Furious Six Review

Title: Furious Six
Distributor: Universal
Director: Justin Lin
Writer: Chris Morgan
Rating (out of 5): 5

Summary: Justin Lin and Chris Morgan deliver yet another outstanding action feature

Suspension of disbelief. That is the one concept a person going to see this film should keep in their mind at all times; that everything happening in this film is really a load of bull. There is no way that any of the characters could ever possibly survive the absolutely deranged action scenes that take place within this film, and yet they always manage to get away just by the skin of their teeth. This however is not a bad thing, but it certainly will make you gasp in awe time and time again at how brilliantly conceived the action is and how amazingly convenient many of the scenarios are.

Picking up where Fast Five ended, Furious Six begins with Special Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) looking to take down the internationally dangerous Shaw (Luke Evans), whose team are taking down militarised convoys in an attempt to build a device worth billions to the highest bidder; a device that could do an unfathomable amount of damage when successfully put together.

With traditional methods out of the question for acquiring such a man and his team, Hobbs is forced to recruit a ‘wolf to hunt a wolf”, in this case Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team. At the  end of Fast Five, Hobbs receives proof that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is still alive and working with this antagonistic crew, and it is this information he uses to procure Dom and have him and his team meet him in London to help take down this new threat.

Mia (Jordana Brewster’s) role is rather short in this film as she is now the mother of the child that she and Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) have had, which furthers the idea of family which flows throughout this entire feature.

Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), Gisele (Gal Gabot) and Han (Sung Kang) once again join the team, with Roman and Tej being primarily in control of delivering the wealth of humor throughout the piece which is efficaciously delivered.

As with the previous films, the connection between each of the characters seems extraordinarily powerful and makes the film’s storyline and the emotional interactions between the characters even more believable. There is not one moment that goes by where you don’t believe all of these friends are not a giant family, and thanks to the flawless acting and terrific writing, this is never challenged which only makes the experience even more easy to devour.

In a film spanning 130 minutes, the feature basically is one action scene after another, with a brief separation in-between each for character interaction and planning for the next deranged action-oriented occurrence, and by deranged, I truly mean that; cars go flying in all directions as cars and even later on a tank alike collide with others in this vehicular slaughter-fest. The amount of damage done in this film is unfathomable, and simply needs to be seen to be believed, and even then you probably won’t believe it. Like I said earlier, many action scenes seem convenient; there is always a car to escape in, or some horrible thing that does not immediately take place, which leads to the characters living to fight another day.

Just when the action seems to be over though, another scene even wilder than the last takes place, and even then you still can’t be sure that the film is over. Be sure to stay after the first few seconds of credits for a terrific little (convenient (again!)) cinematic featuring Jason Stratham, which leaves the film wide open for yet another sequel.

You want my opinion? Universal can make a dozen more Fast and the Furious sequels, for if they are all as good as this, then I will surely love to see how far they can push this truly entertaining series.

Simply put, if there is one action film you see this year, then Fast and the Furious Six is definitely that movie! A must see!

 

Descend into the Darkness in the new Star Trek feature

Title: Star Trek: Into Darkness
Distributor: Paramount
Producers: Sky Dance/Bad Robot
Director: J.J. Abrams

Rating (out of 5): 3

Synopsis: Terrific special effects and a few action sequences are not enough to save Star Trek: Into Darkness from itself.

Review: For those of you aware of the idea that a sequel is never able to live up to the expectations of the original, or the stereotypical notion that there is in fact no such thing as a bad trailer, then you will completely understand when I say that Star Trek: Into Darkness represents both of these ideologies.

For those of you, like me, who saw the trailer for the new Star Trek film and thought how riveting it looked; do not be fooled. Luckily for me I was able to see the film free due to my new membership with the cinema that I frequent, because if I had paid money to see this film, I may be even more disappointed.

