Fast & Furious 6

ff6The ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise continues to grow as a result of its rebirth in 2009 with ‘Fast & Furious’ and the fever pitch it reached with 2011’s ‘Fast Five’.  As a result of the rebirth of the franchise, we are presented with ‘Fast & Furious 6’ this year, and the franchise is just as strong as ever.

Vin Diesel and Paul Walker continue to drive the franchise, Diesel as the action star and Walker as the soul of the films.  The addition of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in ‘Fast Five’ created an opportunity to use the fifth and sixth films in the series as a chance to flip the franchise from a series about street racing to more of a car heist franchise, and this has been pulled off wonderfully.

The action sequences in ‘Fast & Furious 6’ are once again amazing, and the fact that they continue to use practical effects when filming, including the tank scene where they actually destroyed upwards of 250 cars with the tank, highlight the successes of the franchise.

New villain Owen Shaw, portrayed with as much charisma as could be by Luke Evans, is the one downside to ‘Fast & Furious 6’, and that is not a fault of Evans at all, but just in how the film was presented.  There was simply just not enough screen time to provide to the character, especially when you take into account the manner in which the film tied together some loose plot threads from some of the previous films.

As was the case with ‘Fast Five’, there was an epilogue scene that will be used to setup the next film in the franchise, and this scene also does what we have all been waiting for in tying together all of the films from the series, and also introducing us to an actor that will be well worth the wait to see how he works as a villain, and one that is also quite used to driving fast cars as well.

I don’t want to spoil too much of this film, but for fans of the franchise, it will be well worth the trip to the theatre to check it out.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Star Trek into Darkness

stidWell, ‘Star Trek into Darkness’ was released into IMAX 3D theatres last evening and I will tell you this, it was freaking fantastic.  This was just my second ever IMAX film, following up on ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ earlier this year, and in a bit of a twist, the first five minutes of the new Trek film were shown and looked amazing, and nothing has changed at all in the intervening months.

J.J. Abrams’ second, and possibly last, foray into the Trek universe will quite possibly be the gold-standard by which all future Trek films are compared, just as ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ is the gold-standard for the first ten Trek films.

For most of the audience in North America, ‘Star Trek into Darkness’ is our introduction to Benedict Cumberbatch, and what an introduction it is.  A scene stealer at every turn, Cumberbatch’s John Harrison joins the pantheon of Trek villains with a wonderful steely demeanor and is quite comparable to Khan Noonien Singh from The Original Series film slate.

What we also get in the new film is a better understanding of the friendship between Chris Pine’s James Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock.  Often stated to be a long-standing unbreakable friendship through The Original Series TV show and films but never having its origins explored, ‘Star Trek into Darkness’ shows just how this enduring friendship overcomes early struggles and differences to blossom into what we all know it should be.

Another huge plus for this film was Simon Pegg in the role of Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott.  Taken out of the engineering department for most of the film, ‘Scotty’ is some great comedic relief, much to Pegg’s abilities, but also a bit on the action side which is a refreshing change of pace.

‘Star Trek into Darkness’ was filled with great action, awesome visuals, well-time comedy and when those three elements are put together, well you end up with a pretty damn freaking amazing film, and that is exactly what this is.

I cannot recommend ‘Star Trek into Darkness’ enough.  For someone new to the series from 2009’s ‘Star Trek’, it is a great continuation film.  For someone familiar with Trek lore and history, there are plenty of nods to what has happened before in the original time line, and I say to all, do yourself a favour and watch this film in theatres, and if you have the chance to see it in IMAX, do so, you will thank me afterwards.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Iron Man 3

im3The 2013 Summer Blockbuster season has finally hit with the release of ‘Iron Man 3’ from Marvel Studios today.  For fans of the series in particular and Marvel movies in general, there is always a fear that a third movie of a series will turn into another ‘Spider-Man 3’ or ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’, but I am here to tell you that you can put those fears to rest.

‘Iron Man 3’, directed by Shane Black and once again starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, this movie bucks the trend of delivering a sub-par third effort and once again shows why Marvel Studios takes such good care of their properties.

While some fanboys will be displeased with some of the twists in this film, because fanboys are always like that, the average fan of the movie franchise will definitely enjoy this film.  I like to consider myself a fanboy, but one that also understands why changes are made and the fact that they are usually made for the benefit of the greater populace, and as long as the resulting changes are still enjoyable, I am okay with it.

‘Iron Man 3’ borrows a few themes from different era’s of the ‘Iron Man’ comic book, primarily the ‘Extremis’ storyline from 2005/06.  While not taken as a direct representation of this story arc, the film uses it wisely and in a real world way that makes sense.

