Fate of the Furious

Has summer blockbuster season begun or is this a tease of what’s to come?

I’ll admit that the Fast and Furious franchise is not really the kind movies I’m super excited about. I’m not a car guy for one thing, nor do I get a kick out of (illegal) street races. However, as the series went on, it evolved into a more ridiculous “what kind of crazy stunts can we do with cars” sort of film surrounding Vin Diesel and the late Paul Walker and their ragtag crew. Add in Dwayne the Rock Johnson and Jason Statham then you have an action franchise that is basically pure adrenaline or nitrous I should say. Just leave your brain at the door and enjoy the ride. What makes this franchise work is that the films know how ridiculous they are and uses that as their platform.

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8 movies later, after Vin and crew promised this story will continue on after the passing of Paul Walker. If anything, they do it for him.

The primary theme of the FF franchise is built around the idea of family. With constant reminder from Dominic Toretto (Vin) that you don’t turn against family. Fate of the Furious has him breaking the very rule that pretty much kept him alive. Of course, it’s far deeper than that and for spoilers sake, you’ll have to watch the movie to know why.

Let’s briefly talk about the real reason why people come to these movies, the crazy stunts and the wise cracks between the leads. Last movie had them flying out of an airplane and jumping between skyscrapers. Let me just put, briefly, 3 of the insane ideas that they have put into this movie. A monstrous wrecking ball, a big ass submarine controlled by a ghost plane, and zombie cars. Yes, zombie cars. Trust me. It’s pretty insane and a pretty cool action set. Definitely kept me engaged through the whole movie.

 

Amidst all the insanity that the FF series bring to the big screen, it’s the returning cast plus a few new additions, as well as the antagonist(s) that keeps the franchise going. Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez continue their drama as Dominic Toretto and Letty carrying the emotional weight of the movie as newlyweds. Dom has gone rogue leaving Letty and his family behind, drama ensues.

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It seems you can’t have these movies now without Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and his wisecracks. Roman, I feel, is the one character who brings a little sense of reality. The idea of being chased down by a submarine is pretty ridiculous, and Roman lets us know over and over with each ludicrous stunt they find themselves performing.

Speaking of ludicrous, Ludacris returns as wise crackin’ techie. Usually paired up with Roman cracking jokes with each other and admiring the ladies. It’s interesting to see his character evolve from 2 Fast 2 Furious as an illegal street race aficionado and tech geek, especially when it pertains to cars, to full on tech genius/hacker with tech skills good enough to rival Anonymous. However, he has Ramsay (Nathalie Emmanuel) who takes up most of the hacking job.

The villain of this movie is Cipher (Charlize Theron) who you can probably guess by the typical name is the world best hacker with a bone to pick. She recruits Dominic and turns him against his family. Her character here runs in the same vein of her evil witch queen, Ravenna in both The Huntsman: Winter’s War and Snow White and the Huntsman. Instead of magic, she hacks computers.

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The real scene stealer in F8 belongs to both Dwayne The Rock Johnson and Jason Statham. Hobbs, the Rock, is the ultimate muscle of the group. He takes on a superhuman persona wiping out anyone who stands in his way by a simple punch. And when I say punch, I don’t mean like a boxer’s jab. I mean, a punch to the chest will send you flying through the walls. With him paired with Statham, it makes for great eye candy. They talk smack to each other while performing their stunts. Without getting into spoilery details, Deckard (Statham) is brought back this time to help the team take out Cipher and Dom. I will say that it’s doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to have the main bad guy of the previous movie who caused quite a bit of mayhem and even kills Han to being accepted, sort of, as part of the team. But like I said earlier, just leave your brain at the door. I will say, Statham has what is probably my favorite scene out of the whole movie.

Seriously though, if you’re looking for a good time? Go see Fate of the Furious. It’s exactly the kind of action comedy to see on the big screen. Plenty of laughs and thrills to be had. That’s my Noble Opinion.

WestWorld: A Season 1 Review

I have just witnessed WestWorld and I’m bursting at the seams to tell you all about it! I will keep this review as a general overview and not go into any details, so no spoilers ahead. Buckle up kids, its going to be a wild ride!

