Review: The Fast and the Furious (2001)

“I live my life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters: not the mortgage, not the store, not my team and all their bullshit. For those ten seconds or less, I’m free.”
– Dom

SYNOPSIS: Los Angeles police officer Brian O’Connor must decide where his loyalty really lies when he becomes enamored with the street racing world he has been sent undercover to destroy. – via IMDB

You know, this came out when I was a rugrat and it was extremely popular then, so naturally it is a movie I saw multiple times when I was like… 11/12. I liked it. Fast cars and family and all that. I’ve grown up a lot and can see where the flaws are, and there are issues in this movie, but it is a good action movie regardless.

The Fast and the Furious introduces us to characters that we will get close to and stick with for more than a decade, and it’s crazy because they don’t even get too intense about showing you everyone and what they are, but they give you enough. Paul Walker and Vin Diesel work really well together, and give the movie a lot of its charisma. Chad Lindberg as Jesse, of course, is a favourite, and I will always be so sad about how his story was concluded before it even really got started. I also really liked that there were more practical effects here as opposed to CGI, gives the movie a much more authentic feel.

The soundtrack though is something I am not a big fan of. It’s supposed to fit but actually comes off as feeling like it’s trying to be too cool, so seems forced. The story is also super generic, no matter how many fast cars they tried to layer it under and wrap it up in. Granted, we got all the tropes we could expect from it, though some were certainly handled better than others.

Anyway, The Fast and the Furious is the first chapter in a massive franchise, and it’s not a bad one. Nostalgia definitely tides me through, but a simple story and a short run time help. The acting is a little off sometimes and sections of this movie are dated and didn’t age well, but overall, as long as you don’t take it too seriously, you can have quite a bit of fun with this.

Rapid Review: The Last Witch Hunter (2015)

the last with hunter poster

“Do you know what it’s like to live forever?”
– Kaulder

SYNOPSIS: The last witch hunter is all that stands between humanity and the combined forces of the most horrifying witches in history. – via IMDB

the last witch hunter fight

GRADE 5I didn’t have much hope for this movie, but it didn’t mean that I wasn’t interested in seeing it. For the lols, you know? It was an alright movie, nothing fantastic, but I think of many worse movies to waste time on. This one also had a cast that intrigued me, and they all did a relatively good job. It was good to see Michael Caine again, but disappointing that there is nothing fresh and new to bring to the table with his character. Vin Diesel doesn’t shock, either, and delivers the performance you expect from him as well as the character he represents. It was crazy strange to see him in all the scenes from back in the day. My husband was immensely disappointed when the movie flicked from the past into the present as we know it, he thought he was totally in for something else. However, it isn’t a bad thing that the movie was set in the present because the effects for the past and the sets and all were just… not good at all, but I could understand his disappointment when he thought he was getting this badass film about with hunters with swords and old school and stakes and all that. Nope, it was just not meant to be. Rose Leslie is, of course, beautiful, and holds her own here, though I feel that the role was somewhat beneath her talents. The movie boasts some terribly corny dialogue, this has to be stated. Like, there were times I cringed, times I actually just laughed, and other times I rolled my eyes. I think if people take this seriously, they are going to hate it. If they just want something to pass time and turn their brains off for, you can do worse (though granted, you can do plenty better, too). It’s just an average film that doesn’t break any boundaries, and never strives for brilliance, which is the pitfall. Oh, and some dodgy screenwriting.

Rapid Review: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

guardians of the galaxy poster

“So here we are: a thief, two thugs, an assassin and a maniac. But we’re not going to stand by as evil wipes out the galaxy. I guess we’re stuck together, partners.”
– Peter Quill

SYNOPSIS: After discovering a mysterious orb in another part of the galaxy, Peter Quill from Earth, is now the main target of a manhunt led by the genocidal villain Ronan the Accuser. Being hunted across the galaxy, Quill gets lumped together with a group of misfits that need to learn how to get along before they can become the “Guardians of the Galaxy”. – via IMDB

guardians of the galaxy

I definitely liked this far more than I thought I would. The soundtrack was great (which is how this was bumped up .5), the characters were entertaining, there was cheese, there were some seriously odd moments, there was plenty humour, and it was just a fun flick overall. I don’t think it is deserving of the hype surrounding it but I liked it more than anticipated, which is something. I went in expecting something like The Avengers, which, as you all know, was not my favourite movie or anything. I didn’t know too much about this, which I am sure counted in the film’s favour, so it was all new to me. I thought the cast was fantastic, each bringing their bit to the table and  having fun while doing it, which shows on screen. Rocket Raccoon really had me laughing at the best of times, especially with his penchant for prosthetics, as well as how he could laugh about it (that giggling!). Seriously. Chris Pratt does a very good job in the leading role, and I liked him. I thought the villain, Ronan, was absolutely freaking ridiculous and not creepy at all (and I was told he was pretty cool). He was not. He looked like a giant blue, muddy nun, and sounded silly. You know I like a good villain… The movie itself was decently paced, didn’t feel as long as it was, and it was shot quite well. The effects were pretty good, though here and there it was a little dodgy. Guardians of the Galaxy has a very different feel from all the other Marvel movies we have been getting over the last few years, and it worked wonders here, like a breath of fresh air. I still don’t quite understand why the world has gone ballistic over this, but it was fun and worth the watch, if nothing more than just to see this band of misfits together. I enjoyed the way the movie was presented, and the plot progression. I don’t actually have an awful lot to say about this one, so I will stop waffling on about it.