Star Trek: Into Darkness begins, how do I put this, almost pointlessly. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and the crew of the Enterprise are on an alien planet where the local fauna are comprised of primitive humanoids yet to acquire the mantel of technology. Kirk decides to intervene with the course of the history the planet is to take by sending Spock (Zachary Quinto) into a volcano on the verge of erupting, the goal being to cease this event immediately, and for some odd reason this requires stealing a scroll from the local primitives and running through the woods.

After this scene the film does pick up the pace by informing you why this  was applicable; this shows that Kirk is yet to take the role of being a Captain seriously. He has no respect for authority or the rules and is incapable of conforming to Star-fleet’s way of handling missions. This inevitably leads to Kirk being removed as Captain and re-instated as first officer, whilst Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood) is recommissioned as the ships’ captain.

Whilst this occurs, in London, Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), the primary antagionist of the movie approaches a Star-fleet officer and his wife, whose daughter is gravely ill, and says that he will help save her, at a cost, this being only the start of his major plan which results in the deaths of many members of Star-fleet’s highest ranking officers. After this onslaught of violence takes place, Kirk, thirsty for vengeance requests that Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller), the highest ranking officer in humanity’s fleet give him permission to pursue Khan to where he is hiding on the Klingon world of Kronos. Marcus agrees to the savagery of the operation, despite it going against the general code of the fleet for this is a mission of destruction, rather than what Star-fleet stereotypically handles. Kirk is provided with no less than 72 missiles to be dropped onto Khan’s head to bring retribution to all he has harmed with his plots. The Enterprise however is to do its best not to alert the Klingon’s to their presence for they have been itching for a reason to go to war against them for so long now that it is basically inevitable.

Of course, not everything goes according to the plan…The movie is not as plain and simple as one might initially imagine, with a very intriguing storyline filled with a fair amount of depth, telling a tale of betrayal, redemption, vengeance, family and love. Not everyone is as good as they seem, just as the bad guys are not so terrible as they may originally appear. There are many twists and turns that ought to keep anyone entertained, but it is there that the film begins to lose points in my opinion.

Although yes, there are a number of action scenes, these often go by so fast that you only begin to enjoy them when they suddenly come to a conclusion. On top of that, Khan is built up to be this incredibly impressive one man killing machine and yet the amount of screen time he has where he is indeed kicking ass and taking names is not quite as much as I would have liked. True, he does a fair bit of damage by the end, but if you are going to have a powerhouse of an enemy, you might as well show off all of his skills. He throws some guys around and breaks some skulls (literally) but apart from that I really wanted to be impressed, after all, he is later hailed as the greatest threat that they ever faced, and yet his reign of terror is eventually halted so darn easily. Mr. Cumberbatch, the actor who portrays Khan did an admirable portrayal of the enemy which only further increased my frustration. The actor was such a fantastic bad guy, I only wished that the film makers had further milked what could have been generated.

On top of this, although the crew do descend to the planet Kronos, the amount of Klingons that are seen could be counted on yours hands (and maybe one of your toes). The War Birds look impressive, but, in my opinion, if you are going to place the crew of the Enterprise on one of the single most inhospitable planets in the known universe, the least you could do is have some extra fighting. There is one particularly engrossing fight scene, and after this the film moves on. All this talk of war with the Klingons and yet, where is it?

The music provides very little new content to the genre, most of the themes been rehashed from the original feature. The cameo role by Leonard Nimoy will no doubt cause your eyes to roll to the side as this was perhaps unnecessary, and although he provides invaluable information, this could have been acquired via alternate methods. On top of this, the cameo by Nazneen Contractor additionally seems odd – I mean, why hire a known actress to play an unbelievably small role?

Moreover, Zoe Saldana’s role as Uhura is not quite as large as many fans of such a character may enjoy. In fact, the amount of screen time that she and Dr. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) receive in the film does not begin to even contrast with the amount of screen time the blocks receive, this movie being basically a guy’s night out, with the intellectually powerful women being limited in their roles.

