Tag Archives: Michelle Rodriguez

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.

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.

Widows (2018) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language & sex scenes
Cast:
Viola Davis as Veronica Rawlings
Michelle Rodriguez as Linda Perelli
Elizabeth Debicki as Alice Gunner
Cynthia Erivo as Belle
Colin Farrell as Jack Mulligan
Brian Tyree Henry as Jamal Manning
Daniel Kaluuya as Jatemme Manning
Jacki Weaver as Agnieska
Carrie Coon as Amanda Nunn
Robert Duvall as Tom Mulligan
Liam Neeson as Harry Rawlings
Director: Steve McQueen

A police shootout leaves four thieves dead during an explosive armed robbery attempt in Chicago. Their widows – Veronica (Viola Davis), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) — have nothing in common except a debt left behind by their spouses’ criminal activities. Hoping to forge a future on their own terms, Veronica joins forces with the other three women to pull off a heist that her husband was planning.

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I have been waiting for Widows for a long time, it’s my most anticipated film of 2018. So many things were going for it, not only is Steve McQueen (Shame and 12 Years a Shame) directing, not only is Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl and Sharp Objects) writing the script, but it also has the biggest cast of the year: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya, Robert Duvall, Liam Neeson and more make up the talented cast. I was looking forward to seeing McQueen, Flynn and the cast tackling essentially a heist movie, there is so much potential that the combination of talent had. Thankfully it absolutely delivered and unsurprisingly ended up being one of the best films of the year.

Gillian Flynn and Steve McQueen together wrote Widows and it’s a really great script overall. First thing that should be noted is that although it is a ‘heist movie’, it’s not like Heat where you get see a number of heists. The actual heist doesn’t occur until the third act and when it happens it’s actually not that long. Much of Widows consists of the 4 main characters trying to figure out how they are going to pull off the heist, while also following their personal lives following the aftermath of their dead husbands’ failed heist. Widows could’ve easily just been that, and with Flynn and McQueen working on it, and it could’ve been really good. However they go above and beyond that, making it more than just a genre movie. Knowing McQueen especially, I knew that it would be more than just a simple heist movie, and I was right (though it still is his most accessible film by far). There is a lot more going on, for example during the course of the movie, there’s an election going on and the events of the heist could very well affect things that are happening with regard to that. Widows also really takes its time following its characters and their individual plotlines, it really isn’t a fast paced thriller like the trailers have made it out to be. On top of that there’s a lot of thematic elements to the movie that I think most people won’t be expecting going in. As this is Gillian Flynn, there are going to be some twists and they all worked really well. I think there might’ve been some I could figure out but none of them were like glaringly obvious or anything. I think something that some people may take issue with is that there are some things towards the end of the movie that aren’t resolved completely. It’s not like a cliffhanger ending or anything but it doesn’t go into detail with how some plotlines are resolved, some plotlines’ endings are a little ambiguous. That can go for some of the characters as well, for example with Colin Farrell, there is sort of an end to his story but there isn’t quite as much as you’d like. Maybe with some of the characters if we got a little more than what we had it would’ve been better but it was enough. In terms of other problems, the only scene that was out of place was one with Michelle Rodriguez when she goes to try to get information out of someone, and every single person who has seen the movie knows exactly which scene I’m referring to. I’m not really sure what the point of that scene was but it’s a little random. Doesn’t break the movie or anything but it stands out as being a little odd. The movie takes place over 1 month but it feels like it takes place over 2 weeks at most, not really a big issue it’s just something I noticed. On the whole the movie runs for 2 hours and 10 minutes long and aside from that one scene, I was completely on board with everything.

