With a trailer promising tanks, loads more car-related shenanigans and... planes, Fast & Furious 6 certainly looked like tons of fun. And after genuinely enjoying the high-speed nonsense that was Fast Five, I was definitely looking forward to this one.
Following on the "big twist" at the end of Fast Five, Michelle Rodriguez's return, this six-quel presents us with more Dwayne Johnson/Vin Diesel bromance (they don't hate each other this time), a brand new villain played by the usually reliable Luke Evans and a Michelle Rodriguez subplot which would have probably had more impact on me had I even known that her character had died in one of those sequels I failed to catch. Her disappearance is explained away in the most hilariously soap-opera way imaginable: one flashback and, I kid you not, AMNESIA.
I can't wait until they introduce Vin Diesel's evil twin!
Most of the action this time takes place in Spain and in London and, as relentless as the latter-set action sequences are, the so-very-clearly blocked roads (you can see the barriers!) take away quite a lot of intensity from those scenes. There are also way too many of these races/chases shot at night, the stunts are incredible, when you can see them, and it's admittedly refreshing to see real cars battle it out on the road instead of CGI toys, but after 5 scenes in a row (two of which are just two people spilling out exposition to each other) in the dark, you end up craving for light! Thankfully, that much publicised tank highway sequence doesn't disappoint, it's a shame 98% of it was shown in trailers over and over prior to the film's release, but it still works: it's big, bloated, absurd, it's great. Actually, the film does as well as you'd expect it to when it decides to go as over the top as possible: you've got Vin Diesel jumping at someone head-first, wrestling with best-bud Dwayne Johnson on a plane, tanks crushing what looks like hundreds of people with no real impact, the most delightfully ridiculous plane scene since Air Force One and much, much more.
So why is Fast & Furious 6 inferior to Fast Five?
Well, for one thing, it's way too long and FEELS way too long. About as long as that endless airport runway at the end of the film, in fact. Too many characters, too much exposition, too many scenes begging to be deleted scenes on the DVD, too many inconsistencies. A lot of the film is very entertaining but a lot of it, sadly, isn't. And that's something Fast Five didn't have a problem with, that movie was crazy-fun from start to finish, I wasn't bored one second. Also, the comedy this time is hit-and-miss, some joke scenes coming off as more odd than anything else. When it's funny, it's funny, when it's not, it's just weird. A lot of the acting is worse than ever (*cough* Gal Gadot *cough), with Johnson speaking in one-liners ALL the time (pretty great tbh) and Paul Walker sleepwalking his way through the whole thing, but some of it is decent. So it's all pretty much hit-and-miss, especially when it comes to relationships between characters developing. Logic takes a backseat to car-porn when it comes to that stuff: Diesel dumping one gal for some woman who doesn't even remember him at the drop of a hat, Johnson not bitter at all about being made to look like an idiot in the last film, Sung Kang being given a subplot that never amounts to anything... the list goes on. This is one movie that could have done with about half an hour less altogether, about 6 fewer characters, better settings, a more threatening enemy (Evans' entire plan rests on a briefcase, literally) and a much sharper script.
Overall, in terms of sheer thick-as-bricks action nonsense, Fast & Furious 6 does deliver. There's enough zooms and pows to keep you entertained. Unfortunately, the film lacks the flow of previous efforts, braking to a stand-still every single time dialog occurs and struggling to gear up whenever it needs to.
It's a Fast & Furious movie, for sure, but as furious as it is, it lacks the speed and spark of Five.
Thankfully a last-minute post-credits sequence promises great things for the future ;)
Do you know the answer to The Big Game? What song is being sung in the "I Shat Myself" segment?
Send your answers here: firstname.lastname@example.org
The winner will get a mention in The Big Shout Outs at the end of the next episode.
"I. Am. Better."
That's the conversation Benedict Cumberbatch's villain has with Chris Pine's Kirk in the trailers for this new J.J. Abrams Trek outing Star Trek: Into Darkness. And, you know what? This movie could have easily had the exact same conversation with the first Star Trek reboot.
Yes, it is, indeed, better. At everything.
As the title suggests, Into Darkness is darker (duh!) but it's also bigger and more fun. Which is not to say it's perfect, no Star Trek movie is, but it sets out to be a superior sequel and achieves just that. This time around, more emphasis is placed on the film's villain and, considering how forgettable Eric Bana's bitter future Romulan was in the first movie, this is certainly a good move. Especially since Benedict Cumberbatch's John Harrisson is such a good villain, the Sherlock actor stealing the show in almost every scene he's in. Reminiscent of Javier Bardem's chilling turn in Skyfall, he's another one of those villains who seem to have planned the entire movie from the start and anticipated what every single character would do in every situation. This never works 100%. Hell, even The Joker's plan in The Dark Knight was a bit shaky in places, but overall, that villain's creepy and badass enough to keep his story gripping and worthwhile throughout.
