Wednesday: Full of Woe – Netflix Review

The latest supernatural teen drama just can’t distinguish itself beyond its leads.

About 10 minutes into Wednesday I was already aware that it was not going to have any real connection to the Addams Family beyond sharing names. The Addams Family, who were most successful as a satire of the stereotypical nuclear family, are a property that I really like when it is done right. Admittedly, not all of their films, shows, or even comics have managed to pull this off, but it’s still a property that can really shine when it works. When watching Wednesday immediately drop this aspect, I got some heavy Riverdale vibes and was nearly ready to call it quits. However, after saying that I was told directly or indirectly by several people that, watched independently of the Addams Family franchise, Wednesday was good on its own merits. As this has been true of a number of films and shows in the past (hell, the Shining’s not a great adaptation, but it’s an amazing film), I figured I would try to judge Wednesday on what it is, rather than what I was hoping if would be.

Having now watched all of Wednesday, I can say that it is indeed better if you just consider it completely removed from the Addams Family properties. Yes, the names are there, but it doesn’t try to capture any of the spirit beyond “creepy family.” However, it still suffers from all the same hallmarks of shoddy writing that populate most “let’s make a teen drama out of this existing IP” shows. The characters tend to fit into simple archetypes while also arguing that they’re complicated. Saying that they’re not able to be put into a box doesn’t actually make a character complex, it just means their entire personality is “doesn’t like labels.” The plot also features Tim Burton reusing plot points from his own movies, which, while something I expect from the director at this point, irked me thoroughly. My biggest complaint, though, was sadly the performances.

Jenna Ortega, though not quite to the extent of young Christina Ricci, pulls off Wednesday’s monotone and intentional indifference well. She tries to be stone-faced as much as possible when dealing with the people she thinks of as her potential victims, which is to say everyone. Ortega manages to make someone speaking with as little emotion as possible into a fairly compelling performance, particularly by sprinkling in face and voice work to make sure that the audience can tell when things actually are bothering Wednesday. The problem is that her performance might have set the tone for the show. Throughout the series, a lot of the cast play extremely subdued or monotone characters and can’t pull it off, nor should they be trying to. Wednesday is an interesting character because she constantly wears a mask of indifference or vitriol. Other characters who don’t have that kind of intentional unemotionality shouldn’t be delivering lines like they’re just trying not to make a scene. The biggest offenders were Luis Guzman’s Gomez, who constantly said romantic and dramatic things without any emotion behind it, Joy Sunday’s Bianca, whose top-girl attitude never came through her delivery, and, sadly, Fred Armisen’s Fester, who constantly feels like a zany character that was given the note “do less.” I think in trying to nail Wednesday’s tone, Ortega’s performance pulled some of the energy from many of the other performers trying to match the scene, even if it didn’t make sense for the character. This is something the director should have avoided. The notable exception is Emma Myers as Enid, Wednesday’s werewolf roommate, who manages to be one of both the best written and best performed characters in the show despite openly trying to be a stereotype on the outside. The fact that two of the leads are so good at playing opposing energies does help the show a lot, but not enough to make up for the plot issues and the rest of the performances.

Ultimately, I’m not sure this is a bad show, but it has the elements of too many other properties in it without doing anything noteworthy with them. It’s definitely better than Riverdale’s first season, but not quite the show it should be.

Barbarian (Spoiler-Free): A Horror Masterpiece

I hadn’t seen this movie before it came to streaming and I may have to rent a theater to watch this on the big screen. 

When this movie came out, all I heard was that it was amazing. I had literally nothing spoiled for me about this movie and, honestly, I want to preserve that for everyone reading this, so I will do my best not to ruin anything.

A house is involved.

