April 2011 - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
30Apr/110

Marwencol (2010)

Marwencol is a 2010 documentary by Jeff Malmberg that, I admit, during the opening credits had me a little freaked out. The movie opens with a man (Mark HoganCamps) who arranges and photographs GI Joe dolls in elaborate 1/16 size models of World War II scenes. While the pictures of the models were interesting (heck, some downright impressive) the thought of watching a man play with dolls for the next 79 minutes didn’t excite me. I remember throwing a skeptical eyebrow at the person who recommended the movie.

30Apr/110

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil (2011)

Andrew DISLIKEThere's an attempt to preempt any criticism against this unnecessary sequel to one of the most perplexingly successful films of 2006.  Wolf W. Wolf (Patrick Warburton) receives a breakdown on a criminal that he, Red (Hayden Panettiere) and Twitchy (Cory Edwards) are going to question.  Among his myriad of crimes includes the final intolerable sin of "Blogging about animated films".  To which Wolf replies, "He should get a life".

29Apr/111

Fast Five (2011)

I am not a person that believes in hyperbole.  I don’t say the best film of the year is in January or that a movie is a career best if the person is 30 years old.  I think I am a very rational person, and so know that I have given this statement a lot of thought when I say that Fast Five is the greatest thing that man has ever created.

Okay I might be overstating a tad but that was a fun two hours.  Starting off where the last film ended Dom (Vin Diesel) is on his way to prison for a very long time when Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordanna Brewster) break him out with a physics be damned way to crash a bus and with this the movie is off.  Thanks to Brian and Mia taking part in the breakout, they are wanted now and they all take off to south of the border to Rio.  In Rio Brian and Dom take a job boosting cars off a moving train.  The job goes south and DEA officers are killed by some of the other cronies working the caper. Dom and his merry gang end up on the wrong side of both the crime kingpin of the region (Joaquim de Almeida) and a federal agent (Dwayne Johnson) tasked to bring them in.

Fast and Furious, Butch Cassidy style.

To get enough money to run away forever and get revenge on the crime lord Dom and Brian call in some favors. All their old friends from the other films reunite for a heist that will net them $100 million.  Since the characters and film series itself has never been what can be called “low-key” a lot of things go boom, many car engines are revved loudly and half of the city is destroyed by the end of the film.

A quick disclaimer if you are a person that has to pick every single thing apart and remark that “you can’t do that” this is not the film for you.  But…. If you are a person who gets giddy at car chases, always wanted to see Vin Diesel and the Rock throw down or would get excited if a bad guy pops out of the top of a car with a Gatling gun then get to this movie ASAP.  I am a sucker for enjoyable action movies and that is exactly what Fast Five sets out to be.

A very spirited game of tag broke out right before this picture was taken.

Much of the credit for the action movie nirvana has to go to director Justin Lin who again proves with this film that he can really craft an action scene. The opening scene, the rooftop chase scene and especially the climatic car chase at the end of the film had my smiling from ear to ear. And I am not a good enough writer to explain how much I truly enjoyed the car chases in this film.  Justin Lin is a director that with each film and project he has been involved in lately has made me a bigger fan and I can’t wait to see what he will do in the future.

While Lin is a big reason why the film is such a blast the cast of the film have such a relaxed vibe in the film and fit into their roles perfectly.  The viewer can’t help but like them even if the script doesn’t give them much to do.  Vin Diesel again shows why this franchise is perfect for him by being the best thing on screen.  Dom is part cool cat and part tough guy and you believe that if anyone could do the things in this film it would be him.  Matching him badass stare to badass stare is Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson who by my estimation is 98% muscle and 100% swagger in this film.  The movie does not paint him as a boy scout and the fact that while he might have a badge doesn’t make him a saint gives him the little more oomph that the role needed.  Johnson is that one last missing ingredient that the film needed to reach maximum testosterone. Paul Walker and the rest of the cast were also enjoyable and even though the characters are from all different films gelled well together.

One big badass in this film.

So yeah to sum things up I liked this film A LOT.  The action was amazing the cast enjoyable and the fun was immense.  The last 6+ months of films for the most part have been very underwhelming and thankfully Fast Five bucks this trend and delivers everything that you could hope from a film like this.  Fast Five unofficially kicks off the summer season and if half of the movies I see the next few months are as delightful as this one we are in for one hell of a summer.