Towards the end, a scene that age old Star Trek fans will be familiar with is reflected in the film, and although it is orchestrated very powerfully by the actors involved, it seems cliche when in regards to the scene it is based upon (you’ll know what I mean when you see it!).

In conclusion, Star Trek: Into Darkness will entertain you – but it will leave you hungry for so much more. Let’s just hope that in the future, the next Star Trek villain who claims to be an unstoppable force to be reckoned with really lives up to the title.

Set the entertainment for Cruise Control in the new intense action thriller ‘Jack Reacher’

 

I never did read the novel ‘One Shot’ from acclaimed writer Lee Child, so please forgive me if my interpretation of the film seems way off when in comparison with the text. What I do know about the character from the book is that he was apparently well over six feet in height, which actor Tom Cruise is not. Height however, has nothing to do with talent, and Mr. Cruise sure brings a lot of it in this new thriller which is adjunctively produced by him.

With a new Mission Impossible film having been announced, perhaps Mr. Cruise is looking to be involved in another franchise. There can only be so many more Mission Impossible features that writers could possibly develop, and if Mr. Cruise is looking to become involved in a new phenomenal action series, then he has certainly put his money, and his talents, into the right film. Whether or not the fans agree will depend on whether more features based upon the series of books are indeed conceived.

Now apparently at fifty years of age, one may expect that Mr. Cruise is beginning to enter a stage in his career where he could consider retiring from blockbuster action features. But if the feature Jack Reacher has anything to say about his future prospects, that idea is probably not going to come to fruition just yet. During the fight scenes, Jack Reacher moves like liquid, easily taking out his opponents, often with little difficulty and/or injury, and if Mr. Cruise was involved in a majority of the stunts, then that is proof enough that he is surely capable of continuing his action career for quite a while longer. Fingers crossed.

The film opens to the senseless massacre of five innocent individuals going about their daily lives; each of whom are shot by a retired sniper. It seems like an ironclad case against the offender; his bullets and fingerprints were found at the scene, and his vehicle matches the tire treads found there as well. Life in jail with no parole or death are the only options available to this man now, who asks for a Mr. Jack Reacher to become involved in the case.

Jack Reacher, alerted by the news to the senseless shooting, and having a past with the accused, shows up almost immediately to begin digging into what happened. He instantly believes that the accused is the shooter and will do everything in his power to bury him.

The lawyer of the accussed, Helen (played by the beautiful Rosamund Pike), who is the daughter of the District Attorney, immediately takes a shine to Mr. Reacher’s impeccable investigative qualities and asks for him to participate in the case as her primary investigator.

The relationship between both Helen and Reacher is often one of ‘will they or won’t they?’, with many options being available throughout the feature for a possible romance to be generated between the characters.

However, this film is most unlike others that Mr. Cruise often dedicates his time too; Reacher is not the stereotypical protagonist, but then again he is in no way an anti-hero either. He is, to put it shortly, quite the bad ass, and Mr. Cruise does an impeccable job at creating such a hardened hero with ruthlessly efficient combat methodologies, highly intellectual investigative skills and an unbelievable awareness of his surroundings from his prior life in the military as an army police officer.

The case against the accused however is not a normal one, and is instead shrouded in intrigue, corruption and a major set up that has ties to those who are meant to uphold and protect the law. Nothing is sacred anymore, and no one is safe. Luckily, as the tag line of the feature might suggest, Mr. Reacher has no limits to what he will do to ensure that the righteous and the just are safely secure from the hands of antagonists, and that villains get exactly what is coming to them. So with Mr. Reacher on the case, the ominous bad guys have officially met their match.

Appearing rather spookily in the eyes of the enemy, and having the ability to make the blood of his opponents boil anxiously with dread, the darkness that Mr. Cruise brings to his powerful character is furthered with the often dark night scenes that occur throughout the film, the depths of the plot and the incredibly loud sounds of guns going off and cars slamming into surfaces. At times, such great techniques within the feature will cause you to jump unexpectedly, as you are pulled into this dark world that Mr. Reacher inhabits.

