Franchise Weekend – 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

Director: John Singleton

Writer: Michael Brandt, Derek Haas (Screenplay) Michael Brandt, Derek Haas, Gary Scott Thompson (Story)

Starring: Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, Ludacris, Thom Barry, James Remar, Devon Aoki

 

Plot: Former cop Brian O’Conner is called upon to bust a dangerous criminal and he recruits the help of a former childhood friend and street racer who has a chance to redeem himself.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Sequel

 

Story: 2 Fast 2 Furious starts as Brian (Walker) is now a wanted man, he leaves LA heading for Miami to start a new life on the street racing scene. Getting his races from Tej (Ludacris), Brian has built up his own reputation on the streets.

Once Brian is captured by the FBI Agent Bilkins (Barry) and Agent Markham (Remar) who want Brian to go undercover once more but this time investigating Carter Verone (Hauser) who is recruiting street racers through fellow undercover officer Monica (Mendes), Brian one rule to make this happen is he gets to bring in Roman (Gibson).

The drop that Brian and Roman must make points them in a hard position but with friends around the town, they make their own plan to stick it to Carter and Agent Markham.

 

Thoughts on 2 Fast 2 Furious

 

Characters/PerformanceBrian fresh on the run enjoying the street racing scene, he gets dragged back into the undercover world but this time as an informant bringing in a friend from the past as we learn about his actions in the first film. Roman is the friend, who has suffered from the effects of Brian’s actions before we met him, he is rash, but brilliant behind the wheel and always talks himself into trouble. Villain wise we have Carter a rich criminal who is in need of drivers, he is deadly when you cross him but otherwise nothing unusual for the villain scene. Monica is the eye candle involved in the film who is the Brian character to the world.

Performance wise this is all good, Paul Walker is of course the highlight of the film with Mendes bringing all the sex appeal you need from her. Gibson does add a comical tone to the film which we do see get built on through the franchise. Cole Hauser is fine as a villain but you never believe he would be a threat for anyone.

StoryMuch like the first film this is a heist movie at heart, we have the street racing needed to build the team and respect but otherwise this is in the same vein as the Transporter movie. This is all fun easy to follow but tries to build the characters within the universe.

Action/Crime/ThrillerThe action is all what you would expect from the first film but offers nothing new, the crime world is now Miami but again isn’t too different either if you are left wondering what will happen next.

SettingsMiami does make for a great setting as the franchise looks to expand to new locations.

Special EffectsThe special effects are few and far between and all work well without being anything special.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good second chapter of the Brian character, it is a shame that we didn’t see Vin Diesel return because we did see the franchise revolving around him. This isn’t anything new but is easy to follow.

 

Overall: Solid sequel is all good but not great.

Rating

 

 

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Original v Remake Weekend – The Italian Job (2003)

Director: F Gary Gray

Writer: Donna Powers, Wayne Powers (Screenplay) Troy Kennedy-Martin (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Donald Sutherland, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Yasiin Bey, Edward Norton

 

Plot: After being betrayed and left for dead in Italy, Charlie Croker and his team plan an elaborate gold heist against their former ally.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid but Confusing Remake

 

Story: The Italian Job starts as Charlie Croker (Wahlberg) and his tea John Bridger (Sutherland) Handsome Rob (Statham), Lyle (Green), Left Ear (Bey) and Steve (Norton) pulling of a heist in Venice, an Italian Job if you like. With the job done perfectly the escape looks like a sure thing only for Steve to turn on them leaving the rest of the team for dead.

One year later Charlie brings the team back together with Stella (Theron) John’s daughter in to get revenge on Steve by stealing the gold he stole from them.

 

Thoughts on The Italian Job

 

Characters/PerformanceCharlie is not the character we knew from the first one, he isn’t the womaniser, quick talker we loved but just a dull smart guy, Stella brings us the female character need for the heist and the daughter of Mr Bridger does work but she isn’t anything overly special. Steve is the traditional backstabber greedy villain but again doesn’t have too much about him. The rest of the crew all have the banter they need that get laughs but are no more than you need, the tech guy, the explosives guy and the getaway driver.

Performance wise, I think the word fine is going to be used a lot here, Wahlberg just doesn’t have the charisma that Michael Caine bought to the role and the whole of the ‘good’ team have fine but nothing special performances. Ed Norton on the other hand you can see doesn’t want to be there.

StoryThe story does build on the original story, it has a heist in Italy, but after that first ten minutes it turns into a revenge heist in LA making the title misleading. The story isn’t anything fresh because we have seen this style of heist movie many times before, it just rips off one of the bests ideas.

Action/CrimeThe action is fine as we are left with the final chase being the payoff for the movie but it doesn’t live up to the original. The crime is a heist so we are cheering for thieve whatever happens.

