Film Review: THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (USA 2017)

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

fast_and_furious_8.jpgDirector: F. Gary Gray
Writers: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson (based on characters created by)
Stars: Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Luke Evans

Review by Gilbert Seah

 
With so many in the FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise with the false promise that the last FAST AND FURIOUS would be the last one, this 8th edition, nicknamed F8 provides much, much more of the same, louder and noisier as most sequels promise. (I had lost count and thought this was the 9th.)
This latest edition assumes that the audience is familiar with most of the characters and does not bother with any flashbacks or explanations.

With so many characters, it is probably a good idea not to do so. The film allows the audience to guess what has occurred in the past and for a film like this, it is only the action and fast cars that count – not the characters.

The plot of THE FATE AND THE FURIOUS, not that it really matters, follows the events of Furious 7. Dominic Toretto aka Dom (Vin Diesel) and his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have gone on their honeymoon, and the rest of the crew have begun to settle down to a more normal life. But when a mysterious woman, later to be revealed as Cipher, a super villain (Charlize Theron) convinces Dom to work against the people that he is closest to, the rest of the crew must face trials they have never seen before – including some former enemies – in order to bring back the man who brought them together in the first place.

In case one has forgotten. the other crew members include Like DSS agent, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Deckard Shaw, a rogue specialist (Jason Statham), mechanic Tej Parker (Chris Bridges), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), former criminal Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) among others.

As far as the film goes, this is male chauvinist pig material all the way – all the more for decent women and men to hate this kind of film. The beginning race for example is started by a scantily dressed female in extreme shorts waving down a flag. Vin Diesel exploits his male macho body to no end. Apparently Diesel is an a**hole in real life as mentioned to be by a fellow critic who had interviewed him. His co-star Johnson also called him horse s***. Johnson is a pleasure to watch on screen but I can hardly say the same for Diesel.

It is odd to see that the script by Chris Morgan which clearly lacks any hint of character development whatsoever take on the issue of the importance of family. Helen Mirren has a cameo as he mother of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) stressing the importance of family values and the inclusion of his brother (Luke Evans) into his activities. Deckard spends a chunk of screen time saving Dom’s baby. Dom says his baby is the most important person in his life.

Oscar Winner Helen Mirren (THE QUEEN) shows that even a dame of the British Empire is willing to take an easy pay check for a cameo role in big budget Hollywood rubbish like this one. The term is called slumming and many famous stars have slummed before.

THE FATE AND THE FURIOUS (budget of $250 million) is slotted to make more than $100 million this weekend. The film is nothing more than silly special effects that though looks stunning in iMAX (the film contains a record number of cars trashed) does nothing for the movie industry or the human race.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwMKRevYa_M

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Film Review: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (BELLE ET LA BETE) (USA 2017) ****

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

beautyandthebeast.jpgDirector: Bill Condon
Writers: Stephen Chbosky (screenplay), Evan Spiliotopoulos (screenplay)
Stars: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline

Review by Gilbert Seah

Right after two blockbuster films LOGAN and KONG: SKULL ISLAND with lots of killings and dead bodies, comes the musical family fantasy animation/live action to sober audiences back to sugar sweetness.

Having no desire to see a musical live-action Disney re-make of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the film proves to be a surprise where magic, music and romance can still charm the hell out of a hardened audience.

It is still the same story, based on the French fairy tale novel BELLE ET LA BETE by Barbot de Villeneuve, most would be familiar with A handsome selfish price is cursed by an enchantress to be a beast forever unless he is saved by falling in love (both ways) before the last petal of her rose falls.

Belle (Emma Watson) is the young woman who is taken prisoner by the Beast in his castle in exchange for the freedom of her father Maurice (Kevin Kline). Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and she learns to look beyond the Beast’s exterior to recognize the true heart and soul of the human Prince within. Meanwhile, a hunter named Gaston (Luke Evans) is on the loose to take Belle for himself and later intends to hunt down the Beast at any cost. He riles up the villagers (FRANKENSTEIN style) to invade the castle, burn it to the ground and slaughter the beast. Belle eventually falls in love with Beast and they waltz together in the grand ballroom to the famous Beauty and he Beast song. Romantics in the audience should have lots of Kleenex handy – especially when Beast utters the tear-jerking line to Belle: “You came back!”

Great pains have been taken to make the film look like a fairy tale. The French village of Villeneuve in the film looks something right out of a fairy tale story book. Belle even sings in the morning, just as Snow White sang to the birds in SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS. There is the icy cold winter surrounding the beast’s castle (like the snow and ice in FROZEN) and the talking tea-pot, cup, candlesticks and clock as in the original animated BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

Watson is perfect as Belle, the beauty but the film’s impressive cast includes stars Emma Thompson (she gets to sing a line of the famous song), Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Stanley Tucci, Ian McKellen and Ewan McGregor.

