Archive for the F Category

Fast Five (Justin Lin) 2011

Posted in F on June 26, 2012 by moviemoses

Let me give a brief sum up of my experiences with the Fast series.  First there was The Fast and the Furious.  It was basically a remake of Point Break however instead of surfing it was about cars.  I’m not complaining that a movie is similar to another movie as long as it does its job in being entertaining which in this case it didn’t.  Point Break is a crap movie, but it is entertaining as hell with Gary Busey, Patrick Swayze, and Keanu Reeves giving absolutely hilarious performances.  It is a camp classic that everyone can laugh at.  Fast and the Furious has Paul Walker who is as dull as Cream of Wheat and Vin Diesel who, as much as I enjoy him, cannot make up the slack of missing an equivalent to Keanu Reeves and Gary Busey.  I also didn’t know the world of illegal street racing was so dull.  I like car chases and explosions but not of people driving in a straight line and seeing CGI Nitro going through a car like a bad episode of CSI (or just CSI).

I decided to skip out the next few movies until the cast got back together for the frustratingly titled Fast and Furious (removing the “the’s“ from the title totally differentiates it from the first movie).  I was basically seeing if the series got any better from the first one.  It didn’t.  They finally did dispense with the dull street races for more action movie car chases but the thing which killed the movie for me was use of CGI cars instead of practical stuntwork.  On my short list of things which should not be computer generated, blood is one and cars should be right next to it.  While CGI can do many things well (I am not someone who rants that all CGI is shit) the technology cannot do those at all.  I’m sure the CGI was top notch for that movie and seeing those cars whiz around an even fakier cave made me think I was watching a high end PS2 game.  Nothing compares to seeing real life cars smashing into real life things.

So why see Fast Five if I’ve disliked everything so far?  I dunno.  Boredom?  Long story short is I watched it so now I’ll just review it.

Fast Five is probably the biggest departure from the original which is probably why I like it the most of all the “Fast“ franchise.  The filmmakers have finally thrown up their arms and said “fuck it“ to dedicating a movie series to 8 second races.  They finally just went balls out and made an insanely ludicrous action movie and in doing so, finally have some of that campy charm I was looking for in the series originally.  Instead of small time theives looking to fund their car obsession, they are now Oceans Eleven style theives who are gods behind the wheel and have technical resources out of a Mission Impossible movie.  I loathe when people use the phrase ‘turn off your brain movie‘ but after seeing the first/fourth installments I intend that phrase more for the writers to stop trying so hard and give me my dumb action movie which this movie does.

This movie has The Rock being a badass like he should be.  This movie has fight scenes which (in particular the Rock/Diesel fight) are very good.  You have car chases with actual cars in them.  Yes, there is CGI around it but I was incredibly grateful to see some real cars for a change.  And you get the finale where the crew just about wrecks all of Rio with a laughable car chase with a bank vault.  This is a movie who knows its bad but is fine with being campy and delivering on the action.

This movie is not all fun.  The second act pulls out the drag chute as the writers have to set up the heist.  To say the cast and writing of Fast Five do not hold a candle to the veteran casting and witty writing of Oceans Eleven is the understatement of the year.  Hell, I’m not even  sure they hold a candle to the remake of The Italian Job.  Paul Walker continues to be the least interesting man in the world and he is surrounded by other characters who, I guess we are supposed to all recognize cause we are all longtime diehard fans, but I just don’t give a crap.  I don’t think many fans were staying up nights wondering what happened to some side characters in Tokyo Drift.

This is an admitted guilty pleasure for me.  This movie is incredibly stupid but everyone involved was aware of that.  This is the one time in the series when the tone was fun.  It goes over the top in the action and the set pieces and I enjoyed how blissfully insane it all got.  For a non-fan of the series as I am, this was easily the best of the lot and on its own an enjoyable action movie.

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The Fury (Brian DePalma) 1978

Posted in F on May 22, 2012 by moviemoses

The Fury was a movie that I had been interested in seeing for a while but never got around to.  It had so many things that should make for at the very least an interesting movie like Brian DePalma (during a good period of his career), Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, a John Williams score, and people exploding ala Scanners.  I was hoping this was some forgotten gem that I had discovered.  Unfortunately a lot of potential doesn’t hold up to poor execution.