SettingsThe opening setting is Italy great works for the title of the film but the rest is set in LA which doesn’t make sense.

Special EffectsThe special effects are used to show whole the heist will go but it just doesn’t look very good.

Final ThoughtsIf this was a stand-alone heist movie it would be good but nothing special but being a remake it just doesn’t work on the right levels.

 

Overall: Remake we never really needed.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – House of the Dead (2003)

writtenDirector: Uwe Boll

Writer: Dave Parker, Mark A Altman (Screenplay)

Starring: Jonathan Cherry, Tyron Leitso, Clint Howard, Ona Grauer, Ellie Cornell, Will Sanderson, Enuka Okuma, Kira Clavell, Sonya Salomaa, Michael Eklund

 

Plot: A group of college students travel to a mysterious island to attend a rave, and end up getting trapped there because it’s been taken over by bloodthirsty zombies.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Is It Really That Bad?

 

Story: House of the Dead starts as we meet Simon (Leitso), Greg (Sanderson), Cynthia (Salomaa), Karma (Okuma) and Alicia (Grauer) as they try to get to a rave on an island because well they are late for it. The island has been a party home for a while but this time things take a turn when it turns out zombies have come to the island.

The five friends are joined by few other survivors to make it off the island alive in an all-out gun battles body pilling up fest.

House of the Dead is notorious for being one of the worst movie ever made but the question remains is it really THAT BAD? The answer is actually no, sure this isn’t anything amazing but it is something that can kill time and get drunk watching. Sure you won’t care too much about any of the characters and most of the kills seem to be off camera but the nonsense this film gives us it time killing entertainment on the level of a Transformers movie.

 

Overall: Easy to watch nonsense horror film that people will watch just to see if it is as bad as people say.

Rating30

 

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Underworld (2003)

underworldDirector: Len Wiseman

Writer: Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman, Danny McBride (Screenplay) Danny McBride (Story)

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Bill Nighy, Erwin Leder, Sophia Myles, Wentworth Miller

 

Plot: Selene, a beautiful warrior, is entrenched in a war between the vampire and werewolf races. Although she is aligned with the vampires, she falls in love with Michael, a human who is sought by werewolves for unknown reasons.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun, Over the Top Action Fantasy

 

Story: Underworld starts by taking us into a world where vampires and lycans where the vampires have the upper hand with the lycans on the edge of extinction. We meet Selene (Beckinsale) one of the most elite vampire warriors against the lycans who finds herself learning of an uprising of lycans waiting to come back into the battle.

As Selene investigates the encounter she learns that the lycans were targeting a human Michael (Speedman) but the reason is unknown to her, but this doe draw out Lucian (Sheen) the leader of the lycans and the old battle is starts once again. When Selene’s decision to save Michael only begins the war once more as the vampires await the rebirth of Viktor (Nighy) the lycans plan to take over the world.

Underworld is the fast-paced action fantasy film that brings us the war between vampires and werewolves in a style unlike anything we have seen before. We do have to go through a lot of the politics of the vampire world which at times get rather boring but when the action is unleashed it is all bullets and blood.

Beckinsale shines in this leading role showing she can kick ass like the best of them, it is the rest of the cast which don’t get the full effect out of their performance with Speedman looking lost most of the time, Sheen coming off too smart to be in the role he is given and Nighy being your typical elder character. In all honesty, this is purely fun and just switching your brain off you will enjoy it all.

 

Overall: Popcorn vampire flick that is easily enjoyable.

Ratingcard

 

 

School of Rock (2003)

schoolDirector: Richard Linklater

Writer: Mike White (Screenplay)

Starring: Jack Black, Adam Pascal, Lucas Papaelias, Chris Stack, Sarah Silverman, Mike White, Lucas Babin, Joan Cusack, Jordan-Claire Green

 

Plot: After being kicked out of a rock band, Dewey Finn becomes a substitute teacher of a strict elementary private school, only to try and turn it into a rock band.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Fun Comedy

 

Story: School of Rock starts as we meet Dewey Finn (Black) a down on his luck musician who is kicked out of his band and about to become homeless unless he kind find the money to pay rent to his long-time roommate Theo (Pascal).

Dewey takes a job as a substitute teacher that is meant to be for Theo and sees his class as a new band that he can enter into the battle of the bands. His class turns into band practise and this gives him a chance to learn to grow up himself and teach the children to be ready for the big world.

School of Rock is a film that shows elements of coming of age tale where we see one man who has never accomplished much who finds his passion for life in helping the next generation stand out from the crowd. This is an entertaining comedy that just spices something new into the teacher student relationship which is always one of the most important in developing the next generation and you can see that this is one role Jack Black was perfect to play, so much so you couldn’t see anyone else doing this role.

 

Overall: This is a perfectly cast fun comedy that can be enjoyed by all.

Rating75