Saturday, May 16, 2015

StarBoy91's Theatrical Escapade - Furious 7

Written: May 5th-14th, 2015 / Published: May 16th, 2015
 
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and fan of all things 16-bit, and welcome to my newest installment of Theatrical Escapade as I discuss the latest in the Fast and Furious franchise Furious 7=)
Before I start I have a confession to make: prior to this movie I never saw any of the six preceding Fast and Furious predecessors, at least not from beginning to end anyway.  I did see snippets of the some of the movies, but there were many factors that compelled me to watch this movie on the big screen (three weeks later, on April 26th) despite not being all that prepared for it.  One of them was that the trailer looked fascinating, another was that it was the last movie Paul Walker worked on before his death in 2013, the movie has been getting really great reviews (best received in the series), and finally the biggest reason I watched it was because Furious 7 was being directed by James Wan.  =)
 
Since the early 2000's Wan has directed movies which found themselves a loyal following, primarily horror films.  I didn't see every single one of his features but from what I saw I was largely impressed by his work, most of all by the genuinely effective and scary surprise hit The Conjuring from 2013 which is hands down one of the highlights in the genre.  That same year he made headlines when he announced that after his then upcoming direct sequel to 2011's Insidious, Insidious: Chapter 2 (having come out months after the aforementioned Summer hit), that he would be done directing for the horror genre (as he still produces), feeling that his skillful directing prowess lacked versatility in the genre department.
 
This news surprised fans and admirers of his alike, but even more surprising was when he announced that he would take Justin Lin's place as director for upcoming Fast and Furious installments, beginning with Furious 7.  Naturally the best response one could elicit at the time was how a director with this stature would tackle the franchise, given that it's James Wan's very first non-horror film.  I do understand his need to branch out and why he felt the need to distance himself from the horror genre, since I can only imagine the thought of being branded as "that [horror] guy" for the rest of his life--considering his pre-2015 filmography--was not how he wanted to keep doing his job (at least that's what I recall from the interview I read).
 
But when I heard that Wan would be back as director for next year's The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist I was excited to hear this news, for if his horror directing schtick truly did end in 2013 then it would've been terrible since Insidious: Chapter 2 was a colossal disappointment which permanently reduced the genuinely creepy and effective moments from the first film that it left a sour taste in my mouth (so much so that I'm not sure I want to see Leigh Whannell's follow-up this Summer).  =(  I'm sorry, I'm just rambling at this point; so how does Wan make up for disappointing us with his previous feature?  For Furious 7, pretty damn well I say!  =D

Image from Rotten Tomatoes
Rated: PG-13 | Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 | Running Time: 137 Minutes | Director: James Wan
Following the events of Fast and Furious 6, Jason Statham's Deckard Shaw is seeking vengeance on the crew responsible for his younger brother Owen's demise.  Elsewhere, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) is trying to help his amnesiac friend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) regain her memories while Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) is trying to get to grips at fatherhood spending time with his wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) and son.  But all that comes to a halt when Shaw kills a member of Dom's team in Tokyo and tries to eliminate them; it's then that Dom is encountered by shady covert ops team leader by the alias of "Mr. Nobody" (Kurt Russell) who ends up recruiting Dom's team to not only take down Shaw but locate and find the God's Eye before a mercenary (Djimon Hounsou) does.
Image from Rotten Tomatoes
For being the first Fast and Furious movie I saw in full, I was a bit worried that because I didn't see any of the last movies from beginning to end that I would be lost with Furious 7 presuming that it would have lots of references to the previous entries.  And while there are a few of them to speak of, it didn't take me long to get sucked into this world and care about the characters, for it was a thrilling ride while it lasted (and I speak as a first-time Fast and Furious watcher).  I was blown away by how much crazy over-the-top action there was from time to time, and while there are times that it gets silly (and it does), it was no less engaging.

Another thing that was just insane was just how fast the cars were zipping by, the over-the-top fight scenes were ridiculously well-choreographed (the ones between Paul Walker and Tony Jaa's Kiet plus the ones between Deckard Shaw and Dwayne Johnson's Luke Hobbs coming to mind), and much of the practical stunts were really cool.  I especially enjoyed the gravity-defying action, like when Brian escapes from a bus about to fall off a cliff, climbing on the side, and running fast on top of said declining bus and jumping high in just enough time to grab hold of Letty's car; another one that occurs is later on is so breathtaking and incredibly fun that I'm not going to spoil it.

But among the high-testosterone action is a touch of seriousness and poignancy, mainly due to the presence of Paul Walker, who's made his last movie appearance in Furious 7 before dying in a car crash.  He's a really good actor, and any time he's onscreen it's hard not to feel his loss with this knowledge in mind, making it difficult to believe that he's gone.  =(  I looked up that originally this movie was to have a different fate for Paul Walker's character, but his sendoff in the final product is sweet and the tribute to Paul in the end was really touching.
Image from Rotten Tomatoes
The other cast members are great as well and have a great sense of camaraderie, and Jason Statham's bad guy role is good; I especially enjoyed Kurt Russell's character, who was a bit of a scene stealer in his own way, but up until the end I was a bit worried that he was playing a morally ambiguous role (being the movie watcher I am).  With that said, I hope to see more of Mr. Nobody in future installments.  =)
 
The fast-paced and tight-nit editing is a bit interesting when it comes to the car chases and battle sequences, and the amount of practical effects are cool.  But with James Wan on board they singlehandedly manage to create some ridiculous amount of CGI flying on the screen; plus he also provides his unique camera angles when the moment comes.  If there's anything that prevented the movie from reaching perfection it's the fact that there was so much shaky cam during the intense moments that I was worried I was going to suffer from motion sickness (which I never thought I would feel when watching a movie; Gary Ross' The Hunger Games never had that effect on me three years ago).  =(
 
What amazed me is that despite being directed by James Wan it did not feel like a film of his.  I mean, if you were to see excerpts of The Conjuring and Furious 7 back to back and not know any better, would you honestly believe they were helmed by the same guy?  Personally I wouldn't.
Image from Rotten Tomatoes
Overall, Furious 7 was an enjoyable experience for someone who hasn't experienced all of its predecessors, though I have a feeling it'll work much better for those that have.  The action sequences were well-choreographed and the stunts ranged from great to hilarious.  The cheesy one-liners added to the charm, the characters were likable, and the tribute paid to Paul Walker was very touching and poignant.  =)  I recommend this movie, for it is great fun (if you can overlook the abundant shaky cam), and I cannot wait for the next installment.
My Personal Score: 4/5
Stay tuned next time as I talk about the first Summer blockbuster of 2015, Avengers: Age of Ultron.
 
I want to thank you for reading my honest Theatrical Escapade thoughts on this movie, so please leave me a comment and let me know whether you agree with me or not.  Until next time, I'm StarBoy91, and may your day shine brightly!  =)
<(^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^)>

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