Trailer: Furious 7 (Extended)


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We saw the Super Bowl trailer of Furious 7 (formerly known as Fast & Furious 7). Well, here’s the extended version of it with more Jason Statham mayhem added to the mix. We also get The Rock get beatdown by Statham. Then again we’re all pretty much aware that Statham probably is the only person can put a beatdown on the Rock.

It looks like the summer blockbuster season starting out earlier and earlier with each passing year. Furious 7 is set for an April 3, 2015 release date.

Trailer: Furious 7 (Teaser)


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To much fanfare we finally have the teaser trailer to the latest adventures of Dominic Toretto and his band of misfit drivers.

Now officially titled as Furious 7, the latest film in the franchise goes further away from it’s street racing roots and into the spy thriller and superhero genres it drifted into with Fast Five. Even the title alone sounds like a superhero team straight out of Marvel Comics. It’s almost as if I expect to see Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Daredevil and Elektra plus three other furious heroes fighting the good fight.

The teaser pretty much teases the sort of over-the-top, physics-defying action scenes we’ve come to expect from this franchise. It’s almost as if with each new film they up the ante as to how much universal laws Dom and his crew will break in order to entertain it’s massive fan audience.

Furious 7 is set to ride and die this April 3, 2015.

Trailer: Fast and Furious 6 (Extended First Look)


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During this year’s Super Bowl XLVII one of the films whose trailers were premiered was the latest and upcoming entry to the Fast and the Furious series. Since that day a new and much more extended look and version of that trailer has been released by Universal Pictures for everyone to look over.

When I say extended first look I mean extended. This trailer is over 3 minutes long and pretty much acts like a major sizzle reel that’s usually reserved for special screenings at conventions or trade shows. I was mistaken from the earlier post when I said the film has an M-1 tank in it to ramp up the epicness. It looks more like the newest French main battle tank, the Leclerc. I shall keep my opinion about the French Leclerc to myself….

Now, enjoy the extended first look of Fast and Furious 6.

Trailer: Fast and Furious 6 (Super Bowl Exclusive)


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Fast Five was a big surprise when in came out in 2011. The franchise finally broke away from the street racing template of the previous entries in the series. The huge success of Fast Five meant it had given the franchise a new template by which to keep it going for the foreseeable future.

Fast and Furious 6 continues the action film rebirth of the Fast and Furious franchise by dumping all the street racing aspect of the series and just going all out action. We have Justin Lin back as director with the cast of Fast Five returning en masse. Joining this group is Luke Evans, Gina Carano and Michelle Rodriguez (thought dead after the fourth film). From the Super Bowl tv spot that just got released it looks like Fast and Furious 6 will be even bigger than the previous film.

M1 main battle tank and C-5 Galaxy transport plane means way bigger than a bank vault.

Fast and Furious 6 is set for a May 24, 2013 release date.

Trailer: Total Recall (Official)


Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 scifi classic, Total Recall, remains one of Arnold Schwarzenneger’s better films. The film was an adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novellete, We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, and in 2012 it will once again go up on the big-screen as a Len Wiseman remake.

Wiseman’s film looks to take the basic premise of Dick’s novellete and some of the changes made for the Verhoeven production. What looks to have been changed in this upcoming remake is the absence of Mars as the backdrop for the character Douglas Quaid who believes he is actually a secret agent working to free Mars from the tyrannical rule of one Cohagen. This time around the setting is instead a dystopian future Earth where the planet has been split into two super-factions the rule planet. There’s Euroamerica which combines the North American and European Union into one sovereign entity and it’s rival in New Shanghai which puts together the economic powerhouses of China and the nations of South East Asia.

It is in this new backdrop that Colin Farrell’s Quaid must run from the forces of Cohaagen (played by Bryan Cranston) and help the freedom fighters trying to change things for the better. The trailer itself shows less of the cheesy look of the Verhoeven film and instead goes for a much slicker art design that some people have called the Mass Effect-look. I must admit that the fully-armored forces chasing after Quaid look like Blue Suns mercenaries from that BioWare scifi rpg.

I will say that the trailer does a great job in referencing similar scenes and sequences from the original Verhoeven film while adding in new touches to give the film it’s very own unique look. For one of this summer season’s last films before fall season begins this one looks like a must-see.

Total Recall is set for an August 3, 2012 release date.

Quickie Review: Fast Five (dir. by Justin Lin)


It would seem that the summer blockbuster film season starts earlier and earlier with each passing year. It used to be that the film which premiered during the Memorial Day weekend was the one which began the season, but now films which come out first weekend of May get to have that honor. Then 2011 decides to change things up and herald the summer blockbuster season not in May but the last weekend of April. The film which gets to do the honor this year looks to be Justin Lin’s fun and very action-packed fourth sequel to the undying street-racing franchise which began with 2001’s The Fast and The Furious. This fifth entry in the franchise was simply titled, Fast Five.