Of course, darkness is not the only aspect of the film that poses as a lure. The film itself does not require drawn out action sequences or explosions to capture your interest, but does so with other great abilities; the smart, intelligent dialogue; the witty action sequences and the ways Mr. Reacher takes his opponents down; additional likeable characters the likes of Cash, played by the unfathomably well known Robert Duvall, who portrays a fun sniper at a gun range adds a sense of fun to a dark, foreboding landscape; and the in-depth characterisation that Mr. Cruise brings to his character, not to mention his good looks, which he has amazingly managed to preserve efficaciously benefit the film.

Jack Reacher is a film that immediacy captures your attention and refuses to let you go until the final thrilling sequence. To put my final opinion of the feature simply; you have to watch this film. Whether you are a fan of Mr. Cruise’s work, or enjoy intriguing, intelligent plots and dramatic action thrillers, Jack Reacher has it all and more, and frequently keeps you guessing as to who is trustworthy; and who the real enemy is.

It’s been a long time coming: John Carter on DVD and BluRay Review

 

I realise that the film ‘John Carter’ has been out for some time now, a statement which is probably most true for any country that does not begin with ‘Australi-’, but over here in the land of down under, John Carter only recently made its way onto DVD and BluRay. I had been originally planning to see the feature at the cinema, but the reviews of others inevitably put me off. Even Disney itself, the major corporation involved in its orchestration had explained two weeks after the release of the film in America that the project, which had consumed a budget larger than 400 million US dollars had only raked in a total of 140 million over the course of the two weeks it had been out in the US.

So, with that said, I personally did not want others to be blinded by the bias of reviewers like I was. I usually am not the kind of guy to be influenced by the words of others (the Age back in 2009 gave Avatar a 3/5 for Chrissake!), but on this one occasion I have to admit that I unfortunately was, and am not too impressed with this at all. All I can say is that from now on I will try to do my best to keep an unbiased opinion, and not be influenced by the words of those who are no doubt paid to critique the shit out of anything and everything, and be quite negative about it too.

As for myself? Well, after what I have written, and what I intend to write, I think it would be quite obvious that I actually enjoyed the film. Yes, after been influenced by the fact that it would seem a large percentage of reviewers loathed the product, I wanted to create a piece that reflected my own, rather contradictory opinion to the stereotypical normality. I mean, none of the pamphlets from major stores around where I live have even advertised the unveiling of the product on DVD and BluRay which officially came out on the 4th of July. With those kind of marketing practices, things are looking kinda bleak for John Carter’s future.

For those who have not seen the film, John Carter is a sci-fi, romantic action extravaganza in the tradition of films the likes of James Cameron’s Avatar, Disney’s Tron Legacy, Dances with Wolves with Kevin Costner, and the Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. The feature is based upon the novel ‘a Princess of Mars’ by legendary sci-fi writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, who wrote an entire series, comprised of eleven novels. If you have read the book and are familiar with the series, then you may enter the film with many expectations and may come out disappointed, so I would suggest you walk into the film with little to no expectations and wipe clean from your mind any prior knowledge you have on the subject matter.

However, do not allow the ‘Disney’ logo to upset you. Recently in my opinion, Disney is becoming more and more mature in the creation of products that are able to provide the entire family with entertainment. The children can enjoy the comedy and the visuals, and the adults can appreciate the detail of the storyline. Everybody wins, and I think Disney deserves an ocean load of Kudus for being able to accomplish such a thing.

The film revolves around, as the title might suggest, a young man named John Carter who is a Captain in the days when the wild west was beginning to die away. Originally trained and hired to fight in the Civil War, and later still the Native American Indian tribes of America and later still anyone else the army and the country wanted from him, he returns home to find it is not quite what he left.

