Tag Archive: cars


How many films can you really have about criminals racing cars? Obviously Dreamworks felt like seven (and the inevitable eighth, ninth and probably tenth) Fast & Furious films just weren’t enough to satisfy the public – the majority of whom complain about the great success that recent installments of Fast & Furious have had. Therefore, they have decided to take on the established franchise with their own, born from video game (always a recipe for success *rolls eyes*) effort. There is one major difference though: the tone.

 

 

From that short trailer you can already see a difference between Need for Speed and the films of Fast & Furious. While Fast & Furious has always tried to beat home serious themes of family it has always been hid behind a slightly tongue in cheek atmosphere, never more so than in Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6. However, with Aaron Paul giving a voice over and laying out the films premise it seems that there isn’t going to be much room for jokes in Need for Speed and seems to be more about a rivalry while giving the police and the crime section more serious undertones.

Aaron Paul’s casting also suggests a difference. Fast Five is probably the best film of the series so far but look at the cast; how many of those actors would look out of place in anything that wasn’t Fast & Furious? Can you really imagine Ludacris, Sung Kang or Gal Gadot in anything serious or better than the Fast & Furious franchise? No, of course not. But here Aaron Paul is one of the hottest names in television thanks to Breaking Bad and is one of the best up and coming actors around Hollywood at the minute. He has more drama in his little finger than the entire cast of the first Fast & Furious film. He’s paired up with Dominic Cooper (and anyone who has read my blog before knows how much I like him) and Imogen Poots, as well as Hollywood heavyweight and former Dark Knight, Michael Keaton.

 

But then there’s the almighty downfall of Need for Speed and why it probably won’t do well. Here’s the premise from IMDB for Need for Speed: Fresh from prison, a street racer who was framed by a wealthy business associate joins a cross country race with revenge in mind. His ex-partner, learning of the plan, places a massive bounty on his head as the race begins. This sounds a lot like an early Fast & Furious film, in particular it reminds me of 2 Fast 2 Furious. Since Fast & Furious gave itself a kick start with number four it became a lot more successful with audiences and critics alike and what was different in Fast & Furious (unfortunately the name of the fourth film as well as the franchise) to its predecessors? It was no longer really about the racing. Street racing or racing on the whole just wasn’t drawing in the audience so it was time to freshen things up in what is probably one of the best decisions in blockbuster history (maybe an overstatement, maybe not. You decide). Bringing standard racing back as the main story just doesn’t sit well with me.

I do hope that Need for Speed is a good film and I hope it brings in an audience (purely for Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper, not for the prospect of sequels) but I just can’t see it happening.

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Monsters University Review

With Monsters University, Pixar attempts to take back the crown as the best animation studio out there, a title that seems to be swaying towards Illumination Entertainment after the success of Despicable Me and its recent sequel. To prove they have not lost their magic touch, Pixar have brought back a winning pair, second only in animation to Pixar’s own Woody and Buzz, Mike and Sulley. University looks at the events that forced the two loveable monsters together and what made them the record breaking team that we first met in Monsters Inc more than ten years ago.

“I’m gonna be a scarer!”

Returning characters Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), Sulley (John Goodman) and Randy (Steve Buscemi) are all back, joined by a host of new talent. The primary new characters are mature student Don (Joel Murray), Squishy (Peter Sohn), two headed monster Terri and Terry (Sean Hayes, Dave Foley) and the unpredictable Art (Charlie Day). These new monsters make up the fraternity Oozma Kappa, the fraternity that Mike and Sulley are forced to join in order to compete in Dean Hardscrabble’s (Helen Mirren) Scare Games to prove they have what it takes to be the best scarers on campus and win their place back in the University as a scaring major. But with personal rivalries and an overall lack of scariness about their new friends, will Mike and Sulley have what it takes? The answer seems almost predictable what with this being a prequel, but what’s important is the journey.