One of the highlights of the movie was the immensely talented cast and no matter how small of a role their had, every single actor was at the top of their game delivering great performances, not a single performance felt miscast or weak. Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo are the main leads who are trying to pull off the heist. Viola Davis is really the lead of this movie and as usual she crushes it in her role, though it’s come to be expected of the powerhouse Davis. She commands a lot of presence and is really the leader of the group but at the same time she still feels very vulnerable, both the film and Viola balance it out well. I’ve really known Michelle Rodriguez just from the Fast and Furious movies but in her role in Widows (a very different kind of heist film) she really shows off a lot of talent, she was really great here. I’d actually like to see Rodriguez in more dramatic work now. Elizabeth Debicki has proved herself as a great actress in things like The Night Manager and The Great Gatsby, but she really gives an impressive performance here. Her character has a lot to deal with, having received abuse from both her husband and her mother, and she played the role very well. Cynthia Erivo made a strong impact in this year’s Bad Times at the El Royale and she’s also great here as not a widow, but someone who comes in to join the group. Something that I liked is how all 4 of them don’t feel like they are at all capable of pulling it off. They’ve never done any heists themselves and so they have to learn to get things done. They also don’t necessarily get along, they are coming together to pull a heist because they have no choice, so it’s interesting watching them work together despite all this.

The rest of the cast are all great as well, no matter how large or small of a role they are in. Colin Farrell and Brian Tyree Henry are great as opposing politicians who are both campaigning for alderman of a prescient (the latter of whom is applying pressure to the widows to get 2 million dollars). Robert Duvall also plays his small role as Farrell’s father quite well. Liam Neeson is also great in a small but significant role as Davis’s husband who was among the criminals who died during the heist and while he’s not in a ton of the movie, he gave his best performance in a while, probably since 2012’s The Grey, he does so much with very little. Out of the supporting cast however, it’s Daniel Kaluuya who’s the standout, playing Brian Tyree Henry’s brother and enforcer. He doesn’t have a ton of scenes but he really makes an impact whenever he’s on screen. He just exudes this uncomfortable vibe in every scene he’s in, and you’re not sure of what he’ll do next, very intimidating. With his Black Mirror appearance, Sicario, Get Out, Black Panther and now Widows, Kaluuya has shown himself to be one of the most exciting actors working today, displaying a very large range. Well deserving of a lot of praise, especially for his performance here. Some actors are pretty much cameos here, like Jon Bernthal, Jacki Weaver and Carrie Coon but they were good in their roles nonetheless.

Steve McQueen’s direction is nothing short of fantastic. This film feels incredibly real, the heist scenes aren’t blown out of proportion and feel very gritty. Some of the directing choices made by McQueen particularly stood out as being fantastic, 2 immediately come to mind. The first one was circling around Kaluuya’s character in one of his intimidating scenes. The second one is in a scene where Colin Farrell and his campaign manager get into a car following a rally and instead of cutting inside, the camera stays on the exterior of the limo as it travels from a derelict urban neighbourhood to a gentrified suburb (where Farrell lives) while the two of them are having a conversation. It was just incredibly visual storytelling. Hans Zimmer’s score is of course great and while you don’t hear a ton of it in the movie, often it really amps up the tension when it’s present.

Widows is fantastic and one of the best films of the year. Everyone in this star studded cast plays their role excellently (with Davis, Debicki and Kaluuya being standouts) and Steve McQueen and Gillian Flynn made what could’ve been a simple heist movie into something much more and is just all around great from start to finish. Not enough people are seeing it and I implore you to go out and see Widows in the cinema, it deserves it and you deserve it.

Resident Evil (2002) Review

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains horror and violence
Cast:
Milla Jovovich as Alice
Michelle Rodriguez as Rain Ocampo
Eric Mabius as Matthew “Matt” Addison
James Purefoy as Spence Parks
Martin Crewes as Chad Kaplan
Colin Salmon as James “One” Shade
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Based on the popular video game, Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez star as the leaders of a commando team who must break into “the hive,” a vast underground genetics laboratory operated by the powerful Umbrella Corporation. There, a deadly virus has been unleashed, killing the lab’s personnel and resurrecting them as the evil Un-dead. The team has just three hours to shut down the lab’s supercomputer and close the facility before the virus threatens to overrun the Earth