The story is about Peter (Kirk Douglas) who is retiring from some super secret government agency.  Peter’s son Robin (Andrew Stevens) discovered he has psychic abilities and is going to a special school to learn about them.  Peter’s coworker Childress (John Cassavetes) kidnaps Robin for some unknown secret government work and Peter is on a mission to get him back.

For the first 30 minutes, I was actually well on board with this movie.  Everything was moving along with a fast pace and the story set things up as a fun adventure part thriller with Kirk Douglas evading all these secret agents.  Douglas was entertaining, Cassavetes was settling into a smarmy villain role, and everything was clicking.  Then the second act happened and things fell off a cliff.

It feels like in the second act they start a completely different movie.  Peter is looking for his son and he hears there is another girl with powers named Gillian (Amy Irving) who can possibly track Robin.  Naturally you think Peter is going to contact Gillian and they will continue the adventure.  However it seems like DePalma was still thinking he was working on Carrie and the second act is about her learning about her powers.  Gillian freaks out her school mates with her witchy powers, then she goes to this school for the gifted (which is actually a front for Childress‘ evil work), and she figures out bad things are happening.  Really this should have been at most about 20 minutes as we learn about Gillian and that she is being trapped by this shadow organization but instead this goes on for like an hour.  All during this time Kirk Douglas is completely MIA (with the exception of like one scene where he makes a phone call) and you wonder when the hell the plot will keep moving again.  Because the thing is we aren’t really learning anything new or anything that we need to know for this story so the whole narrative grinds to a halt.  Gillian will get a vision that Robin is being held against his will.  Who cares?  We already knew that.  Gillian will go all Nancy Drew and find out the school is not as it seems.  Again, we already knew that; please move on with the actual story.

By the time the third act rolls around, all the plot inconsistencies and holes we may have forgiven earlier are made that much more annoying because the poor writing calls attention to it.  First off, why the hell does Robin need to be kidnapped in the first place?  Robin was perfectly willing to go to whatever hospital/school/lab to be tested on and learn about his powers.  You are kidnapping someone who would have been a willing participant!  You may think the government captured Robin because they need his powers but we are never told what they would do with it.  There are scenes where scientists are trying to warn Childress if they keep pushing Robin that he will go on a crazy Akira like rampage but Childress brushes them off saying they need to move forward.  Why!?  What is the purpose of pissing someone off who can pop your head like a water balloon?  Sure enough Robin does go full on Chronicle and Childress acts as if everything is going to plan and we are left wondering who the moron was who was in charge of reviewing the hiring packets at the secret government agency.

When the rest of the movie was content to take its sweet ass time all of a sudden we have to rush the ending.  Kirk Douglas gets pushed onto set, Robin has a downright lame freak out (given all the build up), more plot holes like Robin can fly but then he can’t when it matters, blah blah blah then John Cassevetes explodes.  Really John Casssevetes exploding should the icing to an awesome cake filled with win it sadly is too little too late.  That bit should be made into an animated gif and you should forget the rest of the film.  This was so disappointing.  The pieces were in place and there were moments when it felt like this could have been either a fun adventure film or a nice thriller, but by the end all that good will is squandered.  The story is schitzophrenic, the pacing is all over the map, and the acting by anyone not named Kirk Douglas is pretty bad.  The Fury ends up being only mediocre which, given what this movie could have been, actually makes it worse than if it ended up gloriously bad.

50/50 (Jonathan Levine) 2011

Posted in F on November 28, 2011 by moviemoses

50/50 is inspired by the real life story of writer Will Reiser and his struggle with cancer along with real life friend Seth Rogen.  Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds out he has a rare form of cancer for which he needs to immediately start chemo for.  To help him through his problems are his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), his mother Diane (Anjelica Huston), and new therapist Katherine (Anna Kendrick).

