Monday, August 13, 2018

Fast & Furious 8 (2017)

After watching Fast & Furious 8 I wasn't sure what to write about it. Movie series is at point where they have got the formula and put out new movies every now and then. It had problems but I mostly enjoyed it. After watching several Vin Diesel movies during one weekend I was in correct mood for this. XXX: The Return of Xander Cage brought that franchise closer to later Fast & Furious movies.

Then I realized what the message was. Fast & Furious 8 should have subtitle In Group Bias The Movie. I don't think movie was meant to be this clever. They told more about their world view than they meant to. It is not just one thing where this happens. It is during the whole movie and with main two characters. Group bias means we don't judge people in our group as hard as people who are not in our group. You can see this everywhere and it is big problem.

Dom is blackmailed to turn against his family. He gets Rock to be caught be police and go to jail. He steals Russian nuclear launch codes. He goes to steal Russian nuclear submarine with nuclear missiles. When he gets back to correct side at the end everything is forgiven. One character makes joke about the situation. You could say this is normal action movie stuff where heroes have different standards than others. But same thing happens to one other character too.

Jason Statham was villain of Fast & Furious 7. He killed at least one of Dom's group and destroyed their house. The movie is not available on my streaming services so I can't check everything he did in that movie. In this movie he joins "the good guys" and everything is forgiven. Again once someone joins the group everything is forgiven. This gives good picture of some people's world view. They are willing to forgive monsters and blame the victims as long as the monster is part of their own group.

Embracing in group bias wasn't the only questionable message. There literally is a female character whose role is to give birth to Dom's son and then die so she won't be problem to Dom's and Letty's relationship. In this movie heroes actions have no consequences. She hasn't even given first name to the son because she thinks Dom should do that as a father. She didn't even want to get between Dom and Letty. She would rather have been single mother. Another reason to kill her of because those are evil to people who wrote this movie.

But wait there is more. Mr Nobody and Rock instructs Little Nobody how world works. Their third rule is there are no rules. You can do anything without consequences because you are saving the world or something like that. Good to add that with all the other questionable messages. Fast & Furious 8 tells lot about some people's world views in 2017. For that reason we shouldn't forget this movie.

Monday, August 6, 2018

XXX: The Return of Xander Cage (2017)

I remember liking XXX. XXX: The Next Level was ok if I remember correctly but I didn't want to see XXX: The Return of Xander Cage in theater. It came at time when I didn't go to theater that often and it got bad reviews. Now that I have seen it I am glad I didn't spent any money on it but I am also glad to see it.

First half feels like they wanted to kill the franchise. There is pointless cameo from Neymar Jr and Samuel L. Jackson. It kicks the movie but it was so bad. It referenced Samuel L. Jackson's MCU role as Nick Fury. Then there is nice action scene with Donnie Yen before Xander Cage was introduced really awfully. It doesn't get any better when he acts like jackass and every woman fells for him. I really felt bad for Donnie Yen at this point. He was doing good job when others felt like they didn't want to take this seriously.

But then something happens when Xander and Donnie Yen meets first time. If this was shot in order Donnie Yen's work ethics improved other's work. Movie had first big twist that point. It had introduced all important characters and was at its second last location. Before that it was more dialog driven. After that is became fun action movie. There are many reasons why movie started to work after that point onward.

XXX: The Return of Xander Cage is fun stupid action movie during last half. It is full of fan service. I remember first two to be more serious ones. This one is more about interesting characters kicking ass. Ending has same family feeling later Fast and Furious movies have. I kind of want to see more of this if it has Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa. Others had hard time keeping up with them in action scenes and Donnie Yen had interesting character. It is shame first half was so awful when they wanted to look so cool with looking like old folks trying to act like teens.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Tau (2018)

I appreciate Netflix's effort on original science fiction. Tau is their latest original science fiction movie. It got moderate praise in social media. It was compared to Ex Machina. This has mad scientist, they are in his house and there is AI but other than that this isn't like Ex Machina. This felt more like The Human Centipede. I haven't seen those movies and never will but I have seen few reviews and know more about them than I want to know. It reminded me what I think Human Centipede movies are.

Mad scientist has captured three people for scientific experiments. He keeps them locked in his basement. Movie is them trying to escape mad scientist's house and AI which controls the house. It is more about horror than science fiction. At least about first half hour. Then AI takes bigger role. Movie feels longer than it is. It is because there is almost nothing to tell.