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I heard for a while that the original Resident Evil was one of the better video game movies. I also heard that the original was the best in this video game movie series and gotten worse as the sequels progressed. If that’s the case, I’m a little worried about what the rest of the series will be like because I don’t even think I can call this first movie enjoyable as a guilty pleasure movie. Even if it might be one of the better video game movies, Resident Evil isn’t very good on its own. There’s no doubt some enjoyment to be had with it with some of the action scenes but unfortunately it wasn’t entertaining enough.

I will just first of all state that I’ve never played a Resident Evil game, so I’m not the best person to talk about accuracy to the games. There is so much exposition dumps by the characters that you just lose track of what’s going on. At a point you just stop caring about what’s going on. Honestly there’s not much to say about the plot of Resident Evil, people go inside a building with zombies in it, and the killing ensues. If you turn your brain off you might find it a lot more enjoyable, I certainly enjoyed it more. There’s nothing really intriguing, entertaining or interesting about the plot at all. Maybe the sequels have better plots but I’m not really counting on it.

The acting isn’t good at all, no one in the cast whether it’s Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, Martin Crewes or anyone else give good performances. The best thing I can say about the acting is that it certainly sounds like a Resident Evil game with how emotionless and flat the line deliveries were. Looking at the material they were given, I can’t really blame the cast for their at best mediocre performances.

Paul WS Anderson’s direction of Resident Evil feels very much like its from the early 2000s. It’s definitely more action than survival horror but the action is not so overblown to the level of the later films either. None of the scares work, there’s a bunch of fake jump scares and a bunch of real jump scares that all fail to leave any form of impact. There is also a complete lack of effective tension. The action sequences are fine and entertaining enough, probably the best part of the whole movie. When there are digital effects used, they look very fake, embarrassingly so and really stick out in a bad way.

While it’s no Bloodrayne, Resident Evil is not a good video game movie and not a good movie in itself. It just feels really mediocre and dated, the acting wasn’t good, the effects were bad, you just don’t care about what’s going on, the best part was the action, and even then the action wasn’t all that great. I suppose if you are the least bit curious, give Resident Evil a watch, but don’t expect anything more than a potentially ‘okay’ video game movie. I might check out the sequels but I’m not expecting much from them, if this is the best in the series, I can only imagine what the future movies are like.

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.

The Fast and the Furious (2001) Review

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The Fast and the Furious

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Michelle Rodriguez as Leticia “Letty” Ortiz
Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto
Rick Yune as Johnny Tran
Chad Lindberg as Jesse
Johnny Strong as Leon
Matt Schulze as Vince
Ted Levine as Tanner
Director: Rob Cohen

LA street racer Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) falls under the suspicion of the LAPD for a string of high-speed electronics truck robberies. Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) an officer of the LAPD, joins the ranks of Toretto’s highly skilled racing crew undercover to convict Toretto. However, O’Connor finds himself both enamored with this new world and in love with Toretto’s sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster) As a rival racing crew gains strength, O’Connor must decide where his loyalties lie.

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The Fast and Furious franchise is today one of the most popular action franchises today, with its seventh instalment released earlier this year. Watching the original 2001 film, it was interesting to see how it started off in the first place. Looking at it now, it’s actually quite well set up with good action, although quite different from the later instalments. Although I don’t think it’s as good as the more recent films in the franchise, I still found this first film to be quite enjoyable.

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People more familiar with the newer films should know that unlike those films where it had focused on the main characters doing such activities such as pulling off heists, this film was focussed on street racing, in fact that is what the first 3 films focused on. The film at times does feel a little slow for a film about street racing especially in the first act however once it got into the second act I was invested in the film. Granted, like all the Fast and Furious movies, the plot doesn’t really matter. We are really just there to see guys drive fast cars and enjoy the action that unfolds. The film is quite good at that but don’t expect them to be parachuting in cars onto a bridge or anything similar.

