Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Kristofer Hivju

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

Can automobiles be family?

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) has been living the good life since the events of the last film. He’s practically on vacation and thinking about starting up a family with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). But somehow, he turns to the dark side after an evil, somewhat vicious criminal mastermind named Cipher (Charlize Theron) shows up and demands him to do all sorts of crimes for him. Obviously, it isn’t just Letty who feels betrayed, but also Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Roman (Tyrese), Tej (Ludacris), and the rest of the gang. So, in order to stop Dominic from going any further into the dark, seedy world of crime and murder, they team back up with the government and try to stop him all at once. But this time, they’re going to get a little assistance from someone they haven’t been too fond of in the past: Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the man who hasn’t yet forgiven the family for what they had done to his own brother, but is willing to let bygones be bygones for the time being, just so that he can take down Cipher.

Uh oh. There must be a jabroni somewhere close by.

The last three Fast and Furious movies have been some of the best action movies in the past decade or so. They’ve upped the ante by becoming more and more ridiculous by the installment, while also never forgetting that what makes them so much in the first place is that they don’t ever try too hard to take themselves too seriously – the last movie definitely verged on getting way too dramatic for its own sake, but that was only because it was put in an awkward position of having to pay tribute to its star, Paul Walker. And from what it seems, the franchise will only continue to get more and more successful, the more and more insane it pushes itself to be.

Which is why the latest, Fate of the Furious, is a bit of a mixed-bag.

Don’t get me wrong, the action, the ridiculousness, and the sheer stupidity of it all is still here and in full-form, but at the same time, there’s something else keeping it away from being quite on-par with the past three installments and that all comes down to story. For one, no one goes to these movies for their well thought-out, interesting, and complex plots – they come for the action, the silliness, and most of all, the cars. People don’t care about who’s betraying who, for what reasons, and what sort of lessons can be learned from it all.

Of course, this being a Fast and Furious, it makes sense that we get a lot of lectures and discussions about family and what it means to stand by one another, but that’s to be expected and that’s not he problem. The real problem is that the movie takes way too long to get going, and when it does, it constantly starts and stops without ever knowing why. At nearly two-hours-and-16-minutes, Fate may be the longest installment so far (although, it could have been over two-and-a-half-hours, as previously reported), and at times, it feels like that; there’s so much downtime spent on plot and poorly-written sketches of characters, that it’s almost unnecessary. Having something resembling a plot is fine, because it’s what the past three have done, but Fate takes it up a notch in that it tries hard to give us a plot that’s harder to pin-down and far more detailed.

What a power-couple. Make it happen, real life.

But it didn’t have to be. We know it’s stupid and all filler, and so do they. So why are we getting all of this?

A good portion of that probably has to due to the fact that in lead-villain role, Charlize Theron gets to have a little bit of fun as Cipher, even if her character is so odd and random at times, it almost feels like anyone could have taken on the role. She’s your stereotypical villain in that she does bad stuff, for no exact reason, other than she’s a bad lady and can’t messed with. Once again, I’m not expecting anything more in a Fast and Furious movie, but the movie spends so much time on her, as she plays these silly mind games with Dominic and the gang, that it’s almost like director F. Gary Gray and writer Chris Morgan themselves don’t even know the material they’re playing with.

Same goes for the rest of the ensemble who are, as expected, just a bunch of punchlines and a few paragraphs of things resembling characters. But hey, it’s fine, because they all work well with the goofy material and make us realize that it doesn’t matter. Is it odd watching without Paul Walker? Most definitely, but the gang more than makes up for the absence, by doubling down on the charm and excitement, with even Statham himself proving to be having the biggest ball of everyone.

Oh and yeah, the action’s still pretty great, when it happens.

Everything before and in between, honestly, is a bit boring, because it’s all a build-up, but when it does actually get there, it’s still wild, insane, and highly unrealistic, but who cares? Almost all action movies, in some way, shape, or form, take place in some fake, mythological world where real-life issues and consequences don’t matter, and nor should they. These are the Fast and Furious movies, not Shakespeare.