After first twenty minutes or something like that movie sets to what it will be until the end. There isn't much new information after that point or major changes in characters. In Ex Machina there were mind games and you didn't what was going to happen. Here you knew mad scientist will kill test subjects after tests if they can't escape before that. It is just waiting for how and if they will escape.

I was surprised to find out Ed Skrein who played mad scientist was Francis from Deadpool. I checked what else he had done and Deadpool was one of his previous movies. He is good actor but his character was written to be too one dimensional or it was direction. I think he did what was asked from him.

Tau is one of those movies with interesting premise but which doesn't quite deliver. It went too much into horror territory for my liking. It gets better by the end but first half is quite drag. Ed Skrein is best part but movie gets more interesting when AI is in bigger role. This would have been really good hour long episode in anthology series. Over one and half hours needed more depth than what we got.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (2004)

Riddick's universe is one of my favorite fictional universes. I enjoy innovative worlds it has and Riddick's character. I have already reviewed all live action movies. What was missing was animated short movie Dark Fury and games. As far as I know games are not available anywhere legally so only Dark Fury is left to review until next live action movie.

Dark Fury is bridge between Pitch Black which introduced Riddick and Chronicles of Riddick. It starts soon after ending of Pitch Black on ship with survivors of Pitch Black. Bounty hunter ship catches them and it end up pretty much how you would expect.

Half hour short movie can't pack too much of a story. It doesn't attempt to be anything else than giving us little more of Riddick and reference first two movies. I am not sure if this was released before Chronicles of Riddick or after. Both were released same year. It made me want to rewatch live action Riddick movies. It works in what it tries to achieve.

Dark Fury has many things I like in Riddick movies. It has cast from live action movies representing their roles. Everyone sounds correct which make it feel like Riddick movie. Action scenes are visually interesting and attitude is there. Animation is all over the place but most of the time it is not annoying. But only most of the time. Animation is only part which I didn't like that much. It looks lot like Aeon Flux. Sometimes it goes overboard with the style. Those were the times it got annoying.

If you are Riddick fan Dark Fury is for you. If not you can skip this. There isn't much which we have not seen in live action movies and there is barely a story.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Lucifer - Season 1 (2016)

Nowadays network cancelling a show doesn't always mean end of the show. Lucifer is one of those shows which were picked up by someone else after cancellation. Same has happened to The Expanse and Brooklyn 99. Maybe some other shows too. This usually involves active fan base wanting to save their favorite show. Too bad this wasn't trend when Ascension and Firefly were cancelled. I decided to check what the fuzz was all about.

Lucifer tells about Lucifer who has come to Los Angeles to run night club. He starts to help police because he finds his powers doesn't work with one detective named Chloe. Another angel Amenadiet wants Lucifer to go back to hell. Lucifer's guardian demon Mazikeen doesn't approve Lucifer being so interested about Chloe. Other human characters are Chloe's ex-husband Dan and Lucifer's therapist.

Lucifer doesn't try to be too realistic but it doesn't go to comedy territory. It reminds lot about Joss Whedon's Angel in good and J.J. Abrams' works in bad. I don't want to diss Abrams all the time but this reminded me about his shows. Show was interesting when I watched it. When it was building up. Then things build up to be important weren't that important because that were easiest way to return things back to normal. Without going into spoilers there were two story arcs build to be important which writers decided not to matter because that was easiest way return everything almost as they were.

Amenadiet was introduces as one dimensional antagonist. He got bit more interesting later. Mazikeen had some sort of start of character arc. Lucifer's story arcs was learning to be more like human. Mazikeen started similar arc during later half of the season. I liked Lucifer, Amenadiet and Mazikeen being in human world part most. Mostly because Chloe's and other human's story arc was ruined in season finale. Therapist was only interesting human character in the end. I write this few days after watching the series and I have hard time writing anything about Chloe who was female lead. She had daughter, ex-husband and open case which was solved. I don't remember anything else. Why Lucifer's powers didn't work on her wasn't explained. They just didn't work on her and that was it. Maybe they get back to it on later seasons.

This was police procedural which meant murder mysteries on each episodes. I liked there being twists build around someone being gay or vegan without making big deal about being vegan or gay. What I didn't like was them realizing who the killer was out of the blue. It was often character who was cleared for some reason and then they found new evidence or someone said something which connected the dots. All twists weren't bad. I just remember bad twist better.

I don't know what to think about Lucifer. I watched all 13 episodes in one sitting but season finale left me disappointed. Part of me wants to continue to second season. Part of me doesn't. Season finale and first episode of second season had that effect. If you expected something to matter after first season first episode of second season took that away.