After FBI Agent John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) captures the art theif Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds), he is framed by another thief known as The Bishop (Gal Gadot). To clear his name, Hartley must work with Booth to find the famed three eggs of Cleopatra before The Bishop can.
Review I don’t know whose bright idea it was to put Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot in the same movie, but they should get a raise! Johnson, Reynolds, and Gadot are three of the most charismatic actors today and together they do not disappoint. Their chemistry is impeccable, especially between Johnson and Reynolds. I cannot even begin to describe how much fun I had with this film. It’s simple and straightforward, while still containing a few fun and unexpected twists and turns. At just about 2 hours long, it has a good pace and never feels like it’s dragging or going too fast. Overall, the story is nothing special but the movie more than makes up for it with its leading trio and charm.
I thought Red Notice was GREAT 😀 It’s part heist film, part action film, part adventure film, and part comedy film. What more could I ask for?
Trivia The movie has a budget of around US $200 million which is Netflix’s biggest budget ever yet for a feature film. (via IMDb)
Cast & Crew
Rawson Marshall Thurber – Director / Writer
Steve Jablonsky – Composer
Dwayne Johnson – John Hartley
Ryan Reynolds – Nolan Booth
Gal Gadot – The Bishop
Ritu Arya – Inspector Urvashi Das
Chris Diamantopoulos – Soto Voce
Ivan Mbakop – Tambwe
Rafael Petardi – Security Chief Ricci
Batman (Ben Affleck) discovers that an alien invasion of Earth is imminent after the death of Superman (Henry Cavill). In order to combat the coming threat, he tries to bring together several of the world’s superheroes, including Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Mamoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher).
I have made no effort to hide my favoritism of the Marvel superhero characters over the DC ones. However, I do enjoy both studios and both have some great stories to tell. Ever since The Avengers, DC has tried to play catch up to get their Justice League on screen. With the exception of Wonder Woman, the films of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) so far have been less than enjoyable. So how did Justice League, the long-awaited big team up fare? Better than the sum of its parts, apparently.
Zack Snyder had to step away from directing duties for a while due to a family tragedy, so Joss Whedon stepped in to take over. Many were worried, including myself, that while he has a good sense of what makes a good team-up, he might take too much away from Snyder’s Justice League (for better or worse). I think it is safe to say that Snyder and Whedon have two very different directing styles and it is very apparent throughout the film. Whedon added a nice layer of humor throughout the movie that wasn’t too overpowering, like some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films can be these days, but it wasn’t a one-off thing either. Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (both directed by Snyder) were very dark and broody, way more than they should have been. While this film isn’t bright and cheerful, there is still a level of levity to keep the apocalyptic story from hitting Dawn of Justice level of gloominess. It looks to me that Whedon respected Snyder’s vision for the film but still put his signature stamp on it.
This movie is the first time we are seeing the Flash (besides a small cameo in Suicide Squad), Aquaman, and Cyborg. I really enjoyed all three new characters and who were cast in the roles. Ezra Miller as the Flash brought a great comedic relief to the film. He is a very different version of the Flash in the Arrow-verse. Aquaman, played by Jason Mamoa, didn’t want anything to do with anything and wanted to be left alone. Oh, and is apparently an alcoholic. He had my second favorite arc of the new characters of becoming less antipathetic as he works with the other members of the League, culminating in a great gag with Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth. Ray Fisher’s Cyborg has the most growth out of all of them, boasting maybe the most unique power set of the group. He initially sees his powers as a curse but eventually accepts them and gives some great moments during the final, no holds barred action sequence.
As I just mentioned, this is the first time several of the League members are being introduced. Normally, these ensemble movies feel way too long, focusing on only a few of the characters and not developing the rest coughSuicide Squadcough. This time, it actually had the opposite problem: it should have been longer! For obvious reasons, Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) had the two biggest roles in the movie. However, it still did a good job of balancing everybody, especially given three of the characters needed to be introduced. But there was still room for some more development of the new characters. I appreciate that the editors wanted to keep Justice League relatively short but I think in doing so, they only gave the bare minimum motivations we needed from these heroes. There is plenty of room for more.
While I don’t necessarily agree with DC’s approach to rush into a film about their superhero team-up group, I don’t necessarily think an origin movie was needed for every character beforehand. Yes, it definitely would have helped the audience connect with them but other ensemble movie’s have gone this route with moderate to great success. One that is coming to mind is the animated Justice League: War which boasts a similar story with the same characters. Another is Guardians of the Galaxy. Don’t get me wrong, Justice League is nowhere near as good as Guardians but my point is that it brought a team together without any prior knowledge of the characters the same way this movie does and the only reason that this is an issue is because these are well known characters and is comparable to The Avengers.
