Dwayne Johnson

The Fate of the Furious – Review #72

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The_Fate_of_The_Furious_Theatrical_Poster.jpgThe Fate of the Furious, directed by F. Gary Gray, is the newest film in the now legendary Fast and Furious franchise. With Dom and Letty married, Brian and Mia retired and the rest of the crew exonerated, the globe-trotting team has found some semblance of a normal life. They soon face an unexpected challenge when a mysterious woman named Cipher forces Dom to betray them all. Now, they must unite to bring home the man who made them a family and stop Cipher from unleashing chaos.

I’ll admit this out front. Unlike Power Rangers or Smurfs: The Lost Village, I absolutely love the Fast and Furious franchise. I grew up with the series. I have all the movies on DVD. I have fond childhood memories of watching all of them except Fast Five, and that was because we had a crappy copy of it. Hell, I even liked Tokyo Drift!

Me trying to be objective here is just nigh impossible. I grew up with Dominic Toretto, with Brian O’ Connor, with Letty, Mia, Roman Pierce, Tej, all those guys. There’s an emotional connection here. I just thought I should preface this review with that, because yeah, I like this movie.

This movie is fucking stupid. I love it.

That about sums my feelings for the movie. It’s over-the-top, it knows it’s over the top, and it embraces it with the bulging biceps of Dwayne Johnson. This is the blockbuster at its most purest form.

Fate of the Furious is of course continuing where the last one left off, and I’m sure we all remember that the last one was the last time Paul Walker would be in the series. The emotional goodbye at the end of Furious 7 was just about as heart-breakingly sweet as it could’ve been. They do reference Brian in this movie, and the ending is also pretty bittersweet-I heard a few “awws” in the theater-but it’s not as powerful as the last one. But it didn’t had to be, and I appreciate that. Seeing Brian not being a part of this new story is somewhat weird and sad since it involves his closest friend, but Brian’s-and subsequently Paul’s-departure from this movie was done well enough.

The central cast has not changed at all, and they’re as charismatic as ever. Vin Diesel is actually given a bit more leeway to act, because betraying family and all that. He works fine, and the serious parts work well. It all serves to make us hate the villain, and in that sense I’d say it works.

Speaking of the villain, Charlize Theron as Cipher was sadly forgettable. I hate her in the movie, yes, but she’s not as memorable as say, Jason Statham. Then again, they did make me want to see Dominic beat the absolute fuck out of her in the sequel, so I guess they did their job.

There’s really not much else to say about this movie, other than be amazed at how 7 movies on, this series is stronger than ever. The kid inside me is so happy for that.

If this is your first Fast and Furious movie…why? It’s not just that they bring back characters from 3 movies ago that even took me a while to remember, why now? Go watch the whole series through first, damn it.

But besides that, yeah. In conclusion, Fate of the Furious is cheesy fun, but what the hell else did you expect?

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Moana – Review #60

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The directors of this movie also made The Little Mermaid and Aladdin and oh my god can you see it.

csky6rmviaenstq-jpg-large.jpgMoana, directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, is the newest animated film from Disney and stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johson, Alan Tudyk, Jermaine Clement and newcomer Auli’i Cravalho as the title character, Moana Wailaliki. Moana is the daughter and chief apparent of a small tribe in the Polynesian islands of Motunui. She wants to venture, to explore the waters, but her father forbids her from doing so, citing dangerous waters and all that. However, things become desperate when the island’s resource begin to wither, for legend says that Te Fiti, the goddess of life, had her stone heart stolen by the demigod Maui, and now death and destruction wreck the land. Now, Moana must find the demigod, return the stone back to its rightful owner, and restore peace throughout the Pacific.

I wasn’t particularly pysched for Moana, really. It looked fine, but I just didn’t had that much of an interest in it.

But hey, it was Disney, so I decided to check it out.

They had a short before the movie this time around, which surprised me. I didn’t realize they did shorts, since Zootopia didn’t had one. It’s called “Inner Workings” and it’s alright. Quite funny, looks like Despicable Me, nothing special.

But anyways, without further ado, Moana.

Moana was a fun time, as Disney films are. The animation was spectacular, the water especially looked amazing, downright photo-realistic.

Now, I live in a tropical country. Malaysia, to be exact, way west of Polynesia. And while this place has nowhere near the beauty and the green of the Polynesian islands, it had enough that I felt a strange sort of familiarity seeing so many yellow sand and coconut trees. That latter one especially, we adore coconuts here. Just wanted to say that.

Humor was top notch. Comedic timing is Disney’s bread and butter, and I had man a good laugh at this as well. Dwayne Johnson as the demigod Maui had amazing charisma, and had great chemistry with Auli’i.

But the one thing that makes this movie is the music by Lin-Manuel Miranda. This is a traditional Disney movie, with catchy songs that stay in your mind for years. Following the work of the greats like Alan Menken and Tim Rice, he is. Considering that the last few Disney animated movies had little to no singing, this actually felt very nice. Again, very old school.

Too old school, in fact.

“A young female of high authority is confined by social standings and wishes for more out there, all the while accompanied by a cute animal sidekick.” Sounds familiar to you? Well, it should be.

I have no problems with directors using tropes and cliches in their movies. What I have a problem is them using it blatantly. And in Moana, the checklist of cliche is way too poorly hid to not be noticeable. You can choreograph what’s going to happen a mile away, and sometimes the tropes happen to the detriment to the plot. That pig you’re seeing on those posters? Dude shows up for a minute or so in the beginning, completely disappears for the majority of the movie, and only comes back in one scene in the end. There was literally no reason for it to be there.

That is what ultimately drives the movies down for me, it’s very obvious abundant use of Disney tropes. It bugged me, and I didn’t like that it did that.

Also, at one point the movie turns to Mad Moana: Fury Sea. Yeah, I was confused too.

In conclusion, Moana is above average Disney, but it isn’t amazing Disney. That still goes to Zootopia. Still, if you’re looking for a fun time and know what you’re going into, it’s a fun watch. Bring the kids along. A good recommendation.