Tag Archive: instalment


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?

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Last week it was rumoured that Matthew Vaughn was being heavily linked with the director’s chair of the new Star Wars film and it has been revealed that the shortlist for a director is now down to just 2 names (we don’t know if Vaughn is one of them but I expect he is). However, the news this week is that Michael Arndt is set to write the script. This is a fantastic choice from a critical point of view: Arndt won an Oscar for best screenplay in 2007 for Little Miss Sunshine and received another Oscar nomination for his most recent feature, the incredible Toy Story 3. Arndt is currently overseeing the writing of The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire and will then start work on what is sure to be another brilliant script, this time for Star Wars.

Jack Nicholson is being pursued to play Robert Downey Jr’s father in The Judge. Downey has said that he would love to work with Nicholson but the problem is that Jack Nicholson has only made three films since 2003: the critically acclaimed The Departed, The Bucket List and How Do You Know, the latter of the three showing that it is clearly not a quality script that Nicholson is after. The Judge follows a big-city lawyer (Downey) who returns home after the death of his mother only to discover that his estranged Alzheimer’s-ridden father is suspected of murder, so he represents his father in the case. Although this is by no means a done deal I think it would be perfect casting having Nicholson play Downey’s father.

The LEGO movie spoken about so long ago is finally taking shape and two big name actors have joined the cast this week: Liam Neeson and Will Ferrell. Ferrell will be playing the main villain of the film while Neeson lends his voice to the villain’s henchman. The synopsis for Lego: The Piece of Resistance is: an ordinary Lego mini-figure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil Lego tyrant from gluing the universe together. Ferrell and Neeson join an ever growing cast of Alison Brie, Chris Pratt and Morgan Freeman.

Finally, what began as an internet rumour has this week been confirmed as an official announcement. Transformers 4 has seen the casting of Mark Wahlberg become a reality. And if the Transformers franchise had cast an actual good action star and decent actor in the first place instead of Shia Labeouf and that waste of oxygen Megan Fox then perhaps I would be more inclined to have given them a watch. However, as I have no interest in supporting Michael Bay I am not even sure Wahlberg can persuade me to begin watching this franchise. Transformers 4 will also be taking place 4 years after the previous instalment, Dark of the Moon.

 

Disney now owns three of the biggest companies in the world of movie making: Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm, in particular the Star Wars franchise. So with these three huge franchises all working under the same roof it is inevitable that comparisons will be made, but just which is the biggest and best franchise? I will be ranking Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars out of 10 in categories such as Oscar recognition, box office takings, quality of the films and star quality.

 

Box Office

The box office takings are vital to companies and film franchises such as these three as it indicates whether there is any demand for their films any longer and obviously, at the minute, there is. The Star Wars franchise (the original trilogy and prequel trilogy) have taken $3,793,650,642 at the box office, making an average of around $632million per film. Marvel Entertainment have so far released six films of their own, from Iron Man to The Avengers and have made $3,772,055,196 (with The Avengers making up the most of that) averaging $628million per film. None of this quite matches Pixar who, since releasing Toy Story have amassed an incredible $7,794,770,758 at the global box office, however on average this only amounts to just under $600million per film.

Marks out of 10 for Box Office takings:

Pixar: 6

Marvel: 7

Star Wars: 8

 

“Son?”

Oscars

Each year the Oscars acknowledge the best films and the best efforts in making films. Marvel are really lagging behind in this area with just three nominations, two for Iron Man and one for Iron Man 2. Star Wars have so far managed to win seven Oscars with another fifteen nominations! But still this is far far behind Pixar who have been storming the Oscars with almost all of their films and have won ten Oscars for their feature films with another 30 (yes 30!) nominations!

Pixar: 10

Marvel: 1

Star Wars: 6

 

Film Quality

There is no doubt about who makes the best films out of Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. Ever since their first release Pixar have continually churned out near perfect, enjoyable family films almost every year. With their recent releases it looks as though they have started to lag but their discography cannot be ignored. Marvel, aside from Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, have dominated the superhero genre and continue to bring out fun, light hearted but still very very good films and all of this culminated in one of the best films of 2012: The Avengers. I have never really liked Star Wars but I can appreciate that the original trilogy was good (yet nothing to really shout about) however the prequel trilogy is universally disliked.

Pixar: 10

Marvel: 8

Star Wars: 6

Star Talent

Star Wars made stars out of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford primarily, although they were virtual unknowns at the time. However, they did attract Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness to the franchise. In the prequels they managed to cast some good British talent with Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor along with the huge Samuel L. Jackson. Marvel also signed Samuel L. Jackson up along with huge stars Robert Downey Jr, Ed Norton, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Hugo Weaving, Tim Roth, Jeff Bridges and Sam Rockwell (and that’s not even all of them!). Tom Hanks, John Ratzenberger, Michael Keaton, Kevin Spacey, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi have all provided voices for Pixar characters but a lot of the time the actors are unknown to audiences.

