Monday, August 5, 2019

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! The next one is 2 Hobbs 2 Shaw.



Fast & Furious Presents:  Hobbs & Shaw – 4 out of 5

I’m a fan of the Fast & Furious franchise.  Each film is filled with exciting action, fantastic cast members, fun characters, and they are delivered in a slick presentation and slathered in energetic soundtracks.  Also, it’s an insanely lucrative and successful franchise that is built on diverse casts, so that is impressive all by itself.  When I first heard they were going to do a spinoff about Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw I was all-in because they are two of the series’ best characters.  The trailer made the film look fun as hell so I definitely had to check it out.  Does it live up to the standards this franchise has created?  You bet it does!

                                                                                                         Universal Pictures
They both are mad because the other won't pull their finger.

In an effort to stop a deadly programmable virus called Snowflake from falling into the wrong hands, MI6 agent Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby) injects herself with the virus, leaving her safe but for only a limited amount of time.  However, Brixton Lore (Idris Elba); a cybernetically enhanced agent of the terrorist organization Eteon, has been assigned to retrieve the virus by any means necessary.  In an effort to save the world, the CIA and MI6 bring in Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Hattie’s brother Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) with a mission to bring her in and stop Lore…that is, if the two can get along long enough to save the day.

                                                                                                         Universal Pictures
Put this walk in slo-mo and add "Why Can't We Be Friends?" to it.

One thing that impresses me about the Fast & Furious franchise is how it has evolved.  Street racing was its main emphasis during the early days and now it has become a full-blown action franchise.  Fast paced driving action is still a main dish but the days of it centering on street racing and street crime is long gone.  This film continues that evolution as this spinoff goes sci-fi and does so seamlessly.  Brixton Lore is, as the character puts it, Black Superman in the film due to his enhancements he is given.  These enhancements mean superior fighting skills, increased strength and agility and an almost invulnerable body.  This could have easily felt out-of-place in a franchise that was built on fast cars but due to the series constantly developing itself to be more of an action franchise this change never felt odd or like a curveball.  In fact, it felt like the next step this series needed to remain fresh and it opens the door to more sci-fi leaning stories in the future.

                                                                                                        Universal Pictures
Family is the franchise's running theme and this one manages to showcase family
without ever having to constantly use the word.  A rarity in the franchise.


This sci-fi-centric spinoff allowed for some new and varied action to take place.  The fast pace vehicle-based action is still here and a whole lot of fun but having a supped up bad guy allowed for some cool and very exciting hand-to-hand combat sequences.  And speaking of punches and kicks, this film has some terrific fight choreography—especially in Vanessa Kirby’s fight scenes.  Add in some guns and explosions and this movie doesn’t skimp on the popcorn action.

                                                                                                         Universal Pictures
"Alright boys...staring contest...to the death."


The cast in this one is pretty fantastic.  Hobbs and Shaw are already two really fun characters in the franchise and both are played by terrifically charismatic action stars.  Additionally, Johnson and Statham have a fantastic and amusingly antagonistoc chemistry that makes their partnership pretty fun.  Vanessa Kirby is a great addition to the franchise as she is incredibly talented but is a legit badass who hangs with the rest of crew without a problem.  She has a fight scene with The Rock that was just awesome-sauce.  Idris Elba was just an incredible antagonist.  He had that right balance of being tough and cocky without being annoyingly arrogant.  Finally, the supporting players really helped bring life to the rest of the tale.  I loved Cliff Curtis as Hobbs’ estranged brother and there were some fun cameos that I did not expect to see.  I won’t say who they are but their moments were very entertaining and amusing.

                                                                                                        Universal Pictures
Is it too much to ask to have Idris Elba in every movie being made?!?

I had a lot of fun with Hobbs & Shaw but there were two drawbacks to the feature.  The first one is the story tries to have a romantic subplot between Hobbs and Hattie.  This isn’t developed very well and it ultimately goes nowhere but the hard part about was how they only really explored it in a very specific way and that was putting Hattie and Hobbs into a sexual suggestive situation during the action.  For example, there would be a fight and she’d wrap her legs around his neck or she would straddle him while he was driving in a getaway.  This is pretty much the only time they try to develop a relationship and attraction between the two characters and it comes off very lazy and extremely lame, in my opinion.

                                                                                                         Universal Pictures
It could have been worse, I guess.  She could have had no fight scenes and
only existed to be a damsel in distress and an object of lust.

One element that was fun but also frustrating was the animosity between Hobbs and Shaw.  For the most part, they are very amusing with their hatred of each other and that forms into a great partnership but it too often transformed into tasteless toxic masculinity.  It’s fun when you have Hobbs calling Shaw short or Shaw calling Hobbs a giant who sticks out like a sore thumb but there were too many times where they just insulted each other’s dick sizes.  When their arguments became dick measuring contests the exchanges felt lazy and the fun was no longer there.  We live in a world of toxic masculinity, I was hoping their animosity would have been a little more lighthearted and silly rather than watching a frat boy-esque argument that you can see too often in daily life.

                                                                                                        Universal Pictures
Fun Fact:  I felt like I was a hundred pounds fatter looking at The Rock
for two hours.

Hobbs & Shaw is a great first spinoff to the Fast & Furious franchise.  The action is exciting, the cast is fantastic and the story does a great job of standing out but also feeling like it belongs with the series it budded off from.  It has some minor drawbacks but that didn’t stop me from having a good time with this one.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Solaris

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Solaris sounds like a restaurant I could never hope to afford.



