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MFF Special: John Travolta, Cigarettes and Box Office Data

April 21, 2017

Post-workout cigarettes are the best.

John Travolta had a beautiful run playing villainous men who maniacally smoked tobacco products. Beginning in 1994 with Pulp Fiction and going all the way to 2004’s The Punisher no man has smoked so villainously. What I love most about his smoking is how the various smoking styles differed.

Pulp Fiction – Stylish but not over the top

Broken Arrow – Full on addiction

Face/Off – Kinda cool

Swordfish – Looks like he is always about to facepalm himself

The Punisher – Dude smoked a pipe……

I wrote a post a couple years back about the smoking and now I’ve returned to breakdown the box office and critical data.

Sidenote: This data features zero correlation, causation or major calculations. It is dumb data intended to put a smile on your face.

1. The Average Rotten Tomatoes critic score is 59.2%

I love that Face/Off currently has a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes because it is wildly insane. Travolta went full overacting villain and the result was glorious, strange and awesome. It is only two points below the much beloved Pulp Fiction which has a 94% rating. If it wasn’t for The Punisher 29% and Swordfish 26% Travolta would be the king of all smoking villains (I think).

I’m kinda bummed that the Thomas Jane Punisher movie didn’t do well. What I love is how Travolta was in the cigar land of Tampa and chose to smoke a damn pipe. Tampa finally gets put on the map and the dude doesn’t go with the obvious (maybe that is brilliant).

Excuse me while I prepare this pipe while you sit there…..

2. The Average IMDb score is 7.04

7.04 is a very good average for Travolta. Pulp Fiction has a crazy 8.9 score but the others carry their weight and prove that people love movies that feature Travolta chain smoking. Broken Arrow and Face/Off were legit events and they were carried in part by Travolta’s smoke inhalation. My theory is that he looked awesome in Pulp Fiction so he just kept doing it until he didn’t (Punisher). 

 

3. The Average inflated domestic box office is $120,357,903

$120 million is nothing to blow smoke at. During his smoking run Travolta put people in the seats and undoubtedly taught people how to smoke cigarettes incorrectly. I remember being 100% stoked to watch Face/Off, Broken Arrow and Swordfish. Travolta was a cool villain who wasn’t afraid to rock funky haircuts and do weird face waterfalls all over people’s faces and that made $$$$.

Nowadays R-rated action fests have a tough time breaking the $100 million mark. John Wick 2 is unbelievably awesome and it only made $91 million (which is really good). Both Face/Off and Broken Arrow made over $100 million domestically and Swordfish came close with $96 million. That doesn’t really happen anymore when it comes to original R-rated properties.

Travolta loves showing off his cigarettes.

Conclusion: Travolta should’ve smoked cigarettes in Battlefield Earth

Battlefield Earth is pure unbridled garbage. However, if Travolta would’ve been smoking cigarettes his character would’ve looked cooler (I have no proof of this). Also, the smoking might’ve helped him in The Taking of Pelham 123, Mad City and The Killing Season. My theory is that without the prop he couldn’t channel a properly evil character and he floundered in massive prosthetics and overly-manicured facial hair.

Make sure to check out the following posts and podcasts!

  1. Jet Ski Action Scenes Are the Worst
  2. A Closer Look at Movies That Feature the Words Great, Good, Best, Perfect and Fantastic
  3. An In-Depth Look At Movies That Feature Pencils Used as Weapons
  4. Cinematic Foghat Data
  5. Explosions and Movie Posters
  6. The Fast & Furious & Corona
  7. Nicolas Sparks Movie Posters Are Weird
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John’s Horror Corner: Tethered (2017), Independent Short Film Review.

April 17, 2017


MY CALL:  This was excellent!  EXCELLENT!  Isolated, cautionary, atmospheric excellence.  MORE INDIE REVIEWS (solicited reviews):  Here at MFF we occasionally do horror short film and pre-release indie film reviews on request. Among recent solicited promotions are Order of the Ram (2013; short film), Love in the Time of Monsters (2014; feature length), Interior (2014; feature length), Smothered (2014; feature length), In the Dark (2015; feature length), Trailer Talk: The Void, The Void (2016; feature length), TRAILER TALK: Blood MoneyShort Film Buzz: Burn (2016; press release)Brother (2016; short film), the indie techno-horror Other Halves (2016; feature length), Short Film Buzz: Kickstarter Campaign for Scythe (2016; press release), Scythe (2016; short film), and Shallow Waters (2017; short film).