Pixar: 6

Marvel: 9

Star Wars: 4

 

Overall Ratings:

Pixar: 32/40.

Marvel: 25/40.

Star Wars: 24/40.

So overall Pixar comes out on top which is unsurprising to say the least! Although with their two most recent films (Cars 2 and Brave) not going down as well as previous efforts are they on the decline? Marvel have just released the third highest grossing movie of all time this year and their universe of films is only going to continue to grow and get more and more exciting. Star Wars has continued to live on in television shows since the end of the film franchise and everyone is expecting big things from the new instalment. In the next few years it will be interesting to see who Disney is getting the most from.

UK Release Date: 14th February 2013.

Stars: John Moore (director), Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Amauray Nolasco, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Cole Hauser, Sebastian Koch

Plot: John McClane, who finds himself in Moscow, Russia and gets caught up in a terrorist plot with his estranged son.

A Good Day to Die Hard goes up against Star Trek Into Darkness for the worst name for a sequel next year and probably wins this contest, although on the big screen they will both be aiming for very different audiences. Here is the first tease of the fifth instalment of John McClane’s journeys.

This sequel has cast a couple of people I am very excited about. First up we have Jai Courtney playing McClane’s estranged son John ‘Jack’ McClane Jr and this is a fine casting choice. I have only seen Courtney once before and that was in the first series of television show Spartacus: Blood and Sand where he played Spartacus’ best friend Varro and it was obvious from this series that Courtney has enough ability to hold his own in an action film and he was clearly built for the genre. Then we have Amauray Nolasco, best known as Prison Break‘s Sucre who you couldn’t help but like and feel sorry for – my favourite character.

I’m not a big fan of the Die Hard series (aside from the original) or Bruce Willis in general but I think this teaser gives enough in its minute to entice old fans back to the cinema again; there is plenty of quick action scenes and a line from Willis at the end which I think is supposed to be a bit funny but I couldn’t really tell. And in true action film fashion there’s a quick glimpse at a woman showing off her body for no apparent reason.

I don’t think people who like Die Hard go and see these films for the story, they just want to see Bruce Willis killing foreigners and blowing shit up and there is clearly going to be plenty of that here. The addition of Courtney as McClane’s son also gives the franchise a chance of continuation once Willis departs.

Arrested for making such a horrible sequel.

When audiences enjoy a film, sometimes they want more, they feel like the character’s journey is not complete. They want to see their favourite characters on the big screen more than once and fall in love with them all over again. Yet when they get their wishes there is always a section of the fans who lambast the producers and film makers for daring to make a sequel and, in some cases, for ruining the first movie as well. So why is it difficult to make a sequel work? Below are some of the reasons I have picked out.

Attempts to be too clever: Ocean’s Twelve is the epitome of awful sequels. The first, Ocean’s Eleven, was brilliant; it brought charm, wit, humour, style and smooth to the screen. It was everything Ocean’s Twelve wasn’t. Twelve tried to run a clever storyline with a twist at the end and it didn’t work at all. It just ended up being a horrible, boring film and the less said about it, the better.

Iron Man 2 tried to run too many storylines with too many new characters.

Trying to do too much: A lot of sequels fall into this category. The first film sets up the characters and completes a story and then, in order to make the sequel better, writers, producers and directors try to cram too much into the next film and it takes away the experience because the storyline runs too thin. This is the case with sequels such as Iron Man 2, in which a lot of work is needed to be done in order to tie in to The Avengers appropriately and so that storyline is thinned out as well as the other storyline involving Whiplash and audiences are left with a boring, lacklustre sequel to a film that promised so much.

No returning cast members: Sometimes, the big wigs at production companies decide that they can make a sequel work even without the stars of the first film. The classic case of this is Grease 2. Grease had charm, loveable characters and great humour and the two leads were perfect: John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. But the two decided they would not return for a sequel and it was made without them. In a sequel audiences want to see their favourite characters return to the screen, not be introduced to more random people.

Cashing in: It doesn’t take a genius to realise that a lot of sequels, if not all of them, are made to cash in on the commercial success of the original film. This leads to film makers taking good parts of the original film and making it more important in the sequel. An example of this is Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End; everyone loves Captain Jack Sparrow in the first film, but he plays in support to the main story of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann and his appearances make the film comical.  In At World’s End, we are given too much Jack Sparrow to the point of huge annoyance.

The best of Bourne was saved for the third instalment.

The above are just a selection of some of the various reasons sequels do not work and a few examples of bad sequels. This is not to say that all sequels are bad. When done right they can add character development, build up great storylines and become some of the best films ever made. The Bourne Ultimatum, Spider-man 2, The Dark Knight and X2: X-men United are all examples of sequels getting it right.