The plot of the movie itself sees Kirk once again get in trouble due to his reckless behaviour as Captain of the Enterprise but after several terrorist attacks courtesy of the mysterious John Harrison, it soon turns into a weird revenge mission where Kirk is sent out by RoboCop himself (Peter Weller in a very welcome comeback role) to not only find but torpedo Harrison's ass into oblivion. Of course, there's more to this mission than meets the eye and Kirk and co. start piecing everything together little by little as they encounter some classic enemies and uncover Harrison's overall plan. It takes a little bit of time for the Enterprise to get going but the film opens on a thrilling action scene (particularly enjoyable in 3D) and the build-up to the starship's mission is never boring. After that, director J.J. Abrams juggles some of the most thrilling and impressive sequences in Star Trek movie history, a particular one involves an in-warp space battle that's tons of fun. Actually, the whole second half is pretty much one kickass action scene after another, then the movie pauses briefly near the end before hitting you with a couple more.
The cast does very well, especially Chris Pine, who once again nails his character completely and manages to be strong, childish, heroic and charming all at the same time. Without blatantly imitating good old Bill Shatner. Zachary Quinto is slightly less convincing as Spock but his performance feels more fitting this time around and he his given many more "Spock moments" to sink his teeth into. An attempt is made at developing that controversial Spock/Uhura affair and although it's nice to see it explored a bit more, it is given up on pretty quickly and in the end it still feels about as useless as it did the first time around. Karl Urban and Simon Pegg get increasingly cartoonish as McCoy and Scotty respectively and they come off as a bit hit-and-miss (more hit than miss, though), some jokes/lines working really well, others not so much. As for John Cho's Sulu, he is given ONE cool moment but still feels about as charismatic as his shoes do, he would certainly need to bring out some of that suave Takei charm we're used to in future films, I think. All in all, it's a strong cast and they do a good job, each character gets their chance to shine once again.
Visually the film is beautiful: every action sequence, every shot is handled with care and eclipses the original's already very slick look by miles. Yes, the infamous lens flares remain but they are toned down and not distracting at all this time. Plot-wise, the film does have its share of minor inconsistencies and mini plot holes which do add up but depending on how much you're enjoying the movie otherwise, it shouldn't annoy you too much. The ending, I would say, is slightly rushed and underwhelming but with a second act/early third act this strong, it didn't really bother me personally. Trekkies familiar with some of the old Star Trek movies will see a lot of it coming a mile away, making the film somewhat predictable but it's more about the thrill-ride than it is about the details: broad-strokes work as long as they're done well, which I think they are here. It's one of those movies you can nitpick to death if you want to (see The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus) but if you just want to sit there and enjoy a very entertaining, amazing-looking Star Trek flick for what it is, then chances are Into Darkness will make your day.
Overall, far better than its predecessor, Star Trek: Into Darkness is a huge spectacle and a loving homage that should please fans and the uninitiated alike, though the latter will certainly not "get" several key references to past Trek lore. Just go see it with a Trekkie. Hell, just become a Trekkie then go see it!
An epic, crazy-entertaining visual treat.
Rebooting/continuing the Star Trek franchise was never going to be easy.
What were they supposed to do? Make a movie based on the flop series Enterprise? Invent a brand new Star Trek crew, give them their own movie and hope for the best? Give one of the old crews their weight in gold to stick around and continue making Star Trek movies?
With J.J. Abrams onboard, in the end the goal became to restart the franchise with the Original Series crew, except with a brand new, younger cast, tons of action, state of the art special effects and try to somehow create a parallel timeline within the film itself in order to keep things fresh and avoid remaking the old show and the old movies shot-for-shot.
Probably the only logical approach, but still pretty risky.