Disclaimer: This review was solicited by the filmmakers and/or producers who provided privileged access to the film. However, my opinion remains unbiased as I was neither hired nor paid to produce this critical review, nor do I have an investment stake in the film.

Not gonna’ lie—I really like the movie poster and tagline.  Posters and taglines are meant to hook us and can misrepresent the film’s actual content.  But I’m intrigued nonetheless…and, it turns out, this film delivers all you could have wanted.

IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6636968/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/4leaguesmedia
Twitter: @4leaguesmedia & @greendragondan

At but a brief 12 minutes, I was captivated in minute one!  [I wrote 400 words of this review after only seeing the first minute].  Some excellent shots, even if not necessarily of “innovative” style.  But that’s not always the point, nor would flare be in this film’s style.  Consistently thoughtful, well-practiced and technically sound shots leave us at the mercy of the film’s atmosphere.  The camera lingers on a boy’s weathered face…we are taken aback by the circumstances of his existence as his mother’s harrowing voice plays on a cassette-tape recording narrating the “rules” by which the abandoned blind boy lives, tethered to a weary wooden shelter surrounded by bells and animal traps.

The acting and camerawork were exemplary; the editing…perfect, abrupt, uneasing.  The film opened powerful intrigue overlaying melancholy, with the rigid remoteness and fable-like rules beckoning memories of the finer qualities of The Village (2004), the tip-toeing isolation in The Witch (2016) or the opening shots in The Hallow (2015). The finer moments of the sound editing/mixing (e.g., the rabbit scene) really dropped me deep down the abyssal mystique of this dark woodland fantasy that all viewers, by now, fear will be a cautionary tale of dire consequence.

After you watch the entire film, rewind to this part.  0:44-0:58 (i.e., “the 1st rule”) were 14 of the best seconds of editing I’ve seen this year.  It reminded me of the pub/pint pouring excellence (the brief, quick-cut montage) of Shaun of the Dead, only harrowing!

Complete newcomers to film, the actors playing the boy (Jared Cook) and voicing the mother’s recording (Grace Mumm; whom we never see) were both outstanding.  Jared carries no lines of dialogue (well, one word, off-screen), so part of me might question his ability to carry lines. But his taciturn intensity radiates merit.  Lines or not, he acted the shit outta’ this role and Grace Munn, as his mother’s voice…again, perfect.  These two were perfect and they roped me along into their dark journey.

But what lies beyond the rope’s length?

A man appreciative of nuance, director Daniel Robinette (Samca, Drawn to Fear, The Time Will Come) breeds mood and mystery into this fantastic film—especially in those first two minutes.  He’s generated all I need to support whatever he next pursues.  Solomon’s desperation is as tattered as his clothing, and his soul-broken longing noted each time he pushes “rewind” on his mother’s departing message.

The Fate of the Furious (2017), the most action-heavy action movie I’ve seen since Mad Mad: Fury Road!     

April 16, 2017


MY CALL:  If Michael Bay and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) had a baby and then exposed it to Godzilla-levels of Marvel’s Gamma radiation, you’d get this action movie.  I want to label this the most action-heavy action movie I’ve seen in years—it makes The Expendables movies feel slow and plotty. I had so much fun yelling and laughing at the screen!  MORE MOVIES LIKE The Fate of the FuriousMad Max: Fury Road (2015)—the only other recent film of remotely comparable levels of grand-scale action. Of course, there are also a lot of other Fast and Furious films.  Personally, after the original (for the sake of historical franchise significance), I most strongly recommend Fast Five (2011; best story and best brawl), Fast and Furious 6 (2015; best technical fight scenes), and Furious 7 (2015; most action galore). For yet more Fast and Furious opinions be sure to check out our Podcast on Corona, Belgian Beer, BBQ and the Fast and Furious films, A Closer Look at the Corona Drinking in The Fast and The Furious Franchise, Ranking Fast and Furious 1-6 and Paul Walker’s 7 Best Fast and Furious Moments.