If you have ever thought to yourself “I wonder what Game of Thrones would be like as a western? If Westeros met the Wild Wild West?” And no, I am not talking about the beautiful, Oscar snubbed Will Smith movie. Imagine the intense drama as Game of Thrones meets the gun slinging ways of old. If that sounds intriguing, then WestWorld is just the series for you.

Pictured Above: Art

West World takes the best parts of GOT and completely creates a new and unique story. Gripping dialogue? Check. Battle for the top position in the land/company? Check. Names that do not quite make sense and are somewhat hard to pronounce? Check and Check. Though be warned, just like GOT, HBO loves to throw in its patented “have tons of sex and when we aren’t having sex let’s be naked” concept wildly about. That could be a pro or a con depending on what you want in a show, and as Katie Perry and CBS say, the more you know. Oh no… I am speaking in rhymes.

She knows too much

Not intrigued yet? Well allow me to explain one key detail my friend. All the shenanigans I have stated above, fully take place within an adult Chuck E Cheese. Yes, Chuck-E-freaking Cheeses for the twisted adult mind and no, not Dave and Busters. You see upon entering the beauty that is WestWorld, you quickly discover that the wild west is filled with two kinds of people, humans and host. The humans are well exactly that, people who wanted to get away from their mundane lives and live out their wildest fantasies in a time they could only dream about. Rich folk looking for that next high cable TV just can’t satisfy anymore.

Only 90’s kids will understand

Then you have the host, robotic AI with the ability to help you live out unique story-lines thanks to their advanced metrics and improv skill set. They can take you on the adventure of a lifetime by saving a cattle rancher from evil henchmen, have a few drinks with you in a saloon while playing cards, allow you to purchase a fine wench for a few hours of fun time or, just like in Chuck E Cheese, you can run around and blindly shoot the host/mouse and no one is going to fight back.

On second thought…maybe not a good idea

Unlike Chuck E Cheese, this is a theme park that is monitored by adults, so there is a third component at work here. The workers of this WestWorld live far above the park in the mountains and keep out a watchful eye, like the gods they fancy themselves. Enter corporate espionage. As you may already be aware, you can’t have a futuristic theme park and not have someone wanting to abuse it for something other than thrilling adventures, all the while accidentally endangering the guest…I am looking at you Jurassic Park.

“Dinosaurs, they basically watch themselves”

Combine incredibly advanced robotics, rich clients, and a company that keeps more secrets than a Lost episode and you have WestWorld. The show does an amazing job of seamlessly moving back and forth between the theme park and company whilst still showing you a good time and creating a bit of ruckus on their own. Somehow the writers make something so ridiculously futuristic seem extremely realistic, all the while challenging your view point constantly with thoughts like “Can AI feel? Is it cruel to have such power over them? How much does it cost to go?”($40,000 a day by the way).

HBO does an incredible job in casting once again. Sir Anthony Hopkins is a genius as always but it’s the supporting cast that constantly surprise me and the actors playing the robots just blow me away. I never expect any less from a major company like HBO that makes every episode seem like a big budget blockbuster.

All in all, I have thoroughly enjoyed WestWorld and its first season. You will hear some people complain, as I have heard many a time already, that the first season finale is predictable but it’s one of the many things I love about this show. What some people took as predictable, I took as a taking of power from the audience’s hands.  We are taught in storytelling to make the audience the smartest or make them feel most important, but just like George R R Martin giving the big ole middle finger to that rule by killing off beloved characters and leaving audiences completely shocked, WestWorld does something very similar. Instead of trying to surprise you or kill off the ones you love, they simply create a storyline that is somewhat predictable but unstoppable. Just like watching a moving train about to crash into a brick wall. The show reminds you that you are completely helpless and even though you “might” have predicted the ending, there is nothing you can do to stop it. YOU ARE HELPLESS. HBO shouts the same thing the oddly named Silento shouts to today’s youth “ooh watch me, watch me, oooh oooh oooh”

Pictured Above: Art

I have quickly fallen in love with this show and think that everyone should give it a shot. You may think Sci-fi might not be for you but in my Noble Opinion this show is for everyone.

