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Movie Review: Fast and Furious 6 (2013)

Fast 6, The Fast and the Furious 6, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, The Rock, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez

This is how I ended up at FF6 last night.  My wife badly wanted to go to the movies and, for reasons we need not dwell on, that’s currently our only form of date night entertainment.  So we’ve seen….pretty much everything.  Looking at the schedule, we faced a fork in the road between Fast and Furious 6 and The Hangover III and F6 offered a 100% better chance that we wouldn’t have to see Ken Jeong’s penis.  That’s what it came down to along with a series of coin flips.  I have only seen the first Fast and Furious movie and as I related in posting the trailer for this film, the after experience was more interesting than the film itself.

I only saw that first film because I was with a group of car-obsessed friends.  I thought it was crap.  Haaaated it.  However, my opinion  was not the majority of the amped car-humping motor fiends in the audience.  Once the credits rolled, people came busting out of that theater, crammed in their cars, and then all hell broke loose.

I don’t know what kind of car you were driving when this came out.  I was in early undergrad as were my friends so none of us were coasting around in anything impressive (though that didn’t stop them from grafting spoilers and exhaust pipes the size of mortars onto their sensible family sedans).  This herd of Ford Taurus, Chevy Malibus, etc. that had no business doing anything but the speed limit, exploded from their parking spaces like racing horses on meth.  There was screaming metal, burning rubber, smoke billowing across the theater lot, testosterone pumping at such a high level that the light posts were growing hair, coordinated donuts were spiraling Diesel-esque wannabes hither, thither and yon.  I was driving a 1994 Saturn, in which, I sat for a good hour until the cars had overturned themselves, spiraled onto the freeway or embedded themselves in the adjacent Wal-Mart.  Terrifying as it was, it made a rather fascinating sociology study of what our future looks like should Mad Max turn out to be prophecy.

SO,  having parked around back this time, we made our way inside and if this hasn’t come out clearly:  I’m not a car guy.  I love car chases when done well in films (Bournes 1-3, Ronin, Bullit, etc.) but my knowledge of and appreciation for cars extends to my desire to have them transport me to the destination  I intended to go.  That being said, I bet I’m the only one of you grease monkeys who’s taken one through a house so suck on that in the parking lot post-film (btw that is expensive The Day I Drove My Car Through My House).  However, even if I were a car guy, I don’t thing it would have been possible for me to forgive the idiocy that is FF6.

To be fair, I am clearly not the target audience of this movie, but in an ensemble in where The Rock looked like Al Pacino, I just prayed for something to explode or for them to drive after something else in a speedy and angry manner (side note: I’m not sure HOW angrier and faster than this they can get for the already-in-pre-production FF7, but I’m almost curious enough to endure it) because when things slowed down…people began to talk.  The talking hurt my ears.  The script seemed to have been carefully limited to sentences of no more than 3-5 words that had to have been randomly generated from some kind of action movie mad libs database.
I honestly just don’t want to try to summarize the plot…oh fine.  It’s Ocean’s 13….but dumb.  Gang gets back together, gang is working for the law, gang is not particularly pleased about it.  Not furious.  But damn close.  Our crack team is chasing an item that goes out of its way not to just call itself “a really effective EMP”.  Chases and ‘splosions abound, culminating in a chase with a tank that climaxes with the most hysterically physics-ignorant stunt I think I’ve ever seen.  Also Vin Diesel must be a robot, because otherwise his character would have been human goo.  I CANNOT SHUT MY MIND OFF THAT FAR!
I do have to admit that the finale with the C-130 is just freaking awesome.  No glibness or irony, it is one of the most impressive action set pieces I have seen in years.  By the way, Vin Diesel driving a flaming car out of said crashing flaming C-130, rolling his car at a high speed and then walking through the flames unscathed was more plausible than the tank climax.  Vin Diesel’s chiseled out of admantium.
In rating this, I have a situation here similar to the other Rock movie I’ve seen in the theater this year (GI JOE 2).  There are 15 minutes of sheer amazing, I-have-never-seen-that awesomeness, surrounded in a sea of stultifying mediocrity.  All the points, ALL of them, are for that and the post-credits scene which, depressingly, was better than Iron Man 3’s.  This year in film needs a big win.  C’mon, Superman
4.25

PS – I was heavily amused to see that there was a disclaimer immediately after the movie pleading with testosterone-pumping drivers not to do anything that they saw and assuring them that nothing they were driving contained NOS.  This leads me to believe my FF1 experience was not an isolated incident.

Movie Review: Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Gerard-Butler-Olympus-Has-Fallen

So here’s the thing: I like Die Hard.  Die Hard was a great movie.  I like several of the other Die Hards.  People need to stop copying Die Hard.  It’s been 25 years and there’s a Die Hard copy once a year.  Die Hard on a boat, Die Hard on a plane, Die Hard for kids (cough Home Alone cough), and now we have Die Hard in the White House: Olympus Has Fallen.