This franchise has taken us across the globe. From Mexico (Fast and Furious), Tokyo (Tokyo Drift), Brazil (Fast Five), all over Europe (Fast and Furious 6), and even to the Middle East (Furious 7).  Every film faces Dom’s crew against bigger villains with larger-scale plans speckling massive explosions and property damage across the globe.  So, then, what can the franchise give us that we haven’t seen before, and that Dom’s crew hasn’t faced before?  The answer is Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel; The Last Witch Hunter, Guardians of the Galaxy, Riddick) himself!

After being double-crossed by Dom, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson; Pain and Gain, Ballers, G I Joe: Retaliation) is imprisoned in an “ultra-maximum security” for crimes he didn’t commit and his only salvation is to take down Dom and his new cyber-terrorist extraordinaire boss, Cipher (Charlize Theron; Prometheus, Mad Max: Fury Road, Snow White and the Huntsman).  To do this, Hobbs is reluctantly forced to team up with fellow inmate and Furious 7’s villain Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham; The Expendables 1-3, Mechanic: Resurrection).

The Rock is a physically tremendous person with a larger-than-life personality. Yet Statham’s Shaw is so cheeky and menacing, we aren’t entirely convinced Hobbs would “beat him like a Cherokee drum” as he had threatened.  With the unreasonably insane resources of Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell; The Hateful Eight, Bone Tomahawk, Furious 7) and Dom’s crew, they get to work.

As usual, the crew brings back all of our favorite characters: Roman (Tyrese Gibson; Legion, Transformers 1-3, 2 Fast 2 Furious), Tej (Chris Ludacris Bridges; Gamer, 2 Fast 2 Furious, and rap performing artist), Elsa (Elsa Pataky; Snakes on a Plane, Fast Five), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez; Resident Evil, Machete Kills, Avatar), and hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel; Game of Thrones, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Fast and Furious 6).  We also find cameos by Leo and Santos, Shaw’s brother (Luke Evans; Fast and Furious 6’s villain), and even Helen Mirren (Trumbo, RED 2)!

Director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta’ Compton, Law-Abiding Citizen) has taken a different approach than his predecessors.  Among franchise parts 5-8, The Fate of the Furious has by far the most plot holes, unexplained developments, and completely unrealistic character appearances. We also don’t enjoy the fun aspect of seeing the crew plan their heists, rescue missions and escapes. Instead of each of these things (which I do miss), we basically get more, more and even yet MORE action scenes than any Fast and Furious film has ever contained stitched together by vague explanations and hand-waiving as Mr. Nobody says “watch this…” and “here you go [pointing to 89 500hp cars in a warehouse or the most powerful surveillance device in the world].”  I’m not complaining, the action was earth-rattlingly awesome.

So much flavor breathes insane hilarious exhilarating life into this movie.  Shaw and Hobbs’ “I’m tougher than you” banter, the crazy combat prison break scene (packing some utterly brutal action for The Rock and Statham), Cuban street racing in reverse while on fire, the spectacular arctic ice-marauding submarine “chase” scene, a public service announcement regarding the dangers of self-driving cars, “Uncle” Shaw’s laughably awesome plane rescue-escape sequence, The Rock throwing a torpedo, perhaps more car crashes than I’ve ever seen in a single action movie, and so much more (truly there were so many action scenes) that I can’t even remember what else.

My one complaint about the action was that the technical combat choreography clearly received less attention and the action camerawork was overly choppy (often too close-up and way too many cuts to see what’s going on). However, despite my whining, I still LOVED the fight scenes (e.g., the prison break, submarine chase and the plane escape scenes).  As for the vehicular action scenes, WOW! If you thought the action was turned up to an “11” in parts 5-7, then now I guess we’re at a “12.”  Sure, the plot was lacking and the storytelling was weak (much like comparing The Mechanic to Mechanic: Resurrection or The Transporter to its sequels), but the action scenes here were longer and more frequent than in parts 5-7 while being every bit as grand-scale and elaborate.