 

While Monsters Inc was arguably Sulley’s moment in the spotlight, University is all about Mike Wazowski. We’re introduced to the adorable one eyed monster as a child on a field trip to Monsters Incorporated where he gets his first glimpse at the scare floor and realises his ambition in life is to be working there in the future. This short opening sequence opens up a whole load of strings to Mike’s bow; he has an ambition, he has a background, he has room to grow and learn right from the off, and by the end of the film Mike Wazowski comes out on top as one of Pixar’s considerably best characters to date.

“I can’t go back to jail”

Sulley, however, does not come off that well: arrogant, cocksure and generally that guy in class who seems really big headed who nobody really likes. Saying that, though, watching Sulley and Mike’s friendship blossom over the course of the (near two hour) movie is something very enjoyable, even though at times it feels like Sulley doesn’t really deserve Mike’s friendship. It is not until the final sequence that he really earns any respect or likeability, but more on that sequence later.

 

Monsters University isn’t really any different to any other college movies, using tropes and plot points to move the story along in the expected fashion. But then occassionaly it veers off the path into the realm of the unknown. It would have been very easy to head straight towards the beginning of Monsters Inc but that’s not what Pixar went with; it would have been even easier to end with Oozma Kappa winning the Scare Games and everything having a happy ending but that’s not where they went either and credit has to go to Pixar for their wonderful storytelling.

“I’m going to wipe the floor with that little know-it-all”

The animation is wonderful. Everything is turned up by ten on the colour scales and the creativity to come up with so many different monsters is really unparallelled. If nothing else, this is beautiful to watch. Things take a darker (both in tone and aesthetics) turn when Mike and Sulley risk their lives journeying to the human world. This wonderful sequence brings the two characters together in a really heartfelt exchange of words and shows great comradery between the two as they work so well with one another to get the better of the humans, playing to each other strengths: highlighting the ups and downs of friendship being worth all that hassle if at the end the two parties come out stronger as one than they were on their own.

 

There seems to be an unwritten rule that if you laugh out loud five or more times at a comedy then it’s definitely worth recommending to someone else. I can’t remember a moment when I stopped laughing while watching Monsters University; there was joke after joke, all aimed at a midway between child and adult so that everyone could share in the joy. There were fantastic set pieces, big laughs and really tru touching moments of a bond forming between lifelong friends.

“You’re just not scary”

It seems unlikely that we’ll get another Monsters prequel and it’s probably best if we don’t get a sequel. Monsters Univeristy never quite matches the original but it compliments it wonderfully.

 

My Rating: 8/10

With the introduction of Dwayne Johnson in Fast Five, this franchise cemented its place as a must see film among the summer blockbusters; something for die hard action fans. After the commercial and critical success of the fifth installment it left fans wondering just how Fast & Furious 6 would top it? The solution: add a tank, add an aeroplane, bring back Michelle Rodriguez and just generally up the stakes. So what of the result?

“Give them a reason to stay.”

Fast & Furious 6 struggles to find its feet for a while, it’s as if the franchise isn’t quite sure how to better itself or what direction to take. Is it supposed to up the ante with the action sequences or focus on the family side of things and Brian O’Conner’s (Paul Walker) newborn baby. As a result the two strands of action and emotion are ruthlessly combined and don’t quite pack the punch expected, leaving Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and, most surprising of all, Tyrese Gibson to help the film pull through and come out well on the other side.

Enter Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). As Hobbs (the retuning Johnson) reliably informs us, he has been chasing Shaw and his crew across 12 countries stretching over four continents. Right from the off these are set up as some big time criminals, meaning that Hobbs has to put a team together capable of catching criminals like these. And the only team good enough is led by Dom Turetto (Diesel). When Roman (Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sung Kang) and Gisele (Gal Gadot) return there is no time for reacquaintance as they are introduced to their target and the real reason Dom has agreed to play for the law this time round: Letty (Rodriguez) is still alive.