28Apr/111

Blood Out (2011)

Andrew DISLIKEThe weeks aren't always kind to me.  This one yielded the most interesting product in an ABC Family original film then took a turn for the worse with a direct-to-DVD Canadian production.  Now comes Blood Out, a terrible title for a movie that can trace it's DNA to Bloodsport, NARC, Bad Boys 2, and a slightly embarrassing stab at The French Connection.  It's not nearly as bad as Sacrifice but owes it's own little debt to it's forebears and still manages to pack in another slumming former star.

27Apr/110

Fast and Furious Marathon Journal (2001-2009) Part II

Click here for part I

We are now starting “Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” a movie that stars no one from previous parts of the series and again has a new director; the only connection is has with other parts is it has the same title. I was not impressed with this movie the first time but I have liked what the director has done since this (Fast andFurious, Community episodes) so I am watching the movie with hopeful expectations that it is better than I remembered.

“Tokyo Drift:”

Ryan- 03 min: We have an appearance by Zachary Ty Bryan, who will always be known for his time as the eldest son on “Home Improvement.” This movie came out in 2006 and Bryan is my age, so that meant he was 25 when he made this and was still playing high schoolers, I doubt that is the career he imagined but at least he is working.

Ben- 4 min: You mean to tell me all the quaint charm of cholos, rappers-turned-actors and Asian schoolgirls have been replaced by white-bread, douchebag high schoolers? This is the definition of starting off on the wrong foot.

Ryan- 05 min- Awesome car chase through the new housing complex, although I believe that “Bawitba” by Kid Rock makes everything 20% cooler. Folding laundry, cooking food, balancing a checkbook if you are blasting Kid Rock, you are that much more of a badass. All kidding aside, this scene shows that the director has some talent.

Ben- 9 min: I think they just spent half heir production budget on that car crash. He flips his car and all he has is a bruise and a butterfly bandage on his forehead? I’ve been in fender-benders and come out worse.

Ben- 12 min: Clearly Tokyo is the most logical solution to juvenile delinquency. I shoplifted once and was sent to Saigon for nearly three years.

Ben- 17 min: Apparently it’s Hollywood scripture that any film taking place in Japan has to feature the music of the 6, 6, 7, and 8s. This might be the first time mainstream studios have gotten something right.

Ryan- 19min: Bow Wow shows up in the film; I am not sure if this is a good thing or not, but this movie really needs something to counteract the southern black hole that is our lead.

Ben- 21 min: Must every silence be filled with a soundtrack? I’ve watched music videos with more dialogue and story than this. And why were there more pleated skirts in the first “Fast and Furious” than the film that could legitimately feature Asian school girls?

Ryan- 22 min: The movie finally gives the viewers what they want, the long one shot of people sitting next to their cars. You couldn’t have a Fast and Furious movie without it, that would be like a Jean Claude Van Damme movie where he doesn’t do the splits.

Ben- 24 min: It’s literally adorable to see street toughs in countries where guns about as common than unicorns.

Han, the greatest thing from the third film.

Ryan- 27 min: the introduction to Drifting and our first race in Japan. I have never tried to drift, but it looks very similar to the power slide that I perfected in Mario Kart.

Ben- 29 min: The real lesson here is that parking garages offer less opportunity for legitimate cinematography and are best for rapid-fire edits and blurry shaky cam. While Nos-vision was annoying, it’d be a welcome change here.

Ryan- 39 min: I have been watching “Fast and the Furious” movies for almost 4 and a half hours. I am starting to fade out. I still have one and a half films to get through; this task might be harder than I thought. At least now in “Tokyo Drift,” Han is in the movie, the most interesting guy to be introduced yet.

Ben- 33 min: Cliché counter: so our Generic Southern Douche has nowhere else to go and will live under these rules while in this house. “Tokyo Drift” is shaping up to be “The Fast and the Furious” meets “Officer and a Gentleman” meets every bad after-school from the 80s. I think I need a drink.

Ben- 45 min: Words of wisdom: “I don’t just think outside of the box; I tear it up.” Sadly, none of that creativity was applied to the screenplay.

Ryan- 51 min: We finally had the obligatory heart to heart in the film this time it is between Sean and Han before we segway into a training montage.

Ben- 55 min: The learning to drive montage! For the record, the whisky is not helping nearly as much as I assumed it would.