The best part of this film is that it actually respects your intelligence as a viewer and doesn’t completely spoon-feed you everything. While we get a few (honestly, maybe only one) expository explanations for events, much of the film is conveyed through either quick flashbacks, set elements, or just allowing the viewer a minute to figure out why some things would be the way they are. I don’t often see horror films that use your imagination against you as well as the first act of this film, because it makes you know something isn’t right, but you are not quite certain what it is and your mind runs through the possibilities as various horror cliches are on the table. The setting, being a run-down area of Detroit, solves a lot of the problems as to why the characters can’t just call the police for help, something that becomes darkly comical. Actually, much of the film is somewhat comical in the way that it paces certain actions or draws out absurd moments. It’s not that the film is a comedy, but it definitely has the flavor at a few points blended in with the horror.

A Pennywise is involved. Wait, no, not that.

The performances in this film are fantastic, with great work from Justin Long and Bill Skarsgard as two very different male leads. However, Georgina Campbell carries much of the movie and carries it flawlessly. The events of this film would traumatize anyone and Campbell conveys all of that without the film having to resort to cliched speeches or lines about it. Instead, you can tell with every scene how much has happened to her, even when we don’t see it all. Since writing this originally, I have gotten into an argument with someone over whether or not Campbell’s character is a stupid protagonist. I, like people who have empathy, think that her character just has a big heart that leads her to risk her own safety for people on principle, something that her background supports. However, if you’re the kind of person who would immediately punt the child out of the spaceship from “The Cold Equations,” then you might think she’s just being foolish.

Also, if you think (this kind of) stupid people deserve what she went through, then you are the monster.

Overall, this was just a great horror film and I cannot recommend it enough. Whether you end up liking the character or not, the structure of the film and the way that it plays out will probably keep you thoroughly entertained.

BLACK ADAM: Snatching Mediocrity from the Jaws of Greatness

I didn’t think that this would be the movie to bring me back, and it really isn’t, but f*ck it, I have thoughts on this movie. Those thoughts mostly being “HOW IS THIS NOT AMAZING?”

I mean, the muscles alone should carry a film.

If you’re not familiar with the character of Black Adam from DC comics, he was originally the evil version of Captain Marvel. The one that’s now called SHAZAM, not the one in the Avengers. Over time, some good writers realized that a character who is basically Superman but also is willing to punch through a bad guy’s head can be an interesting character and a way to explore the moral gray areas that characters like Superman usually can’t. Unfortunately, most of those writers were not involved in this movie. They were replaced by cliches and cocaine, which is itself a cliche.

Granted, sometimes Cocaine is what you want in a script (Give us Crank 3: Cranked Up On Crank).

The premise is that a few millennia ago in the generic but unoffensive because it’s fictional Middle-Eastern nation of Kahndaq, an evil king (Marwan Kenzari) took over and created a crown of pure evil for reasons. A bunch of wizards needed a champion to stop him, because wizards can’t do shit on their own (ask anyone playing DnD), and so they chose Teth-Adam (Dwayne “I Don’t Need a Muscle Suit” Johnson) and he proceeded to kick the king’s ass and then get imprisoned by the wizards. In the modern day, Kahndaq is now held by a military occupier called Intergang who force the people to mine “Eternium,” a mineral that apparently is pure magic and only found in Kahndaq. Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi), her brother Karim (Mohammed Amer), and her son Amon (Bodhi Sabongui) are resistance fighters who find the location of the crown and also Black Adam’s resting place. They end up releasing him and he proceeds to kick the crap out of Intergang until he is attacked by the “Justice” Society of America, consisting of Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo). Some stuff happens and ultimately they all band together to save the day. If that’s a spoiler, you haven’t seen movies. 

These guys can’t possibly get over their issues and work together… oh, really? They did? Shocking.

Okay, this movie does a few things right. It has some funny scenes to break up the tension. It shows a few scenes of what would actually happen if an army attacked Superman and he didn’t have his “no killing” policy (hint: doesn’t go well for the guys with guns). Mostly, though, it has the Rock nailing it. I have many, many complaints about this film, but none of them are about his performance. He is a man who has a massive amount of anger matched only by his ridiculous amount of power. He can do whatever he wants, but he doesn’t really have bad intentions. He just doesn’t believe that you should spare someone who is trying to murder you, which makes a lot of sense for someone from 2600 BC. 