The series had always been about the world of illegal street-racing whether it was set in Los Angeles, Miami or Tokyo. There was always that aspect of the story which tied all four previous films together. It would have skilled, beautiful women who followed the scene and, of course, the fast cars themselves. Things began to change a bit with the fourth film, Fast and Furious, as the street racing became not the main focal point of the story but just an aspect of it. The franchise began to take on an action-thriller role. While it was good to see changes to the franchise that began to get stale that fourth film didn’t pull off the necessary changes as well as it should’ve. It would seem that Justin Lin was just testing the waters and finally got what he wanted with Fast Five.

This latest film in the franchise barely has any street-racing in the film. There’s a short sequence 2/3’s of the way in and Lin also inserts a couple of obligatory slo-mo scenes of street-racers gathering to show-off their rides and women, but Fast Five is more of a caper film than a street-racing one. It actually owes a lot more to the Ocean’s 11 films than anything else. We have returning character in Vin Diesel’s Dominic Torreto and his sister Mia (played by the radiant Jordana Brewster). Paul Walker as his erstwhile ally Brian O’Conner returns as well. It’s these three who anchor the heist team which would include returning characters from the previous four films. There’s the hothead Vince (Matt Schulze) from the first film. Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) come in from the second film. Sung Kang’s character Han from the third film appears so does Gisele, Tego and Rico from the fourth film. These returning character make-up what I would only call as Torreto’s Ten.

Fast Five begins just as the previous film ended as O’Conner and Mia break Dom out of the prison bus taking him to prison. From there the film moves to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where these three fugitives take on a job to earn themselves some money only to realize that they’ve inadvertently gone to work for Reyes, Rio’s most powerful crimelord (Joaquim de Almeida), who now has his sights on Dom’s crew. Not to make Dom’s life any easier is a Federal Task Force sent in to take him back to the U.S. in the form of Hobbs (played by Dwayne Johnson) and his elite team of agents. Dom and his crew will now have to escape not just Reyes and his thugs but Hobbs and his men. It’s the plan to do just both that make up most of the film’s story.

Justin Lin does a great job in not just explaining the details of the heist beforehand, but he does so without getting the film into too much of an expository exercise. He shows just as much as tell the job Torreto’s Ten must pull off if they’re to ever win their freedom. It’s the set-up to the heist and the execution of it which tie-in all the many, well-staged action sequences the film has. While street-racing has been relegated to just obligatory short scenes this film doesn’t lack for exciting carmeggedon and mayhem. From the prison bus escape to begin the film to the daring train robbery which follows it right down to the bank vault heist which takes up the last 10-15 minutes of the film. That sequence alone makes this film worth seeing as we see a 10-ton bank vault being hauled at high-speed through the streets of downtown Rio. Buildings get totaled and cars get tossed and smashed like tinker toys. Yet, as the PG-13 rating would point out we don’t know or see if anyone actually dies.

It’s that rating which keeps this film from ever joining the exploitation and grindhouse pedigree of such car mayhem films as Vanishing Point, Two-Lane Blacktop and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry. But despite the limitations a PG-13 rating puts on Justin Lin’s Fast Five the film ends up becoming a very fun and exhilirating action-heist film that gives some new life to a franchise that was down to fumes. It helped that we get some good performances from most of the leads (Paul Walker still can’t do anything outside of performing as a surfer from California). It was also the addition of Dwayne Johnson as Federal Super-Agent Luke Hobbs which gives the film some of it’s fun. Johnson was able to match Diesel’s Dominic Torreto for the title of most badass in the film. In fact, the fight between the two was one of the highlights of the film (even though I still think Johnson probably would kick Diesel’s ass 100 out of 100 times).

Fast Five doesn’t disappoint and more than earns the honor of starting up 2011’s summer blockbuster season. Justin Lin has delivered a film in this franchise which stands out from the rest and more than likely reboots the series from a street-racing one and into just a plain old action series. His work in this film and how he handled the action also adds some credence and justification in him being given the next film in the Terminator franchise. He may just be the one to bring back some life into that dying franchise. So, strap on the seat belt and grab onto to something because Fast Five may just be one of the few films this summer that delivered on everything it promises in terms of action and fun.

Review: Battle: Los Angeles (dir. by Jonathan Liebesman)


The last couple years have seen the return of an old trend from the 50’s and and 60’s. Those decades were what one would call the Golden Age of alien invasion films and stories. We had alien invasion films both serious and comedic. They ranged from classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Thing to the awful like Plan 9 From Outer Space and tons of titles I could barely put down. In 2009 we had an alien-themed film which one could call the return of the genre back to the forefront. District 9 by South African filmmaker Neil Blompkamp was universally hailed as one of the best scifi films of the decade and even got nominated for an Academy Best Picture.