These scenes could have been half as numerous and half as long and STILL this would have been a great action movie—but now it’s yet greater! We’re talking Michael Bay levels of destruction and explosions.  It may have fallen well into the deep end of physics-defiant absurdity (even compared to this already absurd franchise populated by cars with Wolverine’s Adamantium shocks and struts)… but I somehow just don’t care.  I loved it.  I can’t wait to see this again.

Beyond the fact that IMDB (Vin Diesel’s page) and movie media announcements confirm Fast and Furious films through a 9th and 10th installment (in 2019 and 2021; when Vin Diesel will be 54 years old), we end part 8 with the storyline wide open for a sequel for reasons that I obviously won’t spoil.

Fast & Furious 6 (2013), bigger cast, bigger biceps, bigger explosions and bigger stakes.

April 13, 2017


MY CALL:  This sequel seems to mostly be about “more.” We have more of everything fans love down to more fights and chase scenes. I’ll always consider part 5 the best, but part 6 is sure to please any action movie fan.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Fast & Furious 6Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) for one. Of course, there are also a lot of other Fast and Furious films.  Personally, after the original (for the sake of historical franchise significance), I most strongly recommend Fast Five (2011; for a second opinion check out Mark’s review of Fast Five), followed by Furious 7 (2015), and this sixth installment (for a second opinion check out Mark’s review of Fast and Furious 6). However, Mark ranked the films quite differently than I did—Ranking Fast and Furious 1-6—and he’d suggest his favorite to be 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003). For yet more Fast and Furious opinions be sure to check out our Podcast on Corona, Belgian Beer, BBQ and the Fast and Furious films, A Closer Look at the Corona Drinking in The Fast and The Furious Franchise and Paul Walker’s 7 Best Fast and Furious Moments.

Fast Five (2011) took the typical sequel path of “going global” and taking us to Brazil.  But evidently a single venue change just isn’t enough.  Now we find scenes speckled all over the globe: a crime scene in Moscow, Brian in Spain’s Canary Islands, Han and Gisele in Hong Kong, and now the crew is summoned to meet in London.

Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson; Pain and Gain, Ballers, G I Joe: Retaliation) has even greater anger management issues than in Fast Five (2011) and I couldn’t be happier about it.  I guess it’s a bit comical when, during an interrogation scene, he tosses a pretty large dude up into the ceiling and across the room into the wall.  But The Rock is such a physically tremendous person with such a bigger-than-life persona that, you know what, I’m just gonna’ give him a pass and enjoy it.

So, at the end of Fast Five (2011) Hobbs said, “I’ll see you soon.”  And here he is knocking on Dom’s door asking for some big time favors in exchange for full pardons for his crew.  What’s the deal?  Dom’s crew of international criminals need to help Hobbs catch yet another crew of international criminals that also has an affinity for highspeed precision cars.

The already huge cast of Fast Five (2011) grows yet stronger—like a ‘roided out bicep!  In fact, with some added muscle mass from preparing for Pain and Gain (2013), The Rock has also literally come into this sequel bigger than before!  We sadly lose the comic relief of Leo and Santos, but gain Riley (Gina Carano; Haywire, Deadpool)!  And for our new villain we have Shaw (Luke Evans; Dracula Untold, Beauty and the Beast, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies), who is far more methodical than Fast Fives Reyes.

At 46 years old (in 2013), Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel; The Last Witch Hunter, Guardians of the Galaxy, Riddick) shows us that you’re never too old to wear a tight white tank top and continues to choose bare biceps over sleeves, Brian (Paul Walker; Brick Mansions, Hours, Into the Blue) and Mia (Jordana Brewster; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Chuck, Dallas) are starting a new family, Gisele (Gal Gadot; Fast and Furious, Dawn of Justice: Batman vs Superman, Wonder Woman), Han (Sung Kang; Tokyo Drift, Fast and Furious, Ninja Assassin, Bullet to the Head), Roman (Tyrese Gibson; Legion, Transformers 1-3, 2 Fast 2 Furious), Tej (Chris Ludacris Bridges; Crash, Hustle and Flow, Gamer, 2 Fast 2 Furious, and rap performing artist) and Elsa (Elsa Pataky; Snakes on a Plane, Fast Five) return to round out our cast of heroes.  But, most importantly, everyone gets their moment to shine whether through humor or sentiment.

