Posts Tagged ‘Vin Diesel’

Thanos’s Deadly Compromise

Avengers: Infinity War

Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo

Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Saldana, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Peter Dinklage, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Brolin, Benicio del Toro, William Hurt, Letitia Wright, Pom Klementieff, Carrie Coon, Winston Duke

Following the phenomenal success of Thor: Ragnorak and Black Panther, Marvel has capitalized on its extended cinematic universe with the new Avengers: Infinity War featuring a plethora of superheroes from Spiderman to Ironman, from Captain America to The Hulk not to mention bringing in the Guardians of the Galaxy gang for additional support.

If Avengers: Infinity War feels a bit excessive, that’s because it probably is combining the Avengers franchise with that of the more quirky Guardians of the Galaxy. Some fantastic moments occur when Spiderman played by Tom Holland meets Peter Quill aka StarLord played by Chris Pratt or when Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr disagrees with the wizard Doctor Strange played by Benedict Cumberbatch. The snappy dialogue is sometimes lost amidst the greater quest to fight the evil universe destroyer Thanos played by Josh Brolin.

Thanos is equally conflicted about having to gather all the infinity stones including the one for Souls in which he has to make a choice between himself and his adopted daughter Gamora played by Zoe Saldana. In the meantime, his evil minions are wreaking havoc on earth in New York and in the magical technologically advanced African kingdom of Wakanda where Vision played by Paul Bettany along with Captain America  and Scarlett Witch played by Elizabeth Olsen seek the assistance of Black Panther played by Chadwick Boseman.

Audiences have to suspend their disbelief but judging by how packed the cinemas are for Avengers Infinity War, they are quite happy to do so. This film is pure sci-fi fantasy with little of the action taking place on earth. Most of the fight sequences occur on outer galactic planets like Titan.

Thor needs his hammer back and seeks the help of Eitri played by Peter Dinklage who forges a brilliant new weapon out of a powerful star, the celestial capability of which was last seen on the forgotten kingdom of Asgard.

Whilst directing brothers Anthony and Joe Russo compile an absolute Geekfest with Avengers: Infinity War with enough alien creatures and superheroes to stockpile Comicon for the next decade, it’s a clear sign that the Marvel Universe has ambitious plans to expand even further.

That said Avengers: Infinity War has a convoluted story line weighed down by too many subplots but if viewers see it as a precursor to a second film then they will not find the surprise ending so disruptive….

Avengers: Infinity War gets a film rating 7.5 out of 10 and is strictly for Marvel comic book fans who have followed all the films from the original Iron Man 10 years ago.

The visual effects are fantastic as will be the box office receipts. See it to believe it.

 

 

Starlord’s Genealogy

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Director: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Kurt Russell, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Sylvester Stallone, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Sean Gunn

Director James Gunn’s second foray into the Guardians universe is not as brilliant as his original film, mainly because the quirkiness of the characters of the first Guardians of the Galaxy has worn off slightly. If viewers enjoy psychedelic action with lots of CGI then Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2 is for you.

All the original cast reprise their roles with a bigger screen time for Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana who both have familial issues to contend with. Pratt’s character Peter “Star Lord” Quill has to contend with unresolved father issues when he meets his dad aptly named Ego charismatically played by Kurt Russell who is definitely having a rejuvenation in his career. While Zoe Saldana’s Gamora has to contend with sibling rivalry with the unexpected arrival of her sister Nebula played by Karen Gillan.

Dave Bautista’s Drax seems to be more contented and has the best lines in the film. While Bradley Cooper who provides the voice of Rocket and Vin Diesel who does the voice of Baby Groot really just had to the star power.

The best scenes in the film are between Kurt Russell and Chris Pratt as Starlord discovers that his biological father is a slight megalomaniac with unresolved desire to consume the universe. Spoiler Alert there!

Sylvester Stallone pops up briefly as Stakar Ogord and unfortunately has too little screen time to give his character any credibility. Chameleon actress Elizabeth Debicki who was so brilliantly in the series The Night Manager and was seen in Macbeth and The Great Gatsby also unfortunately has too little screen time to really give her golden genetically enhanced character Ayesha – Ruler of the Sovereign race any menace although she does look absolutely gorgeous in all that gold.