A common gripe in modern superhero films are the weak and flat villain. To bring Guardians back into the mix, I didn’t have a problem with Ronin being one-dimensional because his purpose was to bring the titular group together. Steppenwolf serves essentially the same purpose as Ronin only this time I was very disappointed. Other than “he wants to shape the Earth in his image,” he is given very little development. This is doubly disappointing given what, or rather who, he is the precursor for. Darkseid (pronounced “dark side”) is one of the Justice Leagues greatest and signature villains, often fighting on par with even Superman. There was very little hint towards any of this except for one line that only those who are familiar with the characters would pick up on. Steppenwolf is an integral part of what’s to come but it’s hard to see that given how poorly he was treated in this film.
I thought Justice League was GOOD 🙂 Not devoid of problems, it still offers a good time. A shallower-than-normal villain is really the biggest complaint from me, especially given the character’s importance. The new characters were fun and unique and meshed well with the previously established characters. I wouldn’t mind seeing a Zack Snyder Director’s Cut of the film to see how much Joss Whedon’s reshoots changed the final product or to get more character development. Overall, this is the best I could have expected from the mostly disappointing DCEU so far.
Cast & Crew
Zack Snyder – Director / Story
Chris Terrio – Screenplay / Story
Joss Whedon – Screenplay
Danny Elfman – Composer
Ben Affleck – Bruce Wayne / Batman
Gal Gadot – Diana Prince / Wonder Woman
Ezra Miller – Barry Allen / The Flash
Jason Momoa – Arthur Curry / Aquaman
Ray Fisher – Victor Stone / Cyborg
Henry Cavill – Clark Kent / Superman
Jeremy Irons – Alfred
Amy Adams – Lois Lane
Diane Lane – Martha Kent
Connie Nielsen – Queen Hippolyta
JK Simmons – Commissioner Gordon
Ciarán Hinds – Steppenwolf (voice)
Amber Heard – Mera
Joe Morton – Silas Stone
Princess Diana (Gal Gadot) and the Amazons live in isolation from the rest of the world on the island of Themyscira, preparing for the return of Ares, the god of war. When Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American pilot and spy, crashes onto the island and tells of a “war to end all wars” in the outside world, Diana, convinced Ares is behind the conflict, leaves her home with Trevor to stop Ares and end the war.
A Wonder Woman film has been a long time coming. Of DC’s “trinity” (Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman) she is the only character to not receive her own live-action film. In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is easily the highlight of the movie. So how does she do starring front and center in her own film? Well, I can happily say Wonder Woman is the movie the fans have been waiting for in her 75+ year history.
Warner Bros. made an absolutely great casting choice with Gal Gadot. She captures every aspect about the character perfectly. She can be soft and gentle in one scene, like when she was excited to see a baby, or warm and caring in another, like when she had her moments with her team, then she can be strong and tough in the next scene, like when she single-handedly enters No Man’s Land. Gadot gave Diana a sense naivety and wonder about about the world but still felt powerful. I could go on but I’d feel like I was repeating myself. In short, she was positively wonderful.
As great as Gadot was as the titular character, that’s not even my favorite part. I think what I liked best about Wonder Woman was that it actually had a sense of adventure. Also, it wasn’t dark like Batman v Superman or Man of Steel, and it actually had humorous moments. It never became overly doom and gloom, like the previous DC Extended Universe (DCEU) films, nor did it feel as lighthearted as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films. There was a nice balance between the seriousness and the fun sides of the movie.
Every superhero movie these days is building towards the next movie or several movies in the universe, well the DCEU and MCU films do anyway. This is a double edge sword because on one hand, it is fun to see the different characters interact with each other but on the other it can make the movie feel bloated or unfocused. Another one of Wonder Woman‘s strengths is that it doesn’t have this problem. It is completely self-contained. It is book-ended with scenes showcasing where in the DCEU chronology it takes place, but everything in between is its own thing. This works out great because then that means the movie can stay centered on Wonder Woman herself without having to worry about anybody else or future plot points.
Because the film’s focus is strictly on Wonder Woman, the story is very tight and focused for a superhero movie. There are no extra characters. Everyone exists to push Diana’s story forward. Every scene serves a purpose of building Diana’s character or the conflict she faces. There is nothing extraneous, nothing without purpose, or nothing without reason. It is a refreshing change of pace to to see a superhero movie that only focuses on whose name is in the title instead of worrying about anybody else or future plot points.
I mentioned the perfect casting of Gal Gadot but I have to commend the rest of the cast as well. Chris Pine was a great choice as the male lead. He feels like a good, grounded counter to Gadot’s innocent Diana. Saïd Taghmaoui as the team’s quick-talking Sameer was a blast to watch. I would have liked to learn just a little bit more about Ewen Bremner’s Charlie and Eugene Brave Rock’s The Chief. Both seem like they have some interesting histories that were barely touched on. However, the highlight for me was any scene with Lucy Davis as Steve Trevor’s secretary Etta Candy. She was an absolute hoot and stole all her scenes. It’s a little disappointing knowing this will be the only time spent with the character because I cold use more Etta Candy in my life.
