*NEW* FAST AND FURIOUS 7 REVIEW *NEW*

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The action may have been fast and the plot may have made me furious BUT somehow I was still entertained with the SEVENTH offering of the Fast franchise.

Maybe they should just . . . STOP! BUT the first billion dollar grossing film for Universal Studios means one thing! More indecipherable grumblings from Vin Diesel, more stunning cars and more ludicrous set piece that defy the laws of physics.

So what’s this one about? Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family for his comatose brother (Luke Evans).

It’s strange watching this monstrous franchise continue to evolve. To think the original was about an undercover cop infiltrating a bootlegging ring. Even funnier when you realise the items they were stealing were TV/VCR combos.

BUT now? Well . . .

James Wan didn’t mess about. We open to a trail of carnage at a hospital ward as the Stath visits his little bro. He chewed up every scene and pumped up each naff line with a bit of machismo. Dark, brutal and utterly bonkers. A teaser of things to come.

I think it’s safe to say that the Fast films are guilty pleasures. One of those “leave your brain at the door” popcorn movies. The first half hour was zippy and quite watchable.

Until the Tank, I mean, the Rock flew out of a building and used his body as a human shield to protect his partner. Okay, the ol’ WWF fan in me had a moment of nostalgia when the Brahma Bull “rock bottomed” The Stath into a coffee table. BUT it was ridiculous! And that was only the tip of the iceberg.

Jordana Brewster had the easiest job going. She was very much pushed to the background. After an explosive opener, The Rock didn’t really pop back up until the finale. BUT that didn’t stop Wan adding more characters to the ever-expanding cast.

Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones) made a memorable impression as the alluring but geeky computer hacker Ramsey. Kurt Russell was superb as the appropriately titled Mr Nobody. He was having fun and made the implausible waffle almost believable. Plus he delivered the best spot of advertising for Corona I’ve ever seen.

The gang are recruited to retrieve a super computer program that can hack into any social network, CCTV and phone. A technology so powerful that Bin Laden could have been found in two hours not a decade. If they obtain it, they can find the Stath. Before he finds them :O

Two hours, too long. The pace dipped in and out. Reprieved by frantic action sequences. Letty’s amnesia subplot was far too corny and soapy for my liking. I cringed every time Michelle Rodriguez and Diesel were on screen together.

I could actually understand Iggy Azealia in the 15 second blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo. And it wasn’t as corny as Rita Ora’s. Tyrese Gibson delivered the laughs where he could BUT he did test my patience. His banter with Ludacris wasn’t that good either. Even he looked fed up with the exchanges.

Ronda Rousey’s acting left little to be desired. I know she was supposed to be a bodyguard BUT if she’s going to appear in more movies, she needs to up her game. The feisty punch up with Rodriguez was pretty decent though. Tony Jaa was relentless. Dispatching his trade mark free running fighting style. Shame that he was reduced to dispatching such terrible one liners.

BUT nothing compared to Diesel and Stath’s street fight. Both going at it (Steady now) with wrenches and car bumpers (You read that right).

The last 30 minutes really took the biscuit. It was laughable. The Rock shooting up half of LA with a machine gun. Driving super cars through both of the Al Bahar Towers in Abu Dhabi. Driving out of planes with parachutes! Paul Walker running up the back of a bus as it falls off a cliff. Come on!

I can’t believe I’m saying this but it might help to have a little knowledge of the other movies. I have to commend Wan and writer Chris Morgan for wrapping up something that had been niggling at me ever since Tokyo Drift. No spoilers here.

However, for it’s all silliness, it did deliver a fitting farewell to Walker that left a little lump in the throat. A talented actor that left us far too soon. The CGI on Paul Walker was impressive. You really couldn’t tell which scenes were altered. There were quite a few references through out the film that hit home. A racer yells to Toretto, “Ride or die, right?”. Toretto puts his head down and simply says, “Let’s just ride this time”.

They really should quit while they’re ahead. A surprisingly watchable, if incredibly overlong, OTT blockbuster of stupendous proportions.

3(Just)/5

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ENTOURAGE MOVIE REVIEW

 

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The boys are back but bigger and better than ever? I can answer that in one simple word.

VICTORY!

My mates were always going on about this show. 8 series and a Golden Globe. It must be doing something right. With trailers for the movie popping up left, right and centre, I thought let’s give it go.

4 series boxsets later and I’m hooked. It’s not as if viewing the series is a MUST for newbies or non-Entourage fans. BUT what I love about Entourage is that it is so easy to get into. A simple premise. Four friends trying to make it in Hollywood.

You get a sense of the guys within the first few minutes. There are a few in-jokes from the series and recurring characters that do pop up (Thank you Mr Ellin) that might skim over the heads of the noobs. BUT you can still connect the dots.