Elizabeth Debicki should use her remarkable talents as an actress in a far better genre than psychedelic sci-fi  but then again Marvel are calling the shots. Marvel are certainly luring talented stars to play in their films. Just look at the cast of Doctor Strange.

Unlike Doctor Strange which was really well done with awesome special effects, James Gunn’s Guardians 2 with the tag line “Obviously” seems to much of the same and nothing remotely original. Strip away all the CGI and the plot is basically a father and son story about a son who slowly becomes disillusioned with the image of what his father should be, never mind the fatal legacy that Ego has install for Starlord and the rest of the gang.

Fans of the Guardians of the Galaxy will certainly enjoy this hasty sequel but lets face it this version is never as innovative as the original film. Now what remains to be seen is how the Guardians will fare in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity movie scheduled for a 2018 release featuring a combination of all the Avengers, plus Spiderman and the Guardians – Should be fun.

Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2 is a fantastic fun-filled popcorn film but nothing more. Viewers will be dazzled by fantastic CGI that the whole universe will be dripping with neon.  Although, the Guardians films are enjoyable they are not in the league of Star Wars but then again my loyalties lie elsewhere.

Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2 gets a rating of 6.5 out of 10 but is strictly for the fans of the first film. Its quirky, fun, but nothing spectacular despite the presence of Kurt Russell and Elizabeth Debicki both of whom add gravitas to an otherwise skimpy plot line. On the plus side – the music is fantastic and Baby Groot is really cute!

Live Fast, Die Harder

Fast and Furious 8

Director: F. Gary Gray

Cast: Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Kurt Russell, Scott Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Luke Evans, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kristofer Hivuju, Elsa Pataky

As if there weren’t enough Fast and Furious films, there has to be an eighth film less the appearance of actor Paul Walker who tragically died in a car accident in California in 2013, just after filming The Fast and Furious 7.

The Italian Job director F. Gary Gray assembles an international cast featuring most of the actors from the previous films including Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto, Michelle Rodriguez as Letty along with Tyrese Gibson as Roman and Chris Bridges as Tej Parker. This time the chief villain is South African born Oscar winner Charlize Theron (Monster) as ruthless hacker Cipher who entices Dominic into working for him after she approaches him in a Havana Street. Cipher’s hold of Dominic turns to be blackmail and she constantly manipulates his familial duties and his bond to his gang of drivers.

To add some muscle to the cast are Dwayne Johnson as Hobbs and action man Jason Statham as Deckard who are recruited by a covert intelligence officer aptly identified as Mr Nobody played by Kurt Russell who is definitely experience a resurgence in his career. Mr Nobody’s sidekick Little Nobody is played by Scott Eastwood (Fury) son of veteran actor Clint Eastwood.

Let’s face it the screenwriters are not exactly imaginative with character names. Suffice to say is that audiences that enjoyed all the other Fast and Furious films will definitely enjoy this international joyride as the action swiftly moves from Havana, Cuba to New York and then onto an icy showdown in Russia which involves a nuclear submarine among all the fast cars and snowmobiles. The Manhattan action sequence might be implausible but is definitely not an advert for the benefits of self-driving cars which can be remotely hacked. See it to believe it.

Considering that Fast and the Furious 8 was number one at the South African box office for three consecutive weeks since its Easter weekend opening and that the action film has grossed over a $1 billion dollars worldwide there is definitely enough fan support to sustain this fast-paced action franchise for further films to come.

Judging by the packed cinema when I watched the film, Fast and Furious 8 or the Fate of the Furious has the winning combination of fast cars, gadgets, beautiful women and a healthy dose of Hollywood cameos. This is popcorn cinema at its most formulaic and these films certainly keeps many actors employed.

As the characters live fast and some of them die harder, Fast and Furious 8 is a fun-filled action film but don’t expect anything too highbrow. Audiences should look out for Game of Thrones stars Nathalie Emmanuel as Ramsey and Norwegian actor Kristofer Hivuju as Toretto’s musclebound enemy Rhodes.