Ben- 1:04: Unnecessary back-story? Budding relationships? I smell a merciful third act coming; thank God. I know who I should be rooting for, yet I’m conflicted. With Han gone, I’m awaiting a swift demise for everyone onscreen.

Ben- 1:23: The loser of a race leaves town for good? Man, I can’t wait to see who wins! The movie is over when someone wins, right? You know it’s good when you’re ending is ripped from the Professional Wrestling playbook.

Ben- 1:26: Montage! Now we’re talking. If only all of life’s complex tasks could be visualized as a series of edits that make hours/days/weeks/months– we’re never quite sure– of work take a scant few moments.

Ben- 1:34: So the villain is probably dead and everyone cheers? Curious.

 

It is the great tool stare off of 2006

Ryan- Ok I kind of gave up in the film again and stopped doing the running diary. I have realized this movie is not horrible, it is just not my type of film. There didn’t seem to be much plot going on in the film and it was a new version of the fish out of water, sully teenager film that they have been making since the 50’s. The bad guys were weak, the reasons anything happened were slight, and the protagonist was bland. After a few moments of seeing the cars drift, I missed the car scenes from the other films that were much more exciting. Sadly, my favorite part of the film was the Vin Diesel cameo at the end. Next film, thankfully we will get back to what works best in the film series with the original cast.

Ben- When a 40 second cameo from a real movie star eclipses the last 90 minutes, you can be relatively certain that the film was less than stellar. Such is the case for this thoroughly mediocre, moronically cliché tripe.

Ok, we have made the final leg of our journey and we are about to welcome back the original cast who frankly didn’t set the world on fire between this movie and the original. Let’s watch them recapture the magic of the first and best film of the series.

“Fast and Furious:”

Ryan- 00 min: We start out great with an awesome gas truck heist (going after those poor truckers again). We welcome back Dom, Letty and Han who is otherwise known as the one good thing about the third film. Thankfully we are away from cars that drift and back to chases, wrecks and big freaking explosions. The first five minutes remind me of the pre credits sequences from James Bond films and this is not a bad thing to be compared to.

Ben- 1 min: Jacking trucks while cracking jokes. I never thought I’d say this but, Oh, Vin Diesel, how I’ve missed you; you’re the best bald action hero since Bruce Willis. Even Michelle Rodriguez is a welcome sight after the previous cinematic abortion. However, I had no idea a truck could move that quickly while going backward.

Vin, so good to see you again buddy!

Ryan- 07 min: Our credits sequence and first shot of drag racing and hot women hanging out in front of cars. If someone edited all of these scenes from the four films together would there be enough footage for another film.

Ben- 7 min: Ridiculous action sequence. Thankfully, all signs are pointing to big, dumb disbelief-suspended fun.

Ryan-:09 Dom is breaking up the gang, which is not good for Han since he leaves for Tokyo and his eventual death.

Ryan-: 11 min: Welcome back Brian, you apparently turned into a badass since we saw you hanging out in Miami. Just like Dom was reintroduced with a cool car chase, you get a good foot chase. Let me again take the time right here and say how perfect Justin Lin is for this series. He has a good eye for action and makes the action come alive but not in the over-the-top way John Singleton went.

Ben- 14 min: Paul Walker is supposed to be a badass now? I’m not sure I buy it. Running across rooftops looked much more convincing in “The Crow.”

Ryan-15 min: Dom finds out Letty is murdered. He broke up the gang to keep everyone safe but Letty is murdered here and Han sometime in the future, I don’t think he achieved his goal.

Ryan-: 17 min: A known car nut and wanted criminal is back in town and the cops are not watching the garage next to the house. Not the smartest cops on the force staking out the house.

 

Great action in the 4th film.

Ryan- 19 min: Lets get some exposition about the bad guy.

Ryan- 20 min: One of the greatest scenes in the franchise. Dom goes CSI on the film and by seeing skid marks and reside on the ground is able to piece exactly what happened to Letty and who is partially responsible. It is very reminiscent of a CBS procedural, I am smelling TV-spinoff for Vin.

Ben- 21 min: Dom’s visualization of Letty’s crash looks like a combination of “Boondock Saints” and “Criminal Minds.”

Ryan- No one does pissed off and looking for vengeance better than Diesel. The premise of Vin Diesel looking for revenge would probably get me in the theater seat no matter what else is going on in the film.