It got straight to business and it felt like they never left. The only difference is that Turtle isn’t fat. The lads were on form. The celebrity cameos are endless. The story . . . Well, let’s forget about that, shall we?

So what happens this time? Movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), together with his boys Eric (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny (Kevin Dillon) are back in business with super agent-turned-studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) on a risky project that will serve as Vince’s directorial debut.

Just when things seemed to be going so well. Vince has to put a spanner in the works yet again. Over-spending budgets, inflating costs, manic financiers. This won’t be a walk in the park.

Grenier played Vince with aplomb but, this time round, he seemed to be very much in the background. Strange considering he is the main focal point. BUT how many times can we watch him pull crazy hot models? This time, it’s none other than the Blurred Lines music video pin up Emily Ratajkowski.

Turtle’s love story with Ronda Rousey may have seemed like filler to break up the main story line but the pair had enough chemistry to make it watchable. I haven’t really rated Rousey’s acting in the past but the MMA maestro won me over. She even stole my heart. Maybe because she was able to let her guard down and poke fun at herself. A misunderstanding with Turtle at a dinner date leads to him making the ultimate apology in the Octagon. Brilliant.

Dillon. Ah man. He was always the scene stealer for me as Vince’s half brother Johnny Drama. Forever lurking in his shadow. Desperate to make his own mark. Will Drama have his day? His one liners were snappy. His warped outlook on life and crazy face pulling delivered the laughs yet again.

Connolly finally got to lighten up as Vin’s moody manager E. The will-they-won’t-they? rift between him and Sloane (Emmanuelle Chriqui) seemed a little old hat (For old and new fans). Mainly because you always knew what the outcome was going to be. I was a little annoyed with E’s subplot because more could have been made out of it. A few crazy flings led to an incredibly awkward lunch date (Without spoiling too much) but it was resolved way too easily for my liking.

BUT there is one character. One monstrous personality that the guys would always fall short to every time. The man, the legend. Ari Gold. Piven was perfect. The guy must be tapped. Fiery, frantic and flipping mental. Every time he was involved, sh*t went down! His put downs, his tantrums, his banter with E. I was in stitches. His breakdown during a therapy session (Another one?!) had me howling!

His ongoing battles with movie stars, writers, studio heads and executives were always the biggest highlights for me. And after 8 series, you’d think it would be getting old. BUT nope! They still got it.

The cameos were crazy. It really is a case of blink and you will miss them. Anything from Liam Neeson’s sardonic drive by, Arnie Hammer’s pyscho greeting, Kelsey Grammer’s miserable marriage counselling to Pharrell Williams. The list goes on.

I couldn’t believe Billy Bob Thornton and Hayley Joel “I can see freakin’ dead people” Osmont were in this as Ari’s crazy Texan film financiers. Osmont has grown up (Obviously). Big, bearded and a bad ass. He was a real piece of work in this. Bravo. Not enough of Thornton for my liking in a rather subdued role.

The claims of Entourage being a sexist fantasy was a little much. Had people forgotten that despite Ari’s outrageous ego, his wife Mrs Ari (Perrey Reeves) still rules the roost. Constance Zimmer’s Dana Gordon is in a highly influential role in the business that Ari desperately needs. An area he never could crack.

The girls, the cars, the mansions. It’s nothing I wouldn’t have expected from the four guys from Queens. It’s not as if the ruthless side of the industry wasn’t highlighted in Ari’s endless confrontations with the boards, stars and agents.

It was never thought-provoking drama. It was always an easygoing glossy comedy with celebrities poking fun at themselves. Some might say lazy, pretentious even. BUT I thought it was fun. It really was just a feature length episode. And one of the better ones.

I liked all the little references and a return of a fan favourite *COUGH* LLOYD! *COUGH* (No, not Billy Walsh. Thankfully that mad cretin was very much in the background) Rex Lee was back and on fire as he gets ready for his big day. In the words of Ari, “OH GOD!” Also, no spoilers but do hang on during the credits for a little treat.

The film certainly wasn’t perfect. The plot was wafer thin and things did get a little too serious in the middle slackening the pace of what had been a snappy comedy. Emmanuelle Chriqui wasn’t in it enough (What? I liked her character) BUT it was everything I’d hoped. An absolute riot.

A side note to the fans, it seems to be all wrapped up. BUT I’m still not quite ready for it to go. It would be a major VICTORY if Ellin would consider a sequel. And if they stay at this standard, more please!

3.5/5

THE EXPENDABLES 3 REVIEW

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They’re back. The Dad’s Army of has been action heroes return for a third and possibly final adventure with ridiculous OTT action sequences, hammy dialogue and cheesy banter.

