Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Furious 7

Directed by James Wan. Written by Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson. Starring Vin Diesel (Dom), Paul Walker (Brian), Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs), Jason Statham (Deckard Shaw).

Bottom line: Furious 7 was what I expected and more; it’s fast-paced, action-packed, and a fulfilling potential ending to the saga (not to mention a tasteful send off to Paul Walker).

In the past months, one thing that’s really aided (or enabled, depending on who you ask) my relationship with The Fast and the Furious is the local theater, the Marcus Grand. They were doing a Fast and Furious marathon: every Wednesday leading up to Furious 7 each movie in the “saga” would be played at half-priced. How can you pass up that opportunity?

The build up was wonderful and, thankfully, Furious 7 actually lived up to the hype. Even if you haven’t seen the rest of the series, you’ll be able to pick up the plot. You‘ll be missing out on some referential jokes but you aren’t missing much.

Furious 7 is one of those movies that isn’t trying to hide anything. You know what you’re going to get: fancy cars, big explosions, fight scenes, colorful villains, and butts.

By this point, the cast has stabilized and we’ve developed a relationship with them. There isn’t that much character development in this movie but that’s ok. The premise is essentially: there is a bad guy (Statham) and the good guys have to stop the bad guy.

The explosions and fights are over the top in a way that fits in with the franchise. In another movie in the franchise, Vin Diesel is on the hood of a speeding car (which he is managing to drive). He speeds into the median launching him over the gap between the highway lanes, a highway that runs high above a rocky coastline, onto a tank. That’s the type of stuff Fast and the Furious has to offer. In this case, as you may have seen from the trailer, Diesel jumps a sports car from one skyscraper to another.

Initially I was repulsed by the franchise. There are so many lingering shots of body parts; I won’t even say objectified women. These body parts act as cars which men drive, trophies for winning a race, or accessories to cars. In 2 Fast 2 Furious, Eva Mendes gets into Paul Walker’s car to which his companion complains, “Why she get to ride with you?” To which Mendes responds, “Cause you get the convertible.” So a woman is equivalent to the roof of a car…

It wasn’t until maybe the second or third time I saw Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift until the franchise started to grow on me. I saw it a couple times with friends as jokes. It baffled me that they kept coming out with them. I think was morbid curiosity that drew me to the theater to see them as they came out and, over time, I have a fondness for them. The franchise has a special place in my heart next to Tom Cruise and Nicholas Cage.

Anyway, I still haven’t quite worked out my feelings about all this. I mean, sure the franchise is more self-aware, especially in Furious 7 but does that make a lot of this excusable? Just because you know your being problematic, does that make it ok because you might be doing it on purpose?

As you’re probably aware, Chris Paul Walker (Thanks for the correction, Ali!) died before filming was completed. I read somewhere that only about half of filming was completed. I was really curious how they were going to handle the situation. He is, after all, one of the main characters. I must say that they handled it really well. His two brothers donned the same outfits and haircut to match the shape and general features of the late actor and digitally added his face in, when necessary. The same company who made Gollum from The Lord of the Rings was in charge of the facial effects. There was one scene at the end that I suspected was digitally manipulated but, overall, it was really well done. His send off was tastefully done, but don’t worry, I won’t tell you anything more about it. But it got me a little choked up in the same way as Gladiator (starring Russell Crowe).

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Furious 7. I’d be down for watching it again, actually. No, scratch that – I will be watching it again. I’m not going to give it higher than a 3/4 because it’s a cheesy action movie but as far as cheesy action movies go, especially when you go in with the right attitude, Furious 7 is solid.

Have you seen Furious 7? Are you a fan of the series? Please leave a comment if you like!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sheesh, it's been a while

Good day, readers! It has been too long since my last post. It's been a combination of laziness and distraction. I recently presented at the PCA/ACA, which was my first academic presentation and my first conference. It went well, but because it was my first, I was nervous about it. So much so that instead of working on a review, I would try to work on the paper associated with the conference. That why, in part, I haven't been posting any movie reviews but, now that it has concluded, I can go back to my normal levels of procrastination with respect to writing reviews.

Normally, I would want to post the paper here but I think I will expand and publish it.

In the past couple days, my wife and I had some little movie marathons. On the flight back from the conference, we watched some of The Avengers and, once we finished it, we watched Thor: The Dark Planet and Iron Man 3 ended the night with Predator (which acted as a segue to Alien which we started the following evening).

In other news, Furious 7 came out last Friday and I'm going to see it this evening! I think I've discussed The Fast and Furious franchise before but I think after seeing Furious 7 in addition to a review, I will write a post about the movies overall. I don't even think I would call the franchise a guilty pleasure. Maybe I should feel guilty but I'm convinced that there has to be something deeper than cars and butts. I look forward to discussing it with you!

I also saw Disney's The Princess and the Frog but there are other reviews that take priority, quite frankly, in part because I neither loved nor hated it.

Have you seen any movies recently?

Before I close this brief post, thinking about my conference paper, perhaps it would be helpful or beneficial to make a post about my experience with the conference particularly with respect to how I went about writing the paper and making the presentation. I would also like to add that my wife was instrumental in me writing the paper and having a positive presentation experience.

Please do leave a comment or suggestion if you feel moved to.

Thanks for reading!