“I can reach out and break you whenever I want”

Soon enough the slow emotional parts of the film are eased out and instead of being told “we’re a family”, “you’re a family” over and over again, the real action begins. The team find themselves in London, racing through the streets of the English capital (although how anyone manages to elicit an illegal street race through the center of London is anyone’s guess) and the fights fly. The pick of the bunch early on is seeing Rodriguez go toe to toe with new addition Gina Carano.

The cars get faster, the action gets better and the stunts get bigger throughout and appears to peak in the incredible tank sequence; taking out cars is one thing but when there’s a criminal mastermind manning a tank, firing a cannon down the motorway and not afraid to crush however many innocent people it takes, then it’s going to be difficult going. And just when you think the story is coming to an end it takes another turn…

“This is something we don’t do”

And you end up on what must be the longest runway in the world with Shaw attempting to flee via a plane and Toretto’s crew not having any other option than to bring it down! That’s right… taking out a flying plane with just a handful of cars and Dwayne Johnson’s muscles. The adrenaline pumping finale takes all the worries you had and politely tosses them out as you’re sucked into the exciting ending where the stakes are higher than ever!

The one thing the Fast & Furious franchise has lacked so far in its existence has been that a real defining villain has never really been seen. Shaw has all the makings of it: he’s emotionally cold, he’s as intelligent (if not more so) than our heroes and he’s physically able to hold par with anyone, as seen brilliantly in his brief fight with O’Conner. However, when you leave the screening not really knowing what the villain’s plan was all along, then something has clearly gone wrong. The potential was never reached with Shaw.

“Maybe the Letty we once knew is gone”

But if the post/mid/beginning credits teaser was anything to go by, Fast & Furious 7 will have the real villain it deserves.

My Rating: 7/10

At the tail end of last month Iron Man 3 was released here in the UK… it signalled the start of summer. In May, the huge blockbusters continue.
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I’m So Excited – 3rd May

I’m sure it will be interesting to see what makes the Spaniards laugh. This is the latest feature from Oscar winning director Pedro Almodovar.
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Star Trek Into Darkness – 9th May

This could be JJ Abrams last Star Trek film and it looks as though he’s left us with a treat. I predict that this will be the best film to come out this summer.
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Mud – 10th May

I’ve been looking forward to Mud since I first read about it. Two boys help a fugitive evade the law on a quest to reunite him with his true love.
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The Great Gatsby – 16th May

And I’ve been waiting for this even longer. Gatsby was supposed to have been released back in January but got pushed back here. But with Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role it’s bound to do well.
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Fast & Furious 6 – 17th May

Fast Five took this franchise in a much needed change of direction. Now it feels like Ocean’s Eleven with cars and guns and what’s not to like about that? And if you needed another reason to go see this: The. Rock.
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Epic – 22nd May

Every trailer I have seen for Epic just looks beautiful. I’m expecting one of the best animated films of all time right here.
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The Hangover Part III – 24th May

Another trilogy draws to a close at the end of May and it looks as though this might be the best Hangover film yet. Although, no hangover is actually featured by the looks of things.

UK Release Date: 24th May 2013.

Stars: Justin Lin (director), Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster, Gina Carano, Luke Evans, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson.

Plot: Since letting Dom and Brian escape at the end of Fast Five, Luke Hobbs has been has been tracking an organisation of lethally skilled mercenary drivers across 12 countries. Unable to bring them to justice on his own, Hobbs must call on Dom to get his gang back together from all corners of the globe in order to match this rival gang at street level. The reward? Full pardons for their previous crimes.

Of all the trailers/tv spots to be revealed during the Super Bowl Fast & Furious 6 was the one I was most looking forward to. To ignorant outsiders this will simply be palmed off as a mindless action film; but to fans of the series this is just an indication of how far Dom and friends have come since their first outing back in 2001. What started as a simple street racing franchise has now developed into being at the forefront of action cinema and has left its simple roots a long way behind.