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The actors for the most part do well, they aren’t really spectacular but they aren’t really supposed to be, the action with the cars is supposed to be the main focus. There was really only any character development with a couple of characters but they all did well with what they have. I actually liked Paul Walker as the main character, I know that a lot of people have a problem with him but I think his character worked for the film. The show stealer for me though was Vin Diesel, he’s often one of the main highlights of the Fast and Furious films. The rest of the cast which consisted of actors like Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster also worked for their roles. The villain played by Rick Yune was decent, he does usually play great villains (Olympus has Fallen, Die Another Day). He’s not really the villain until the second half but he does well with what he’s got, despite being not very developed.

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The Fast and Furious franchise always has had great action (with maybe the exception of 2 Fast 2 Furious) and that was always there from the beginning. The stunt work, especially with the cars is very commendable. If you are going into this film (or any Fast and Furious movie for that matter), do understand that the film isn’t realistic in the slightest, however honestly, this might be the most realistic Fast and Furious movie in terms of action scenes. The film also has a nice sharp and quick style which really works for the film.

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While not one of the better Fast and Furious movies, it is still a decent movie and I really enjoyed watching it. If you never enjoyed any of the Fast and Furious movies than this won’t change your mind. It’s exactly the type of film you’d expect called Fast and Furious. If you liked the more recent Fast and Furious films, I think it’s worth checking this one out. It’s not as exciting or have as much overblown fun as the latest films but I think there’s quite a bit of enjoyment to have here.

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.

BloodRayne (2005)

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Bloodrayne

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and sex scenes
Cast:
Kristanna Loken as Rayne
Michael Madsen as Vladimir
Matthew Davis as Sebastian
Michelle Rodriguez as Katarin
Ben Kingsley as Kagan
Director: Uwe Boll

Rayne (Kristanna Loken) is a half-human half-vampire Dhampir out for revenge for the king of the vampires Kagan (Ben Kingsley) who killed her mother. In her journey she meets Vladimir (Michael Madsen) and Sebastian (Matthew Davis), the leaders of the fortress of vampire hunters Brimstone, and joins their society to face the forces of Kagan.

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Uwe Boll has been called one of the worst filmmakers of all time; because Bloodrayne was on TV I decided to check it out, and I’m now paying the consequences. It has wooden acting, a shallow, uninteresting plot, and poorly done action scenes. I haven’t played the video game it’s based on but I feel sorry for the fans who were subjected to this abysmal adaptation.

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The plot goes so fast it’s hard to understand what’s going on. We also don’t know anything about these characters so we can’t really care for them; they make the characters from The Happening look like the Guardians of the Galaxy. The dialogue is not used well; it is either used for backstories, moving the plot, or exposition. The movie doesn’t even say what time period it’s in or where it is set. The film also has some odd ideas such as having normal water hurt vampires; here they are like the aliens from Signs. The last scene is a montage of whenever blood has been spilt and is nearly 4 minutes long; it comes out of nowhere and doesn’t make any sense in any form of context. Surprisingly, the screenplay was written by Guinevere Turner, who previously wrote the screenplay to American Psycho. It turns out that Uwe Boll demanded that she handed in a rough copy of the script and that he went with that version, so that explains a lot of the problems.

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Kristanna Loken was quite wooden here and barely showed more emotion than the T-X in Terminator 3. Michelle Rodriguez doesn’t give that good of a performance either, however she does seem like she’s trying to give a good performance. A stand out bad performance is from Michael Madsen, who doesn’t show any emotion throughout the movie and looks drunk (which he was) and bored; even when he’s fighting people, he doesn’t change his expression. There is a major thing that happens to him near the end which I won’t spoil (in case some of you actually want to see this movie) but he doesn’t even change his expression for that. He really looks like he doesn’t care, just look at this image down below, he’s not even holding his sword right.