Then there’s the other alien-invasion film from 2010 which covers the low-end of the equation. The Strause Brothers’ own Skyline was universally panned by critics and audiences alike. While some did enjoy the film for it’s “so bad, it’s good” quality (I use that term as loosely as redlight hooker). This film was everything that was opposite of District 9. While I did enjoy that film because it was bad I don’t look back at it too fondly.

The latest film in this alien-invasion resurgence is from another South African filmmaker and one whose body of work is mostly genre films of the low-budget variety. Jonathan Liebesman’s own entry into this scifi genre is Battle: Los Angeles and it lands smack  dab between District 9 and Skyline in regards to overall execution. It’s a workman-like film which takes an epic alien invasion war and brings it down into the pavement. We see the film through the eyes of a rifle squad of Marines and that’s where the film really becomes a really fun experience.

Battle: Los Angeles begins in medias rea with the war between the unknown alien invaders already having made their initial surprise landings and the U.S. military making it’s countermoves. We learn from a hasty news conference held by a military commander that the alien forces have landed at over a dozen or so coastal cities around the world have begun to move inland. I was somewhat discouraged to find out that San Francisco didn’t even last half a day and was lost. With Los Angeles the last major coastal city on the west coast that still had a viable military presence we hear one of the film’s tagline in that they cannot lose Los Angeles.

After this brief intro we go back 24 hours before the battle begins to get the character introductions sorted out. We see the Marines who will make up the squad the audience will follow through the rest of the film get their brief time to get introduced with some basic backstory to give them some personality. The one which stood out from all the war film archetype characters was Aaron Eckhart’s grizzled and retiring Staff Sgt. Nantz. He becomes the anchor that holds all the players into a cohesive unit and who also keeps the film from spiraling out into Skyline territory. Some of the cookie-cutter characters we meet would be the commanding officer straight out of Officer Training School who has never seen combat but is eager to lead his men and sees the combat-experienced SSgt. Nantz as someone who might usurp his authority. We also get the Marine whose previous combat tour has left him psychologically damaged and tries to earn his mind back into fighting state. We even get the young Marine who everyone sees as the little brother and who also happens to be a virgin.

To say that the characters in Battle: Los Angeles looked like they came out of old-school World War 2 war film casting call would be an understatement. The film just gives these characters (outside of Eckhart’s veteran noncom) enough personality that we’re able to distinguish one jarhead from another. Characterization is not one of this film’s strong suit, but once the bullets and alien stuff begin to start flying the need to get more character moments from these individuals really go out the window and the audience just holds on as they follow this Marine rifle squad into combat with an enemy force better equipped.

The film borrows much from battle sequences from Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down and Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan as director Liebesman opts to use a cinema verite style to give the audience a documentary, imbedded reporter look to the whole proceeding. The shaky cam look this filmmaking style uses may turn off some people, but the way the action sequences (which pretty much takes up close to 3/5’s of the film’s running time) were edited actually keeps the shaky cam from becoming too overwhelming. The film actually does a very good job of showing the confusing nature of battle, but also the fog of war for the grunts on the ground.

Before I get to what about this film really worked for me I will have to admit that the film’s screenplay is it’s biggest weakness. It’s a major weakness that for some viewers will sink the whole film no matter whatever bright points it might have. The film’s core story was actually pretty good. A story about an alien invasion told from the point of view of human soldiers on the ground trying to repel the invaders was a concept that hasn’t really been explored in this type of film. While that foundation for the film is strong the dialogue and how the characters were written left much to be desired. I put the onus on the flimsiness of most of the characters on the screenplay more than the characters themselves. Spielberg and Scott were able to use the very same war film character archetypes and make them work in their film, but that was possible due to much stronger screenplays.

In this film the dialogue’s very hokeyness doesn’t inspire as much as it makes for some wince inducing moments. I can’t say that all of the dialogue was bad. They’re no worse than most war films both good and bad. The dialogue just didn’t seem to have any energy to them and sounded as if it was still being read from an earlier and much rougher draft. I do believe that if the screenplay had been given a couple of doctoring by competent, veteran screenwriters the film would’ve benefitted greatly from it. Instead, the film ended up having to have a strong veteran actor in Aaron Eckhart deliver these average lines with enough conviction and gravitas to keep the film from becoming a parody of a war film. The fact that the film still manages to hold together despite the weaknesses in the screenplay is a testament to one actor performing the hell out of that script. I won’t even go into some people’s issues about the science or battle tactics in the film since I believe the film was consciously built to keep those vague. The film is not about the who or what about this invasion and why the aliens are here, but about that rifle squad from the 2/5 Marines.