Also, hoods were big in desert cultures. The hood was a good choice.

The problem is that the movie can’t ever really address some of the bigger themes that they actually touch on and those themes are what would actually be worth addressing. Instead, the movie has to force a bunch of conflicts by making various characters do arbitrarily stupid things or out-of-character decisions. It’s enraging. For example, the Justice Society of America, who we have never seen or heard of before now, works for Amanda Waller, the person who runs the Suicide Squad and basically decide they have to imprison Teth-Adam the minute he appears because he is too powerful to allow to run free and because he committed the horrible crime of… seeking vengeance on the king that enslaved his country and slaughtered his people. Seriously. In response, the people of Kahndaq openly root for Adam because he’s killing the people that have been enslaving and murdering them for, apparently, 27 years. The Justice Society notably did nothing about that, but showed up the minute someone tried to stop it. The implication, which might have been interesting but is never followed up on, is that America might be backing Intergang in order to get access to Eternium. Not that America would ever back a harmful regime in the Middle East in order to gain access to natural resources. The Justice Society doesn’t really have any answer to why they’re working for Waller nor why they keep attacking Black Adam in the middle of a populated city, but most of their actions contrast with the principles they supposedly stand for and their entire notion of being “good” is that they don’t kill people. This would be something that would be really interesting to explore, but, again, the movie just kind of moves on so that we can get to Act 3 with the super-punching and the sky-beam. Oooh, so original and fun.

Also, let’s nerf Doctor Fate because he could solve all this with one hand.

Seriously, though, DC, you had all the ingredients to make something amazing in this film, mostly just having The Rock in it, and you screwed it up royally. Even worse, this movie will make a billion dollars and you will learn nothing and neither will we.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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CarousHELL 2: Judgment Day

This is the Terminator 2 of living-murderous-magical-carousel-unicorn-based horror films. 

I genuinely owe an apology to the creators of this film, as they asked me to review it when I first went on vacation. I thought I would review it for Halloween… of 2021. Since then I’ve been distracted by things. I’ve gotten a dog, gotten engaged, and beaten Stray. Those are not in order of importance. I’m not sure how much I’m “back” now, but I recently started to miss ranting into the void, so here we are. While the movie that actually made me sit down and write again was Black Adam (after writing most of a review of Everything Everywhere All At Once that consisted of “this was amazing” 500 times), I decided this would be the first one I publish. And just in time for you to find and rent it while drunk on Halloween! Or watch it on Tubi for free.

And the original, of course.

So, in the previous CarousHELL, we found out that a carousel unicorn named Duke (Steve Rimpici) was alive and sentient and, sadly for a group of teenagers, murderous as hell. Despite the fact that he doesn’t seem capable of moving any of his limbs or mouth while on-screen, Duke managed to massacre an entire party using everything from ninja stars to laser beams… and conceive a son (it was an awkward scene that we should probably not think long upon). In this film, we find out that Duke’s son, Robbie (B. Barnabei) is now an adolescent half-human half-carousel horse who is fundamentally a good kid.. Robbie has been raised by his adopted mom Ms. Laurence (Judy Casella), whose family Duke murdered. Duke now finds himself in the position of having to be a father, try not to murder too many people, and… what was the third thing? Oh, right, deal with the Nazis who created him coming back and trying to capture him and Robbie. Yes, in this film, Duke is now being hunted by Nazis, giving him a target that actually deserves the things he does.

The dead-eyed puppet is what happens when you make a half-animate life form.