This film had great action, amazing and well-timed humour, and the character arc for Tony Stark was perfect, considering everything that he has gone through in three previous full length movies.

Marvel Studios has hit another home run with ‘Iron Man 3’, and continues their track record of putting out consistently entertaining films for both fans of their comics and people new to the characters.  “Phase 2” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has kicked off with a bang, and I for one cannot wait to see where the further sequels, ‘Thor: The Dark World’, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ take us, and along with new fare like ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, how the build up to ‘The Avengers 2’ goes for the next two years.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Summer Blockbuster Season – May Edition

Well, the 2013 Summer Blockbuster season gets underway this week, and the 2013 season is possibly one of the strongest ever.  Peppered with known properties, consisting of both prequels and sequels, re-imaginings and original sci-fi content, this could wind up as the top-grossing summer yet for the movie industry.

Iron Man 3 – May 3

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For the seventh straight year, a film based on a Marvel comic book character will open the Summer Blockbuster season, and the fourth straight for Marvel Studios, as ‘Iron Man 3’ brings Robert Downey Jr. back to the big screen as Tony Stark/Iron Man in what has become one of the biggest movie characters and franchises of our generation.

Marvel Studios has become one of the most bankable companies in the world, and an expected box office gross of $400 million in North America and $600 million or more internationally will only further serve to cement this fact.

The Great Gatsby – May 10

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While ‘The Great Gatsby’ was pushed back from an original release date in December of 2012 to this current date as results of issues with its production schedule.  Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, ‘The Great Gatsby’ is based on the novel of the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Directed by Baz Luhrmann, famous for his work on ‘Moulin Rouge!’, this film will be his return to the North American box office for the first time since ‘Australia’ was a major disappointment in 2008.  As is the norm in a Luhrmann film, the visuals look spectacular and there is no fear there, so the hope is that the story and acting will complete it as well.

Star Trek into Darkness – May 17

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One of the biggest hits of 2009 was the reboot of the ‘Star Trek’ franchise, directed by J.J. Abrams.  Creating a new timeline while still being able to use many of the characters made famous by The Original Series, ‘Star Trek’ brought in over $250 million at the North American box office, proving that a Trek film could also be a mainstream hit.

‘Star Trek into Darkness’ is the return to that universe and with positive word of mouth and great trailers could be enough to push this new entry over $300 million in North America, which would be huge for both Paramount and the Trek franchise.  That being said, this could be Abrams’ last foray as director, as he is taking over as director of the ‘Star Wars’ franchise, at least for one film.

Fast and Furious 6 – May 24

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If anyone had ever thought we would see a sixth movie in the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise, no one would have believed them, yet here we are, with our third film in the franchise in the past five year, with a possibility of a seventh title in the franchise coming next year as well.

With Paul Walker and Vid Diesel back in the fold for yet another turn, along with burgeoning action star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson back for his second film, ‘Fast & Furious 6’ promises to amp up the action as the franchise has successfully transitioned from a car racing series to a jack-of-all-trades action flick, and one that is chock full of testosterone.

The Hangover: Part III – May 24

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While the original ‘Hangover’ was one of the biggest surprise hits of the past ten year at the box office, the sequel was a bit of a step back as it essentially just re-hashed all of the same jokes from the original while changing the locale.  Much of the fear of a another retread stems from the fact that the locale in this year’s edition is once again Las Vegas.

EPIC – May 24

epic

There is only one animated film coming out in during the month of May and that is ‘Epic’ from 20th Century Fox.  As the only real family release in May, and coming out during the holiday weekend time period in both Canada and the United States, ‘Epic’ should be great counter-programming at the box office.

The only issue with this is the fact that it is coming out a week after ‘Star Trek into Darkness’ and the same weekend as ‘Fast & Furious 6’ and ‘The Hangover: Part III’ which could hurt its overall box office a tad.

After Earth – May 31

aeThe latest box office offering from M. Night Shyamalan, featuring Will Smith and his son Jaden, ‘After Earth’ is a sci-fi offering about what happens to Earth once the Human race leaves it to evolve on its own.

‘After Earth’ was bumped up a week to May 31 to give it a second week in theatres before ‘Man of Steel’ is released, but coming a week after three other nationwide releases could severely impact it’s possible box office take.  An original sci-fi film with one of the biggest bankable sci-fi start of our generation should be enough to overcome that, but trailers clearly show that Jaden Smith is the lead actor of this film, so some viewers may wind up staying away from this film.

Stay tuned for other monthly previews for June, July and August later this month as well.  For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.