Saturday, 23 April 2011
This weeks 'DVD Rack' Is a 'Fast & Furious' Top 5 special.
1. FAST FIVE: Not available on DVD just yet (it's only just been released in cinemas (kind of the meaning behind this feature)). This torque, adrenaline filled action-packed, ensemble, 'Italian Job' meets 'Oceans Eleven' esque caper may just be the best yet. More cars, girls, cast members, action and stunts then you could shift a clutch at. The gangs all here (with some added 'Rock' for the cooking) so you know this films going to bang. You never thought this possible but you'll actually be excited for a sixth. As our favourites race in their getaway cars, popcorn-movie escapism has never been better. Capping off a dynamite explosive set of films this is one dynamic group. Catch them while you can.
2. FAST & FURIOUS: With a name so similar to the first film that it probably causes mess ups with DVD ordering this movie felt more like the original in more ways then one. Hence the tag line stated, 'New Model, Original Parts' and what we saw when he lifted the hood was Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Roudriguez, Jordan Brewster back in the driving seat. One of the most exciting and important films of the series this perfect action picture harked back to the classic and was the catalyst for this franchises second-wind. With better acting and an incredibly well orchestrated opening scene/heist this movie really did rev and turn everything up motoring these movies on. It also proved that nothing works quite as well then tried and tested American muscle.
3. THE FAST & THE FURIOUS: The first part, where it all started and the engine of this franchise, this was a different guys movie then usual. More exciting and with a better story this film was a runaway hit, coming at the right time when we needed but didn't expect a film about cars to do so well. The world was introduced to the talents of Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Roudriguez, Jordan Brewster and the type of cars we only dreamed about seeing at the bottom of cereal boxes. This really was a find.
4. 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS: Tyrese took the wheel from Vin Diesel and his charisma, charm and acting smarts helped give a scorcher of a slump-surviving sequel set in the gorgeous city of Miami. '2 Fast' had a double dose of everything from the action to the cars. The movie also helped break the beautiful Eva Mendes into the mainstream and showed that rapper Ludacris was just as entertaining on the screens then he was on the mic. Without the Diesel, critics expected this movie to be pulled, instead it ran everything else off the road.
5. THE FAST & THE FURIOUS-TOKYO DRIFT: OK, so the principle cast took a pit stop on this one but that doesn't mean this film didn't still go. Set in the terrific city of Tokyo (Japan stand up) the dangerous world of drift racing was exposed for more thrills, spills and if you thought you'd seen all the crazy cars you could imagine then obviously you've never been to Japan because you hadn't seen nothing till this. Lucas Black and Bow Wow did a good job but it was Sung Kang that introduced himself as a favourite character in this series, plus there was a classic cameo that fueled things to come. This movie is different, but that's what makes it and this franchise that more distinct. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
A fantastic, fast, furious fifth installment.
12A, 130 Minutes. Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordan Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Sung Kang, Tego Calderon, Matt Schulze & Dwanye Johnson. Director: Justin Lin. Screenplay: Chris Morgan
Time to give into your convictions because cinemas greatest guilty pleasure has returned, just when you thought enough sequels was enough 'The Fast & Furious' franchise forward throttles into 'Police Academy' numbers for 'Fast Five', the latest and possibly greatest parts of the series in terms of excitement and action. Vin Diesel is back in the drivers seat, with Paul Walker riding shotgun as the best of the rest of the films return to car pool in an ensemble, heist piece which has shades of the 'Italian Job' and 'Oceans Eleven'. Set in the stunning, beautiful city of Rio who needs to watch a film about an animated bird? Instead if 'Fast Five' is your pick this Friday expect the heat to be turned up in one of the hottest action films for years, complete with more action, more bullets, more cars, more girls and more guys willing to go to the cinema then ever before.
