Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fast & Furious 6

Year: 2013
Director: Justin Lin
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Luke Evans, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot

Plot: Agent Hobbs catches up to Dom, not to arrest him but to ask for his help to stop a similar crew pulling jobs around Europe. One of the members of this crew is Dom's presumed dead girlfriend Letty Ortiz.

Review: Remember how much carnage there was back in Fast Five? Well, we got some more carnage to behold here, though to be honest, despite all the great sequences Justin Lin set up in this instalment, none of them surpass the vault dragging finale of Fast Five.

But to his credit, his three big sequences: a night time chase in London, a highway chase featuring a tank and an airplane chase on a huge runway are all great. However the airplane chase suffers from bad lighting and shaky camerawork as it was quite hard to see what's happening from time to time. But you gotta give props to Lin for having the guts to do it in the first place.

So basically Dom and Brian have to reassemble the old gang to catch Hobbs' new target, Owen Shaw who has his own speeding crew. Shaw is smart and sneaky, thereby being able to stay one step ahead most of the time. Other than this, the running theme in this film is family, represented by Dom's need to get Letty back and Brian's attempt at becoming a dad to his newborn son. 

The cast perform well mostly, though as far as this franchise is concerned, the acting really isn't the talking point. Diesel and Walker do their part well as always, with Gibson and Ludacris providing the humour. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is once again the all round tough guy Hobbs who plays second fiddle to Diesel. Luke Evans is a bit miscast as Shaw in my opinion. He's a good actor, but playing a villain just isn't his forte.

Fast & Furious 6 is a generally crowd pleasing attempt at tying up some loose ends, but it does feel a bit lacking if compared to the previous one. With a better shot climax and a slight improvement in the script, it would have been better. But at the very least, Justin Lin leaves behind a post credit scene that has us looking forward to number 7. (3.5/5) 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

Year: 2013
Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Peter Weller, Alice Eve

Plot: The crew of the Enterprise are sent on a mission to capture terrorist John Harrison who has made several attacks on Starfleet. However they discover he's more than just a terrorist when they catch up to him.

Review: J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot was one of the best things to ever happen to the long standing franchise. He gave the adventures of Kirk, Spock and company a new lease of life, and made it more accessible to non sci-fi audiences as well.

I'm happy to note that this sequel is simply superb. Abrams and writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof (Lost) have outdone themselves this time. Star Trek Into Darkness is visibly darker in tone but still retains the great drama and humour from the first film. And the action I must say is far better than before.

Like the first film, Abrams treats us to the budding relationship between Kirk and Spock, where the impulsiveness of the former always clashes with the latter's logical approach. This generates some funny moments between them and some serious ones as well, leading to a truly touching and genuine friendship. Then there's the villain played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who is cold and brilliant at the same time. Cumberbatch is perfect for this role, displaying cunning and brutality with ease and yet there's a moment when he becomes a somewhat tragic figure, and you almost feel for the guy. It's safe to say he nearly steals the show.

But the film belongs to Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as Kirk and Spock respectively. Pine is as brash as he was previously, but this time he's slowly easing into the role of a captain which is a delight to watch. Quinto also excels as Spock, still trying to be more logical than emotional, and not always successful in doing so. The duo's chemistry really shine here, I have to say it again. The rest of the crew all have their moments, but it's Simon Pegg's Scotty that has the most improvement from the last film, showing a nice balance of humour and seriousness which makes him more memorable this time. Karl Urban still gets a chance here and there to be the crummy doctor on board, not as prominent this time but still effective nonetheless. Special mention goes out to Peter Weller (Robocop) as Admiral Marcus, who brings great screen presence to an already fabulous flick. I don't think he ever had a stellar career outside of Robocop, so it's great to see him here.

I only have one minor complaint, which is the way the Klingons are portrayed here. I'm aware that they're not a central part of the plot, but they were made to look weak, when they're supposed to be badasses in previous incarnations.

Star Trek Into Darkness is truly awesome. It's fun, it's smart and nearly perfect in every way. Recommended. (4.5/5)


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