Poster credit.

Review: Saving Private Ryan (1998)


“He better be worth it. He better go home and cure a disease, or invent a longer-lasting light bulb.”
– Captain Miller

American soldiers prepare to land on Omaha Beach. The landing is catastrophic, and soldiers are killed in earnest in the landing. The Germans are waiting for them, and as the US soldiers are practically led to slaughter, Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks), the company commander of the Charlie Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion, gathers all able-bodied soldiers he can. With his new group he launches an assault on the German defenses, and soon emerges victorious. In the midst of all of this happening in Normandy, back at Washington D.C. General George Marshall (Harve Presnell) learns that three of four brothers of the Ryan family are deceased, and that Private First Class James Francis Ryan of Baker Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division is still out there somewhere, though whether dead or alive is unknown. Ryan’s mother is to receive all the terrible news in one day, and General Marshall decides then that a group will be dispatched to bring Private Ryan home.

The ghastly beach landings

Captain Miller is given the task of recovering the young Private Ryan, and gathers men he trusts to take out with him. Sergeant Michael Horvath (Tom Sizemore), Private Richard Reiben (Edward Burns), a great sniper by the name of Private Daniel Jackson (Barry Pepper), a Jewish Private Stanley Mellish (Adam Goldberg), Private Adrien Caparzo (Vin Diesel) and T-4 Medic Irwin Wade (Giovanni Ribisi). In need of a new translator, he picks up Corporal Timothy E. Upham (Jeremy Davies), a nervous young man who has never actually been out in the field. Together they set out across the foreign country with no real idea about Private Ryan’s whereabouts.

Sniper Private Daniel Jackson saving private ryan
“Well, it seems to me, sir, that God gave me a special gift, made me a fine instrument of warfare.” – Private Jackson

The soldiers seem to feel that is is a ludicrous request to send all these men out to recover one man. Other lives are at risk to save but one? They don’t get it, but orders are orders. However, during the course of the journey, they move through warring districts, lose men and contempt and contention breaks out. Captain Miller is supposed to lead them, to keep them in line, but slowly but surely an angry Reiben starts cracking the foundations of the group. He does not want to die for one man. Captain Miller is an enigma to the soldiers – nobody knows anything about him, and he seems content to keep it as such. The search for Private Ryan seems to be fruitless, as they have yet to find either the man or his tags. Neither seems forthcoming. Ready to give up, a friend of Private Ryan comes forward and tells the group that he is defending a bridge in Ramelle.

“It doesn’t make any sense, sir. Why? Why do I deserve to go?” – Private Ryan

Upon reaching Ramelle, they break the news to Private Ryan (Matt Damon). The soldiers are ready to leave having completed the mission, but Ryan refuses to go. This makes the situation awkward, and arguments break out as to what needs to be done. Their task was to bring him in, but he will not. He has a duty to the United States government, and seems intent on carrying it out. Will the soldiers be able to get their home passes by sending Ryan back to his mother, or will they go back empty handed, angered at their dire losses suffered for one man?

Saving Private Ryan earns a solid 9/10. This movie was a gem. The opening scenes of the beach landings in Normandy are just so beautifully done, though extremely heart wrenching. That aspect of this film should not be underplayed or under-appreciated at all. The story that is told is a great one, and this movie shows a look at soldiers and all the difficult things that they went through. Tom Hanks delivered a solid performance here, and should not be overlooked. Saving Private Ryan was excellent on so many fronts I don’t really know how to describe it all. All I know is that the movie never fails to blow me away. It looks at how men of all cultures, backgrounds and professions joined a war to fight for their country, yet ceaselessly dreamed about going home to their loved ones, ever afraid that they would not go back. Watching Captain Miller make impossible decisions and maintain his composure around his company is so sad, and tells you of his character. The seemingly fruitless march across foreign soil to recover one soldier seems fantastical, yet respect is due the soldiers that undertook to trek across to find this man and return him to his mother. This seems to be an incredibly realistic rendition of wartime conditions (I do not know and do not plan to find out about it). It is so sad to see how these men rely on each other with their lives yet are too scared to get to know the others too well due to the uncertainty of situation. There was humour in the film, but real dark, though still enjoyable, until things get dramatic. When the turn comes you are very in with the drama side again. Exceptionally well cast (even with Vin Diesel, he was really not that bad in this) and brilliantly put together and a wonderful backdrop to play the story out on, I loved this movie, and think that everyone should watch it at least once! I know it is an emotional and heavy film, but it is definitely worth looking into, and remains solidly on my watch list.