The introduction of Luke Evans in this film is a great one, in my opinion. From the official synopsis and what little we see in the trailer it looks as though his character is going to be more than a match for Dom Turetto. With any luck he may provide something more than the stereotypical villains we are used to seeing and may be able to provide the Fast & Furious franchise with a memorable villain it really does deserve.

Even though every clip lasts less than a second there is a lot to be excited about here. There’s the return of Michelle Rodriguez and that will play out very interestingly being as though Dom thought she was dead; there’s planes being blown up, tanks crushing cars. It’s great to see all of the team back together which, for me, was something I really loved about Fast Five. Bring on May 24th!

Snitch Trailer

UK Release Date: 5th April 2013

Stars: Ric Roman Waugh (director), Dwayne Johnson, Susan Sarandon, Jon Bernthal, Harold Perineau

Plot: A father goes undercover for the DEA in order to free his son who was imprisoned after being set up in drug deal.

Snitch is just one of six films released in 2013 that is set to star the new WWE champion, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. And in all honesty, I don’t believe that this is going to be the best.

The trailer portrays Snitch as your typical action film. It’ll bring nothing new to the genre, just another chance to see Dwayne Johnson on the big screen and it is undoubtedly set to be a fun ride. The plot, from what I took from the trailer, doesn’t really seem to make much sense but I guess we’ll find out when we see more than just two minutes of footage.

It looks as though there will be a slow build up with no real big action footage until towards the end of the film, which will be slightly disappointing for action fans. Even the trailer seems to take the slow build up and doesn’t really inject any adrenaline into viewers, which is something that it’s target audience will have been wanting.

2013 will see the release of the sixth film in the highly commercially successful and highly critically criticised Fast & Furious franchise. Last week Vin Diesel uploaded some pictures to his Facebook account of him on set and these photos were met with largely negative response to people on the internet with people saying things like “oh look, Vin Diesel in a car, they’re really pushing the boat out for this one” or just simply “shit” etc etc etc. But really, what did people expect from the Fast & Furious franchise? And with every film pulling in great box offices so far and the latest instalment Fast Five being the highest praised and highest box office is there any need for all the negativity and is there any need for the series to be clamped?

It all began back in 2001 when producers decided to make a film about street racing clubs that use Japanese cars to race in New York City. And the first instalment, The Fast and the Furious, set the tone for what every other film that follows was set to be about; illegal street racing. And while these are just typical popcorn, mindless action films (up until Fast Five) is there really anything wrong with that? Actors, especially back in the 80s, have made names for themselves in making mindless action movies and what we have here is just an hour and a half – two hours of real escapist fun. The films aren’t made for the critics, they’re made for the fans and as long as the fans are out there the films will get made.

The fourth instalment reunited the original cast… if only for a brief time.

Whilst the series continues with 2 Fast 2 Furious and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, when the rightful sequel arrived in 2009 with the original cast members all back together the franchise seemed to be reborn. Fast & Furious reunited Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez as well as adding new characters that would seem to become main players in the franchise from her on out: Gal Gadot and Sung Kang (the latter also appearing in Tokyo Drift). With Fast Five some more talent was added and Dwayne Johnson received high critical praise for his performance (and is it any wonder? He was brilliant!) and the series continues to add fresh acting talent with The Fast and the Furious 6 adding Luke Evans, Gina Carano and Joe Taslim. It was rumoured that Rihanna (excuse me while I throw up) was reported to be in the next instalment but thanks to scheduling conflicts (Hallelujah!) we are not being subjected to that torture and she is rumoured to be replaced by British pop sensation Rita Ora… interesting.

Various shots of The Fast and the Furious 6 in production

Anyway, it was Fast Five that was the real game changer. It seems that now Fast & Furious has finally reached it’s full potential. With Fast Five, the writers, cast, crew, directors, producers, whoever! had got a grasp on what was going on in the series and Fast Five showed that it was more than just mindless action. They allowed for real character development; it was great to see how much Dom Turetto had changed since his first outing in 2001 as well as Paul Walker’s former cop turned criminal’s relationship with Jordana Brewster’s character. The really disheartening thing is that, because people think the first few films are rubbish, the majority of people will not watch Fast Five and they are missing out on a real treat and one of the greatest action films of all time!