I just wish somebody told everyone else that.

Consensus: A little long and slow, Fate of the Furious still gets by on its crazy, hectic action, as well as its talented ensemble who prove to be perfectly equipped with this goofy material, no matter how far-fetched it all gets.

6.5 / 10

News team, assemble!

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz


Force Majeure (2014)

Don’t think I’ll need to visit the French Alps anytime soon. I prefer to be alive.

A Swedish family spends a week in the French Alps for what seems to be a relatively stress-free, enjoyable vacation, as most families want. One afternoon, however, that all seems to change. While the family’s out dining on a deck, they hear an avalanche pop, but they feel as if it is controlled enough that they don’t have to worry and possibly even run for their lives. Several seconds later, it looks as if the avalanche is not at all controlled, is heading straight for them, and leaves them all to do what they assume to be their final moments alive. Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) stays behind and shelters her two kids, whereas Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) runs away and never turns back. Well, turns out that the avalanche actually was controlled in the first place, but one that was just a tad too close to comfort for all of them. But now, Ebba is concerned about her husband, seeing as how he ran away from them all, rather than stay back and try to protect them in any way imaginable. This puts a lot of their relationship into perspective and, as a result, the vacation a lot more uncomfortable and tense.

Just another happy family on vacation.

Just another happy family on vacation.

It takes a lot for a movie to have me on the edge of my seat. I’m not saying that as some sort of brag; I’m saying that because after all of the movies I’ve seen over a the past decade or so, and realizing that many plot-threads are identical in almost every part of one movie’s nature, there’s only so much a movie can do that totally throws me for a loop and has me not knowing what to expect, where, why, or even how. Though there are many movies that can do this to me, they’re more than likely already crazy pieces of genre film that you expect to throw you for a loop, every so often. However, for a human-based drama to throw me off my game? Now that’s something new!

Not to mention, something I definitely welcome.

And that’s what I had here with Force Majeure, a movie that I didn’t expect to be more than just a family dealing with the aftermath of an avalanche. Although, technically, the movie is dealing with the aftermath of said avalanche, the way writer/director Ruben Östlund goes about exploring it as the movie runs along, is what’s so interesting and what, ultimately, threw me for a loop just about every step of the way I was willing to roll with this movie.

For instance, everything leading up to the actual avalanche itself is really simple, almost too much so. It paints this portrait of a normal, everyday family that seem like they need some time away from their lives at home and just want to sit back, relax and enjoy the slopes while they can. But when the avalanche comes rolling in, and all of a sudden, the family fears that their lives may be in full-danger, then it becomes clear that this is going to be a different kind of movie that isn’t as simple, or peeled-apart as you may think.

And speaking of that avalanche rolling down, it’s one of the more tense, hard-to-look-away from sequences that I’ve seen in something that wasn’t an action movie. Literally, it starts off nice and easy, and then all of a sudden, goes from 1 to 11 and already, you can feel that there’s death in the air. However, what Östlund does so well here is that he keeps the camera as still as humanly possible, without ever shifting around and making it seem like he wants us to feel the same excitement and intensity that these characters may be going through as well. He just keeps the camera right then and there, and allows for us to watch it as it’s happening; which, in turn, makes the sequence all the more terrifying, as we can see the avalanche coming in as plain as day, yet, there’s still nothing we can do about it.

Then, after that happens, Östlund takes down everywhere he can go with this family and it’s where the movie gets to become the most interesting, as well as the most unpredictable – something I didn’t expect.

What I mean by “unpredictable”, too, is to say that every scene starts off normal, as if you could tell what’s going to happen, where it’s going to end up, and what we, the audience, is going to learn more about once all is said and done with. By this, I don’t mean that people engage in constant gun-battles that end in hectic blazes of fire, blood and ammunition-shells; what I mean is that while you expect the scene to be just exposition, it turns into showing us more and more about this family, their dynamic together, and exactly what this terrifying event has done to them. Though Östlund makes the smart choice of picking any sides in the matter, nor does he make it at all clear where he is going to go with this story. This is where the characters come in and show that there’s more to this story, rather than just picking out who was in the wrong, and who was in the right. More or less, they’re all in the wrong; it’s just a matter of who is more so in the wrong than the other.