In the confusingly titled 'Fast & Furious' fourth film, Vin returned to act, fine-tune, produce and help put the Diesel back in this franchise and what has resulted is a brand new saga to a series that was running on fumes when it drifted through Tokyo. Now Diesel and Paul Walker are on top, career-saving, re-defining form and what's more they've brought some old friends along for the ride. Matt Schulze (Vince) returns for the first time since the original film to make things interesting and awkward with Walker's Brian character. While we are given a double dose of '2 Fast 2 Furious' as singer Tyrese and rapper Ludacris return to bring more entertainment to this exciting, thrill-ride. Jordan Brewster is also back as Brian's love interest to give this white knucklehead ride more heart while franchise favourite Sung Kang returns with a rest-assured resurrection, despite looking like his work was done after 'Tokyo Drift' (you've got to love prequels). Still, if that doesn't make you believe in ghosts be prepared for more surprises as this so-called 'dumb' film follows it's heart from the last movie and tries to get all clever entering twist territory.
The plot obviously is simple, but still the thrills and spills that are better then most more then make up for a paint by numbers artistic direction. Following the fourth installments end Brian and his new other side of the law pals unbelievably break Diesel's, Dominic "Dom" Toretto character out and what follows is more sensational stunts and awesome action that are more ludicrous then the movies supporting cast. Still, it's all part of the inhibition-aside action that make this picture one of the best reasons to put that diet on hold and pick the popcorn back up. This is the perfect weekend picture, as watching these criminal characters on the run is the best movie escapism you'll see all year. In-between drag racing cop cars and pulling vaults across the freeway and making Michael Bay's 'Bad Boys 2', car-dropping direction look tame (and to do that to the man that took 'Transformers' too far is an achievement in itself), Dom and his crew have to evade the capture of Dwanye Johnson's DSS Agent character. As 'The Rock' keeps rolling, he becomes a welcome addition to this series, even making Vin Diesel look puny in comparison... (mini-Rock anyone? (pebble?)) that is until they fight, that's when you know it's really on.
With 'The Rock' cooking up more action and Diesel and Walker firmly back in control of this franchise this film motors forward and with great performances from the charismatic Tyrese, the hilarious Ludacris and the cool and collected Sung Kang, plus a cameo this writer predicted and you'll be glad to see coming this franchise has all the right parts to have enough left in the tank for a sixth movie. You best believe it's coming and after this movie there will be no doubt you'll want to see it coming. Like a hitch hiker left at the side of the road even this films worst critics and everyone will be left with their thumbs up. With everyone back and on the right path this series has enough torque to go the distance and it's thanks to action packed, adrenaline fuelled films like this. The 'Race Wars' junkies may be a little disappointed with it's lack or races but the other set-pieces more then make up for it. Either way though even Charlie Sheen knows winnings winning and this film doesn't do this by an inch...it does it by a mile. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 17 April 2011
Ghostface returns for another killer movie we've all been cravin' for.
15, 111 Minutes. Starring: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox,
Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere & Anthony Anderson. Director: Wes Craven. Screenplay: Kevin Williamson
Don't get mad and shout, but Wes Craven has made another installment in his 'Scream' slasher series. Don't worry however, 'Scre4m' (the fourth film, obviously) is no howler. In fact it yells volumes for a franchise that can stand the test of time. Especially in a franchise based movie economy, where many reboots and sequels often have nowhere to run like the opening scene victims in these movies.
This speaks even more highly for a film like this to do well in such a dying, saturated genre. Yeah, sure this reviewer normally hates horror movies, but be honest can you even tell the difference these days? Now, sure it's not like this movies original-even to its class of pictures-but it sure does school the opposition. It's an education in the horror/slasher drama as yet again the film mirrors the tone of the fictional 'Stab' movies featured in it (even making fun of their over use of sequels with 'Stab 7'). This sequel goes one better however paying homage to the previous films just like the copycat killers do again and again.
A decade after the original classic, 'Scre4m' is like a deluxe edition, bringing your old favourites and the best bits but adding even more as a welcome bonus. Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette are all back and on top, effortless form to bring class to the slash while even more A, B and C listers are brought to this All-Star mix. Hayden Panettiere leads the cheer with a strong role worthy of a heroine, (MINI SPOILER ALERT) while you know the hilarious Anthony Anderson last words are going to be funny ones (c'mon he plays a cop, you knew he was going to die).