Played by Taylor Kitsch, who at the moment is seen as Hollywood’s antagonist, the film is already given a bad reputation with all of the unbelievable jargon that has been hurled against this actor. With almost all of the films he has happened to star in over the past couple years visualised as flops, and with the media witting articles the likes of ‘Kitsch for Kitsch’, which is just downright mean for lack of a better word (in Britain, kitsch means ‘shit’, so one can understand what this article is attempting to illustrate), things are not at all looking too bright for the future. I however am yet to see Battleship or any other feature Kitsch has happened to star in, so I cannot comment on any such arguments that have been made against him or his acting in these particular movies, or the issues that are associated with the films he has chosen to participate in.

Hired once more by his government not long after his return, Carter feels more comfortable however wanting to look into a ’cave of gold’ he has discovered, money being something of grand significance to him and his prime motivator in these dark times.

Escaping from his captors and pursued by Native Americans, he finds his way back to his ‘cave of gold’, only to be set upon by an alien visitor who instantly attempts to take his life, Carter been forced to defend himself. Unfortunately for him, in all of the confusion he happens to trigger a teleportation device that sends him from Earth, all the way to Mars, which is quite unlike the planet that we know and love.

The world is at war, with three great super powers vying for a piece of the pie. These include the likes of the peaceful people of Helium, the imperial, antagonistic forces of Zodanga, and the eight foot tall, four armed, green skinned aliens known as Tharks, who are a combination of the Navi from Avatar, the Twi’lek from Star Wars and a Walrus from Earth.

Upon arrival on Mars, Carter finds he has the impressive ability to leap incredible distances, and is additionally endowed with formidable strength to match. All of this is due to his human bone density and his weight on the planet’s surface. Initially captured by the Tharks, the tribal leader of the clan, Tars Tarkas, played by Willem Defoe, sees exponential potential in his abilities, and later, the other factions on the planet too recognise the potential that he carries. The title of the film moreover, and the ‘JC’ symbol, would suggest that Disney is heavily attempting to endow the character John Cater with a sense of extraordinary Godliness.

Discovering from the Tharks the war that has raged upon the planet, it is no surprise that Carter initially refuses to participate, knowing full well the repercussion that he was forced to endure in his past from fighting back on Earth, which is rather beautifully portrayed throughout the course of the feature in flashbacks. Ironically enough, after said refusal, Carter inadvertently happens to walk straight into the war upon having a chance encounter with Helium princess Dejah Thoris, played by Lynn Collins.

Discovering that the people of Helium are in mortal danger at the hands of Zodanga, Carter find he has quite a decision to make after appearing on the radar of Mar’s enemy number one. Sab, played by Dominic West, is the Zodangan Warlord who is attempting to reign supreme, and decides that he will spare the people of Helium a grizzly fate if Princess Thoris chooses to marry him. Escaping from his vile clutches, which I guess was her way of saying ‘hell no!’, she falls into the hands of John Carter, later explaining to him that she can help get him home, which is exactly where he wants to go back to.

However, she, like many of the characters of the film, has an ulterior motive. She wants Carter to help her people, just like Tarkas wants him to help his. Funnily enough, the other antagonist in the film, Matai Shang, played by Mark Strong, wants Carter to get back to Earth as well, fearing his abilities could prove quite resourceful in the battles that lie ahead and could ultimately destroy the plans that he and his shadowy brethren have put in motion.

Discovering that the way back home may not be as easy as ‘one, two three’, Carter finds that he can either sit back and watch Mars inevitably destroy itself, or choose a faction to fight beside. Due to the fact that the film is based around a war, it is safe to say that the film is partially more violent than other Disney features you may be familiar with, with a small portion of blood almost always covering a certain part of your hero’s faces.

Moreover, just like with Avatar, one look at the film will forever alter your perception on what a Hollywood film company can accomplish in a movie. The film’s special effects are absolutely flawless, unsurpassed even, and are beautifully detailed, the vibrant world of Mars coming to life before your very eyes with unbelievable description, the sheer intoxication of the visuals being something out of a dream. The gorgeousness of the design is only surpassed by the feeling that surrounds you as you watch the feature and are mesmerised by the physicality of its design, for you won’t just see the beauty of the Martian planet, but feel it, as it travels up and down your spine.