Fast and Furious 8 gets a film rating of 7 out of 10. If you enjoyed the other films, then this film will satisfy even the most ardent speed racers who can visually salivate at fast cars and daring stunts.

Rebels and Tyrants

XXX: The Return of Xander Cage

Director: D. J. Caruso

Cast: Vin Diesel, Toni Collette, Samuel L. Jackson, Donnie Yen, Ruby Rose, Deepika Padukone, Nina Dobrev, Rory McCann, Ice Cube, Hermione Corfield, Michael Bisping, Tony Jaa, Kris Wu

Franchise star Vin Diesel returns in the third instalment of the XXX series, unimaginatively named XXX: The Return of Xander Cage directed by D. J. Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye and I am Number Four).

Assembling a diverse multinational cast ensures its broader international box office appeal especially in Asia. Joining the cast of XXX: The Return of Xander Cage are Ruby Rose, Danish Bollywood star Deepika Padukone, Kris Wu, Scottish actor from HBO’s Game of Thrones, Rory McCann (Clash of the Titans), Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and Thai actor Tony Jaa (Furious 7).

As the action moves swiftly from The Dominican Republic to a jungle rave in the Philippines, then onto the final showdown in Detroit, this popcorn film delivers for sheer enjoyment ably assisted by a great supporting cast including Australian actress Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding, Hitchcock) and veteran star Samuel L. Jackson (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Avengers: The Age of Ultron) reprising his role of Augustus Gibbons founder of the covert extreme sports unit XXX.

Whilst there is not enough of the mind blowing stunts that made the original XXX film in 2002 so captivating, there are a fair share including skiing in a jungle (I kid you not), jet skiing off the Philippine coastline and the usual array of car chases, satellites crashing down on major cities to keep audiences thoroughly entertained.

The plot involves a device known as Pandora’s Box which can bring down orbital satellites and hold superpowers to ransom. Naturally, Xander Cage and his team of rebels are asked to retrieve and deliver Pandora’s Box to supposedly safe hands by a blonde haired Jane Marke played by Toni Collette.

The gorgeous Hermoine Corfield (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Mr Holmes) pops up as a sexy hacker in London, making the British capital more sexy than it really is as her opening sequence involves her swimming in a rooftop heated pool.

To make the plot more interesting there is a couple of twists where the real villain is not clearly identified until half way through, but director Caruso approaches the XXX film like a comic book pastiche heavily reliant on CGI and giving audiences exactly what they want: fantastic thrills in exotic locations and enough action to satisfy any adrenaline junkie.

XXX: The Return of Xander Cage is a fun filled action film, which thankfully doesn’t take itself too seriously and delivers an enjoyable popcorn thrill ride made all the more amusing by Vin Diesel’s continued smirk on his face and a surprise addition to the cast to link up the franchise into a XXX trilogy. Similar to the hugely successful Fast and Furious franchise, there is bound to be a fourth film in the XXX series now that the producers have received funding from the Shanghai Media Group.

Audiences will enjoy XXX: The Return of Xander Cage for action and laughs but it doesn’t deliver anything more than it’s expected to.

A Fraternal Send Off

Fast and Furious 7

furious_seven

Director: James Wan

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Djimon Hounsou, Kurt Russell, Chris Bridges, Luke Evans, Ronda Rousey, John Brotherton, Ali Fazal

Fast and Furious fans will not be disappointed with the seventh instalment of this hugely successful globetrotting film franchise as almost the entire cast of the previous six films are reunited in a poignant and brash fraternal send off to co-star Paul Walker, who died tragically in a car accident in Santa Clarita, California during the shooting of Fast and Furious 7 on the 30th November 2013.

This time the enemy amongst others is Deckard Shaw played with brawn by action star Jason Statham who after the defeat of his brother in London travels to Los Angeles and vows to hunt down all those responsible which include Hobbs played by Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Dominic Torreto played by Vin Diesel as well as Brian O’Conner played by the late Paul Walker. Even Michelle Rodriguez has a bigger role in this film as Torreto’s kick-ass slightly amnesiac girlfriend Letty.

