Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Brittney Alger

Furious 7 (2015)

People can be violent, but cars are nearly worse.

The gang’s all back, but this time, it’s personal! Soon after their buddy is killed by a notorious thug by the name of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) – a brother of one of their former foes – Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) realize that it’s time to get vengeance in the only way they know best. But before doing so, they get a proposition from a special agent (Kurt Russell): Help him retrieve a piece of spy software from a terrorist (Djimon Hounsou) and he will more than make sure that Dom, Brian and the rest of the crew get that sweet taste of revenge that they’ve been clamoring for after all of this time has passed. However, there are other problems going on from within the group where Dom can’t seem to get Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) to remember their past together for what it was, nor can Brian seem to tear himself away from the wacky, wild life of crime that’s always attracted him for so long, even if he’s know settled-down with a wife (Jordana Brewster) and kid. Will the crew stay fast? Furious? Or neither?

So yeah, already going into this installment, there’s plenty to be discussed. With the tragic passing of Paul Walker nearly a-year-and-a-half ago, everything that was initially planned for Furious 7, from the release date, to the plot, were all scrapped and made anew. Which makes total sense. Walker wasn’t some sort of bit player in this franchise that showed up every so often to utter some witty line that would get the whole crowd laughing at how likable he is; he was, literally, the heart and soul of this franchise. Without him, it probably wouldn’t have gone on for as long as it has, which is both a blessing and a curse.

And they're not beating the hell out of each other, because.......?

And they’re not beating the hell out of each other, because…….?

A curse because the movie’s are dumb, over-the-top, ridiculous, and represent everything that is wrong with American’s society of masculinity. On the flip-side, though, it’s also a blessing because these movies, at least in the case for the last three installments, are so much fun, seem to never lose sight of just how illogical they are, and hardly ever apologize for it. Fast & Furious movies aren’t supposed to be taken seriously, and that’s where the real charm lies.

Hence why Paul Walker, all of his acting talents aside, was perfectly-suited for this franchise, no matter what it threw at him, or where it threw him.

With that being said, Furious 7 is a pretty raucous time. While I may not be saying anything new that hasn’t already been uttered by millions and millions of people from around the world, there’s still something interesting to note about a franchise in which the movies seem to constantly get better and one-up the one that came before it. Fast Five started this trend of the franchise going towards more action-fare, rather than just making it all about hot cars, hot men, hot women, and hot bodies, and the sixth film absolutely went for it all and, for the most part, came out on top.

While Furious 7 may not be better than the sixth movie, it’s still pretty damn close because it never forgets what it is: A mindless piece of action-fare that audiences will pay dozens of dollars for. Though this sounds easy (because, quite frankly, Michael Bay’s been doing it for the past two decades now), looking at some films, it’s actually not. Last year’s utterly forgettable and boring Need for Speed tried so desperately to pull-off the same sort of magic that the Fast franchise has been pulling off for quite some time and it failed miserably. That movie wanted to be silly, insane and ludicrous beyond belief, whereas the Fast movies are exactly that, but they don’t ever seem to be trying.

Not to mention that they actually do feature a dude a named Ludacris.

But because Furious 7 knows what it’s all about, it doesn’t try to pretend it’s something it isn’t. Though there are a chock-full of scenes dedicated to these thinly-written, one-dimensional characters breaking down all sorts of barriers and getting dramatic with one another, these scenes are quickly dismissed as soon as they show up. Also, too, it makes sense that we need at least some sort of character-development to help make things seem fully rounded-out and not just *crash*, *bang*, *boom* all of the darn time. While this would have been fun, let’s be realistic here: No movie franchise with its seventh-installment is going to totally shelve its characters for their beyond-nuts action sequences.

Just get used to it and move on. That’s what I did and it worked well.

It worked well because, once I realized that every problem these characters had didn’t really matter much in the grander scheme of things, the action just got a whole lot better and more exciting. Though you’d think these movies would have already run-out of ideas on how to set-up action sequences and still, somehow, be able to utilize automobiles in some sort of fashion, director James Wan proves you damn wrong. With scenes depicting cars flying through the sky with parachutes and even scenes where cars go flying through three buildings, this franchise continues to give us something new and fun to feast our eyes and ears onto.

Not a Rock Bottom, but it'll do.

No Rock Bottom, but it’ll do.

And honestly, the sky is the limit from here on out. No matter how many times this movie tries to break actual science, it won’t lose any bit of respect because the rules have already been set-in place: There are no rules. Cars can literally fly through the sky; people can literally shoot their guns till the cows come home and never run out of ammunition; jets can literally glide around downtown LA without there being hardly any interference from the Army of any sort. Literally, anything can happen in these movies and because of that, they never lose an ounce of momentum; they just continue to build up and up on it some more until it feels like, you know, we may have had enough adrenaline for one day.

And really, the same rules apply to the characters, as well. Like I said before, none of these characters here are inherently interesting or well-written, but they exist in a universe that loves them all so very much, that it’s hard to look down upon them for being “types”. Like the movies they exist in, you just accept them for what they are, let them do their thing and move on.

It’s quite easy, really.

Meaning, when you accept them, you have to accept Vin Diesel’s garbled growling; Michelle Rodriguez’s resting bitch face; Dwayne Johnson to be wearing Under Amour every time he is on-screen and trying so hard not to break kayfabe; Jordana Brewster just being “there”; Ludacris and Tyrese to be the goofy sidekicks that everyone can rely on for comedy and not really anything serious to contribute to the plot; and, most of all, Paul Walker’s ability to just be the “everyman” in every scene he’s in. Because even though newcomers to this franchise like Tony Jaa, Djimon Hounsou, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ronda Rousey, Kurt Russell, and especially, a deliciously evil Jason Statham all acquit themselves perfectly into this movie, strut their stuff and show us what they’re more than able to bring to the creative table, it’s Walker who still leaves the most lasting impression. He isn’t trying to, either – he just is.