Now, what really worked for me about this film is the battle itself. For a fan of both alien invasion and war films this one combined the two and succeeding in delivering what the filmmakers promised. Battle: Los Angeles gave a visceral look into the trials and tribulations of a squad of Marines as they do their part on the ground to fight off a much more advanced enemy. There’s a scene when the Marines are flying over Santa Monica on their way to their Forward Operation Base and we see a running battle on the gorund below between human defenders and the aliens who have moved up from the beach. Even the firefights Nantz and his squad were in once they entered the battle behind enemy lines looked to be influenced with the many battle footage of American forces conducting ground war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The special effects both CGI and practical to make Los Angeles look like a wartorn urban battleground was done very well. The aliens and their machines were given a look that wasn’t sleek and shiny but utilitarian and efficient. Some have said that the design of the aliens and their machines looked lazy, but I actually believe that if the filmmakers had fallen back on traditional advanced futuristic designs that would have been lazy. These aliens looked like they were design with only one thing in mind and that was to wage war on a people.

The score to the film by Brian Tyler was good and serviceable as his own modern riff on the old-school World War 2 film score, but I thought what this film needed was a veteran composer who knows how to bring out the machismo, gung-ho and esprit de corps of the Marines the audience followed throughout the film. It’s a shame that film composer passed away several years ago because he definitely would’ve given Battle: Los Angeles the kind of score which would’ve elevated the film from a thrilling war film into an epic one.

In the end, Jonathan Liebesman’s first foray into a bigger budget production hit more than it miss though one of those misses many of it’s detractors have seen as a fatal flaw in the film. Battle: Los Angeles doesn’t reinvent the alien invasion film, but just takes a new angle on the whole proceedings. It’s a film that shows influences from better war films by better filmmakers, but also gives hints that this young South African filmmaker has shown glimpses of talent that could take him places that his compatriot Neil Blompkamp has reached with his own alien-themed film. Battle: Los Angeles is just an old-school war film dressed up with modern fatigues and arrived onto the screen with all the positives and negatives of those very same traditional war films people love and hate since film as entertainment was created. It’s not on the same level as District 9 but it is definitely heads and shoulders above the very laughable Skyline of 2010.

As an aside, while I was watching the film I was struck by how this film looked like a preview of what Blompkamp’s potential sequel to his District 9 would look if and when Christopher Johnson came back to Earth with an armada of very pissed off Prawns…and speaking of pissed off Prawn: pig cannon.

Fast Five (Super Bowl TV Spot)


I know that the Fast and Furious franchise has been milked for as long as decent, but this latest tv spot for the fifth film in the series has made me rethink about not seeing it when it first comes out.

It looks to be concentrating more now on the action and less on how cool the cars are though from the looks of it they’re still driving around i some cool ass cars. Plus, this fifth one has the Rock back. I don’t mean Dwayne Johnson, but the Rock. Ever since he dropped the Rock moniker he had relagated himself to family-friendly films. He was truly cool on-screen when he was just the Rock.

Fast Five comes out this April 29, 2011.

Battle: Los Angeles (Trailer 3)


There’s not much else I can say about this upcoming alien invasion film coming out on 3-11-2011. I shall be there on Day One to see it in all it’s big-screen glory. This third trailer show’s a bit more of the alien race doing the invading and the unit of U.S. Marines set to repel and fight them off. I will say that final scene in the trailer with what looked like a massive construct made out of the rubble of Los Angeles just whetted my appetite to see this film even more. Talk about a moneyshot.

Below are the two other official trailer released for Battle: Los Angeles.

Battle: Los Angeles (International Teaser Trailer)

Battle: Los Angeles (Official Trailer)

 

Battle: Los Angeles (International Teaser Trailer)


Funny how certain films in the US get a change in how they’re titled for the overseas market.

A couple weeks ago the first trailer for Jonathan Liebesman’s alien invasion film, Battle: Los Angeles, was posted and it certainly looked a tad better than this year’s big alien invasion flick, Skyline. They share not just the type of film it wants to be but the location as well. Both are set in Los Angeles and both seem to be CGI-heavy affairs. Where the Brother Strause’s film was so bad that it was good this film from Liebesman looks to marry alien invasion with Black Hawk Down for a much more down in the ground action.

This new teaser trailer is the international version and it shows a bit more of the action we’ll be seeing in this film. There is one little change which I find more than just a tad bit amusing. When the teaser finally ends we don’t see the title as Battle: Los Angeles, but instead we get the more international sounding World Invasion: Los Angeles. I guess the studio thinks the film will do better overseas by making it sound like the invasion is global instead of local the way the original title has it.

Fret not fellow Americans! The voiceover does say, after listing cities both in the US and around the globe, that we cannot lose Los Angeles thus….USA! USA! USA!