Like many superhero films, the weakest part of Wonder Woman comes from its villains. General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Hudson) and Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya) are the main baddies but they only act as the personification of the evil Diana is trying to stop; There isn’t much to them. It feels like they are villains almost simply because they are Nazis. Ares could be called the overarching villain and big bad of the movie. Yet, his presence isn’t really felt until the very end. And even then, he is very underwhelming. I guess I can’t fault the movie too much since it gets so much else right.
I thought Wonder Woman was GREAT 😀 Director Patty Jenkins has finally done what every other DC director since Christopher Nolan could not: create a good superhero movie. Gal Gadot strikes a perfect balance of innocence and strength. The movie mirrors that and isn’t too lighthearted but also isn’t dark and gritty. Diana’s sense of justice and need to do the right thing is the tone we should have seen from Superman in Man of Steel. Hopefully WB and DC will keep Jenkins around because she has been their most successful director yet.
Cast & Crew
Patty Jenkins – Director
Allan Heinberg – Screenplay / Story
Zach Snyder – Story
Jason Fuchs – Story
Rupert Gregson-Williams – Composer
Gal Gadot – Diana Prince / Wonder Woman
Chris Pine – Steve Trevor
Connie Nielsen – Hippolyta
Robin Wright – Antiope
David Thewlis – Sir Patrick
Saïd Taghmaoui – Sameer
Ewen Bremner – Charlie
Eugene Brave Rock – The Chief
Lucy Davis – Etta Candy
Danny Hudson – General Erich Ludendorff
Elena Anaya – Dr. Maru
Lilly Aspell – Young Diana (8)
Jeff Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis) and his wife Karen (Isla Fisher) are an average suburban couple but when Tim (Jon Hamm) and Natalie (Gal Gadot) Jones move in across the street they get mixed into the crazy world of espionage.
I was immediately drawn to Keeping Up with the Joneses once I saw who it starred. With names like Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Gal Gadot, and John Hamm, this film boasts a talented cast list. With the exception of Hamm, all of the above actors have been some of my favorite films. Keeping Up with the Joneses offers some pretty good laughs but doesn’t seem to fully utilize the talent its cast possesses. However, that’s not to say they don’t do well. All four of them have great chemistry with each other. Either in pairs or all of them together, each scene made me at least smile with enjoyment, if not laugh a little. But that is all the reaction they earned. I think that was my biggest disappointment in this movie is there aren’t many stand-out or laugh-out-loud moments. It was enjoyable but mostly forgettable. Despite being veterans of comedies, both Galifianakis and Fisher are fairly forgettable when compared to their roles in other films, such as The Hangover or Wedding Crashers respectively. Hamm and Gadot seem to have fun as the more serious counterparts to Galifianakis and Fisher. They played to their strengths better than the other members of the cast, turning out more of the memorable moments than the others.
I thought Keeping Up with the Joneses was OK 😐 I know I might have painted the picture that I didn’t enjoy the film a whole lot but I did. It just left me underwhelmed where I was expecting more from such a talented cast. Keeping Up with the Joneses plays it safe. It was a good comedy that walks this weird middle ground where it is not too exciting while never becoming drab either. It’s actually pretty impressive how ordinary it is.
Cast & Crew
Greg Mottola – Director
Michael LeSieur – Writer
Jake Monaco – Composer
Zach Galifianakis – Jeff Gaffney
Isla Fisher – Karen Gaffney
Jon Hamm – Tim Jones
Gal Gadot – Natalie Jones
Matt Walsh – Dan Craverston
Maribeth Monroe – Meg Craverston
Michael Liu – Yang
Kevin Dunn – Carl Pronger
Henry Boston – Patrick
Jack McQuaid – Mikey
Patton Oswalt – Scorpion
Ming Zhao – Scorpion’s Girlfriend
After their successful heist in Rio, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Mia (Jordana Brewster), Han (Sung Kang), Gisele (Gal Gadot), Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), and Tej (Ludacris), have all gone into hiding. Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is investigating the destruction of a Russian military convoy, brought down by Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Hobbs approaches Toretto and asks for his help. Dom initially refuses but reconsiders when Hobbs shows him a recent photo of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) , currently a member of Shaw’s crew.
The Fast & Furious series has been an interesting one. It started out alright in The Fast and the Furious, then took a dive with 2 Fast 2 Furious, but has slowly grown in quality since Tokyo Drift, culminating in the fantastic Fast Five. Fast & Furious 6 maintains most of the elements that made Fast Five so entertaining while taking the franchise in a slightly new direction.