Gay audiences should be pleased with the gay content in the openly gay director, Bill Condon’s (GODS AND MONSTERS, two TWILIGHT films) film. Josh Gad plays Gaston’s gay sidekick, LeFou (obvious to all except to Gaston) who sings and prances about to no end. During the fight at the Beast’s castle, one of the invaders is given a ‘pretty bad boy make-over’ and he is last seen dancing with LeFou in the grand closing dance scene.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is more a musical than LA LA LAND with most of the songs being memorable and catchy. See it! You will not be disappointed!

Interesting fact: the animated version cost $25 million while this live-action cost $160 million to make.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvW_L8sTu5E

 

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Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

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Happy Birthday: Luke Evans

lukeevansHappy Birthday actor Luke Evans

Born: April 15, 1979 in Pontypool, Wales, UK

Read reviews of the best of the actor:

MOVIE POSTERTHE THREE MUSKETEERS
dir. Paul W.S. Anderson
Stars:
Logan Lerman
Matthew Macfadyen

  Movie PosterCLASH OF THE TITANS
dir. Louis Leterrier
Cast:
Sam Worthington
Liam Neeson

ROBIN HOOD Movie PosterRobin Hood
dir. Ridley Scott
Stars
Russell Crowe
Cate Blanchett

MOVIE POSTERIMMORTALS
dir. Tarsem Singh
Stars:
Henry Cavill
Mickey Rourke

MOVIE POSTERTHE RAVEN
dir. James McTeigue
Stars:
John Cusack
Alice Eve

MOVIE POSTERTHE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
dir. Peter Jackson

Stars:
Martin Freeman
Ian McKellen

MOVIE POSTERTHE FAST AND THE FURIOUS 6
2013
dir. Justin Lin
Stars:
Vin Diesel
Paul Walker

Movie Review: HIGH-RISE, Starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

high-rise.jpgHIGH-RISE (UK 2015) ***
Directed by Ben Wheatley

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elizabeth Moss, James Purefoy, Sienna Guillory

Review by Gilbert Seah

HIGH-RISE is a much anticipated film among cineastes. The rights for J.G. Ballard’s (best known for his novel CRASH directed by David Cronenberg) book had been snapped up by producer Jeremy Thomas for decades and a number of directors were slated to make the film, among them Nicholas Roeg. But director Ben Wheatley, British new film enfant terrible snatched the prize after directing two art-house low budget hits A FIELD IN ENGLAND and THE SIGHT-SEERS. Ballard’s book on a dystopian society set up in a 1970’s tower block (film shot in Northern Ireland) where the higher classes occupy the higher floors with better privileges such as parking spots and facilities usage like the summing pool, is a difficult one. The social strata eventually breaks down following a string of building malfunctions.

HIGH-RISE opens with a Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) at his high rise building flat apparently roasting and eating a dog’s leg on the balcony. The film flashes back three months earlier to the events that led to this odd state.

Dr. Lang arrives and occupies in the centre section of the building – reason not given. He meets the building’s architect, Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons) who lives in the penthouse and various other occupants including Charlotte, Royal’s aide (Sienna Miller) and a nasty documentary-maker (Luke Evans) who ends up creating a lot of trouble including wanting to take down Royal. Wheatley’s film charts the downfall of order and the rise of anarchy in the building. Finally, the residents stay in and do not venture out to work, waging wars with each other. Wheatley has directed films with similar themes. THE SIGHTSEERS sees the volatile and violent breakdown of the relationship of a new couple while A FIELD IN ENGLAND featured a battlefield among warring factions.

The Korean film SNOWPIERCER two years back featured a similar premise. The last inhabitants on Earth are stuck on a train travelling around the Earth forever with the lower working classes at the back of the train and the richest at the front. The workers revoke and move up the front of the train.

But HIGH-RISE fails to engage the audience despite the Ballard’s difficult novel. It should be noted that Ballard used to hang around with William Burroughs whose NAKED LUNCH with Ballard’s own CRASH ended up as one of the most unlikeable/difficult films ever made. Given that Amy Jump’s script and Wheatley’s direction make little attempt in tying to make their film more coherent or engaging. When Dr. Laing first meets Chartlotte, her comment is on Laing’s body being almost a perfect specimen implying a detachment of human nature.

The rise of the building’s anarchy is also not well orchestrated. Wheatley appears more interested in the film’s sets and images than anything else. To the film’s credit, the production values look great with the film having a past future feel and a look like the old 70’s futuristic films like Joseph Losey’s MODESTY BLAISE. Whereas films like SNOWPIERCER relied on action to grab the audience’s attention, HIGH-RISE consists of a whole lot of cinematic/dramatic set-ups with too much left to the audience to decipher as to what is happening.

Hiddleston delivers a good nuanced performance appearing out of place and finally connecting with the anarchy just as his confident behaviour at the start of the film breaks down to insecurity. Still Wheatley’s film is an intriguing one and one that shows his ability to set his imprint on a story, whether it be successful or not.

 

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com