Solaris – 3 out of 5

I kinda/sorta remember Solaris coming out in 2002 when I was halfway through my college career.  I don’t remember seeing a trailer and I never really knew what it was about—hell, I didn’t even know till recently that it was based on a book.  My knowledge of it was pretty limited.  Recently, I was going through the filmography of Steven Soderbergh and was reminded of this film’s existence when I realized that he directed it.  So, I decided to give it a shot…it was okay.

It's like 2001 but not as confusingly good.  (Anyone who tells you that they
understood that movie after less than a dozen viewings is lying.)

Dr. Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) is a psychologist who is approached by a corporation that has a research space station orbiting a planet named Solaris and they ask for his help after a cryptic message is sent by one of their scientists; Dr. Gibarian (Ulrich Tukur).  Kelvin takes a solo mission to the station and learns that there are only two surviving members of the crew; Snow (Jeremy Davies) and Dr. Gordon (Viola Davis), after the rest of the crew died or committed suicide.  That night, Kelvin learns the horrifying truth of what is happening at the station as he wakes up to find that his deceased wife Rheya (Natascha McElhone) is alive and somehow on the station.

"Our station has hit a tremendous tragedy...someone ate my leftovers I was saving out of
the fridge."
 

Your wife suddenly returns from the dead and she smiles
at you like this...not comforting.
Solaris has a really cool concept and Soderbergh takes a slow and methodical approach to how the story and its internal mystery unfolds.  The film is never doing anything outright awful or missing any potential hits that are coming its way but it did feel like it wasn’t embracing it potential or exploring some of the characters deep enough.  The story asks some interesting questions about how we perceive the ones we love and how our memories can ultimately shape how we see them and that is definitely the film’s strongest aspect but the whole tale focuses mostly on Clooney’s character and that starts to grow thin.  I wanted to see more of the additional characters explored and see what happened to them teased out.  Chris Kelvin’s story is interesting and thought-provoking but there felt like there was so much more that could have been shown and explored around him and things that could have given the tale more depth and dimension.

Is there a genre that Clooney isn't great in?
Oh yeah, the superhero action genre.

Jeremy Davies being very Jeremy Davies in this one.
My disappointments aside, the film is fantastically put together.  It’s a sci-fi film that never feels too “science fiction-y” so those who aren’t into that genre can get into it and the cast is great.  Clooney does a great job of leading the charge and the supporting players of Davis and Davies (sounds like a comedy duo) are tremendous to watch (which is another reason why I wanted to see more of them).  The overall tone is great but I admitted was hoping for a little more ambiguity from the story because it definitely, at times, feels too obvious.

Remember when Suicide Squad was in production and all we heard about was the
stupid shit Jared Leto did to get into "character" and the movie came out and
he became the worst Joker ever and Viola Davis, who we heard nothing about
during production, acted circles around him?  My point is Leto sucks and
Viola is great.

Solaris is one of those movies that isn’t doing anything particularly bad but wasn’t doing anything particularly memorable for me either.  It’s a cool idea, the cast is great and the end product is fine enough but it never had that extra spark or bit of magic to wow or floor me and, after it was over, I just sorta went, “Alright then.”

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Batman: Hush

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Batman, hush now.



Batman:  Hush – 4 out of 5

After watching Batman Ninja, I kinda needed a return to form with DC’s animated films.  For the most part, DC doesn’t venture far out of its comfort zone when it comes to their animated features—especially for its animated universe—so I knew what I was getting myself into with their latest; Batman: Hush.  Surprisingly, it’s actually one of the better ones they’ve done because lately they have been a touch weak.

He's almost smiling...

While Batman (Jason O’Mara) starts to develop a relationship with Catwoman (Jennifer Morrison), a strange plot by a new villain calling himself Hush (Geoffrey Arend) is taking place.  Hush is using Batman’s rogue gallery to create havoc in Gotham City but, little does Batman realize, this new and mysterious villain knows the Caped Crusader’s true identity is billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne.

"I'm sweating under these wraps and my sweat has completely soaked them.
Please help."


Not trying to sound disparaging about the feature but Batman:  Hush is pretty much the same exact thing you’d expect from a DC animated movie—but with notably less misogyny and the juvenile tone of trying to be adult but coming off like a 13 year old boy’s version of adult.  It keeps the continuity with the rest of the shared animated universe as the animation and designs are the same and all the returning players are back voicing their characters.  While I have stated that this look is starting to feel stale it is still a good overall thing and keeps the quality of their features consistent.  In that sense and in the fact the cast they have for the film is genuinely great the product is definitely fantastic.  Add in some great action and you have yourself an awesome addition to the universe.

Before this kiss, the New York Times interrupted the film and spoiled that
Batman and Catwoman were going to get together.

This feature, the 13th in their animated universe, is an adaptation of a story arc from the early 2000’s that was written by Jeph Loeb.  It was very successful and critically acclaimed and went down as a great Batman storyline.  This animated feature does a great job of translating that event and delivering the very essence of what the arc was about.  The only downside about this is, like most DC animated films, the plot feels like it is moving very fast as the whole tale is condensed.

I do like sideburn-ed Riddler.

Batman:  Hush is a great adaptation of a killer Batman storyline and a mighty fine addition to the ever-growing DC animated film library.  The action is fantastic, the cast is great and the film really rode that line of being a more adult-centric story that never overcorrected and went down the rabbit hole of looking immature in its desire to seem mature (DC does that a lot).  Overall, it's an incredibly solid DC animated film.