I think what I appreciate about this movie the most is that it never gets weighted down on any one aspect.  There is that perfect blend of elements which makes it easy to sit through.  I could certainly see the script falling into extremes by either making it too melodramatic and making it emotionally exhausting to the audience, or too jokey in an effort to make it commercially successful.

This is certainly aided by the great cast which was assembled here and how they play up to their strength.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a very good job with Adam and his struggles.  He is trying to cope with the idea of possibly dying at a very young age while at the same time dealing with everyone else.  He is both looking for comfort from his friends, while at the same time feeling like he has to comfort the people around him when they hear the bad news.  Adam doesn’t talk to his mother because she already has enough on her plate with a husband with Alzheimers.  But in trying to spare her feelings he is freezing her out.  There are times when Adam could have been seen as dickish to his friends but Gordon-Levitt does his job in showing that it is more about being torn apart by all these emotions.

Seth Rogen is obviously the comic relief in this movie.  Now I have not hidden the fact I don’t like much Rogen’s previous movies but here he is actually very funny.  Kyle is someone who is clearly freaked out by Adam’s news, but is trying his best to roll with the punches and make him happy.  I usually don’t like Rogen’s characters because he plays a man child who doesn’t care if he is a dick or not.  Here he is still childish, but you can tell how much he cares about Adam.  Here, it is very endearing that Kyle is a bit of a doofus because it is all for the good cause of cheering Adam up.  One of the funniest scenes is when Kyle takes a picture of Adam’s girlfriend Rachel (Bryce Dallas Howard) kissing another man and presenting it to both Adam and Rachel.  Kyle is practically dancing with joy and doing air trombone over the fact he saved Adam from a bad relationship all the while Adam is shocked and horrified.    Rogen does a great job in making Kyle very lovable.

There is also a bit of romance involving Anna Kendrick (who may currently be the cutest woman alive).  Her parts are a pleasant middle ground where her and Adam can have funny flirtations while at the same time dealing with Adam’s emotions in relations to his cancer.  There are also some good supporting characters played by Phillip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer who play fellow cancer patients.

50/50 succeeds in just about everything it tries to do.  It delivers a very personal story about this writer’s personal struggles while at the same time making a funny movie.  We feel for Adam and his struggles, but it never becomes too heavy for the audience.  The cast and especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen do a great job in carrying the material.  2011 is actually becoming a great year for comedies and 50/50 is among them.  I recommend you go check it out.

Final Storm (Uwe Boll) 2010 SPOILERS

Posted in F on July 15, 2011 by moviemoses

Final Storm is about what appears to be the Biblical end of the world.  Strange events are happening all over the world as well as the temperature everywhere dropping to freezing levels.  A strange man with amnesia named Silas (Luke Perry) stumbles into the farm of Tom and Gillian.  Silas helps out on the farm but there is the mystery of what is going on outside the farm and who Silas really is.

This movie does feel different from other Boll fare in that in Final Storm he doesn’t feel the need to shock the audience.  For example in Seed we had real animal torture, in Stoic we had rape with a broomstick, in Postal we had 9/11 humor and other gag inducing “humor, and in Rampage we had 90 minutes of pure slaughter (just to name a few).  I actually liked the fact Boll for once wanted to calm down and tell a more conventional story.  It’s too bad that still after all these years he’s still not good at that.

The problem with this movie (or one of them at least) is none of these characters are likable.  Tom is a drunk who flies off the handle, Gillian is an annoying woman with no common sense, and we are not really told anything about Silas other than get the vibe he is a creepy bastard.  And shock of all shocks, in the end we learn that the creepy hobo who is leering at Tom’s wife is a killer.  Who would have thought!?  So we are stuck in this movie the whole time with people we don’t like and all they do is bicker and argue.

