The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift

Year: 2006 | Dir: Justin Lin | Runtime: 104m It’s easy to conceive of a universe where The Fast and The Furious franchise simply dissipated into the ether like a puff of exhaust from the tailpipe of a 1970 Dodge Charger. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift had all the hallmarks of a direct-to-video release and a total lack of any confidence in its success on the part of Universal. With none of the stars from the first two films returning, Tokyo Drift appeared to be an attempt by a major Hollywood studio to capitalize on whatever shred of popularity they could sink their greedy little claws into. On paper, it seemed to be a Fast and The Furious movie in name only: it featured all new characters in an all-new setting with a narrative completely divorced from the movies that had proceeded it. All signs pointed to Universal trying to squeeze the last few drops of profitability from a (at the time semi-) recognizable brand name before discarding its desiccated rinds into the gutter like so much scrap metal. Tokyo Drift might very well have sealed the…

Captain America: The First Avenger

Year: 2011 | Dir: Joe Johnston | Runtime: 124m If I didn’t care about The Avengers in my youthful comic book collecting days, then I cared even less for Captain America. I would write him off as a relatively flat, simple and boring hero that was completely boring to my younger self; it’s no secret that when I pictured myself as a Marvel hero on the playground and in my imagination, it was a Wolverine-esque indestructible mutant with cool cybernetics that pulled from my favourite sci-fi films. Or maybe that was a secret. Either way, I never once picked up a Captain America comic, allowing only his cameos in other books and his depictions in pop culture as my basis for my (poor) opinion. When the film was announced, I did not approach with any excitement save that this was the next entry in the great experiment that was the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a lead in to the properly gigantic Avengers film. So when I came out of the theatre, I gave my head a shake and realized this…

Tremors

The moment I saw that a new 4K, special edition of Tremors was announced and coming out, I was online securing my preorder. It’s not often a film announcement gets me excited, but here I was, plunking down a relatively serious amount of money for a boxed edition of a film that I had honestly kind of forgotten about. Obviously, my childhood love for the film rushed forward and took charge: sometimes there are just those films that spur you to action, and Tremors is – apparently – one of those. Does anyone remember Betamax? The alternative format to VHS in the 80s and early 90s, Beta certainly had a comfortable spot in my families home: the basement television. Along with that top, spring loading player came a library of verifiable 80s movies and dubs, including a deep library of Looney Tunes cartoons, random Godzilla movies, a few films like Firebirds, and of course: Tremors. When that package arrived in the mail the other week, I quickly took in the nostalgia of the films imagery as presented in a boxed…

2 Fast 2 Furious

What 2 Fast 2 Furious lacks in story, plot, and character, it nearly makes up for with swagger. 2 Fast 2 Furious marks the low point in The Fast and the Furious saga, which isn’t to say that it’s not without its certain charm. It’s a fun ride, even if it doesn’t nearly reach the heights of the first movie, and it doesn’t quite fit with the later evolution of the series when it truly came into its own as an ongoing story of mercenary spies / borderline superheroes on globe-trotting adventures to save the world and protect their “family.” 2 Fast 2 Furious does, however, add several important elements to The Fast and the Furious lore, including Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as Tej, who would become series regulars, and Eva Mendes as Agent Monica Fuentes, who would also show up for a cameo in a later entry. There’s just a hint of some of the technological ridiculousness that would be fully embraced by later movies in the franchise with the “electric darts” the police use to disable the electronics of speeding vehicles. (Or maybe this is real tech, and I’m…

Underworld: Blood Wars

So in the previous Underworld film (Awakening) we advance the story along by the fact that humans have now discovered that both vampires and werewolves are a real thing, and with that, a number of doors open to some interesting antagonists. But Awakening didn’t even fulfill that, instead using the human factor as a catalyst for the events that went down. That’s fine. What’s not so fine is that Blood Wars completely disregards humanity. With this being the fifth entry, I would have hoped that there was a little more focus and foresight into either ending the series or expanding the world beyond the “simple” war between vampires and lycans. With Resident Evil’s fifth entry coming out around the same time (I think it was in the same month as Blood Wars, actually) I can’t help but draw a simple comparison in our protagonists journey: Alice’s (Resident Evil) story starts off with a lot of mystery and is neatly (and I use that word dubiously) explained and wrapped up the literally titled Final Chapter. Selene’s backstory is seemingly explored to its extent within the first two films and diminishes thereafter in each entry. Instead, those later Underworld movies introduce Selene’s daughter and other…

