Film Franchises Are Great, But Can We Please Stop The Fanboy Fights? (Cross Talk Ep. 29)

I just came back from a fantastic date at the theatre – Star Wars Episode VIII was on the menu today; it was an early Christmas gift from my fiancee. Sweet deal right?

As you may know by now, I love movies, and this was an ideal way for Mysticque and I to spend some time together, with one of my favourite activities, and then bask in some post-film analysis. She SO gets me on a personal level, and I’m super excited to share this passion with her and our family, especially as Miguel grows up, and as we add onto our little tribe – family time is important to me.

This is why of the many reasons why The Fast and the Furious franchise stands out in my mind as an excellent piece of film, worthy of your attention, admiration, and love. But this is not a post or a video about that love, rather it’s a plea to the general populous. Please stop hating on other peoples spirit movies.

Chris channels Star Trek and Friday The 13th on a regular basis, Mike loves him some John Wick (more than anyone I’ve ever met), and I can’t help but carry the torch for Star Wars, Marvel, and my BFF – The Fast and the Furious franchise. Chris also wanted to let me know that he loves Star Wars, much to the chagrin of Fanboys out there – contrarian to what pop culture and water cooler etiquette teaches us.

But didn’t Yoda teach us why fear is such a bad thing already? We fear what we don’t understand, but if we could have a little empathy for The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey and Harry Potter, maybe we’d all be a little bit more settled… Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Yeah I have Star Wars on the brain, and no, I’m not going to spoil The Last Jedi for you. We should have all learned that lesson from episode 28 of Cross Talk.

Franchise wars are a very real thing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hold hands and try to love one another better. This episode of Cross Talk is a thorough discussion on the matter and all three of us gents have some excellent points to make on the topic.

And yeah… I totally flubbed on the title shown in the video, but I’ll correct it soon. I promise – I’m not at my house this evening, where all of the files are stored on my computer. Please just enjoy that small error, knowing I’m human too, and consider that I was so excited to get this video out to you, that I decided to bite the bullet and edit as soon as possible.

With all of that shared… tell us what your opinions are on the ongoing challenges of film franchise wars! We love comments. And shares! And subscribers! No more theories for today friends, but come back y’all and we’ll give you something in the way of an album review tomorrow.

Tim!

I Think We Need To Take A Break (Cross Talk Ep. 18)

I’m gonna keep the preamble short this time creative cuties – Sometimes franchises get stale.

And if I can be so bold as to use an analogy, franchises can very easily become like all relationships. If both parties don’t look past their differences, accept that the things they may have once loved now have a capacity for irritation, and focus on appreciating and nurturing the things that they generally DO like, then the relationship will experience fatigue.

What I’m basically saying is that you cannot change someone, that person has to decide to change on their own. But when you communicate about the things that bother you in a loving manner with no intent of changing the person, then there is room for growth.

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After all, likes and dislikes are completely subjective, so that hair twirling which you “hate” may be completely endearing to someone else. Movies are complicated, okay?

A movie franchise which always leads in with the same soundtrack and repeats similar themes over and over again can be really good, but only if you appreciate those qualities. When it starts to get stale, it might be time to move on or potentially appeal to reason by spending your money on franchises which keep it interesting.

Which is why today, Chris and I explore what we think some franchises are doing right, what others continue to do despite not growing in other ways, and how others completely miss the mark and wonder why they are so lonely. It might be an exhaustive effort but this is what franchise fatigue does to us.

And because we know there are a few elephants in the room, we’re just gonna get the superheroes and space adventurers out of the way immediately – Because let’s face it, they are low hanging fruit.

This is episode eighteen of Cross Talk, and dammit if I ain’t proud of all the franchise staples we were able to come up with in under twenty five minutes. Now it’s your turn to take a breather, settle in with your favourite snack and meditate as we bring up some interesting theories on how to combat these challenges…

I am #sorrynotsorry for the relationship analogy, because I think all relationships take work and I have this great theory about how we can learn from people in addressing this topic. But if you watch the video you’ll see what I mean. Another day, another theory realized my friends.

Please comment, subscribe, and share this video with friends. We want to hear your feedback!

Tim!

Swordfish Doesn’t Even Taste Good Anyway (The Fast and the Furious 15th Anniversary)

Fifteen years ago my life changed, and for the better.

Last Wednesday marked the anniversary of that transformative experience and so I sat down in a theatre by myself to watch my favourite movie of all time and reflect on it’s impact on my own life – I remember that first experience like it was yesterday, dear readers.