Then we get into the issue of the story.  It makes no sense.  In the end we learn Sideshow Luke Perry was a former resident of the farm and he wants it back.  In the climactic battle Tom kills Silas and the movie ends with the literal Rapture happening.  I’m not even complaining about this movie because I’m an atheist (because I don’t care what a fictional movie portrays).  I am complaining about the fact this ending and the movie really doesn’t make sense.  I have heard one person try to salvage the movie by saying Silas represents sin and that the final battle was more symbolic of them defeating sin.  But that really doesn’t work.  It’s not like these people really become any better people than they were before: Gillian was still tempted into jumping Luke Perry’s bones, Tom is still a drunk asshole, and their son is still annoying.  Plus, and this is the most important part, none of these events make the family believe in God (which is an important doctrine in Christianity).  Directly before the final confrontation, Silas quotes Revelation and Tom replies that he doesn’t believe in “fairy tales” and indicates he doesn’t believe the events outside represent the end of the world as per Revelation.  So if Tom and his family do not believe in the Bible and don’t really become better people, how is this considered a win for the family?  Can we even say Silas was sent by God or can we just say he was the wrong dude at the wrong time?  Did every family on Earth get their own Silas to defeat before the Rapture came?  I’m so confused.

For the most part the movie is slow.  Boll tries to go for quiet dread, but we aren’t really given anything to fear.  Even the reveal that Luke Perry is evil comes off as a whimper instead of a bang and Silas doesn’t really carry any dread with him.  So again, we have a movie with unlikable characters, a thriller with no tension, and a plot that makes no sense.  For as much as I want to praise him for going straight in this movie, I still can’t forgive the film for all of its faults.  This movie isn’t offensively bad or even hilariously bad like other Boll films.  This movie just plain sucks and I can’t recommend it to anyone.

 

Far Cry (Uwe Boll) 2009

Posted in F on May 2, 2011 by moviemoses

Yeah, we all know it will suck, but how bad is the question.  Is it so bad its good or just bad?

It does seem like Boll is trying harder to be a legitimate filmmaker now which is oddly a bad thing.  The obvious appeal is seeing the Ed Wood-ish complete asshattery behind the camera.  A man who doesn’t have the first idea of directing, cinematography, or writing and it is hilarious.  But now with 1968: Tunnel Rats, Bloodrayne II, Seed, and the upcoming Darfur, he has gone from asshattery to just plain suck.  It’s not funny, these efforts are just dull.  Gone are the funny goofs and mistakes, and we are left with blandly done action scenes and simply incompetent plotting.

Far Cry is about an evil mad scientist Krieger (Udo Kier) who makes super soldiers that are only weak against bullets to the eyes and mouth.  We follow a Lois Lane type who is trying to expose this government conspiracy.  She hires an ex-special forces officer Jack Carver (Til Schweiger) to take her to the secret island on his tour boat.

I suppose I will start with the acting.  Til Schweiger really isn’t any good in this movie.  He actually does the physical work well and you get the impression he could do a limited action role (possibly a villain).  The problem is he really doesn’t speak English and he speaks in an early Van Damme broken English.  At times, he is really STRUGGLING to get through his lines and it is almost painful to look at.  Udo Kier sounds like he would be cool because he’s cool in anything, but he has nothing to work with.  He just stands around and doesn’t say anything creepy or menacing.

The action is, again, bland.  The car and chase scene are just almost drive in chase scenes with just the characters shooting at each other and no stunts being done.  There is also “humor” thrown in where the ditsy reporter has to be explained what a grenade is and how to use it.  If you don’t know what a grenade is, then you have officially lived in a cave your whole life.

That does bring me to the humor in the movie.  We get a hand me down Horatio Sanz with a fat comic relief side kick named Emilio.  His chief role is to be basically Rob Schneider in Judge Dredd and scream out and to bitch nonstop.  Oh man is he annoying.

The movie is held down by the lack of skilled directing.  The monsters/soldiers are inconsistent at best.  In the beginning they are stealthy killers and near the end they lumber forward allowing themselves to get shot in the face.  That is another thing; near the end everyone is a crack shot who can shoot an eye under stress at a range of 50 yards.  The action scenes are amateurish at best with no stunts or anything to keep them interesting.  What really is a slap in the face is when our main baddie gets killed OFF SCREEN.  No! No no no no no no no no no no no no no.  You don’t go that far and build up the bad guy that much not for us to see the ultimate pay off.  That’s bullshit.