The plot, such as it is, doesn’t deserve a lot of summarizing but essentially North Korean extremists (the new movie villains de jour) infiltrate a South Korean delegation to the White House and then in coordination with a small army that pops out of nowhere, take down the White House and have the President (Aaron Eckhart) hostage.  The implausibility of all of this is so ludicrous that it even by action movie standards, suspending disbelief is impossible.  The movie makes the Secret Service look like the most ineffective law enforcement agency in cinematic history.  Plus, I don’t know if the post-9/11 world we live in, or if I’m just sick of it, but I find watching national landmarks being destroyed by terrorists to not be entertainment so much as it is tap dancing on cultural fears.  Maybe that’s an overreaction, I don’t know.  If  others feel the same way, Roland Emmerich is completely out of work.

At any rate, Gerard Butler, playing a Secret Service agent (the only effective one) who made his way into the White House during the assault (because really anyone can get in there apparently) is now the only hope America has of not being nuked.  Die Hard in the White House.  I’m not sure how much longer Antoine Fuqua can get away with billing himself as “the director of Training Day”, but I think this would be as far as he can go.  But what do I know?  It’s doing well at the box office so it could just be me.

There’s nothing original here.  It’s trope after trope after trope.  There are multiple Oscar winners slumming in Olympus, so it’s not badly acted (though Melissa Leo was…not good….when she started belting out the Pledge of Allegiance at one point, I believe my eye-rolling was so prominent it was audible).  I like seeing King Leonidas kick butt to save President Two Face while Speaker of the House Lucius Fox leads the nation (I love that everyone has done a comic book movie by now).  It’s just dumb.  Not badly done dumb, but dumb nonetheless.  I’m rating it the same as I rated GI JOE 2, but at least that movie had an awesome 10 minutes.
3.75/10

G.I. JOE 3 Already in Works

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We really only have ourselves to blame.  After handily winning this weekend’s box office with $51.7 million, Paramount is already planning GI JOE 3.  I think I made my thoughts pretty clear in my review, but short of a complete reboot with  a script written by someone who has even a tenuous grasp on this world and these characters, I shall not be suckered again.  No matter how cool Snake Eyes is.

Which, for the record, is off-the-charts freaking awesome.

Movie Review: G.I. JOE: Retaliation (2013)

".....(head nod)....."
“…..(head nod)…..”

No, Joe……Just….just no.

They did it to me again.  I swore after sitting through the first GI Joe, which was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, they’d never get me into the second film.  Then they went and showed that ninja fight on the cliffside and my inner 8-year old (who makes most of my decisions) decided I had to go.

Let’s start with what was good because it’s not going to take very long.  Unlike last time, everyone looks true to their characters.  There’s no lips on Snake Eyes’ mask.  Cobra Commander does not look like a corpse in a diving helmet.  Storm Shadow looks great.  Firefly looks great.  The only design and casting complaints I have are Zartan (so cool in the comics and series and yet so so so not here) and RZA some how heading the Arishnikage Ninja Clan.  Whatever, we got Jinx and she was awesome too.  In fact, I have no complaints about the F/X, costumes or cast (aside from effing Zartan).

None of those things earned this movie it’s 3.5 points (which is generous).  The entirety of that is for the flat out 10 that is the sequence in the mountains where Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes have a fantastic duel that segues into a mind-bending cliffside chase/fight with Cobra ninjas.  It is AWESOME!  I’m sure when it’s out on blu ray, you can find it on You Tube.  Do that.  Because the rest of the movie is a 0.0.

The problem is simple and two-fold.  John Chu is a horrible director and they spent absolutely no time on scripting a good film.  The dialogue is just painful and awkward.  The camera bounces so much all over the place that most of the time you don’t have any idea what’s going on and the first 25 minutes of the movie are spent trying to explain away or attempt to fix what the last movie screwed up.

This should have been a total reboot.  Forget the last film.  Start over.  I’m not expecting an Oscar winning movie, but there’s a reason this franchise and these characters are still stuck firmly in the mind of a generation.  They’re awesome.  Snake Eyes is in the KT dictionary next to the definition of “motherfreaking awesome”.  It’s a franchise that’s lasted 30 years now through several animated series, hundreds of comic books and three godawful movies.  It deserves the kind of treatment that millions of kids gave it in their imaginations when it first came out.  We’ve never let it go.  Next time, get someone with that passion and spend a couple million on the script instead of an explosion and make a movie worth making.
3.5/10.0

The Wolverine: More Photos and a Trailer Date

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This is why I never buy nice things...
This is why I never buy nice things…

These cool looks at The Wolverine are courtesy of the same issue of Total Film that brought us the Man of Steel cover last week.  I’m still not entirely sure why, if this film takes place after X3, he appears to have bone claws.  I’m more excited he’s coming back to the ensemble with Singer’s X-Men Days of Future Past.  That being said, a film that Wolverine really gets to be Wolverine in…would rock the planet.  However, that film would also have to be rated R (the man has razors in his hands, when he fights, he redecorates a room) which will never happen.  Director James Mangold has made some good films and I’ll be extremely interested to see the trailer.  Unfortunately if you want to do so, you’ll have to go see GI Joe 2 because that’s what it’s attached to when that film releases March 28th.  If it will ease your pain, go check out the ninja fight from GI2 I posted last week and convince yourself the whole move will be like that.