The Fast and the Furious

2001 | dir: Rob Cohen | 106 m Though The Fast and the Furious has left an indelible mark on the cinematic landscape as the progenitor of one of the most successful and well-known action blockbuster franchises in the world, when it was released in 2001, it was simply a fun movie about street racing, a criminal underworld, undercover cops, and the shameless promotion of undying brand loyalty to Corona. I use “simply” here not in the pejorative sense but in the nostalgic. Now that the franchise that The Fast and the Furious spawned – seven sequels, a spin off, an animated show, and an eighth sequel being released this year – has become so ubiquitous in pop culture, it has become increasingly difficult to separate The Fast and the Furious the movie from The Fast and the Furious the cultural phenomenon. It’s nearly impossible to watch the movie now without seeing it through the filter of the incredible success of its sequels and the iconic status the entire series currently enjoys among audiences who watch these movies with the right eyes. It’s also so far removed narratively from what its sequels have evolved into, and the connective tissue between this and…

Red Planet

If you had to choose a movie to aggressively push out the door from the party that was the 1990’s, then I guess it would have to be Antony Hoffman’s Red Planet, starring Carrie-Anne Moss, Tom Sizemore and Val Kilmer in a perilously blundered trip to Mars. With this much nineties star power fueling the trip, I could see myself and friends eagerly going to see this on a crisp November evening, expecting high stakes sci-fi adventure, featuring the latest special effects and near-future fantasy of humanity’s quest to step foot on our planetary neighbour. Indeed, the poster hints at a silhouetted menace awaiting our crew, as our fearless Kilmer drags his crewmate across the arid landscape toward a multi-legged monster, all drenched in blood red, speaks volumes for intriguing poster design and an action packed thriller at hand.   Just as quickly as I can envision us heading into that theatre, I can imagine the group of us solemnly leaving the multiplex with, scratching our heads, while somebody said “at least we got to see Carrie-Anne Moss topless” while the rest…

Underworld: Awakening

After taking a little break, Kate Beckinsale drops in from a rooftop to fill in the role of Selene again for this series fourth iteration, and I couldn’t be more excited. While I had some fun with Rise of the Lycans, it was ultimately a letdown as it retreads familiar story, so I was eager to pick up Selene’s story for Awakening. As the film’s prologue played out, I tried very hard to stop myself from questioning the direction that the filmmakers decided to take things, and by the end of the film I found surface level overall satisfaction, yet I couldn’t stop wondering if they had done things a bit differently. To be fair, I hate doing that. I hate thinking and advocating that the filmmakers could make a better story, or an entirely different film: I’m no screenwriter (nay, barely a writer at all) so I certainly couldn’t do any better, but that doesn’t stop me from spewing forth some my “better” film ideas. It also makes me feel icky in this day of age where the fandom stumbles into creating online movements toward studios to release director cut…

Message from the King

I had never heard of Message from the King until it popped up randomly in my Netflix feed, and despite the track record of random movies recommended by the streaming service, I still haven’t learned my lesson. I have to say that one of the main reasons I decided to watch this movie late one Friday night not too long ago was specifically because it starred Chadwick Boseman, who sadly lost his battle with cancer last year at the age of forty-three. I don’t mean to imply that I watched the movie solely as a way of honouring Mr. Boseman’s legacy, though that certainly came into play. It was mostly because he was a master of his craft and a truly captivating screen presence. And also partially because the plot description of a single man on a personal vendetta seeking righteous retribution and beating up and straight up killing a bunch of bad guys who obviously deserve it is like the comfort food of cinema. Watching an action hero walk into a room and lay the smackdown on a bunch of mooks…

Elektra

Just two short years after being introduced in Daredevil, Jennifer Garner’s Elektra gets the historical distinction of being the first female-led Marvel movies, but also (possibly) stands as a reason why we didn’t get any more female-driven Marvel movies until Captain Marvel nearly fourteen years later. It’s easy to put the blame on the lack of female superhero movies on the failure of Elektra, but I find it hard to believe there isn’t more going on here: when the MCU really got rolling, there’s no valid reason Black Widow didn’t receive her own starring vehicle and there were plenty of interesting female superheroes to pull out of the X-Men series. The fact is, female representation has always been a bit dismal in the comic book realm, and the race to get these adaptations to the big screen had studios picking the most historically identifiable and popular characters from Marvel’s stables, which unironically come from the 1960’s and are all alliteratively named white men.   That being said, Garner did a decent job – considering the context of the film – in 2003’s Daredevil…

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