Plex invites you to an evening at the flicks. Back row. Popcorn and ice cream. Pearl and Dean. If you want to know what we think about new releases, you’re in the right place. Read the review, watch the film and then rate it yourself – see what our cine-literate community has to say.
The sixth instalment of the really fast car franchise that could, Fast and Furious 6 (directed by series regular Justin Lin), is set in London with Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto's crew all in multi-million criminal retirement in warm climes. They all still drive their very shiny cars extremely fast but furious natures have been transformed into blissful domesticity with Brian (Paul Walker) married to Mia (Jordana Brewster). They're neighbours to Toretto and his understanding cop girlfriend Elena (Elsa Pataky). What else would tempt them out of their extradition-free happy homes bar Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) arriving with a photo of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), presumed dead and buried but seeming very much alive and well. Hobbs needs Toretto to catch a new and less family-orientated criminal car gang led by Shaw (Luke Evans) who have apparently recruited the once dead Letty. The stage is set for some revved engines and souped up action.
Hobbs with his new partner Riley (Gina Carano) provide the money and excuses for hugely extravagant car chases and clashes between the opposing crews. Lin stays true to the music video roots of the series and scantily clad girls and immaculately clean cars frequent the film with an unashamed lack of necessity. One need not worry about having missed any or all of the previous instalments as the film's three editors use the opening credits to bring everyone up to speed on the finer points of the characters and plot under three minutes. It could well be argued that without knowledge of the other films Fast and Furious 6 might well be a more textured film. There are layers to relationships and in-jokes that give the sort of nuanced references that any indie film would be delighted to achieve.
However, this is a Fast and Furious film and there are entertainingly astonishing car stunts, some realistic gritty fights provided by Gino Carano and all out ludicrous, joyous and hyperbolic action from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and the gravelly-voiced Vin Diesel. Of the five possible endings contained in Fast and Furious 6 the most pleasing one features an action superstar who is most likely the one to set the stage up nicely Fast and Furious 7.
Abrams jumps us straight into the action as we see Bones and Kirk being chased by the primitive inhabitants of Planet Nibiru. In the background there is a huge volcano ready to wipe out all life on the planet. Spock has come up with a plan to halt the erupting volcano but runs into problems of his own, leaving him stranded inside it. Kirk then has to make a big decision: whether to save Spock and risk exposing themselves to such an undeveloped race, or leave him to die and stick to the Starfleet’s rules. Kirk isn’t one to stick to the rules and risks the wrath of Starfleet to save his right hand man and on/off friend Spock.
Neil Jordon’s Byzantium is a return to the genre he has most certainly mastered – the vampire flick. You know when he's attached that you're going to get a beautiful looking film, with sensuous characters and buckets of blood - but in today’s climate of family friendly, shiny style vampire films how will it go down?
After the inevitable success of his original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Niels Arden Oplev directs his first feature film post Lisbeth Salander. This production has elements of the dark and moody Millennium film but has been unfortunately knitted with the ludicrous action sequences typical of Hollywood. When the head of a criminal gang, Alphonse (Terence Howard), starts receiving mysterious packages containing photos of him and his associates with their eyes crossed out, he orders someone to investigate. Unfortunately that person soon ends up dead. The antagonist is actually Victor (Colin Farrell), a member of Alphonse’s organisation who has a long held vendetta against his boss. As Victor’s months of preparation come to a head, the mistrustful loner makes an unlikely ally in a neighbour of his, Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), a victim of a car crash seeking vengeance of her own.
Promised Land features a renewed collaboration between Gus Van Sant and Matt Damon, forged 15 years ago on ‘Goodwill Hunting.’ That movie was very much character-driven and Promised Land is in the same vein. (Again, Damon co-wrote the script here – on this occasion with John Krasinksi who co-stars.) It is filmed almost entirely on location in rural Pennsylvania.
Some things are just meant to be. In 2005, Lethal Weapon and Last Boy Scout screenwriter Shane Black directed his first feature: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. The film combined two supremely powerful catalysts to explosive effect, namely Black’s ear for hilariously snarky banter amidst violent gun-play and the phoenix-like post rehab Robert Downey Jr. Whilst not a huge blockbuster hit, the film has gone on to be a widely loved cult favourite and directly led to Jon Favreau’s casting RDJ as the titular Tony Stark. Meanwhile, in comic book land, Warren Ellis was writing his “Extremis” arc for Iron Man. Extremis is recognised as the point at which a previously silly, 2nd tier Marvel hero was given a Grim’n’Gritty new millennial reboot and has been cited as a major influence on Favreau’s Iron Man movie.