My best and oldest friend, who we’ll call Rick for the sake of the story, was living in the city of Airdrie and I was visiting him for a couple of weeks at the start of the summer. We had grown up on the same block, living in mirrored houses of all things, and we spent most of our free time together, though we did go to different schools and had somewhat different hobbies, we were inseperable. Life was pretty good for two young boys, and we got into all kinds of adventures until he moved to Drumheller for his dads new job after the final year of elementary school.

So Rick and his family lived in Drumheller for the next 3 years and we would hang out for at holidays and in the summer, and we did our best to keep in touch. Initially with letters and phone calls, migrating to MSN messenger as new tech become available. And then Rick and his family moved a second time – now to Airdrie for another 3 years, right at the start of high school. I mention this because it helps bookend those memories for Rick and I and it REALLY helps me in the recall of this tale.

In the summer of 2001 Rick and I had both finished grade 10, hormones raging away. We decided to sneak into an 18A movie, but because we weren’t 18 yet, we needed to buy tickets for another movie first. What did we want to see you ask? Well if your memory is as good as mine, you’ll know that Swordfish had just come out that summer, and Halle Berry was paid an additional $500,000 to go topless in the movie. $250,000 per breast if you want to be specific.

As straight CIS males in the midst of puberty, and who didn’t have high speed internet, money, or legal adult status, nudity was in high demand for us. To put it another way the sexuality supply was short. And so, context given.

But we chickened out, and ended up in the theatre for The Fast and the Furious instead. Thus, my first taste of this franchise was born. On first pass I thought it was a fun action movie, but I didn’t make too big of a deal out of it, because I didn’t drive yet, and the actors were unknown. It was quotable though.

The summer concluded, and I went back to school, though I decided it was high time to get a part-time job at an arcade called Playdium. I learnt a lot about retail, people, and West Edmonton Mall working there, but most of all I watched a lot of partial movies on my breaks. I must of seen The Fast and the Furious in 30 and 15 minutes pieces over 15 complete times that year. This is because one of the older techs at Playdium lived on his own and would record movies from the movie channel onto VHS and bring it in for the staff. And so the quotes and culture of the first Fast became ingrained in my mind.

It was tough to invest in the franchise though, because as the as the first couple of sequels came out, I was entering into university, and getting involved with hipsters and philosopher king types. So my love of movies and brooding love for Vin Diesel and Paul Walker took a back seat. I would tell people it was my favourite movie, mostly under the thin veil of irony, and I also proclaimed that it was a standalone film.

Then I graduated from university and a couple of years later Fast & Furious came out in April of 2009 – I finally had a true sequel with the original cast and the beginnings of a tie-in with the 2nd and 3rd entries. As movies were added, the ensemble cast grew and the relationships between characters evolved. And then I realized that I had grown as well.

As a cultivators of the arts, a student of film, and a fan of this franchise, I can say confidently that The Fast and the Furious instills values of friendship, love, and family from it’s first few minutes all the way throughout its films and into the culture.

Best of all, in watching this limited release I had an opportunity to see advance footage from the set of the 8th instalment, and I was not disappointed. This is a franchise that has grown organically and so has it’s fanbase. I was so happy to see a packed theatre last Wednesday, and you really do feel like part of a family sharing with these actors and their characters.

Most of the already existing posts on this re-release have focused on the scale of the franchise and the “improbability” of it’s success. But what has been ignored time and time again is that at it’s core The Fast and the Furious is about heart and honour, it started out as films about car thieves, and slowly evolved into superheroes, but the heart has always been there, and I think that’s why it’s beaten the odds. But hey, that might just be a theory.

Tim!

Blame It On The Night (Spectre review)

You know the routine, you get up, you do your thing and you get going. Sometimes it can be fun and other times it can feel irksome, but in moments of self-reflection, you realize that no matter what, you can create something special if you understand your limits and work to improve on them, one at a time.

It’s all about becoming more than a shadow of your former self.

 

 

 

Spectre (2015)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux
Director: Sam Mendes
released on blu-ray February 9, 2016
******** 8/10

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IMDB: 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%, Audience Score 64%
The Guardian: ****/*****

Sam Mendes is an English stage and film director, with an interesting track record. His first film American Beauty won him an Academy award for best director, a Golden Globe for best director, and 5 Oscars. He is also the director of 2012’s Skyfall, one of the best made 007 movies ever and the second best in Daniel Craig’s quartet, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

So where does Spectre stack up? I would argue that it’s almost as good as Skyfall, but that was a difficult entry to follow up. But you know what this one did handle better? His female lead.