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Billy Zane is only in a few scenes in this movie and doesn’t make any impact on the plot. Ben Kingsley plays the villain and most of his scenes are very short, barely lasting for 30 seconds; his performance is unfortunately phoned in, which is a shame. I won’t even go into the hammy performance from Meat Loaf as he was only in one scene.

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The action scenes are not done that well; there is a fight between Rayne and a big monster; there were so many cuts in that scene that I wonder how much of the footage was cut at just the right moment. The blood in this movie is so exaggerated that Quentin Tarantino would probably roll his eyes at it. There is one moment where a guy is cut in half at the waist but if you slow it down, you can clearly see his real legs behind some fake legs. The costumes are also questionable, particularly Rayne’s, one has to ask what type of person would wear that in any time period.

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Bloodrayne is a terrible movie; it’s not a so-bad-it’s-good sort of bad movie, it’s just boring. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to watch this movie (then again if you already know about Uwe Boll you probably weren’t even thinking about doing that) as there’s nothing enjoyable about it unless you are someone like me who wanted to make fun of it.

Avatar (2009)

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Time: 162 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Sam Worthington as Jake Sully
Zoe Saldana as Neytiri
Sigourney Weaver as Grace
Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch
Michelle Rodriguez as Trudy Chacon
Director: James Cameron

In the future, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paraplegic war veteran, is brought to another planet, Pandora, which is inhabited by the Na’vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. In exchange for the spinal surgery that will fix his legs, Jake gathers Intel for the cooperating military unit spearheaded by Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang), while simultaneously attempting to infiltrate the Na’vi people with the use of an “avatar” identity. While Jake begins to bond with the native tribe and quickly falls in love with the beautiful alien Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), the restless Colonel moves forward with his ruthless extermination tactics, forcing the soldier to take a stand – and fight back for the fate of Pandora.

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Avatar is one of the most successful movies and is loved by many people. Although I do think it is a good movie with excellent cinematography and CGI, I have issues with the script which is often predictable and could’ve been much better. Despite this, it is still an enjoyable movie.

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The writing for me is the weakest part of the movie; to clarify it’s not the world of Pandora I’m talking about, that was done okay, it’s the story. The story for me was predictable, even when I was 10 years old watching this in cinemas, most of the time I could see where this story was going, this type of story has been done before. This movie is very similar to Dances with Wolves; you may as well call this movie “Dances with Wolves with blue Indians”. Also another flaw in the writing is the characters, none of the characters really stood out to me and often there are certain characters that are only there to move a plot point along like the general who is quite clichéd. Another thing that should be added is that there were a lot of moments in the middle of the film that I felt wouldn’t make much of a difference if they were taken out. It shows Sam Worthington’s character learning how to become one of the Na’vi but at times it seems just like a montage. Overall the story is functional but still could’ve improved immensely. If you put this story in a place without big special effects, I think people would more likely notice the glaring issues with the script.

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The acting was decent enough from most people. Sam Worthington gives a pretty good performance and does what he can with the script, despite his character not being very interesting. Zoe Saldana gives the best performance in the movie and plays probably the character that’s closest to standing out the most. Stephen Lang plays the general as I mentioned above and like I said, his role just seems to just be the clichéd bad guy. No character information is given to him so as a result, his performance didn’t leave an impression on me. Other actors like Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver also do the best of what they have.

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The special effects elevated this movie and are probably the only reason I’ll overlook the writing’s flaws, at least a little. This movie really makes you feel like you are in the world of Pandora. The battle scenes are also well filmed and unlike some battle scenes in other Hollywood movies today, you can actually see them from a good distance. The CG and the motion captures of the Na’vi are done excellently.

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Avatar isn’t a great movie in my eyes, only when considering the special effects. I heard that there will be sequels to this movie and I have to say I don’t understand why. If you haven’t watched this movie yet, do so. Technically this film is well made with a great look; just don’t expect a great movie.