When we first meet Shaw he zooms from an exploding crime scene in an armored stock car aided by his accomplice Letty (Michelle Rodriguez; Resident Evil, Machete Kills, Avatar), who is actually alive and suffering from soap opera-levels of amnesia!  Shaw’s team is like the evil mirror image of our favorite drag-racing crew, down to the “white Hobbs” (Kim Kold; Star Trek Beyond, Deliver Us from Evil), wispy mysterious woman (Clara Paget; Black Sails), and Jah (Joe Taslim; The Raid: Redemption, Star Trek Beyond) among others.  This cast is humungous!

Director Justin Lin (Tokyo Drift, Fast and Furious, Fast Five, Star Trek Beyond) has brought us more than just a bigger cast, but bigger action.  Consistent with Fast Five (2011), our chase scenes are not only by car but on foot.  And one split-cut pair of chase scenes lead us to my favorite part of the movie: THE SUBWAY FIGHT.  Riley and Letty beat the ever-loving crap out of each other as if this was a UFC event while Han and Roman team up against Shaw’s wily martial artist Jah.  The fights trade scenes as the fighters trade brutal blows—I winced a few times.  The close-quarters combat choreography was excellent!  What I loved about these fights (unlike so many non-finale fight scenes in action flicks) is that no one is flawless here.  Everyone gets beaten up, and the winners scramble or limp away after being bombarded with drop-kicks, choke holds, arm bars and spin kicks.  These brawls honor the high standard set by Fast Five’s (2011) Dom-Hobbs fight, complete with rib-crunching tackles.  The fight scenes and action sequence in the finale is a blast as well.

The car-crashing, shoot’em up action is in high gear, teeny bikinis get their fair share of screen time, subtle jokes about “Samoan Thor,” a destructive high-speed tank scene, and a great soundtrack all complement this action movie favorite.  But don’t forget, it’s not just about the action.

Somehow even more than in Fast Five (2011), you’ll hear the word “family” every ten minutes just remind you that this all started with barbeques, Corona, and drag racing in the ghetto.  In fact, you’ll even see a grill in the first 15 minutes harkening back to Dom’s driveway get-togethers.  But we are far from the NO2 days of living life a quarter mile at a time. Now everyone’s a millionaire! Despite that wealth, Dom remains a romantic and his heart will always belong to Letty.

We end part six much as it all started 12 years prior with everyone sharing a barbeque, Coronas, and grace with family at the old 1327 Toretto house.  We also end exactly as part 5, “I’ll see you soon.”

John’s Horror Corner: The Void (2016), the indie horror where The Thing’s (1982) practical effects meet Lovecraft and Barker!

April 12, 2017

MY CALL:  This indie horror film performs wonders with a small budget, honors your favorite concepts of 80s horror and practical effects, and honors Clive Barker, John Carpenter and H. P. Lovecraft to end.  MORE MOVIES LIKE The VoidThe Thing (1982), the prequel/remake of The Thing (2011), Harbinger Down (2015)…but also The Fly (1986), Hellraiser (1987) and Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988).  I’d focus more on the four 80s suggestions, even if you’re young and think “older horror” isn’t your style.

I’ve been waiting for this film for a loooong time—ever since I wrote Trailer Talk: The Void, an unfinished Lovecraftian horror labor of love that needs your help.

Small town sheriff Daniel (Aaron Poole; The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh) brings an apparently drunk, injured man to a hospital.  Preparing to relocate, the hospital is running on bare essential supplies and minimal staff including Dr. Powell (Kenneth Welsh; The Exorcism of Emily Rose, TimeCop, Of Unknown Origin), nurse Allison (Kathleen Munroe; Alphas) and trainee nurse Kim (Ellen Wong; Silent Night).