The result was an epic, expensive blockbuster with enough action to keep even the most reluctant viewers entertained. An origins story, we got to see Kirk and co.'s pre-Enterprise days and their earliest of missions which apparently involved time-travel, Spock's planet exploding, an Eric Bana Romulan and a pretty intense Spock/Kirk rivalry. The characters we all know and love are portrayed by a young cast which does extremely well to portray the iconic crew without going for obvious impressions. Chris Pine impressively nails Shatner's Kirk without imitating Shatner, capturing the essence of the character while adding his own unique take. Zachary Quinto is much less convincing as Spock in that he's probably more angry and evil-looking than he probably should be. Besides, why would you let Sylar run your ship? That's just goofy. Simon Pegg attempts a cartoon Scottish accent as Scotty and tries a little too hard, his accent occasionally falling back into English, his jokes a little too broad and his alien sidekick/lover completely pointless. Karl Urban's McCoy is fun, Anton Yelchin's Chekov also, John Cho's Sulu is not bad and Zoe Saldana makes a decent Uhura but is given a controversial relationship with Spock which Trekkies will either hate or REALLY hate.
That's the thing, the film tries super hard to create a new timeline and change what we know about the early days of the crew as much as possible but also makes a point of trying to convince us that this story really does fit in with the old stuff, which honestly it mostly doesn't. This is actually what was always annoying about this movie: its premise feels too much like a two-dimensional gimmick to reboot the franchise and that's just distracting. Remember Star Trek: Generations? Yeah, that was another gimmicky one. You spend way too much time, as a viewer, trying to make everything fit rather than focusing on the new story at hand. The plot in question is the film's big problem: it's not really involving and although you stay relatively interested throughout because you're curious to see how they're going to make it work in the end, chances are you'll lose interest. Bana's villain is also far from memorable, even Star Trek: Nemesis' Picard clone was a far better rival! That said, the action sequences are enjoyable, the film is visually stunning, the cast does a surprisingly good job, there's a cool Leonard Nimoy cameo, and J.J. Abrams gives the whole thing enough charm to make it work.
While not the best Star Trek film around, this Star Trek is decent enough movie. It'll piss off Trekkies a little in places but if you're just in it to see a fun sci-fi flick then you'll enjoy it. You do feel like there's an amazing Trek film in there somewhere but it just needs a better plot to bring it out.
Overall, not bad, certainly worth a watch: it's an entertaining, great-looking, if slightly underwhelming movie. It won't blow your mind but you'll have fun.
A decent enough restart.
The last of the "old school" Star Trek movies, Star Trek: Nemesis had the misfortune of following the least liked film of that franchise so it was either going to confirm that Insurrection was no accident and the Picard crew had really gone as far as they could or completely the opposite.
And although critics and audiences had nothing too positive to say about Nemesis and the film ended the Star Trek franchise promptly, never even giving the Voyager, Deep Space Nine or Enterprise crews a chance to make it on the big screen, for me Nemesis did exactly what it set out to do and delivered something as good as First Contact, if not better. Now I won't pretend that Nemesis doesn't have its problems, every Star Trek movie does. For one thing, Tom Hardy's villain, a young Romulan-made Picard clone, is a bit more cartoonish than he probably should be and looks nothing like Patrick Stewart. He's not bad, it's a decent, very entertaining performance, it's just that making him a Picard clone feels a bit too random and is a bit too distracting to truly have an impact. Also, this movie looks about as low budget as Insurrection did, not quite matching First Contact's great-looking visuals. Weird filters are used to make us feel like we're in an alien location at one point but they're not fooling anyone, the CGI really does stand out as much less impressive than it should be or used to be.
Be that as it may, I would say that Nemesis is actually one of the most underrated Star Trek films out there.
Because effort, that's why.
Whereas Insurrection seemed a little too comfortable with itself and therefore didn't really seem like it was genuinely trying, Nemesis makes a noticeable effort to do something different, darker, more in the spirit of First Contact but still unique. Nemesis looks like it has learned from predecessors' mistakes and is trying to do better. For one thing, Data's subplot actually matters, not only that but Data himself matters this time around! In fact, Nemesis contains the single most badass Data moment in any of the movies. In order to save Picard's life, Data not only goes to his rescue but jumps out of the Enterprise and flies through space from one ship to another and it is simply awesome. Picard finally stops being morally and politically grey and crashes the Enterprise into an enemy ship, another kickass moment. And in the end you do feel for these characters and although its mini-twist can be seen a mile away, it still somehow works! Kinda like that villain reveal in The Undiscovered Country. The film leaves you with a feeling that, indeed, these characters do care for each other and have come a long way.
Overall, Nemesis surpasses Insurrection in that real effort went into it and although it's not quite as slick as First Contact, it has a little more heart and is a little bit more memorable. What it lacks in production values it makes up for in drive.
Lots of action, lots of cool stuff: not perfect but well worth checking out.
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