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Cinemaholics: The Fate of the Furious, Free Fire, Sandy Wexler, 13 Reasons Why

This week, the Cinemaholics become, as Vin Diesel would put it, faaammmmillllyyyy. By reviewing The Fate of the Furious, the eighth installment of the little cars franchise that could. I’m joined this week by Will Ashton (CutPrintFilmWe Got This Covered) and Maveryke Hines (our producer) for a fast talk about the franchise at large, how we rank the movies, and of course, a featured review for the new film.

Later, we tackle plenty of other big releases. Free Fire from A24 and starring Brie Larson gets a mini review, along with The Discovery, a Netflix original starring Jason Segal, Rooney Mara, and Robert Redford. We spend a lot of time debating Adam Sandler’s new Netflix movie, Sandy Wexler, which divided the Cinemaholics quite fiercely. And we also dive a bit into the first half of the first season of 13 Reasons Why, a new Netflix series starring Dylan Minnette (a name we all get wrong during the show).

EMAIL US YOUR FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS: cinemaholicspodcast [at] gmail.com 

Go on…Cinemaholics: The Fate of the Furious, Free Fire, Sandy Wexler, 13 Reasons Why

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‘The Fate of the Furious’ Is Both Better And Worse Than Its Predecessors

fate of the furious

The Fate of the Furious is an easy film to understand just by taking a second look at its title, which feels designed for a hashtag (F8), rather than something new or creatively crafted. This is the eighth installment of a 16-year-long franchise that has more or less stayed alive and successful by finding increasingly silly ways to escalate its rising action to a series climax that has never been hazier.

In F8, we have what many 2017 films seem destined to use as a plot device: a hero of the series (Dominic Toretto, who long slipped into Vin Diesel simply playing himself) “goes rogue” and his former teammates have to team up to try and stop him.

At this point in the franchise, the “family” almost solely consists of former enemies Dom has picked up over the years, including an indefensibly sympathetic Shaw (Jason Statham) who is wrapped up with a retcon for the last two movies, pitting Charlize Theron’s “Cipher” as the real villain all along…somehow. And her isolated master plan is at least one that generates some intense moments, including a deluge of remote controlled cars that devastate New York City.

There seems to be a clear effort from director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta ComptonItalian Job) to ground this franchise in darker subplots that make the characters feel somewhat less immortal, not just in the sense that they’ll die, but also in how death wrecks the characters. But overall, the movie’s main thrust (being a Saturday Morning Cartoon for adults) never gives way to any of the semi-serious tone that now has to reconcile with Dom’s never-ending sense of family, a theme that has certainly run its course as a passable explanation for what brings these characters together.

fate of the furious

Yet F8 also consists of some of the most exciting and entertaining set pieces in the franchise to date, including some playful development involving Shaw and Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson in a bigger role than Furious 7) charming their way to what is hopefully spinoff territory, or just a retooling of the series that lets these two action heroes take the reigns. Aside from them, none of the familiar characters here are given a shred of character growth, and F8 only advances the plot of their lives in superficial ways that feel tacked on. And that’s not even mentioning the sloppy effort to replace Paul Walker with Scott Eastwood. There’s no question Furious 7 handled Walker’s tragic death with class, so it’s strange to see F8 stumble with this just two years later.

As the various family members deal with having to take down Dom, there’s no learning, application, or self-reflection to get them there. They simply do what they’ve done before; Roman wisecracks, Leti is always there for Dom, everyone drives fast, etc. It’s surprisingly weightless, even for a blockbuster franchise that has won many people over for how accessibly fun it can be, while still having enough style and shiny lights to bring you back for the next one.

If that was the only goal, then F8 does its job fine. And at times, it’s truly a spectacle that deserves to be seen on as big a screen as possible. But there’s no denying the early signs of a series that is running dangerously low on steam for the first time since 2005.