Yes, the acting isn’t always brilliant and the stories aren’t always gripping but Fast & Furious has never set out to be a contender for big awards in film making. For this series it’s all about having fun; fast cars, hot women, tough men, big action scenes and explosions. And when you watch Fast & Furious you can’t help but have fun. So people should stop moaning about the quality of previous films, sit down and watch Fast & Furious (2009) followed by Fast Five and prepare to be swamped in fun, explosions and at times surprisingly touching friendships. Embrace it.

 

 

How can you not want to at least watch Fast Five after that?

Pixar are responsible for bringing to life some of the greatest film characters of all time!

For years and years now Pixar have been one of the best studios in the movie business. Pixar have been turning out perfect films over and over again since their first feature length film back in 1995; that film of course was Toy Story. Since then Pixar have continued to make perfect films, some of my favourites including Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, Wall-E and that’s not even mentioning Cars, Up, A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille or The Incredibles. It is plain to see that Pixar have a knack for creating real works of art with some of the best characters to ever grace the cinema screen. They have often been thought of, especially by me, as one of the best studios making films today because of their originality, their creativity and their lust to tell a story that hasn’t been told before on the big screen in a time where plenty of the biggest studios in Hollywood are relying on sequels, reboots, fairy tale adaptations and even origin stories for famous films. In other words, studios are getting desperate but Pixar always seemed like the bright spark within the industry but are they now turning in to just another studio?

Edwin E. Catmull – Co-founder and current President of Pixar Animations.

This week Pixar have announced plans to make a sequel to 2003 hit (and one of the best and most touching stories Pixar have ever told) Finding Nemo, to be directed by Andrew Stanton, the man behind the original film and Wall-E. This follows the news that there is development for a Toy Story 4 in the pipeline and of course next year a prequel to Monsters Inc called Monsters University will be released. There are also rumours that a sequel is in development for Pixar’s very own superpowered family The Incredibles. This follows the hugely successful Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 and the film seen by many as the worst Pixar have ever made, Cars 2. Obviously, film fans everywhere will be rejoicing at the fact that plans to bring Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mike, Sulley, Nemo, Marlin and Dory all back to the big screen because they are characters that were a huge part of so many people’s childhood and there will always be a sentimental connection towards those characters in the hearts of anyone who has ever watched these films. But are these proposed sequels bad news for Pixar and film fans in general?

The Toy Story franchise is a rare example of a trilogy where every film is of the highest quality, you can debate for days and days about which one is the best and why it is better than the other two but never will everyone agree. However, with Cars 2 it is the opinion of many that Pixar got it wrong; it didn’t really need a sequel and it wasn’t as good as the first one, it’s sort of a blotch on an otherwise stainless list of films in Pixar’s history. This means that if Pixar get it wrong with another sequel/prequel it could dampen feelings towards their much beloved characters.

Pixar’s feature length films have won a combined total of 11 Oscars and earned another 30 nominations!

Since 2003 Pixar have released a single film each year and it has done well commercially no matter what because Pixar is a name that will put bums on seats in cinemas, there remains no doubt about that. But with the news of the sequels it could signal one of two things: either Pixar is trying to follow suit of several other major film companies and milk the popularity of their characters for every last penny they can get out of them (something Disney are already managing to do with most of their character history) or rather more sadly, Pixar may just be running out of ideas. However, Pixar have said, although this was many years ago, that they would not consider making a sequel to one of their films if they couldn’t tell a story that was as good as the original, this suggests that a lot of hard work and thought will go into making these films but it will be a shame if this signals a slowing down in the creativity of Pixar because their characters have staying power like no others and everyone will be missing out if Pixar does indeed become ‘just another studio’.