Still it's Campbell, Cox and Arquette that make this picture perfect. The beautiful Neve and Courtney still have it with brains to boot as Sidney and Gail, while Arquette's Dewey character is still as lovably dumb as ever, as a bumbling sap of a sheriff. Thankfully this film matches the buzz but let's hope this doesn't mean there will be another 'Scary Movie' (no offense guys). Sure this movies cliched, but it does this in a comedic way and it's this way the movie doesn't treat itself seriously that makes it all the better and all the greater off.
You don't need to be told the premise of this plot as you already know. A bunch of good looking females and geeky guys are going to get killed in all sorts of basic and unoriginal but strangely, sickly entertaining ways. You know people are going to run up the stairs when they really should know by now and you know that anyone that owns a white, cordless phone is well and truly screwed, ready to be chopped like a Houston hip-hop remix.
Still even though this film is as predictable as Nostradamus sending text messages, you really will be guessing who the killer is to the 'Scooby Doo', mask revealing end and this is what makes this film better then most in the series. This is more then a decent stab, it's a well-worked piece from the matermind of the murder/horror genre. Sure this really should be the last slice in the 'Scream' franchise, but as Wes Craven yells cut at least the series goes out in a blade of glory. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 16 April 2011
The source of Jake Gyllenhaal's career second-wind.
12A, 94 Minutes. Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga & Jeffrey Wright. Directors: Duncan Jones. Screenplay: Ben Ripley
Throughout Jake Gyllenhaal's career he has shown glimpses of just how great he can really be (see 'Donnie Darko', 'Zodiac', 'Jarhead' and of course 'Brokeback Mountain') but until recently Maggie's brother has been out the limelight a little. That was until last year however when he became the 'Prince Of Persia' and made the highest rom-com of last year with Anne Hathaway ('Love & Other Drugs'). Now to start off this year comes one of the best sci-fi thrillers in years, as Gyllenhaal goes into the 'Source Code' to re-wire his career and propel him towards the status as one of the better leading men in the Hollywood game.
Directed brilliantly by Duncan Jones (the son of David Bowie and the man who brought the bright side of cinema with 'Moon'),'Source Code' sees Gyllenhaal's character (Captain Colter Stevens) waking up on a train he shouldn't be on next to a women he doesn't know (Michelle Monaghan). As he tries to figure out what's going on and why he looks like a third-grade teacher...BOOM!! The train blows up and Captain Jake finds himself in a capsule taking orders from Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright. Gylenhaal is in the source code, which is a program that allows the user to take over someones body in their last eight minutes of life. Gyllenhaal's job is to to find the source of the bomb that blew up the train he was on through the code of Monaghan's teacher friend, Sean Fentress, a body whose his type matches.
So expect a 'Groundhog Day' type set of scenes as Gyleenhaal revisits the past more times then Doc Brown, taking a 'Quantum Leap' through time and very clever pop culture references. Despite the nature of this movie it doesn't feel repetitive. It's gripping and compelling and even though no ideas original these days...including this one, it's still refreshing and different. The classic city of Chicago looks incredible, despite being in peril, while the great mix of romance and tension is captured perfectly on screen in the small confined setting. Think 'Collateral', but with more twists and turns and even more unwanted passengers as the train and the plot hurtle towards a thrilling, climatic third act.
Gyleenhaal is perfect in this movie leading the story and his career into brilliant new places. In his early 30's Jake is really finding himself as an actor and making the most of his time and the opportunities to change things...just like his character in this film. After her 'Due Date', Michelle Monaghan is also the ideal companion in this journey as Gyleenhaal's love and link to reality interest. Also Jeffrey Wright is peculiarly perfect as the source codes developer. While George Clooney's other friend, Vera Farmiga is the right support for Gyleenhaal's character, even though she is only linked to him via console.
Overall 'Source Code' will develop to become one of the best thrillers of this year and one of it's leads most foremost performances. Mixing genres and throwback themes this train thriller still stays on the right track, now thats talking the right programming language. With great special effects and a heart-warming nature, this film gives that typical Hollywood shine to ordinary, everyday people, showing just how special this story really is. Using little groundwork this groundbreaking movie makes the most of everything and with the ever-improving Gyllenhaal at the source this movie speaks the right code. TIM DAVID HARVEY.