Grade: B-

Extra Credits:

  • Forgot to mention the Cuba prologue, which might actually be the movie’s best scene and one of the best street races they’ve done yet.
  • Seeing the previous movies helps quite a bit, as F8 has a lot of past characters coming back around (even Lucas Black was originally meant to have a cameo, but he had to drift out due to conflicts).
  • Yes, it’s pretty obvious that Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel hate each other in real life.
  • Kristofer Hivju (Tormund from Game of Thrones) needs to be in more movies.

Thanks for reading this. Seriously. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. 

Or just say hello on Twitter: @JonNegroni


Review: ‘Furious 7’

furious 7

Furious 7 builds on the formula that made Fast 5 such a surprise success. It’s a fantasy action movie that happens to have cars in it, and if you’re invested in these characters already, Furious 7 finishes their story in a satisfying way.

In fact, I’d even say in terms of tone and spirit, it’s pretty much the best movie they could have made for their “one last ride.”

Everything you might hate about these movies — such as the glaring plot holes, egregious butt shots, and fifth-grade dialogue — is still there, but the slick action scenes and escalating plot points are just as prominent. I can’t say I was properly immersed in Furious 7 (I still think Fast 5 is the best of the franchise), but it held my attention admirably, considering it runs over 2 hours.

The film also pays genuine tribute to the late Paul Walker, who died tragically before they finished shooting. It was uncharacteristically emotional for these movies, but in the best way possible (one question though: Why are all the tough guys in these movies bald?)

A diverse cast brings the franchise to its roots (again), which his impressive for a franchise that has splintered off in so many different directions since 2001. Yet at the same time, there’s an attention to what makes the franchise enduring: new concepts mashed up with old thrills.

While the last few movies have focused on elaborate races, manhunts, heists, and globe-trotting missions, Furious 7 is more of a chase scene, where the heroes are the hunted for a change. Jason Statham makes his mark on the franchise as the gloomy brother of Shaw, the last film’s brother. His mission of revenge puts all of Dom’s “family” in danger, forcing them into a series of missions that will…oh, it doesn’t matter.

Make no mistake, Furious 7 certainly matches and exceeds the massive (and absurd) action set pieces  that have come to dominate these movies, with cars cruising through skyscrapers and a punch being able to create a sinkhole (seriously).

For a Fast and Furious” movie, this new installment successfully lives up to its name.

Grade: B

Extra Credits:

  • I forgot to mention the fact that Kurt Russel plays shadowy operative “Mr. Nobody.” I’m more impressed than anything else.
  • For the first time since 2Fast 2Furious, Justin Lin isn’t the director. James Wan (The Conjuring) takes over and manages to keep the franchise ticking.
  • As expected, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Dwayne Johnson, and others return, but don’t expect that group to remain intact by the time we get an eighth of these.

‘Furious 7’ Official Trailer Feels Like a Tribute to Paul Walker

It’s been a year since Paul Walker tragically passed away, leaving behind his “family” of costars to grieve his untimely loss. This trailer for the next and possibly final Fast and Furious franchise very much feels like his epitaph.

Even on its own, the movie shows off exactly what we love about these movies, along with some new upgrades. Jason Statham is looking like he’ll make a pretty perfect villain for the anti-heroes, and the Rock flexes out of a cast.

Furious 7 come out April 3, 2015.

How Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Became a Movie Star

Daniel Roberts | Fortune 

In 2013 his movies made some $1.3 billion worldwide—more than any other actor’s movies that year, period. (It helped that he was in four.) Johnson has a tendency to pick up existing franchises and make them his. The second G.I. Joe film took in $376 million worldwide; the first, without Johnson, made $74 million less. 

Journey 2 grossed almost $100 million more than its predecessor. In the Fast and Furious franchise, Fast Five, which introduced his character, Hobbs, earned nearly twice what the previous movie made.

Easily the best analysis I’ve ever read on one of the world’s most interesting actors, who went from poverty to pro wrestling, and then to Hollywood. One of the best cases for Johnson’s rise to success is how he promotes his own movies on social media, which in turn convinces studios that he’s a solid hire (and proven talent).

This is a piece that is definitely worth your time, no matter what you already think about Dwayne Johnson.

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