This is to be expected from a film with the Disney logo on it, and just like with other Disney features, the way the film is written will be able to appeal to all ages. There are moments of humour, both verbal and slapstick that will appeal to children and adults alike, and about half the time you will find yourself chuckling at one thing or another. If you’re not chuckling, then your mouth will probably be partially open as you gasp in awe at the special effects as mentioned previously.

That is not to say however that the action is not present, which it certainly is. There are pieces of sci-fi mumbo jumbo been utilised by all manner of races and some pretty quirky flying vehicles that are a combination of butterflies meeting the winged beasts from Avatar. The characters however feel more happy using swords rather than guns, and that makes for some brutal close up and personal scenes. Well, brutal by Disney standards at least, which is not saying much because the ability to draw blood in a film with the Disney logo is about as easy as pulling teeth out from a live Great White Shark. On occasion though, these fight scenes may end too soon, and leave you wanting just a little bit more.

Humour, action and special effects aside, the film works best when it is being straight up romantic and emotionally powerful. Yes – as with many Disney products there is a romantic story to be found which is one of the more powerful themes, and you keep wondering when and if something might happen. When Disney is playing with this concept seriously rather plan toying around with other ideals in a more comedic manner the film is no doubt at its best. I will admit, the film will not draw you to tears, but you will no doubt feel touched by the affection and deeply connecting storyline that is told during these moments of Disney greatness. By the end, you may feel that it is one of those cheap, romantic endings, but who really cares when you are on the verge of bawling your eyes out?

Moreover, in regards to the actors, Defoe does an impeccable job, as per usual in his acting, proving not only that he can successfully act his way out of any situation, but that he is just as capable as playing motion capture as he is playing in a normally filmed feature. Lynn Collins on the other hand plays a ravishing blue eyed alien princess, who, with her gorgeous good looks and her fancy sword fighting skills will no doubt have the hearts of fan boys racing across the globe, and for numerous different reasons.

Additionally, Samantha Morton appears in the feature too as Sola, a fellow Thark and a sweetheart who is frequently tortured for putting toes out of line, who joins the fight with Carter and the others when the going gets serious. As usual, Morton proves she can change her accent as easily as I can change my clothes.

As for the other characters, almost all of them are not quite as well focused upon as those previously mentioned, and sometimes you might have to wonder why Disney even bothered to choose such a star studded cast when one, their parts are quite small, and two, due to the digitalisation of the characters, half of the actors you won’t even be able to recognise. I mean, if you were not told that Tars Tarkas was been played by Defoe, you probably wouldn’t even suspect him to be in the film period.

One thing I would note that could have perhaps been done better is the heightening of the film’s bad guys. True, they are present, but the film focuses so strongly on the major protagonists and barely has enough room for the stories of the enemy that at times you may find yourself forgetting them entirely. However, when they do appear, they often make up for their lengthy hiatus by attempting to do something either really cunning or quite unpleasant, and Matai Shang is especially an intelligent villain who is capable of even besting the one, the only, John Carter in a couple instances.

As for the release of the film on BluRay and DVD – as with many Disney features, the dialogue between characters is often incredibly soft. However, as soon as the music pipes up and the actions starts rolling, your choice to put the volume up to ‘32’ seems to have been a bad one as you find yourself blown across the room by the sheer thunderous force of the digitalised sound quality.

All in all, I cannot find too much at fault with this film, and perhaps that is my deteriorating eye sight, but I am at a loss as to why other reviews manage to criticise the living tissue out of this feature. The film has supposedly been in the works for about two years and has jumped around from one company to the next, and if you ask me it has almost certainly been worth the wait to finally add it to your movie collection today.

Oh, and be sure to keep an eye out for John Carters’ Martian pooch – quite possibly one of the most amazing animals ever in cinema who is destined to join the ranks of Lassie, Beethoven and Lucky.