But let’s get into the plot for a bit first.

Bond (Daniel Craig) is in Mexico City during a Day of the Dead parade. He is following a man in a white suit and mask. After following the man named Marco Sciarra (Alessandro Cremona) to a building, Bond takes aim and listens in to their conversation about “the Pale King,” before he discover him and begin shooting.

Bond disables two of the men and blows up the bomb there as well, which causes the building to collapse. Sciarra flees to a helicopter and Bond narrowly jumps on before it takes off.

He eventually succeeds in kicking both Sciarra and the pilot out as well, but not before stealing a ring from Sciarra. A ring with a stylized octopus on it.

Back in London, M (Ralph Fiennes) reprimands Bond for the fallout in Mexico and then grounds him. As Bond is about to leave, a man walks in and M introduces him as Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott) head of the Joint Intelligence Service, consisting of the recently merged MI5 and MI6. Bond gives him the nickname C. C has a vision of a program called “Nine Eyes “, a global surveillance and intelligence co-operation initiative between nine member states, and intends to use his position to shut down the ’00’ section, believing it to be outdated.

Tanner (Rory Kinnear) takes Bond to meet with Q (Ben Whishaw),  whom M has tasked with injecting Bond with ‘smart blood,’ so Bond can be located anywhere in the world by. Bond requests that Q make him disappear for 48 hours, and then steals a custom Aston Martin DB10 made for 009 and heads for Rome.

Bond attends Sciarra’s funeral, because the recently deceased M (Judi Dench) knows he is a part of a larger organization which has been working behind the scenes, and killed her. Bond encounters Sciarra’s widow Lucia (Monica Belucci) and later visits her home to save her from hitmen. Lucia knows Bond killed her husband, but sleeps with him anyway, and then tells him about a meeting for Sciarra’s organization.

Bond then crashes the meeting, where he finds out the leader is Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). Oberhauser appears to know Bond as well, and sends Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista) after him. Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) informs Bond that the information he collected on the Pale King leads to Mr. White, who was part of Quantum. Bond asks for info on Oberhauser, who should be dead.

Moneypenny’s investigation reveals that Oberhauser and his father died in an avalanche. Bond finds Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) in Austria – his house is a mess and he is dying from poison, likely from leaving Oberhauser. White will give Bond information on the organization, but only if he can protect White’s daughter, Dr. Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux). Madeline can lead Bond to L’Americain. Bond passes his Walther PPK, so White can end his own suffering.

When Bond finds Madeline, she does not want to go with him, but Hinx is there too and Bond is fortunately able to stop the villain. Bond brings Madeleine to meet with Q, who has done an analysis on the ring. Q reveals that all of Bond’s recent enemies (Mr.White, Sciarra, Le Chiffre, Dominic Greene, and Raoul Silva) are connected to Oberhauser and Madeline explains the group is Spectre. And that “L’Americain” is not a person but a place – A hotel in Tangiers, Morocco.

Meanwhile in London, M learns Bond has left the country against his orders.

 

And let’s stop that bullet for a second.

Pros: The movie manages to tie-in all the previous Daniel Craig entries, give a nod to it’s predecessors by globe-hopping, and set us up for continuity fixes that copyright prevented for decades. Lea Seydoux’s turn is emotional and competent as well, more so than other “Bond girls.”

Cons: Skyfall was an original story that brought in so many new people to the 007 franchise that it’s difficult to retain their interest when they are expecting Skyfall 2. There may have been too many cast members to maintain the pace, and allow breathing room for newcomers Andrew Scott, Christoph Waltz and Lea Seydoux

Runtime: 148 minutes

Points of Interest: Skyfall was shot digitally, but Spectre reverted to the 35mm tradition. Daniel Craig’s favourite film, From Russia With Love, features a train fight – so does this film.

Spectre is a not a shadow of Skyfall, nor is does it loom over it either. It’s a piece of the puzzle in the much greater narrative that is the 007 franchise.

What some people see as routine or attempting to please too many different kinds of fans is really just a recognition of what came before, so that Spectre can fit the Daniel Craig entries into the James Bond family, and he can then walk away or we can continue the exploration of Bond’s identity. By telling an origin story over a 4 movie arc (potentially more with Bond #25), Eon has managed to strengthen the story, rather than forcing us to consider these as reboots.

But that’s just my theory! What do you think? Please leave some comments and if you enjoyed it, subscribe! Your feedback helps me know what is good and what is shadowy, at best.

Tim!