And somehow, there’s a small bit of beauty in that.

Consensus: Like every other installment of the franchise, Furious 7 is as ridiculous and nonsensical as you can get, but still a whole bunch of fun, treating fans to everything that they could ever want with one of these movies, and then some, especially with the emotional tribute to Paul Walker – the one true face of this franchise.

8 / 10

Ride on, brotha.

Ride on, brotha.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz


Pitch Perfect (2012)

Still can’t get that freakin’ Ace of Base song out of my head. Grrr!

The film follows Beca (Anna Kendrick), a girl who arrives at her new college and finds herself not right for any clique. She discovers her voice when she somehow is muscled into the school’s a Capella group where she becomes the secret weapon for the school’s female team.

Now that Glee has taken over the world of television, and the world in general, it seems like every form of popular-entertainment is getting it’s own movie, to poke it’s head out to show that it’s around and pretty cool to be apart of. Somehow, a capella is now cool because of this movie.

Where I think the strength of this movie lies in is the fact that it’s able to have fun with itself and goof around for the short-time it’s on-screen. Everybody knows that a movie about a bunch of people just breakin’ out in the middle of nowhere and expressing themselves through song-and-dance numbers is strange, and you know what? So does this film and it doesn’t seem to apologize nor try to hide that fact. There are a lot of witty and sly jokes about gay people, fat people, and nerds, but the best jokes are the dirty ones that seem to come out of nowhere, and have you wonder what the hell type of movie they were going for. This type of confusion may poison most films, but somehow doesn’t poison this one and actually kept me on my toes wondering just what this flick was going to pull out of it’s ass (amongst other things) next.

The other strength of this movie is mostly within what this film sets out to show in the first-place: a capella singing numbers. Honestly, a capella has always been impressive to me but I never thought that a whole film could be made around it, while still being fun and enjoyable to listen to considering the whole idea of having a person voice a drum beat just doesn’t do much for me except make me want to try it at home. Maybe that’s a good thing, actually, but I know that I wasn’t looking forward to the types of songs they had ready for this flick and surprisingly, I was having fun with all of them. There isn’t one particular type of genre of music that this film focuses on and sings, instead, it’s mostly just a bunch of meshes between songs that are old and new, and some are great to hear back on the big-screen, while others just plain and simply annoyed me. In one of the most memorable scenes from the whole flick, the gangs face-off against one another in an underground match-up place/thingy, and start off by singing that annoying Rihanna songs about S & M, only to thankfully be saved by that Blackstreet song I haven’t heard since VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the 90’s Countdown. Not all of the choices terrible, and if they are, the film knows this and soon just changes it.

But where this film does seem to fail is in it’s actual-plot that just didn’t do anything to surprise me. The plot goes by it’s normal-structure where everything that you could expect to happen, does eventually happen, and just about no one learns anything at the end of the day. By the end of the flick, there is this scene where all of the gals huddle together and talk about their feelings, and what could have been a very special scene that was not only funny, but heartfelt as well, just seemed uber manipulative in the way it was trying to get us to see these girls for more than just a bunch of really good singers. I didn’t care if they could sing good, sing bad, or didn’t even speak, I just wanted them to be funny, that’s what I got, and that’s all I wanted. No extra drama needed, thank you very much.

That’s sort of a shame because every character here is charming and has their own, little special thing going on for them but then again, none of them ever felt fully fleshed-out for me. Even Beca to an extent was a boring character, not just because she wasn’t fleshed-out enough, but because her character is too stand-offish to even be likable or watchable for that matter. She goes around the whole flick, acting all serious while everybody’s acting weird, tries way too hard to be a bad-girl that doesn’t give into anybody that tries to help her, and almost feels like she could easily pass as a lesbian at one-point. Seriously, Beca is a boring character and it’s kind of hard to want to see her succeed with these group of gal-pal singers, and get the man at the end of the day. A man, who may I add, is totally too cool and happy for her miserable ass.

Even though this character is pretty lame, Anna Kendrick does try her hardest with it and in ways, does a very good at making this girl more than just your ordinary, boring underdog you need in any movie where there is a competition at. Her singing skills are obviously very good and so is her drama, but she’s a bit too old to be playing a freshman in college, especially one that barely has any friends or who hasn’t gotten impregnated yet with looks like that. Woo-wee! Playing that guy that tries to go for her is Skylar Astin as Jesse, a character who feels more fully-fleshed out than her and the typical guy that I could actually find myself hangin’ out with. Astin and Kendrick have a nice chemistry, and whenever Kendrick actually smiles with him, it’s the only obvious time where you can tell she’s having a nice time with a role that seems very dull and boring.

Everybody else, other than Kendrick, fares better with the material, especially the rest of her group of gal-pal singers. Rebel Wilson who seems to be on a roll as of late with each and every one of the goofy performances she puts out every 2 or 3 months, is fun as hell to watch as the awkward but brutally honest Fat Amy. Wilson obviously has the best comedic-timing out of everybody else in this flick, and it’s great to see her stretch it all out once again in a role that seemed fit for her fright from the start. Oh, and I can’t forget about John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks as the two color-commentators for the a capella competitions, who seem to come straight-out of a Christopher Guest film with reprehensible lines and all. Still though, they always got the laughs from me.

Consensus: Pitch Perfect has a very boring center and very predictable story to tell, but still kept me laughing with everything they threw at us, especially some of the most enjoyable singing performances I have heard in a film in a long, long time.