In all fairness, I went in fearing the worst but it wasn’t all that bad. Hardly great BUT in terms of cheesy entertainment, surprisingly watchable. The only downfall was Stallone’s feeble attempt at injecting new faces to prolong this hardly must see franchise with cliched, bland newbies that fail to have the reputation to pull in interest or (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) the acting ability to carry it.

The first hour was watchable, pacey and chugged along well. The opening prison train sequence was OTT, cheesy but fun and there’s plenty of it in this.

The return of Wesley Snipes and Mel Gibson to the big screen was a sight to see. Despite their previous misdemeanours, both showed why they still know how to steal the show. Snipes was on fine form . . . to begin with.

A great introduction in which Stallone lectures him on his incarceration. Cue Statham asking what he was in for. I thought in my head, “It would be great if he said a tax joke” and before I know it, bam! Tax evasion. I think that’s what helped the hammy dialogue, the banter, the little pops at each other.

The number of digs at Stallone for his speech. Even daring enough to pop a stroke gag. All in reasonably good taste. Snipes seemed to take over Terry Crews’ role which I found highly strange. Can there not be two black guys? We have one. Don’t need another, apparently.

Crews got one moment to shine involving a chain gun before getting injured or something surprisingly weak for this macho filled mess of a blockbuster. To be honest, it was to do with contractual obligations more than anything. Still, his presence was missed.

The camaraderie among the Expendables was decent. All the old boys having a laugh and not giving a sh- blind bit of notice. And why should they? However, the middle act tested me with lulling generic clichéd one liners and poses. Ol’ Swarnie was not in it enough and when he was first introduced, his lines were bland and highly unmemorable and this is Swarnie, for crying out loud.

The story line went predictable as hell with Stallone confronting an old foe and former Expendable in the form of old Gibbo. Cue a self-deprecating suicide mission with Stallone pushing away the old gang and bringing new faces (in the form of ex-mixed martial arts fighters Ronda Rousey and Victor Ortiz and that dude from Twilight, Kellan Lutz) to tackle William Wallace.

It took a while for Gibson to shine. Once he gets to confront and endure the inaudible screaming of Stallone (Seriously I could not understand a word that man was saying. More so than usual), he gets to deliver malice to some cliched lines.

And that’s the thing that all the oldies prove. They may lack the vigour and pace of their younger counterparts (I mean, come on, they are in their SIXTIES) but their acting and charisma prove why they are still the big dogs and these young pups still have a lot to learn. They may look tough and do their own stunts but when it comes to acting. Generic face pulling and grimaces is just not good. Yes, you can say that for Stallone but the guy is an icon. These young ‘uns . . . Pfft.

The inevitable out with the old, in with the new I don’t need you spiel was always going to end the same way. It was unnecessary and so predictable with the oldies soon being called in again. It did make me laugh when the star studded line up appeared. Dolph (The Punisher/Drago) Lundgren, Arnold (Get to the Chopper!) Schwarzenegger, Harrison (Get Off My Plane!) Ford, Mel (Braveheart) Gibson, Wesley (Blade/Demolition Man) Snipes and . . . Kelsey Grammer.

Frasier (I’m listening) Crane. What he’s going to do? Step on a rake and mutter away like Sideshow Bob? Anyway, I digress. In all fairness, Grammer was actually pretty good in the small part he played. Some friendly banter with Rocky as they pick the next group of recruits.

Harrison Ford was actually pretty good. Great to see he still has a sense of humour and lighten up. He plays the hard ass role to perfection and still has that sinister conviction of Air Force One; even if his lines don’t make sense. Trust me there’s a line about somebody messing it up and him wearing it that had me scratching my head. Stallone’s writing was never brilliant. But let’s not forget he did Rocky (however, he also did Rocky 4 and 5 etc).

The Stath’s acting was surprisingly wooden. Disappointing. Antonio Banderas was pretty much doing a live action impersonation of Puss in Boots. His intro said it all with Stallone Shrek (What?) and Grammer his donkey.

The action pieces are pretty good. There are moments where it got a bit too erratic and manic that the shaky camera work struggles to keep up and so do you. An issue I had with the first Expendables movie.

It gets OTT, ridiculous and corny as hell but the explosive finale allowed for all cheesy one liners with Swarnie getting to throw as many Chopper references as you could want.

All in all, if you’re looking for a big dumb shoot em up with some old 80s and 90s action heroes and some bang for your buck then give it a go.

Otherwise, move along folks! I didn’t really rate the first film. I thought it was okay. The second I still haven’t seen. This one was not bad. A guilty pleasure.

2.5/5 for me