Just another couple of bros relaxing and having some brews.

Just another couple of bros relaxing and having some brews.

That’s if I’m making any sense whatsoever.

Like I was saying, though, Östlund paints each and everyone of these characters human beings; albeit, ones with plenty of emotion that they may not always be able to take control of. This is most evident in Ebba, but with good reason – not only does it seem like her and her husband haven’t been able to spend quality, loving-time together, now she finds out that he may not even have her, or their family’s best interests at heart. After this, she lashes out at him at random, sometimes inappropriate times and not only puts her hubby into an uncomfortable position, but those around them as well. It makes her, on the surface, seem like an annoying, emotional wreck that needs to either be put in the corner, or given a smack to wake her up and allow her to smell the cauliflower.

But she isn’t, and the same goes for Tomas, which makes the dilemma all the more rich and frustrating to answer for yourself. Except, when you look at the situation in his shoes and through his eyes, the decision is a lot more difficult to figure out: Would you try to save yourself from death, if that at all seemed plausible? Or, would you stay with the ones you supposedly love and tough it out regardless? They’re two roads you could take, which makes it all the more interesting to see not only how Tomas himself realizes this, and refuses to actually admit to it, and also by how he constantly gets it thrown back into his face by his wife who clearly knows his intentions. It all creates plenty food-for-thought and may, more than likely, remind you that even though your family loves you and supports you, they may not be there to save you from imminent death.

You know, happy thoughts.

Consensus: On the surface, Force Majeure seems like another simple family-drama, but is anything but with complex questions, and no easy answers whatsoever.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!



Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

After Earth (2013)

Hey Jaden! Welcome to Urf!

During a post-apocalyptic Earth, a father and son (Will and Jaden Smith) find themselves stranged and without a sense of direction after a crash landing. With the father critically injured, it’s up to the son to embark on a dangerous journey so the duo can return safely home. However, what the son doesn’t know is that the world isn’t what he thought it was, and all of the beautiful wonders that were once there, are all gone and feature madness and panic in-place.

After seeing all of the happenings, all of the chicks in the waters, and the airbenders that just so happen to be last, I have finally come to my destination: seeing M. Night Shyamalan’s recent-movie. And after all of those barf-fests, I have to say: this one is not as bad as those others. Hell, even with all of them combined, it’s still better (seriously, the three scores added up are less than 5). Then again, me taking a bath with my rubber duckies for an hour and a half is probably better too, but coming from the dude who’s name has came to be followed by shrieks of fear of horror; it’s a step in the right direction.

Not the best step, but still a step nonetheless.

That said, there is a lot here that doesn’t work as well as it should. Take the plot, for instance. Basically, this whole movie is just seeing if Lil’ Jaden can get from point-A-to-point-B, as he steps through obstacles, finds foes in his way, and eventually begins to run out of health-packs, that will help him stay alive on the quarantined-Earth. Instead of sounding like an actual movie with real character development and drama, it all feels like a video-game where we are just watching somebody else play for 90 minutes, not hand over the controller, and make us watch because he’s the one who pays the cable bill every month. Yeah, I know dicks like that, and that’s what I felt like when I was watching this movie. So much so, I honestly expected there to be a little box up at the top of the screen, letting me know how much life I had left, and when I could use my “Turbo Boost”.

"You fuck this business opportunity, you're grounded."

“You fuck this business opportunity, you’re grounded.”

