What helps a franchise stay relevant after a trilogy is returning to… MoreWhat helps a franchise stay relevant after a trilogy is returning to form and by bringing back all the original characters, "Fast & Furious" is textbook fourth film material. Taking a much darker tone, and pitting Vin Diesel again Paul Walker in a paralleling storyline, this sequel is set apart from the originals by creating a fresh, entertaining feel unlike anything we've experienced before. Revisiting and strengthening old relationships not only builds a stronger foundation for future films, but highlights major points of the first film that were most enjoyable. Still focusing on some racing, but continuing the "2 Fast 2 Furious" model of drivers for hire, the film takes elements from all previous films and expands them.
Continuing with fast cars, beautiful women, and enough action to keep… MoreContinuing with fast cars, beautiful women, and enough action to keep you entertained, "2 Fast 2 Furious" succeeds in the fact that Paul Walker returns and carries on the "Fast and the Furious" legacy. Also, by bringing in new relevant characters like Tyrese Gibson's Roman Pearce and Ludacris' Tej, the series is kept new and fresh, even if it comes from several recycled storylines. The plot often feels like a retread of "The Transporter" plot, but with a team. However, it does still focus on the street racing, nightlife aspect that was popularized in the original.
Hands down, Sung Kang as supporting character Han makes this film.… MoreHands down, Sung Kang as supporting character Han makes this film. Without Kang, there would be nothing redeemable about "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift". For starters, Lucas Black is terrible as the lead character, Sean Boswell, a country hick sent to Japan after getting into too much trouble. There are no serious consequences for Sean and never are. His "strict" father steps aside to let him do whatever he wants and a killer Yakuza boss lets him live for no good reason. Black is not an actor I want to see around and I did not believe any bit of him in this role. "Tokyo Drift" succeeds in introducing a new element into street racing, with the fresh idea of drifting, but simply becomes some odd version of "The Karate Kid" with Han coaching Sean in their ways, for no real reason than for entertainment. Justin Lin does as good a job as he can directing this sequel, but drops the ball with actors that shouldn't be in high school and a film that feels like 90% of it is at night. [Spoiler] When the film loses Kang, I lose complete interest and could do without the entire second half of this film. I could also do without Bow Wow, who is the only character I believe as a high school student. The worst installment in the franchise, with no returning characters from the originals (besides a surprise appearance at the end), this at least sets Kang up for much deserved future endeavors.
Fast cars. Big muscles. Attractive ladies. What more could you ask for… MoreFast cars. Big muscles. Attractive ladies. What more could you ask for from a film titled "The Fast and the Furious". Vin Diesel and Paul Walker make this film their own and put themselves on the map while doing it. Even if the film is mindless fun, there's enough heart and introduction to want more and to believe the connections that are being made. Centered around illegal street racing, the film is a first of its kind and ushers in an era of kids liking souped up cars and the down-and-dirty nightlife. With a few twists and enough action to keep one entertained, this first film of the franchise is a benchmark in action films.
Relentlessly masterful, "Star Trek Into Darkness" is a smart-man's… MoreRelentlessly masterful, "Star Trek Into Darkness" is a smart-man's sequel, as it strongly develops existing relationships while still introducing new and fresh faces into the mix, all while re-envisioning moments from the previous series. The themes are much the same as the 2009 installment, with trust and understanding between the shipmates remaining a staple, but heightening emotions on all levels. Pine and Quinto rival the pairing of Shatner and Nimoy, caring the heft of the film with a veteran's resilience. Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a career-making performance, as John Harrison, becoming one of the best villains in a franchise, ever. Everything in his performance, down to his unsettling deep voice makes the film something special from the moment he steps on the screen. The visuals are impeccable and again beg the question whether this needs to be seen in 3D. The screenplay, as with all great writing, lays the groundwork for some spectacular sequences. The only downfall is that same writing is hit-or-miss when it comes to its twists, either completely surprising and producing jaw-dropping moments, or telegraphing and alluding too much to certain elements that will be significant later. Also, things happen a bit to easily in certain instances, simply to keep the plot moving at a significant speed. That being said, J.J. Abrams still has the touch with this franchise, producing two films that not only usher in an entirely new generation of fans, but also tend to please the existing Trekkies with several callbacks and revelations present from the former series. There's never been a film that had me in suspense longer than the last thirty minutes of this film, filled with continuous action sequences, never knowing exactly how the action will end. All in all, "Star Trek Into Darkness" is not only one of the best films of the year, but one of the best science fiction films in recent memory.
Not much can be said for a film involving its main characters… MoreNot much can be said for a film involving its main characters screaming at each other for a majority of the run-time, but at least with "Revolutionary Road" is picked some of the most talented and attractive actors to do the screaming. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are reunited as man and wife in this 60's novel adaptation about a couple that would just as much torment one another with constant fights than to live a meaningful and separate life. The leads are powerful, with Winslet looking the best she's ever been, while DiCaprio rides the fine line between the amazing actor he will become and the childish, tween star we knew from "Titanic" and "Catch Me If You Can". Kathy Bates also delivers a fine performance, but it's the Academy Award nominated Michael Shannon that steals the show in the very short time that he graces the screen. A huge fan of Shannon's, I found his character immensely fleshed out and realized for someone barely involved in the plot and his portion becomes the most memorable moments of the film (apart from the dark conclusion and constant yelling). There's a poetry somewhere immersed in "Revolutionary Road" and Sam Mendes, along with Roger Deakins, do their best to emphasis that, but when you dislike both characters and their motives, or lack thereof, it becomes really hard to invest. As epic a drama as it is, the film falls short of being a classic.