Shortly after admitting the patient things get weird…fast!  A nurse kills a patient and mutilates herself, the phones and even police radio go out, murderous cultists surround the hospital, the electricity goes out, and you know the Lovecraftian sh** has hit the fan when patient zero has bloody whipping tentacles emerging from his face!

The dialogue is really just passable with equally unimpressive writing (but a great premise), but I’m going to call this a great horror film anyway!  Written and directed by Steven Kostanski (Manborg, The ABCs of Death 2 segment W is for Wish) and Jeremy Gillespie (Father’s Day)—two men reared on the creative and effects side of the camera—I am dying to see what they can do with a little more experience (now under their belt) and a bigger budget on their next project. And there better be a next project because, and I think I speak for all of us, we want more of this!  Why?  Because the effects were OUTSTANDING!!!!! Their premise was also a story I’d like to see further developed—but I can’t explain that without huge spoilers.

We graduate from some flailing face tentacles to a hulking, disfigured amalgam of human body parts and tentacles.  It’s all practical effects and it’s all glorious.  Even if clearly birthed from a humble budget, this is exactly what gorehounds want!  When the creature kills, it pumps its tentacles down its victims’ eye sockets and other orifices so as to absorb more helpless cadaver into the monster’s mass.  A head even emerges tearing its way out of the mutated body—much as The Thing (1982)—and we see lifeless, shambling mounds of reanimated undead flesh with melted mozzarella-gooiness.

The violence and gore includes loads of blood, wounds and flesh rending.  There’s even something of a metamorphosis through a messy birth scene.  But far more gratifying than the slimy masses of tentacles that await is the 80s homage to practical effects and iconic horror influences worn on its sleeve.  Not just the conceptual aspects of Lovecraft’s madness or Clive Barker’s Labyrinth (here the Abyss) and even a touch of Evil Dead (1981), but we find special effects honoraria to The Fly (1986), Hellraiser (1987) and Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)!

This film offers a lot…but it may not be what you expected.  If you want to see something that will unnerve you and frequently make you jump—watch Life (2017).  Want something with a slower tension built up through an atmosphere of uncomfortable mystery and dread?  That’s The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016).  No…this…this atmosphere is pure weird unsease…and it’s gross!  As I hinted before on the writing, this is a passable movie…but a passable movie with outstanding special effects and an excellent premise that honors (not rips-off, but honors) all the things we love and miss about 80s horror.  The ideas brought forth by these filmmakers are exceptional and I must see more projects spawned the Abyss.

MFF Special: A Closer Look at the Corona Drinking in The Fast and The Furious Franchise

April 11, 2017

You can have any brew you want, as long as it’s a Corona

Socrates (AKA Dom Toretto)

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With these beautiful words The Fast and the Furious announced its glorious partnership with Corona. Corona saw its zenith in The Fast & The Furious, but it got a massive push in Furious 7 when Dom famously turned down delicious Belgian beer in favor of a bucket of Corona. Corona and the Fast world have become synonymous with each other and have built a beautiful world in which nobody gets drunk or gains weight due to excessive drinking. However,  after rewatching all the films I’ve come to realize Corona doesn’t play that big of a role in the Fast world. In my mind, the entire team are always incorrectly chugging bottled beer while cruising around the earth engaging in shenanigans. I am 100% serious when I say I was surprised when I compiled the numbers of Corona sightings. Here are the numbers.

  1. The Fast and the Furious – 12 bottles opened and consumed (but never finished) – several empty bottles
  2. 2 Fast 2 Furious – 0
  3. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift – 0
  4. Fast and Furious – 4-6
  5. Fast Five – 0
  6. Fast and Furious 6 – 10 bottles laying around
  7. Furious 7 – 4 bottles in bucket

Here are some facts:

  1. The beer is only consumed when the gang is in California.
  2. The only time anybody other than Dom drinks Corona is when they are with Dom.
  3. No Corona is ever finished
  4. Some people don’t know how to drink beer.

 

I still don’t understand this moment….