It wouldn’t have honestly been so bad neither, had the movie been as thrilling as you’d expect from M. Night; but it just wasn’t. You know how everything’s going to turn out just by the sugar-coated feel tone and feel of this movie; no real twists and turns come to play, which is especially surprising for M. Night; the characters are thinly-written; and the rummages that are left of Earth that these two are stranded on, is terrible-looking with it’s cheap CGI, uninteresting use of special effects, and a setting that didn’t feel like a huge part of the world, but just a little part of the woods that I could easily find for me and my buds to drink at. Usually, it doesn’t bother me when the film has cheep-CGI and doesn’t have anything new or original to show me when it comes to delivering it’s action, but at least make me feel something, if anything at all!

The characters aren’t really worth caring about or rooting for, even if the movie totally twists your arm to do so. And by “the movie”, I mean Will Smith his damn-self! I get that Will wants the best for his kid, Jaden, and to be honest; the kid isn’t all that bad of an actor. Sure, he’s not as strong or as charismatic as a presence of his daddy, but the kid’s got spark that could eventually turn into a whole bunch of fire, which, in a way: could almost make him close to being his daddy. However, only time will tell with this one, but somebody should definitely tell that said daddy so!

The problem with this movie isn’t just that it’s weak at trying to make us care, it’s that about 90% of it is dedicated to watching Jaden run around, sprint, look scared, be brave, and feel no fear, which is fine for what it is, but then he starts talking, and emoting, and expressing emotions, and trying to carry this flick, and it just does not work. The movie would have been fine had they given the flick to anybody else in the world, but this kid is not that person as he can not put this flick on his back, and get us along for the ride. He feels like a flat hero, that has the same intentions as any hero we’ve ever seen before, and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth because you know none of that shit matters to Big Will. He just wants to give his son the chance to get out there and noticed for the whole rest of the world, so that they too, can latch on to the charm and likeability that he once, and still has to this day. It’s just a shame that it didn’t quite work out like Big Will had planned, because this kid definitely seemed like he was trying. Maybe a bit too hard, but at least

I’ll give him an ‘A’ for effort. Okay, maybe an ‘A-‘. Yeah, that feels about right.

As for Will, the dude’s still fine for what he has to do with the limited-time he’s given. Granted, half of the movie is dedicated to him just telling Jaden what to do, as he lays there in agony and pain, waiting for his damn leg to heal. But even through all of the dullness, Will still does fine and shows us why we all love him so much in the first place. It does feel like this guy could be doing more with this movie, rather than just handing it over to his son, but at least we weren’t witness to another one of his yells. Thank the heavens for that.

In a couple years, "The Lizard King" will be an appropriate nickname.

In a couple years, “The Lizard King” will be an appropriate nickname.

Also, can somebody please tell me what the fuck was up with those accents of theirs? It was like a mixture between French and English, even though they still had that American-spunk to them. Didn’t quite get it, and sort of made the performances a bit worse.

However, with all of this shit being said, I still have to say that I enjoyed myself through a portion of this movie, and I think you can too if you just throw down your expectations a bit. After seeing all of M. Night’s true-stinkers over the past week or so, I’ve come to realize that this dude may never, ever have the chance to come back and show the world what true skills as a film maker he has. But I still do think that his chance lies somewhere over the rainbow, one that is very, very far away and nearly-unreachable. But still: he may be able to get it one of these days and achieve his dream and true vision. He has not achieved that one bit with this movie, but (and it is a BIG one), the man at least seems to be having fun with this movie, and allowing us to join in a bit too. It is nowhere near being perfect whatsoever, but compared to what M. Night’s done in the past decade: it’s almost a near, freaking masterpiece.

Consensus: The plot to After Earth takes it down a whole bunch of notches that it nearly dies from it’s own pain, but it’s better than what we’ve seen recently from M. Night, and it’s glad to see him at least enjoying the work he’s putting out on-display for all of us to see and rather have fun with. Could have been a hell of a lot better, but if this is as good as we are going to get for now: I’m content. For now!

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Alright, Will. Enough with the serious face. You're the Prince of Bel-Air!

Alright, Will. Enough with the serious face. You’re the Prince of Bel-Air!