I have to give it to the creators of this film, this is a swing for the fences. If you enjoyed a murderous unicorn massacring teens and just wanted more of the same, you are not going to find it here. Might I suggest rewatching the first film. Instead, the film decides to make our villain protagonist into mostly a straight protagonist by having him undergo character growth and have antagonists that are even worse than he is. When that happened in the sequel to Don’t Breathe, I hated it, but in a movie with a murderous carousel unicorn, you expect things to be a little less serious and it ends up working. While this movie does continue to play up the inherently ridiculous imagery that comes from an unmoving figure doing things like driving a car, the movie mostly doesn’t rely on it as much for the humor. Instead, a lot of the jokes come from either the complete incompetence of the Nazis (including a series of bad costumes that made me laugh out loud) or from Duke trying to avoid being outed as a murderer to his son. We do also get an extremely long homoerotic sex scene involving Duke which manages to be so awkward that you end up laughing at the ridiculous thing you’re subjecting your eyes to. When the kills come, they’re still creative and fun to watch, particularly because they’re happening to Nazis.

Okay, not EXCLUSIVELY Nazis.

Overall, this movie, like its predecessor, knows what it is. It’s a low-budget comedy where a lot of the humor comes from how much they’re trying to accomplish with a carousel horse and a puppet of its offspring. If you can appreciate movies like that, then this one will work for you.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Free Guy: A Solid Heroic Story (Spoiler-Free)

Ryan Reynolds plays a really nice guy in a crapsack world.

This movie isn’t the first one about a video game character developing sentience, with previous entries ranging from Disney’s Tron (sort-of) to at least one incarnation of Mega Man to the Christopher Lambert vehicle Nirvana. In fact, the craptastic movie Serenity from last year had that plot. However, this movie manages to both update and reinvigorate the concept in ways that make it feel fresh and interesting. A big part of that is that Ryan Reynolds manages to play a sincerely good character with good motivations while still being an unbelievably skilled badass. It’s fun to watch him be a hero and to fight for the underdog. Moreover, the film addresses an interesting point about human nature and why we choose certain things as recreation, particularly violently killing and tormenting other humanoids.

If you haven’t played Undertale, maybe give that a try?

Guy (Reynolds) lives in Free City, a sandbox video game which mostly allows players to commit random acts of mayhem in a city populated by NPCs like Guy. His best friend is Buddy (Lil Rel Howery), a security guard at the bank Guy works at, which gets robbed regularly, though the pair never seem to mind. Things change when Guy spots a player named Molotov (Jodie Comer), who leads Guy to steal a pair of the sunglasses that separate NPCs from Players. He tries to connect with Molotov, who is actually a woman named Millie that believes that Free City was based on stolen code, created by her and her friend Keys (Joe Keery), by its supposed creator Antwan (Taika Waititi). As Antwan plans on releasing a new version of Free City soon, Millie and Guy have to help each other save the digital world (not the one from Digimon).

Guy, meet Molotov. Usually, that’s a hot experience.

Part of what makes this movie work is that there are two plots running simultaneously, both Millie’s quest to prove that Antwan stole her code and Guy’s quest for Millie, and they do a great job moving between them. It makes Guy’s awesome action sequences and moments of self-reflection more impactful when balanced with Millie’s more complex and mundane plans to try to thwart Antwan. It’s great that even though Guy is ostensibly the protagonist and Antwan the villain, they never are operating in the same world. The interplay between the real and virtual worlds keeps either from getting boring. 

This is the face of evil.

As far as action and humor goes, this movie manages to do both very well. It has some scenes that are, possibly intentionally, reminiscent of Deadpool. It’s weird that, in some ways, this movie manages to do in a few minutes what Ready Player One tried to do for almost two hours. There is a great scene in this movie where Guy gets to be the pop culture blending protagonist that I really wanted to see in Ready Player One, but since Guy does it organically and without commenting too heavily on it, it’s more fun. It’s also interesting that the movie’s plot involves people recognizing that Guy sticking up for the NPCs is something that speaks to our own inner selves. Why do people prefer killing fictional characters rather than being a hero and keeping them safe? Is that a sign that humanity is more prone to violence or just that those are the options that are most fed to us? Well, the movie actually gives an interesting answer at the end, although whether it’s true or not is up to the viewer. Either way, I like that there’s something to chew on for the viewer.