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This time the enemy amongst others is Deckard Shaw played with brawn by action star Jason Statham who after the defeat of his brother in London travels to Los Angeles and vows to hunt down all those responsible which include Hobbs played by Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Dominic Tureto played by Vin Diesel as well as Brian O’Conner played by the late Paul Walker. Even Michelle Rodriguez has a bigger role in this film as Tureto’s kick-ass slightly amnesiac girlfriend Letty.

Add some new faces such as Kurt Russell as the aptly titled Mr Nobody and Oscar nominee Djimon Hounson (Blood Diamond) as the other more nefarious villain Jakande as well as some familiar faces like Tyrese Gibson (2 Fast 2 Furious), Lucas Black (Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift) and this sequel is set to satisfy fans of this adrenalin pumping action series right from the opening fight scenes between Statham (Transporter, Safe) and Johnson (G. I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra).

As the seventh instalment of Fast and Furious was funded by Media Rights Capital, which is based in Abu Dhabi so should the action for a large part of this film. The Abu Dhabi skyscraper sequence in Fast and Furious 7 at a Jordanian billionaire prince’s penthouse party is sure to delight fans the world over and certainly attract new ones in the Middle East, even though the action scenes do mimic that of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol which was set in Dubai.

Although the plot for Fast and Furious 7 may be convoluted and the storyline slightly far-fetched, the action sequences and car chase scenes are amazing from the Azerbaijan mountain sequence to the fabulous Abu Dhabi segment to the final explosive showdown in downtown Los Angeles which tends to drag on a bit but is no less entertaining if slightly implausible.

Most fittingly, the film ends with a poignant and memorable tribute scene on the beach in Malibu to one of its late stars, Paul Walker and it’s for this reason that fans will definitely see this film.

Recommended viewing for adrenalin junkies, petrol heads and fans of The Expendables and Mission Impossible film series, Fast and Furious 7 can be forgiven for being overlong, it’s a fitting fraternal send off to one its own stars. The action and stunt sequences are truly out of this world. See Fast and Furious 7 to believe it!

Gamora and the Infinity Stones

Guardians of the Galaxy

guardians_of_the_galaxy_ver2

Director: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker, Glenn Close, Djimon Hounsou, Benicio del Toro, Lee Pace, Brad Cooper, Dave Bautista, John C. Reilly

Marvel’s sci fi action adventure Guardians of the Galaxy is like Star Wars on acid with an exceptionally cool soundtrack, featuring some 70’s and 80’s classics. Part comedy, part adventure, director James Gunn successfully mixes comic adventure with intergalactic chaos and mischief.

Featuring a suitably toned down Chris Pratt (Zero Dark Thirty) superbly cast as rebel Starlord, Peter Quinn who while rummaging on an abandoned planet discovers a mysterious orb which soon elicits a whole bunch of ragtag and riotious characters from all corners of the Galaxy as they race to claim the orb for themselves. The Guardians of the Galaxy featuring the amiable and funny Peter Quinn with some serious mommy issues, along with green skinned Gamora, played by Avatar star Zoe Saldana along with a talking racoon (yes you read that right) voiced by Bradley Cooper and a walking tree, with a severely limited vocabulary, voiced by Vin Diesel.

Guardians of the Galaxy is psychedelic sci-fi and not visionary like Elysium or Blade Runner, making no attempts to conceal its main target audience – teenage boys who have followed the comic book series of the same name. The film even retains a comic book feel and with some exceptionally interesting visual effects, Guardians certainly does make use of its 3D appeal.

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This is like Star Wars on LSD for a younger generation, but hugely enjoyable, thanks to the casting of comic actor Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldanha as Gamora, who are both after the powerful and illustrious infinity stones, which they soon hand over to the Collector, a wonderful cameo by Benicio del Toro, who was also seen in the closing credits of Thor: The Dark World.

Veteran actress Glenn Close (101 Dalmations) makes a camped up appearance as Prime Nova, a cipher of her Cruella de Ville character along with John C. Reilly and Djimon Hounsou of Blood Diamond fame.

guardians_of_the_galaxy_ver19

Lee Pace plays the evil Ronan who with his extraordinary makeup and pharaoh like costume is hellbent on destroying the Universe along with his adopted daughter Nebula played by Karen Gillian. Naturally the ragtag bunch of Guardians band together and fight the onslaught of the Kree against the fabulous planet Xander, which looks like Dubai on steroids.