Most Fast & Furious movies have done well setting up the rest of the movie with the opening scene. This film starts with a montage consisting of scenes from every previous movie in the franchise. This does great to give you an idea of the history of the series, but also becomes more fitting as the movie goes on because every previous Fast & Furious movie is referenced. For those who have watched them all, it’s very gratifying. Even if you haven’t seen the other films, the story is still easily followed, you just won’t have the same rewarding experience.
Gibson has been the comedic relief of the series since he first appeared in 2 Fast 2 Furious. He had a few funny moments in Fast Five but mostly when he was bantering with Ludacris. However, he steals the spotlight this time around. He had many one-liners that were hilarious, particularly during the first half of the movie. Johnson was more humorous, too. Johnson can be funny as long as he has someone to play off of, which was missing in Fast Five. Now that he had Gibson opposite, he is much better.
For a series whose original premise was car racing and chases, Fast & Furious 6 has really moved away from that focus. There are still car chases (it wouldn’t be an action/Fast & Furious movie without them), but definitely fewer and more spaced out. The action is balanced between several types of action scenes, instead of mainly cars. Car sequences are used as a tool, rather than the central focus.
The climactic scene is one epic set piece. Few scenes come to mind that are as intense as cars chasing a plane on a runway while several fights are happening inside the plane’s cargo bay. On a side note, I know that movies tend to exaggerate, but if that runway existed in real life, I’m pretty sure it would have stretched from one end of Europe to the other.
Hobbs was such a great adversary for the gang in Fast Five. He had both the resources and stature to be a valid threat to the entire team, particularly Brian and Dominic. But as an ally, he doesn’t have the same appeal. It was great because Johnson and Gibson could riff off each other, but other than that, the character wasn’t as interesting when he is working with Dom and his crew rather than against them.
Fast & Furious 6 steps even further away from the series thin plot roots and offers a more character-centric story. Gibson shines as the comedic relief and Johnson’s humor is better since he can go back-and-forth with Gibson. Hobbs was much better against the team than with them. The final, climactic scene was one of the largest in recent memory and is an explosive ending befitting any great action movie. Fast & Furious 6 shows that it isn’t afraid to move away from the series simple origins and offers an experience unlike any in the series.
After Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) break Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) out of a prison transport bus, they rendezvous with Vince (Matt Schulze) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There, they are hunted by Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), one of the FBI’s toughest agents. At the same time, the most ruthless crime lord in Rio, Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), is looking for Dom and Brian. In order to gain their freedom, they call in some old friends to pull of one last job: a heist worth $100 million.
I was skeptical to see Fast Five. The previous movie, Fast & Furious, started to show the potential of what the series could be. It gave a shot of adrenaline into the franchise, so what I was interested in seeing was if this film could carry the momentum started in Fast & Furious. I’m glad I didn’t give up on the franchise after 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift, because Fast Five was more than I anticipated and kicked the franchise into a whole new level.
Dwayne Johnson is a strong addition to the cast. There is an underlying humor when he delivers his lines that makes it very enjoyable to watch him on screen.However, he doesn’t have anyone to play off of like in some of his other movies, so some of playfulness fades quickly. Hobbs as a character is a great adversary for the gang. He is physically strong and can match Dom punch for punch, and a federal agent, to make it personal against Brian. Add in Johnson’s wit and charm and you have one of the best antagonists in the series.
One of my favorite aspects of this film is how well the character relationships were displayed. The best moments were when Tej (Ludacris) and Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) were bantering. Tego (Tego Calderon) and Rico (Don Omar) had some great back-and-forth moments too. What wasn’t explored that well were the relationships between characters that haven’t interacted before. Tej and Roman were together in 2 Fast 2 Furious, and Tego and Rico were part of Dom’s crew in Fast & Furious. Other than when the entire group was together, characters from the different movies rarely interacted one-on-one. I think this was a missed opportunity and could have made for some of the more interesting moments in the movie.
I think what really made this movie for me was that at Fast Five maintains the essence of The Fast and the Furious, but it is primarily a heist movie. In the end when they finally do the heist, it is probably one of the greatest robbery chase scenes I have seen. Dom and Brian are towing a vault behind their cars. It made for a wild ride and some pretty serious destruction.
Most of the more memorable characters from the previous Fast & Furious movies return in Fast Five. One of the characters who returned didn’t have much screen time and seemed to disappear during most of the movie just as quickly as they appeared. Then, they became a casualty to give the team some more motivation. It felt like the death was unnecessary. I loath when characters are killed off simply to give gravitas to the situation. The character could have remained alive without greatly affecting the story.
Fast Five continues the energy that began in Fast & Furious. Johnson is a great addition to the cast and offers up humor to the character and a great foe for Dom and Brian. The character relationships were fleshed out, but only among those who appeared together previously. Fast Five is a great heist movie, but at its core, it still has all the elements that made the original The Fast and the Furious so entertaining.