Ryan- Exactly a half hour in the film and the onscreen couple we are all rooting for are reunited. I don’t know why Diesel and Walker work well together but they really do.

Ben- 30 min: Vin Diesel should be hanging a man from a window in every one of his films; the Disney schtick might pay the bills, but being large, growling, and menacing is what Diesel is best at.

Ryan- 32 min: Brian really did seem to become a badass between movies, quickly kicking the ass of a fellow FBI agent. I think Walker starring in the awesome and underrated film Running Scared did wonders for his ability to “play tough”.

Ben- 33 min: Montage! Remember, kids: a film’s quality is inversely proportionate to its number of montages.

Ryan- 34 min: It has been a half hour since we had a scene with lots of people standing in front of their cars, let’s have another montage.

Ryan- 38 min: Car chase with GPS, something new and it works in a cheesy type of way. I am glad we finally get a drag race in traffic because before this, most races seem to take place on the one deserted street in LA, Miami etc… and once again let me say that the director can stage a cool chase.

Ben- 38 min: I know these movies are centered upon street racing culture, but action scenes in real traffic, with more legitimate stakes, are infinitely more engaging.

Ryan- 40 min: One last question about this chase, does the fact that Diesel gets a awesome old school muscle car vs. Walker’s small little import mean anything deeper?

 

Best thing about 4? No drifting like this.

Ryan- 42 min: Onto the next montage of people in front of their cars with loud music, do they film a different one every time or do they just get reedit the same stock footage over and over again.

Ben- 45 min: “Papa Dwight wants you to take off your shoes. Dwight likes feet.” If only I had a nickel for every time I’ve uttered almost that exact phrase.

Ben- 47 min: Dom is still drinking Corona. Man, it’s that kind of internal consistency I’ve come to love from these characters.

Ryan- 59 min: We have the drug run into Mexico, did the bad guys construct a garage door into the tunnel. Did they find an old bat cave Bruce Wayne wasn’t using?

Ben- 59 min: The tunnels look like something out of a videogame, and definitely not in a good way. It’s times like these I hate CGI; if you can’t do something with practical effects, perhaps it shouldn’t be done.

Ryan- 1:04: I do enjoy watching Vin Diesel kick ass. Why couldn’t many movies figure out how to use him? It shouldn’t be that hard because they sure knew how to do it in the 80’s. The fact that Adrien Brody gets as many high profile action films as Diesel and The Rock shows something is wrong with action films these days.

Ben- 1:07: Perhaps it’s watching these films in order– or perhaps it’s the whisky for the last two hours– but there seems to be actual chemistry between characters. I’m surprised by you, Paul Walker. Pleasantly surprised.

Ben- 1:11: Someday I hope to be able to take a bullet in the should and not only NOT flinch, but to then be able to pound the tar out of someone. Oh, to be a superhuman movie anti-hero.

Ryan- 1:20: Dom is again in the garage while “everyone is looking for him;” maybe the FBI and LAPD should look at the garage next to the house with the lights on.

Ben- 1:26: Gunned down in a church; that’s how I’d want to go. P.S. a lesson for the kids: never get on your knees in front of a Catholic priest; you’re just tempting fate. You know, having the villain funding churches and accepting blessings only adds to the perennial Black Eye of organized religion.

Ryan- 1:32: and we are back in the tunnels, the destruction derby/car chase in the claustrophobic tunnels is different than most of the chases before. The movie brought it’s A-game to the end of this film.

Ryan- 1:35: I thoroughly enjoyed the bad guy getting crushed by a muscle car flying in at 100+MPH and the Vin Diesel line reading of “pussy.” Don’t judge me.

Ryan- 1:39: and the movie is over with the promise of a jail break. After watching the 4 all together, I must say that I think the fourth film is probably the best made and the most enjoyable. I think it has to do with the fact that the cast and director that should have been together finally were. We got great action pieces, Diesel and Walker back into the film and overall a fun time. I know that I am really looking forward to Fast Five, especially since they are adding the Rock to the mix.

Ben- I hate to admit it, but I now want to see where this franchise is headed. Admittedly, The Rock is one of my cinematic guilty pleasures and I’m not looking forward to “Fast Five” much more than I ever thought possible. As long as the latest installment is more “Fast and Furious” and less “Tokyo Drift,” the film should tear up the box office.