Guardians of the Galaxy must have been a massive hit at San Diego’s Comicon and it’s not difficult to see why, humour mixed with romance, good versus evil all enveloped in a wildly over the top action adventure which makes the first Star Wars positively tame. Except that Star Wars was a classic and this sci-fi is not aiming to be anything more than merely fun and amusing much like the comics the story is based on. Marvel definitely got the concept right.

Recommended viewing for geek freaks and not to serious sci-fi fans, making Guardians definitely fall into the frivolous popcorn fodder category. Hugely enjoyable, with lots of implied moral messages, but this film does not aspire to be Alphonso Cuaron’s Gravity, this is Guardians of the Galaxy featuring Gamora and the infinity stones! Besides who can take this film seriously when there is a talking racoon and a tree in it?

 

Cars and Girls

Fast and Furious 6

FastandFurious 6

Director: Justin Lin

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, John Ortiz, Jordana Brewster, Gina Carano, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Shea Whigham, Luke Evans, Gal Gadot

Director Justin Lin’s flashy sixth installment of the now popular and hugely appealing Fast and Furious franchise moves the action away from the Americas and Asia to Europe and the United Kingdom, specifically London and Spain. Reuniting the entire cast of all the previous Fast and Furious movies with the exception of Lucas Black from Tokyo Drift, Fast and Furious 6 settles on the successful male orientated formulaic narrative appeal of fast cars, tough girls and furious heroes who drive the host city into a frenzy.

In this case the post-industrial aspect of London’s 21st century image is exploited complete with panoramic views of the British Capital’s unique skyline including The Shard skyscraper and  rounded off with a scene at the Battersea Power Station, between Dominic Toretto coolly played by Vin Diesel and the recently resurrected bad girl Letty played by Michelle Rodriguez.

The villain in this ensemble is international terrorist Owen Shore, ably played by Welsh actor Luke Evans and the cast features Tyrese Gibson as the comic fast talking playboy Roman first introduced in the Miami based 2 Fast 2 Furious along with rapper Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Paul Walker reprises his role as former LA cop turned outlaw Brian O’Conner, Jordana Brewster as his wife Mia (her star rising out of the new Dallas series) and Gina Carano as Riley who was last seen as the kick-ass man eliminating assassin in Steven Soderbergh spy thriller Haywire.

Cars + Girls = Winning Formula

The main star of these Fast and Furious films, besides the sexy girls and speeding cars are the incredibly brilliant action sequences which most of the films have delivered and underpins their continued success. Targeted Male Audience = Cars + Girls = Winning Formula.

Naturally the storyline is secondary in the incredible stunt sequences which in this film are thrilling to say the least especially the chase sequence on a Spanish highway involving a formidable tank. Unlikely yes! But hey this is the movies! Equally influenced by both the success of the latest James Bond film Skyfall and the Expendibles series, Fast and Furious 6 uses the London locations wisely complete with a gritty underground girl on girl fight sequence and a terrific chase sequence through the West End.

Inevitably all these characters are essentially American so they do look incredibly out of place in ever shifting cosmopolitan London and  this film would not have been thrilling without making the City of Westminster look like a NASCAR raceway.

The ridiculously over the top and thrilling climax sequence involving a heavy artillery military aircraft is straight out of an Arnold Schwarzeneggar film, with Dwayne Johnson fulfilling the 21st century version of Arnie’s action hero. Fast and Furious 6 is a no brainer when it comes to dazzling stunts and action sequences, but don’t expect any intricate plot twists or epic characterization. The fact that the film ends with a warning telling viewers not to try and emulate these stunt drivers, points to the essentially massive audience following this franchise has generated internationally from when the first Fast and the Furious was release in 2001, not to mention the inherent testosterone fueled need for speed, by at least three quarters of the younger male population worldwide. See Fast and the Furious 6 for fantastic stunts, cool cars, high action and as a substitute for any pent up fraternal frustrations.

 

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