REVIEW: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw [2019]

How long have you worked here? After eight movies and an increasing cast of characters latching on without letting go, the Fast & Furious franchise found itself overcrowded. While not a problem on a supporting level, an ego trip logjam at the top almost always gets broken up. Luckily for Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, Universal understands they can’t just boot one in favor of the other. Whether or not the pair’s rumored feud was a publicity stunt or legitimate clash of personalities, they had already become too important to…

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REVIEW: Avengers: Infinity War [2018]

He’s never fought me twice. It’s been ten years since we met Tony Stark on the big screen. Ten years of serial storytelling with massive budgets, character crossovers, television offshoots, and Stan Lee cameos that took Hollywood and the box office by storm. Not even steward Kevin Feige could have predicted that type of longevity with twenty films by 2018’s completion, but here he and we are at the culmination of all those carefully laid plans. It’s been an enjoyable journey with origin tales, rights swapping, tonal shifts, and more…

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REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 [2017]

“It’s not ripe” The world of Guardians of the Galaxy proved a necessary shot of comic and action adrenaline for the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2014. It gave a breather from the Tony Stark crew, allowed the voice of an outsider in James Gunn to permeate the Hollywood machine, and introduced a level of sky’s-the-limit promise and potential as far as aliens, planets, and scope (Thanos isn’t Earth’s random enemy, we’re just standing in his way of much bigger goals beyond our comprehension). Its success came via its characters,…

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REVIEW: The Fate of the Furious [2017]

“That’s a lot of ice cream and Tay Tay concerts” A new era in The Fast and the Furious lore has begun almost four years after original co-star Paul Walker passed away doing exactly what his character Brian O’Conner did in the films: drive fast. With his role shelved by retirement rather than death, the goodness Brian provided Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his band of miscreants remains in the background as an unseen sense of morality and justice. It lingers to bolster the group’s sense of “family” and togetherness…

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REVIEW: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk [2016]

“What else is there?” Here’s an Oscar-winning director doing something no one else has—shoot an entire film at 120 frames per second (standard is 24, the previous high 48 with The Hobbit)—and movie theaters couldn’t accommodate. At a time when it’s difficult to get butts in seats with Netflix and VOD, an opportunity for a legitimate must-see theatrical event is squandered. Venues dropped the ball. Buffalo, NY isn’t the biggest of cities, but you’d think sustaining six-plus movie houses earns a chance to see Ang Lee‘s vision as intended. Sorry,…

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REVIEW: Furious 7 [2015]

“You never could take a punch” There’s something about this series that’s transcended any intellectual discussion about cinema. How else does a lamely derivative version of Point Break substituting waves with cars spawn six sequels in fifteen years? Think about that. 2 Fast 2 Furious was so bad that star Vin Diesel turned down a twenty-five million dollar payday to be in it. Then the third entry threw everything out the window but horsepower and took things international across the Pacific. This is where the taste of its potential began,…

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REVIEW: Fast & Furious [2009]

“He used to date my sister” While only grossing half of its predecessor’s haul to make it seem as though Paul Walker‘s absence was a huge box office hindrance, Tokyo Drift still almost doubled its budget despite no discernible connection to the franchise that spawned it until the very end (minus its drag racing theme). It was apparently enough for the studio to gauge interest and see whether the quickly fading from public consciousness Walker and Vin Diesel wanted some easy money. With director Justin Lin‘s visual style alongside screenwriter…

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REVIEW: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift [2006]

“I thought you loved me?” The Justin Lin/Chris Morgan era begins with The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and it’s a welcome improvement. Not only does the visual style evolve to be less cartoonish in its power zooms, but the sense of humor finds a happy medium between The Fast and the Furious‘ severity and 2 Fast 2 Furious‘ all-out comedy. In fact, this installment of the franchise is brought to life with both feet (loosely) planted in reality, making me scratch my head as to how the director/writer…

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REVIEW: 2 Fast 2 Furious [2003]

“I’m not going back to Barstow” It would appear that we have Michael Brandt and Derek Haas to blame (thank?) for the sudden change from overwrought melodrama to self-aware comedy I would attribute to giving the Fast and the Furious franchise its longevity. Being that I had only ever seen the first, fifth, and sixth installments, I wasn’t quite sure what happened in between because, while I enjoyed the latter two, I simply couldn’t get into the original. Not only was it riffing on Point Break the wrong way by…

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REVIEW: Pitch Black [2000]

“Looks clear” People weren’t kidding when they used Chronicles of Riddick‘s expanded budget to blame for its box office demise. I always knew its predecessor was made with much tighter purse strings, but the level of ingenuity necessary to make it still look good surpassed any expectations I might have had. Not only does co-writer (with Jim and Ken Wheat) and director David Twohy play with color tints, vision filters, and an abundance of darkness to hide some of his CGI creatures’ fabrication, he ensures the plot and characters are…

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REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy [2014]

“I don’t learn” It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the best Marvel film to date would be one without a single recognizable character to anyone not already a fan. Guardians of the Galaxy has been around since 1969, but it’s the 2008 iteration by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning which struck the studio’s fancy as far as opening their cinematic universe wide open. There’s still a tenuous connection to Earth with the group’s default leader being a human snatched as a child by a Ravager ship, yet this detail…

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