The following post breaks down the data on the Fast and Furious franchise and analyzes whether or not Corona consumption affects box office and audience/critical reaction. Also,  I’m going to attempt to predict how many Coronas will be consumed in The Fate of the Furious.

Fast & Furious films that feature Corona

Movies: The Fast & the Furious, Fast & Furious, Fast & Furious 6, Furious 7

Average Inflated Domestic Box Office: $250 million

Average RT/IMDb Combined Average: 63.25%

The box office average was boosted massively by the insane $354 million haul of Furious 7. If I had to guess why the films have done so well is because they all featured Vin in a lead role and kept the “core” team together. After Fast & Furious the series became a money printing press and learned how to really embrace the smart stupidity of it all. I love that a Point Break ripoff has grown into a certified fresh blockbuster that just won’t quit.

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Fast & Furious films that don’t feature Corona

Movies: 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast Five

Average Inflated Domestic Box Office: $163 million

Average RT/IMDb Combined Average: 57%

I feel really bad for these three films because they are my favorite. My top three are 2 Fast 2 Furious, Fast Five and Tokyo Drift. I think they all have their own personalities and still embraced family, cars and action. 2 Fast and Tokyo suffered from a lack of Diesel but they also introduced the world to my favorite characters Roman Pierce (Tyrese), Tej (Ludacris) and Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang). It bums me out that they are losing out to the likes of Fast & Furious and Fast & Furious 6.

Roman and Brian don’t need Corona.

The Fate of the Furious Predictions

Corona has to make an appearance in The Fate of the Furious. The product placement helps sales and even though it isn’t in LA I’m betting that 2 bottles are opened and zero are finished.

Charlize Theron’s character seems like an IPA fan.

How many Coronas do you think will be consumed in The Fate of the Furious? Make sure to check out our Fast & Furious podcast episode. It is glorious.

 

Fast Five (2011), introducing The Rock’s sweaty muscles and the franchise’s biggest cast to Brazil.

April 9, 2017

With the release of The Fate of the Furious (2017), I felt the need to back up and appreciate that brought The Rock and high-caliber villains to the franchise…

MY CALL:  Hands down my favorite of the franchise (of parts 1-5).  This is the most fun, has the coolest plot and produces the most engaging antagonists.  High octane testosterone fun for movie-goers who like high speed chases, sweaty biceps, explosions and brawling.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Fast FiveGone in 60 Seconds (2000) for one. Of course, there are also a lot of other Fast and Furious films.  Personally, after the original (for the sake of historical franchise significance), I’d only recommend this fifth installment (for a second opinion check out Mark’s review of Fast Five), Fast and Furious 6 (2013) and Furious 7 (2015). However, Mark ranked the films quite differently than I did—Ranking Fast and Furious 1-6—and he’d suggest his favorite to be 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003). For yet more Fast and Furious opinions be sure to check out our Podcast on Corona, Belgian Beer, BBQ and the Fast and Furious films and Paul Walker’s 7 Best Fast and Furious Moments.

In this fifth installment in the Fast and Furious (2001-2017) franchise, we find our favorite characters in Brazil laying low from the American eyes of Johnny Law…but still jacking cars!  Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel; The Last Witch Hunter, Guardians of the Galaxy, Riddick) continues to choose bare biceps over sleeves, Brian (Paul Walker; Brick Mansions, Hours, Into the Blue) and Mia (Jordana Brewster; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Chuck, Dallas) are still an item and as close as ever, and director Justin Lin (Tokyo Drift, Fast and Furious, Fast and Furious 6, Star Trek Beyond)—who helmed parts 3-6 in this worldwide franchise sensation—has become more ambitious with stunts.  God bless him for that!  We have flipping shredded prison buses, high speed plasma-cutting train heists, rocket launchers, exploding poop-launching toilets, and high speed vault dragging!

The fight choreography is getting more interesting (with each sequel), everyone has become a better martial artist, the explosions are bigger and more frequent, and cars continue to function unphased after devastating landings and hits. The action has truly been turned up to an “11” in this sequel and, after the youthful thrill of the 2001 original (I saw when I was 20 years old), this is, by far, the most entertaining and my favorite of the franchise…so far.