Here we go; I hold the controversial opinion that Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver is ridiculously over rated and really quite a boring film. Taxi Driver is commonly thought of as one of the greatest films of all time but its not something I agree with. I recently got round to watching Drive starring Ryan Gosling and I couldn’t help but notice a few similarities between the two.

Both films centre on a man who’s job revolves around driving: Taxi Driver‘s Travis Bickle is a former marine who served in Vietnam but comes back to New York and takes up a job as a taxi driver, hence the name of the film; Drive‘s Driver, portrayed by Gosling, is a movie stunt double who moonlights as a driver in the criminal underworld. While both characters come from different backgrounds and are of different mental stabilities they are both loners at heart and form a relationship with a woman in the film.

For a large majority of both films not a lot actually happens. The first half of Taxi Driver and Drive both try to build character with not much action. When I was watching Taxi Driver I thought that it was at its best when it was doing this, we were following Travis around on his various journeys getting to know the man behind the wheel before the much anticipated shoot out at the end. Drive introduces us to the Driver’s world straight away and for the first half an hour there is very little dialogue but the audience still get a sense of character. Because of the lack of action at the beginning of both films they rely on the character and the actors’ portrayal of their characters and fortunately this works well for both films; Ryan Gosling had a great year in 2011 and Drive is a fantastic performance of his, while Robert De Niro is flawless as Travis Bickle.

So up to the halfway point both films are very similar and then something happens which, for me, makes Drive a much better film than Taxi Driver. About halfway through Taxi Driver (maybe later but I haven’t seen it for a while so I forget) loses all sense of direction and seems to have no idea where it is going. Suddenly, Travis Bickle outrightly becomes the psychopath he is remembered for but I feel as though this comes from nowhere. Taxi Driver forgets its narrative arc and throws its plot out of the window in my opinion.

Drive steps it up a gear as it enters its final act; the action feels real, the Driver’s motivation feels real. The whole film makes sense in terms of its narrative. In the beginning Drive sets off on its travels and, at the end, reaches its destination, the same can’t be said for Taxi Driver. Gosling’s Driver’s motivations are obvious and relatable, his journey is a complete arc and his actions are emotionally fuelled. Drive is a blood pumping film; the action is well spaced throughout the film and at times catches the audience off guard, tricking the audience into thinking they will see one thing but they see another.

In my opinion, Drive and Taxi Driver are similar films and anyone that has seen both of them can notice why similarities may be drawn. I do believe that Drive is a much better film to watch and be entertained by. Where Taxi Driver offers a depiction of breakdown of society or mental state, Drive sticks to filmic conventions and offers up an enjoyable treat which does not become boring by any stretch of the imagination.

Given the choice, I’d be watching Drive every time.

The Magnificent Seven is one of the greatest Western films ever made. The 1960 film, a remake itself of Seven Samurai, featured many big names of its day such as Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn and Charles Bronson. And now MGM have announced plans to recreate it for today’s audience.

The Magnificent Seven centres on an oppressed Mexican agricultural village under attack by marauding Mexican bandits. The village bring together seven accomplished gunmen to protect them.

MGM have announced that Tom Cruise of all people is set to head this project, even though the studio haven’t even hired a director or a writer to work on the remake, so I don’t know what’s going on here. Cruise has a busy schedule ahead of him with several films in the pipeline such as Rock of Ages, One Shot, Oblivion, Van Helsing and sequels to both Top Gun and Mission Impossible.

Cruise did seem back to his best in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol but is he really the right man to head up this remake of The Magnificent Seven? The film has been greenlit but it will not actually have its wheels in motion for at least a year with no writer or director attached and by the time Cruise gets through all the films he is making at the minute he will be well into his 50s.

Cruise is a big name in Hollywood and has box office appeal but there’s something about him that makes me think he would just not sit right in the Western.

This news actually does my head in because it is yet another remake of a classic film. The remakes are getting boring now; audiences are being forced to see the same stories told over and over again. Why can’t anyone just come up with a new idea for a Western instead of recreating one from years gone by.