Valdosta Daily Times

May 27, 2013

'Fast & Furious 6': Far-fetched fun

Adann-Kennn Alexxandar
The Valdosta Daily Times


"Fast & Furious 6” (Action/Crime: 2 hours, 10 minutes)
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson
Director: Justin Lin
Rated: PG-13 (Profanity and violence)
Movie Review: Certain movies exist that are purely popcorn flicks. These films make up most of the United States’ mainstream films. While entertaining, these movies are action-packed with thinly constructed, formulaic plots, fast action sequences, unbelievable stunts and lackluster acting. “Furious 6” has all of these elements. Think of it as a soap opera on wheels.
Dominic Toretto (Diesel), former law-enforcement officer Brian O'Conner (Walker) and the rest of their race-car team of thieves are enjoying life on the down low, spending millions from a previous heist. U.S. government official Luke Hobbs (Johnson) approaches the group needing help. Hobbs has been tracking an organization of mercenary drivers across several countries. The mercenaries’ mastermind is Shaw (Evans), and an aide of Shaw is Toretto’s past love, Letty (Rodriguez), thought dead until now. In return for pardons for them and their gang, Toretto and O'Conner reassemble their crew to stop Shaw and reconnect with Letty.
Director Lin has helmed the last three “Fast & Furious” movies. “Furious 6” marks his fourth outing for this series that began with “The Fast and the Furious” in 2001 (Director Rob Cohen). The series has become a worldwide blockbuster. The series is very entertaining, even if lacking in certain areas. This sixth addition is just as entertaining, although it has very odd bits.
Twenty minutes into this feature, one can clearly observe it is a predictable piece. The plot is a thoughtless one, where characters overplay their parts.
The muscle guys are overly masculine. Johnson overplays the bad-cop routine entirely. At times, he forgets he is not in a wrestling ring. Producers apparently had to find a use for Walker. The African-American guys are only there for comic relief at odd moments, but they provide some laughs. The women are sexy and present for supporting roles. The action overshadows the entire cast that is reduced to one-liners and stunts.           
The film goes into "G.I. Joe"- like territory with tanks and explosions galore. That is no compliment. The stunts are unbelievable. The cast performs as superheroes at moments. Additionally, many characters fight in multiple combat styles when no history exists for such training for all.
Another unbelievable scene occurs in an airport where the runway is at least 10 miles. The scene involving a plane preparing to take flight on the runway lasts numerous minutes.   
These matters irritate. During a few scenes, even diehard fans should gasp, “Yeah right!” Characters defy logic and the laws of physics. However, none of this will matter for fans. “Furious 6” is a good diversion despite irritations. This film is very enjoyable — an enjoyable mess.     
Stay tuned. “Fast & Furious 7” (Director James Wan, 2014) will add Jason Statham to the cast as the new foe.
One thing is for sure; these films are not running out of gas anytime soon despite a low-octane rating. 
Grade: C+ (Fast entertainment, furiously unbelievable.)
“The Hangover Part III” (Comedy: 1 hour, 40 minutes)
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha and Ken Jeong
Director: Todd Phillips
Rated: R (Profanity, violence, mature themes, nudity, drug content and sexual innuendo)
Movie Review: Phil (Cooper), Stu (Helms), Alan (Galifianakis) and Doug (Bartha) as the Wolfpack hit the road to put Alan in rehab. Their plans go awry. They end up trying to find Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) after a crime lord (John Goodman) kidnaps Doug until the Wolfpack brings him Chow. This is not an easy task, as Chow is manipulative.
A few smart moments exist here, but they are drowned by the unsophisticated material. This is a good thing. This screenplay appears to be the last outing for the Wolfpack. Co-writer Phillips (“Due Date,” 2010, and “Old School," 2003) directs. He also directed the prequel “Hangovers.” Phillips often lets his screenplays wander off the farm. He does this with “Part III.”
Producers ditched the formula used for the previous two films. This third film presents a new plot. The problem is that it is somewhat farfetched, and it appears abrasively unlike its prequels. Often, it feels more like a crime caper and action movie than a comedy, yet this does not stop the laughs, no matter how asinine.
This sequel is childish antics that inspire silly adult humor, except the humor is recycled material played continuously until the joke is not funny any longer. These men are no longer compelling. They are just immature men caught in dumb situations.    
Grade: C (Easy to get over it.)
“Epic” (Animation/Adventure/Family: 1 hour, 42 minutes)
Starring: Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, and Beyoncé Knowles
Director: Chris Wedge
Rated: PG (Violence, rude language and some scary images.)
Movie Review: A teenager finds herself transported to a deep forest setting where a battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil is taking place. She bands together with a rag-tag group of characters in order to save their world - and ours.
An adaptation of William Joyce’s book, "The Leaf Men and The Brave Good Bugs," “Epic” is similar to “The Borrowers” (Peter Hewitt, 1997) and the more recent "The Secret World of Arrietty" (Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi, 2010). Therefore, it feels familiar.
It is different in that it presents grander visuals. The computer animation is engrossing. It easily draws people into this adventurous world.
The problem is that the world is not one that stays with you. It is enjoyable, but that feeling one has seen this before detracts. Consequently, no surprises exist to make it a persuasive adventure.          
Grade: C+ (Not epic, but it is mildly entertaining.)