go more over the top than the scenes in the previous movies. Whether it be cars parachuting from a plane or cars driving around in skyscrapers, everything is filmed really well. The fight scenes are also well choreographed and filmed as much as possible. Due to Paul Walker’s death, the film had stunt doubles and CGI to replace him in the scenes he hadn’t filmed, some people saw it but I personally didn’t notice it.

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Furious 7 is one of the best movies in the Fast and Furious franchise. If you didn’t like the direction these recent movies have gone in, or if you’ve never liked any of these movies than this film won’t change your mind. I’m open to the idea of more Fast and Furious movies (it’s been recently announced that there will be an 8th film) but if this series ended with this film, it would’ve been a suitable movie to end on.

Death Proof (2007)

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Death Proof

Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Offensive language, violence and content that may offend
Cast:
Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike
Rosario Dawson as Abernathy
Vanessa Ferlito as Arlene
Jordan Ladd as Shanna
Rose McGowan as Pam
Sydney Tamiia Poitier as Jungle Julia
Tracie Thoms as Kim
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Lee
Zoë Bell as Herself
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Two separate sets of voluptuous women are stalked at different times by a scarred stuntman (Kurt Russell) who uses his “death proof” cars to execute his murderous plans.

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Death Proof is the second part of the Grindhouse movie pack which is paired with Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror. Quentin Tarantino usually has something to impress me with, usually with the dialogue and the performances he can make the actors give. Unfortunately, with this movie he’s unsuccessful doing this. His tribute to the grindhouse (or exploitation) movies should entertain but it doesn’t do that. Instead we are left with a 113 Minute movie that only a few times had my interest.

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Tarantino’s movies are dialogue driven movies however people who know about exploitation movies know that the dialogue isn’t well written. Still, Tarantino makes the movie dialogue driven and it doesn’t work. The dialogue here is more cringe worthy than some real exploitation movie dialogue because unlike the exploitation movies which don’t focus on it (and therefore it’s easier to just look past it), this movie really focuses on it a lot. Nearly all of the dialogue has nothing to do with anything; Tarantino manages to make his other movies have people talking about irrelevant things while keeping the movie entertaining (like the tipping scene from Reservoir Dogs) but here it is just boring and makes this one of the most frustrating movie experiences to sit through. Despite the plot being about these women being stalked by Kurt Russell’s character, there is no presence of him being a threat; I wouldn’t even call this movie a thriller.

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Easily the best performance of this movie is by Kurt Russell, he really relishes in the role that he has, apart from near the end where he seems to jump character. He is not in the movie a lot though; he pops up somewhere in the middle and twice near the end. Also, despite being advertised as the main star of this movie, he’s not really that; the women are; which consist of Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Rose McGowan, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Zoë Bell as herself. Although they do the best they can with what they have, the script doesn’t really give them a chance to give the characters any personality. I know that exploitation movies don’t usually have characters that have much personality but if someone is going to write a dialogue driven movie, the characters should have at least some personality. It results in the audience not really caring for any of the characters.

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The movie for the first half of the movie uses the grainy grindhouse filter well; in that aspect it felt like a grindhouse movie. However halfway through the movie the film changes to a black and white look for no reason at all and halfway through that scene it changes to colour without the grainy look. The car scenes are well done and aren’t CGI, however (I’m not spoiling anything here) there are only two car chase scenes. The soundtrack is well chosen by Tarantino, as he usually does.

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Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof is not a movie that I would recommend that people see but I wouldn’t say to avoid it. I’ve heard of people who absolutely love this movie, for whatever reason. What I will say is that if you are planning to watch this movie, be careful of what you expect. Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror seems to capture more successfully the style and enjoyment of a grindhouse movie much more than this movie. Death Proof isn’t a terrible movie but it isn’t really one that I’d say is good.

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