I suppose this could still be a riffable movie, but it’s just not on the same level as Alone in the Dark or House of the Dead or even Dungeon Siege.  This feels more like the movie is sitting on your head instead of laughably bad.  Still, I don’t think anything will be as gloriously bad as Boll going for a political message with Darfur.  Cause we all know, subtlety is Uwe Boll’s strong suit…


From Paris With Love (Pierre Morel) 2010

Posted in F on April 14, 2011 by moviemoses

Taken was not a good movie; let’s just be honest here.  The plot is bland, the supporting characters are non-existent, and overall did nothing new for the genre.  Now before you guys jump down my throat for being unfair, just because it is not good doesn’t mean it wasn’t very fun.  Morel understood exactly what we wanted and he delivered.  He gave us an entire movie of Liam Neeson f*cking up people’s sh*t.  We don’t ask for any more or less and Morel gave us as much.  By the same token, Morel delivers in the same way with John Travolta and From Paris With Love.

The plot is about James Reece (Johnathan Rhys Meyers) who is kind of the pencil pusher type for the Intelligence Agency.  Reece is looking to become a field agent and his one chance is to chauffeur top agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta) around the city.  Wax is tasked to take down a drug operation/terrorist cell and leads a path of destruction around the city.

As I said Morel gives us exactly what we want out of John Travolta and that is completely off the wall camp.  And oh boy do we get that.  Hell after 20 minutes we have Travolta rolling through Paris strapped with guns and a giant vase full of cocaine.  That is just awesome and it fits with my image of him during his Battlefield Earth phase of his life.  Most of this movie his Travolta killing people and chewing enough scenery to sh*t drywall for a year.

Like with Taken the rest of the movie is rather uninspired.  If I have a gripe it is with the role Meyers plays.  I understand he has to play the straight man to Travolta’s over the top caricature but he takes the term “killjoy” to a whole new level.  He makes Marge Simpson act like Courtney Love.  It seems like you could replace every one of his lines with “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH  WAAAAAAAH  WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”  We should eventually root for this guy, not want him to shut the f*ck up.

Does this movie do anything new?  No.  Is this movie necessarily anything you need to rush out for?  Not really.  But I still enjoyed this movie a lot.  If you want to see Travolta chewing scenery with a sh*t eating grin, killing endless waves of baddies and spewing more curse words than a group of sailors then you will like this movie.


Food Inc. (Robert Kenner) 2009

Posted in F on May 31, 2010 by moviemoses

Now to kind of settle some fears by some people this is not primarily a gross out pic.  This is not a series of animal slaughter footage meant to make you vomit.  This is not a vegan propaganda pic meant to make you feel bad about the animals you kill to make your burger and turn you to tofu.  Its a look at the food industry as being controlled by about four big corporations and how it doesn’t exactly make for quality food.

Now there are some shocking scenes from farms and slaughterhouses, but that is to contrast how far we have come from family owned farms.  It doesn’t do well for quality when your cow is living ankle deep in sh*t and breeding e coli from all the corn its forced down its throat.  It doesn’t help when rain runoff from those sh*t factories spread out and contaminate vegetable crops like Spinach with e coli.

Our new diets are also unhealthy for us as sugar and fatty items are now the cheapest items to buy while fruits and vegetables are more expensive.  While it is not the only factor to higher rates of obesity and diabetes, it does play a contributing factor.  Not to mention this new style of farming is even sh*ttier to its workers who now work harder for even more debt.  The major corporations have all but killed small farms and that would be something if these new factories shared some of the profit but they are seemingly more exploited now than in a long long time.

The movie is primarily talking heads but they have some good speakers like Eric Schlosser of Fast Food Nation and Michael Poller who give a background on the industrialization of the food industry.   Food Inc. is also not a complete downer as it does provide a few areas where people can improve their conditions.  This is one of the few documentaries that I think is worth the price of admission in theaters.  This may seem like shallow praise, but this will probably be the best documentary of the year.    I highly recommend this movie.