Moonshine (The Transporter Refueled review)

Moonshine, white lightning or hooch if you prefer, is one of the ways that we could get alcohol if we want, and in times of great restriction like The Prohibition era, it was probably the best way.

But we don’t really need moonshine anymore, now that there are so many other kinds of alcohol out there, with interesting flavours, and which undergo incredible distillation before being released into the marketplace.

But what the heck does that have to do with this movie review? You’re about to find out.

 

 

 

The Transporter Refueled (2015)
Cast: Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Loan Chabanol, Gabriella Wright, Radivoje Bukvic
Director: Camille Delamarre
released on blu-ray December 8, 2015
*** 3/10

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IMDB: 5.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 17%, Audience Score 32%
The Guardian: **/*****

Camille Delamarre is a French editor and director. This is his second time directing for the big screen and his previous work was the District 13 remake, Brick Mansions, which featured the greatly missed Paul Walker, David Belle, and RZA.

Brick Mansions was rated very poorly, but I personally really enjoyed it. I might be slightly biased as I am huge Paul Walker fanboy, and I’ve never seen the original District 13.

So I had high hopes. But were they misplaced?

Let’s cover the story a bit before I detail my thoughts.

 

It’s 1995 in France, and a group of teenage prostitutes see a van roll up and a man get out, then opens fire on the group. The man, a Russian named Arkady Karasov (Radivoje Bukvic) and his partners, Yuri and Leo Imasova kill many of them, but let one pimp survive to share the story. One of the girls, Anna (Loan Chabanol) is traumatized by what the events.

Meanwhile, Karasov recruits Maissa, one of the previous pimps girls as his own and she gets in his car. Karasov then yells at the other girls to get to work. Anna stands there crying.

Fast forward 15 years and Anna receives a call while eating and tells the other party that the plan is in motion.

We see a group of six thieves coveting a black Audi. The owner, Frank Martin (Ed Skrein) watches and use his phone to open the doors and knock two of them over. The gang leader notices Frank and demands the keys. But Frank disagrees and he disables them all with martials arts. But not before realizing he is now late and driving away quickly.

Frank greets his father Martin Sr. (Ray Stevenson). Martin Sr. tells his son that he late and they start discussing Martin Sr’s retirement. Frank recieves an unlisted phone call, but declines to answer while driving.

Meanwhile, Qiao is waiting in a hotel room with two men for Anna to arrive. The accountant is upset that she is late. When Anna arrives she shoots the accountant and guard almost immediately. They then drop another dead prostitute in the mix, and set the room on fire before leaving.

Frank and his father are having dinner while they discuss what Martin Sr. has planned for the future. We learn that Martin Sr. was likely a spy during this exchange just before Frank gets another call from the unlisted number. This time he answers and Anna asks him about a job. They agree to meet for 2PM the following day.

Karasov is on his yacht with Yuri, Imasova and Maissa who is now his kept woman. They learn that there has been an “accident” with the accountant.

Karasov and Maissa meet with Inspector Bectaoui (Samir Guesmi) who wants Karasov to identify the woman and if she is one of his “hostesses.” Karasov doesn’t like the implication and makes a threat to the inspector before leaving.

Frank meets with Anna and covers his terms. No names, no changing the deal mid transaction, and he cannot know what is being transported. This is for his own protection. Anna agrees and explains he will be transporting her and two packages  which total 104 kilos altogether. This will happen at the Mediterranean Bank in three hours.

 

And that is the end of that, as they say.

Pros: It is incredibly efficient and both the story and action keep up the pace quite well. If you’ve seen the original trilogy, you’ll being entertained, however mindless it is.

Cons: It’s efficient to the point of being sterile and doesn’t live up to previous entries.

Runtime: 96 minutes

Points of Interest: Ed Skrein left Game of Thrones to make this movie. This is not a prequel of how Frank Martin became The Transporter, it’s a retelling. Which is pretty telling I think.

There are so many better action movies out there at this point, that something so methodical and derivative just isn’t going to make a big enough mark. You should probably just drive away from this one.

 

 

 

Moonshine tastes pretty “good” when well made and when you don’t have a lot of options.

But it’s also incredibly powerful and can make you very sick if done wrong.

So why put yourself through that experience, especially when some people make it from car radiators? The Transporter Refueled reminds me of moonshine because it can do the basic trick of being visually interesting and fits the genre, but just isn’t as enjoyable as other offerings. Plus I don’t want anyone to be blinded by this.

See you tomorrow for some wisdom. Please leave comments and thoughts below!

Tim!