This film is like high octane testosterone.  There’s a lot of flexed-arm finger-pointing, flexed arm-crossing, very few shirts with sleeves, lots of yelling, lots of hard crazy-eyed stare downs, lots of large bald men in sweat-soaked overly snug shirts, and a lot of shiny biceps.  It has a lot in common with The Expendables (2010-2014) movies in that respect, only much better.

From the moment Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson; Pain and Gain, Ballers, G I Joe: Retaliation) busts on the scene every gym bro is reminded of why he’s their man-crush.  He’s all business, he’s a straight up killing machine and…well, it’s The Rock!  And whereas we meet Hobbs as an antagonist, we also have our “real villain” Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida; Desperado), a man of the people who spins anecdotes about why Portuguese is spoken in Brazil.  He’s exactly the refined villain you like, hate, like to hate, and want to see taken down.

Whether it’s Ocean’s Eleven (2001) or Mission: Impossible (1996), ever notice how in every movie it’s always “one last job” and then they’ll retire, it’s always against the biggest baddest opponent they can find (like the crime lord who runs Rio), and they always need to “assemble a team?”

Well, a motley crew they do assemble.  They have big engines, bigger biceps, big stakes ($100 million), and the biggest team cast in the franchise so far!  They meet, greet, hug and smile as we see new friends and old friends reunite.  After Brian, Mia and Dom, there’s the long and mysterious Gisele (Gal Gadot; Fast and Furious, Dawn of Justice: Batman vs Superman, Wonder Woman), the calm and cool Han (Sung Kang; Tokyo Drift, Fast and Furious, Ninja Assassin, Bullet to the Head), mouth-running Roman (Tyrese Gibson; Legion, Transformers 1-3, 2 Fast 2 Furious), tech whiz Tej (Chris Ludacris Bridges; Crash, Hustle and Flow, Gamer, 2 Fast 2 Furious, and rap performing artist), Santos (Don Omar; Fast and Furious, and performer responsible for Danza Kuduro) and Leo (Tego Calderon; Fast and Furious, Illegal Tender, and rap performing artist).  Maybe some of you thought Roman and Tej were funny characters, but Leo and Santos are show-stealing hilarious.  Nine in total, and complemented by Hobbs and Reyes.  That’s 11 stars in a “part 5” movie!

Our characters’ exploits are scored by an outstandingly energized soundtrack.  The foot chase scene is solid, filmed with numerous wide angle shots capturing the gorgeous cityscape of Rio’s rooftops.  Probably the best camerawork among the first five Fast and Furious movies.  We are also wowed by one of my favorite movie fight scenes (excluding martial arts movies).  When Hobbs and Dom go at it, it’s like two rabid junkyard dogs on steroids.  They hits are hard, frequent, and I question how many bruises the actors left the set with at the end of the day (of course, the stunt doubles had it much worse).  There weren’t enough windows and plaster walls in that entire warehouse for them to smash or throw each other through. This was a grappling, tackling, face-punch frenzy. My only gripe is that The Rock didn’t win. Not Hobbs, mind you…but The Rock.  Later, seeing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson limp is like going to SeaWorld to see a water show starring a killer whale with a captivity-rendered limp dorsal fin.  It’s just not right. LOL.

Then there was the vault chase scene…STUPENDOUS! At every turn we find so much property damage as they swing that vault across the road in their wake through crinkled cars and mangled buildings.  Oh, and they were wholesale MURDERING cop cars, smashing up more vehicles than a Bad Boys Michael Bay flick.

Winding down after their victory and reminding us that they’re all one big criminal family, is that we have such a happy conclusion.  Much like the Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003) we have a bunch of endings, only these are much more succinctly handled and won’t bore audiences.  Brian and Mia got a beach house to raise their child, Tej and Roman jockey for “best car in the hemisphere,” Han and Gisele go honeymooning on the autobahn, and Santas and Leo do playfully dumb things with their money in casinos…it’s all very nice.  You’ll leave this movie happy.

So go see it (again), be thrilled, and be happy.

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