Video Games don’t cause violence, but why not get the endorphins from helping people?

Overall, I really recommend this movie, particularly if you’re a fan of Ryan Reynolds. It has some good jokes, some good action, and some stuff to ponder.

Rick and Mondays – S5E7 “Gotron Jerrysis Rickvangelion”

Rick finally achieves his collection of giant robots and starts a mafia.

While Rick and Morty have used a lot of anime references over their run, this is probably the most blatant use of an anime property, doing an entire episode around a thin Voltron parody mixed with a mafia movie. The two aspects occasionally feel like they shouldn’t work together, but the episode manages to mostly pull it off. It literally has a song saying that it’s “a bit of pasta with an anime combined.” It does require a number of seemingly out-of-character moments by the Smith family, including Jerry retreating to being a completely pathetic attention seeker and Summer being willing to endanger Rick’s health in exchange for his affection. The show seems to care less about character development this season, though, so maybe that’s just how it rolls right now. 

I’m surprised there wasn’t already a ferret Voltron.

The episode starts off with Rick, Morty, and Summer (Justin Roiland and Spencer Grammer) heading to Boob World, an amusement park that Summer only gets invited to because it gets them in for free. This gets interrupted by Rick finding the Blue GoTron Ferret, a giant magical robot that completes Rick’s collection. Rick quickly gets Beth and Jerry (Sarah Chalke and Chris Parnell) to join the trio as pilots of the five ferrets that join together to form the monster-fighting robot GoTron. However, Rick quickly gets bored with this status quo and invites four other Smith-Sanchez families from four other universes to join him with their Gotron Ferrets so that they can join together to form the even bigger “GoGoTron.” Naturally, these five families become a mafia-like organization and while Morty tries to rein Rick in, Summer pushes him to go further. Eventually, Morty is on the outs with his family and is threatened by a group of anime characters to stop using the Ferrets. When he gets back, a rejected Rick attacks a meeting of the families and Morty gets blamed. Summer similarly gets kicked out when she tries to moderate Rick, who has hired the anime characters as pilots. They naturally betray Rick and try to kill him, but the rest of the Smith family save him using Morty and Summer’s incest baby. It’s then revealed that all of the GoTron monsters are actually trying to help spread the cure for AIDS rather than kill humanity, but the portal they use makes them naked and they cannot be understood by humans.

Even for the US Government, this is messed up.

I’m not a huge fan of this episode, but I do admit that the mixing of the giant robot anime and mafia genres is actually pretty damned great. It’s something I would never have considered before now, despite the fact that a lot of anime involve some aspect of organized crime. The biggest problem is that they kind of get mired in the second act and the final fall from grace of Rick isn’t quite set up as well as it should be. I get that it’s supposed to mirror Scarface, with Rick even having a lair like Tony Montana and using the line “say hello to my little me” before revealing a Rick-shaped machine gun, but it still just doesn’t have the same “push it to the limit” feeling before that happens. Also, I’m not a fan of the fact that we keep bringing back the giant incest baby as a character. We had better get a big payout for this in the finale.

I love the mafia Ricks, I’ll admit.

Overall, I give this episode a


on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you next week.

PREVIOUS – 47: Rick and Morty’s Thanksploitation Spectacular

NEXT – 49: Rickternal Friendshine of the Spotless Mort

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Disney’s Jungle Cruise: The Mummy Meets the Rock – Disney+ Review

It’s the exact right kind of dumb and fun.