I give it a full Phenomenon stamp of approval.

Masterminds

I’m not quite sure all the hurdles it took to get this movie to be released to the public. It was scheduled to be released last year and got pushed to early this year and pushed again to just a week ago(as of this writing). Something about distribution and finances, not sure. However, as a fan of Zach Galifianakis, I was definitely looking forward to this.

I’m gonna start out by saying even though the reviews were terrible, I laughed through almost the whole thing. And there were times where I nearly cried because I was laughing so hard.

Galifianakis plays a stranger-than-fiction true story about David Ghannt, a normal everyday man(a bumbling idiot), who gets lured by a flirtatious crush to a robbery and somehow manages to make off with over 17 million dollars in cold hard cash. However true to the actual tale is, which I have absolutely no idea, I just know that I laughed hard.

Playing along with Zach Galifianakis, we have Owen Wilson who is no stranger to oddball comedies even though they are hit and miss. Then we have Saturday Night Live regulars and alumni in Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Jason Sudeikis. The aforementioned ladies all starred together in the summer all female-led reboot, Ghostbusters. Chemistry is key when it comes to comedic movies, and each of the cast in their respective, oddball characters play along really great especially alongside the lead, Zach Galifianakis.

Masterminds rest solely on the deadpan humor that made Napoleon Dynamite famous, and Zach delivers it gloriously along with the help of his fellow costars. But judging from reading from the reviews of professional critics, which I’m not, it takes a special kind of appreciation for this brand of humor. And not many people have this taste. On top of that, it’s the kind of humor that is worth watching with friends. So whether you are wanting to something to watch at the big screen or waiting for it to come out on Blu-ray or digital download, make sure you see it with people who love to laugh.

Image courtesy of Relativity Media.

Central Intelligence

Had it not been for Kevin Hart comedic chop and Dwayne the Rock Johnson huge charisma, this movie would be a forgettable action comedy. Hart actually toned down his comedic side to give the boost to the Rock who again shows why he’s the king of summer blockbusters. What makes Central Intelligence work is the chemistry between the two thus giving the audience some huge laughs. I laughed pretty much through the whole thing. It’s a comedy and that is ultimately what you will get. The over arching storyline is pretty much by the numbers, but the focus remains on the 2 leads. Hart settles down into a straight man type role but still goes into his fast talking comedian shtick while Johnson fully commits to his role of CIA agent while poking fun at himself. There’s a strong anti bullying message that resonates through the movie as well. In my honest Noble opinion, this is the summer blockbuster comedy worth seeing on the big screen.

The Nice Guys

Definitely one of the funniest movie I’ve seen this year. Gosling and Crowe makes a dynamic duo, playing off great chemistry. Director Shane Black gives them plenty to play with harkening back to days of great buddy cop action comedies like Lethal Weapon, which Black penned. The formula for these type of movies is not necessarily rewritten here, but made so much better. The story is ludicrous from the get-go, and as it moves along, it’s rather pointless to try to put the puzzle pieces together, until the final piece is revealed and then everything makes sense. The script calls for us to not to try to figure it out but to just enjoy the ride, and enjoy it you will. The banter between the leads along with the physical comedy of Gosling had me laughing, if not then in smiles through pretty much the whole movie. Nice Guys has a bit of mature content so keep the kiddos home, but in my honest Noble opinion, The Nice Guys is well worth the watch.

 

Featured image courtesy of Warner Bros.

Daddy's Home

Daddy’s Home pits comedic actor Will Ferrell against Mark Wahlberg in this battle of the dads. Will and Mark both have a strong chemistry as seen in the funny The Other Guys. But while they may have good chemistry as Dad and Step-dad, the flick falls flat until the 3rd act. There’s not much real comedy here and I’m not even sure who the target audience is. It’s pg13 sure, but it feels like wanting to be warm for the family and yet be crude for the adults. Not a good combination. While this movie may have ended it’s run in the theaters, give it a pass when it comes out on redbox. #nocosign