On some level, this movie seemed like the perfect film for Dwayne Johnson, because much of this movie feels similar to the adventure horror-comedy film The Mummy and Johnson’s first film was The Mummy Returns. Admittedly, he probably wants us to forget that because of the horrible CGI Scorpion King in that movie, but it still feels good to see The Rock take on the role of the adventurer for this film. He’s funny, he’s quirky, he’s quippy, he’s charming, and, as a bonus, he looks like he could benchpress the boat on which most of the film takes place. He’s everything you want in a protagonist in this kind of story. 

He’s also a hell of a showman.

Johnson plays Frank Wolff, a skipper who does tourist trips along the Amazon River which are replete with terrible puns and bad jokes. He owes money to local harbormaster Nilo (Paul Giamatti), which leads him to offer his services to Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt), a botanist searching for a flower that cures all disease. Lily, along with her brother, MacGregor (Jack Whitehall), are being pursued by the German Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons), who seeks to use the cure-all to help Germany win World War I. Unfortunately for Frank and Lily, it turns out that the flower is also connected to the conquest of Don Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez), who is not quite as dead as you’d expect for someone born in the 1500s. This will be the real rumble in the jungle.

I’m not being blunt, because Emily already is.

As much as I love Johnson and his willingness to deliver absolutely terrible jokes with a straight face, I also have to give a lot of credit in this film to Emily Blunt. Unlike most “strong” female protagonists in these kinds of films that end up devolving into damsels in distress, Blunt’s portrayal of Lily starts as being extremely competent and mostly maintains that throughout the film. She often has to rely on Frank for some things, because of his expertise at piloting the boat and surviving in the jungle, but even when the film seems like she’s going to end up being the helpless victim, it actually gives her a consistent level of skills that enable her to get out of trouble on her own. Blunt’s chemistry with Johnson is also great, although their relationship develops at a bit of an inconsistent pace. Actually, pacing is pretty much the biggest negative in the film on the whole.

There’s also the occasional question of how they still look so good while on a boat.

Other positives in the film include Whitehall’s fun portrayal of MacGregor, one of the first openly gay main characters in a Disney film, and Veronica Falcon’s portrayal of Trader Sam, the character that probably aged the worst from the original ride. The updating of Sam’s character was done organically enough that hopefully it won’t anger people who believe that nostalgia has to consist of being fed the same thing repeatedly. The creature designs in the film, while not the best CGI I’ve seen, are very creative, particularly the undead conquistadors. Jesse Plemons, as he usually does, plays a creepy villainous character that seems completely unhinged most of the time. 

This is the villain of the bee plot.

Overall, if you like fun adventure movies, this will be right up your alley.

Centaurworld: It’s the Cutest Form of Body Horror – Netflix Review

Seriously, this show is like My Little Pony meets Cronenberg.

When you think of a show about a character that jumps from one world into a completely different fantasy setting, you probably always assume that character is going to be human. This show cleverly goes in the exact opposite direction, with the main character being a horse who journeys through a fantastic world trying to find her human rider. Along the way, she meets a cast of colorful characters and has amazing adventures, only most of the characters and adventures, while presented as cartoonish and fun, are deeply unsettling when you think about them. I have to give a lot of credit to whoever pitched this initially, they either lied tremendously or managed to convince Netflix to give a lot of money to a crazy idea. 

Ever been around really happy people? It sucks, doesn’t it?

Horse (Kimiko Glenn) is a warhorse who is separated from her Rider (Jessie Mueller) during a war with an army of minotaurs. Horse ends up being transported by a mystical artifact to a cartoonish place called Centaurworld where almost everything is half-animal and half-human. She meets a group of centaurs who agree to help her: Alpaca centaur Wammawink (Megan Hilty), zebra centaur Zulius (Parvesh Cheena), finch centaur Ched (Chris Diamantopoulos), gerenuk centaur Glendale (Megan Nicole Dong), and giraffe centaur Durpleton (Josh Radnor). Together, the group must travel through Centaurworld to find all of the pieces of Horse’s artifact and hopefully reunite her with Rider. 

They follow a literal rainbow road

In the first episode of the show, we see the gritty reality that Horse comes from where everything is animated with a lot more shading and a darker palette than the rest of the series, which only makes the colorful cartoonish animation of Centaurworld more pronounced. Horse, notably, starts out with her original animation, which makes her stand out more among the characters. As the series progresses, however, Horse starts to slowly change to resemble Centaurworld’s animation and, much to her horror, takes on some of Centaurworld’s ridiculous magical nature. Centaurworld, like the worlds of My Little Pony or Rainbow Brite, is filled with singing and logic-breaking magical characters, something that contrasts with Horse’s sword-and-sorcery world, so a lot of her arc is adjusting to this new normal. However, while Centaurworld is colorful, a lot of the character traits are genuinely unpleasant. For example, the centaurs shoot tiny copies of themselves out, which tend to just start screaming and running around in terror at being surrounded by giants. At some points, it appears they just kill themselves, something that their normal-sized counterparts seem to just ignore. Tons of other elements of the characters are similarly messed-up. So, while you may enjoy the show for the fun song numbers or crazy designs, you might also enjoy the twisted sense of humor that comes from these elements.

The original world is pretty messed up, too.

Overall, solid show, just… be warned.

F9: The Fast Saga Continues (Spoiler-Free)

The series that basically defines “sit back and enjoy the ride” is still going.

Do you remember how you saw the first “The Fast and the Furious” movie? It’s funny how much I feel it dates me because I didn’t see it until I rented it on DVD. Same with the second film and Tokyo Drift and, by that point, I was mostly burned out on the series. I didn’t even consider seeing the fourth movie in the theaters, which admittedly I regret, because that completely changed the franchise on almost every level. I skipped the fourth and fifth films until I decided to watch the sixth film, only to discover that the movies I missed were probably the best in the series. Since seeing those, I’ll admit that I’ve enjoyed these movies more and more because I finally started to get into all of the spectacle of it. They show you crazy stuff that you just couldn’t see anywhere else and that’s one of the most beautiful parts of movies as a medium. Since then, every movie has had to one-up the previous level of insanity and, against all odds, has mostly succeeded. This movie is no exception.

Like flipping an armored convoy.

Two years after the events of The Fate of the Furious, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) are living a secluded life raising their son Brian. They’re approached by Roman, Tej, and Ramsey (Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel) about Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) capturing Cipher (Charlize Theron), Dom’s former blackmailer. However, the plane is attacked and taken down by none other than Jakob Toretto (John Cena), Dom’s never-before-mentioned brother. Dom needs to get the whole team together, including a still-alive Han Lue (Sung Kang) (It’s not a spoiler if it’s in the trailer) in order to stop his brother. 

I’m not sure we got Justice for Han, since Shaw WAS trying to kill him. Eh, maybe in Hobbes and Shaw 2.

In a franchise that uses the word “family” approximately 300 times a movie, it’s a bit of a tough sell that Dom Toretto has a brother that he has somehow neglected to mention, despite the fact that his sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster), is a recurring character. Naturally, the movie shows us a falling out between the two brothers to try and explain it, but it still feels a bit contrived. Then again, it’s Fast and the Furious, so you quickly move past it and enjoy the ride. The stunts in this movie, naturally, obey only the laws of Fast and the Furious Physics, which is to say no real physics whatsoever. You have to suspend levels of disbelief equal to most fairy tales, but the movie absolutely makes that worth it. Some of the fight sequences that cross over with the driving sequences are equal parts ridiculous and awesome. In a surprising twist that adds a level to the film, the movie actually has one of the characters realize how ridiculous the escalation of events have gotten and point out that they all should be dead by now. There’s not much of a conclusion to this revelation, so I’m hoping it continues through the tenth movie. 

Also, we need John Cena in some scenes with the Rock, people.

Overall, solid film if you liked the rest of the franchise.