Let's face it: At this point, you're either in for the overamped, Saturday-morning-cartoon lunacy of a Fast and Furious movie or you're not. Building from its humble roots as a 2001 street-racing Point Break riff to the gargantuan action tentpole it's after a whopping ten movies (eleven if you count Hobbs & Shaw), the series has built quite the convoluted lore over the decades. There are dead characters who come back to life (Sung Kang's Han), living characters who can never come back because their actors are no longer with us (see: Paul Walker's Brian), sworn enemies who join the familiar just one film later. It's dudebro soap opera, fueled by nitrous oxide and every weird, bonkers thing the filmmakers can think to do with a car. Continue Reading →
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
A lot's happened since we last saw the Guardians of the Galaxy (well, besides their brief cameo in Thor: Love and Thunder). Writer/director James Gunn was fired from Marvel in 2018 after some problematic tweets joking about pedophilia were unearthed, in one of the few instances of a successful cancellation from the right wing. Of course, it didn't last long, considering how thin the ground was for said cancellation in the first place; and in the interim, he swanned off to DC, made the fantastic The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, and eventually found himself sharing the throne of a newly-revamped DC movie universe. Continue Reading →
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
One thing you can say about Christmas and the Guardians of the Galaxy is that both tend to go a bit over the top. One’s affection for either depends greatly on how you feel about a good thing taken to excess. For this critic, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special hits that delicious “too much, but I can’t help but like it” sweet spot like seconds on the pecan pie. Continue Reading →
I Am Groot
The recent Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have gotten enormous in scale. It’s no longer only Avengers installments that span multiple planets and involve countless superheroes. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness explored multiple alternate dimensions, while Eternals concluded with a massive robot emerging from one of Earth’s oceans. Even the Earthbound Spider-Man: No Way Home made room for multiple Spider-Men. Continue Reading →
Thor: Love and Thunder
It's no understatement to say that Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok was a welcome shot in the arm for both the titular God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. There's something to be said for cutting out the creaky Shakespearean grandeur of the first two Thors in favor of whiz-bang sitcom theatrics, with a dash of Guardians of the Galaxy's signature irreverence thrown in, all leather and ironic needle-drops and "well that happened"s. The result was a whiz-bang sci-fi action comedy that made a buttload of cash, extended Thor's lease on cinematic life, and catapulted Waititi into Hollywood's A-list. Continue Reading →
At this point, the mechanics of a Fast and Furious movie are no secret. Running on an engine of blistering sincerity, the over-the-top action inevitably finds Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) pulled in for “one last job.” You’ll see a street race populated by women in bikinis. Fancy cars will defy the laws of physics as they inevitably crash, fly, or crash while flying. Roman (Tyrese Gibson) shall vamp and riff to kingdom come. Coronas will be consumed and, in the end, family will emerge victorious. Continue Reading →
Vin Diesel nicely keys into more stoic shootouts, but the movie around him can't weld together its medley of genre inspirations.
As Ray Garrison aka Bloodshot (Vin Diesel) tumbles down an elevator in midair combat with Jimmy Dalton (Sam Heughan) and Tibbs (Alexander Hernandez), one may experience deja-vu. This, in some ways, is unsurprising—Bloodshot rarely seems interested in breaking new ground. However, the scene brings a deeper kind of recognition derived not just from familiar story beats, but also the visuals. The plasticine nature of these CGI constructs turns out to be a covert bit of nostalgia, smuggling Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man-level effects into a nastier superhero film 18 years later.
The extent to which this will please viewers will, of course, vary. For this critic, there’s something charming about it. This is the kind of movie comic book fans would have been nearly thrilled to see in the early 2000s: a not-quite-faithful adaptation animated by competent direction and actors willing to embrace the content without tipping into self-seriousness.
That said, it feels likely to get a different reception in 2020. The superhero film has grown so much in scope and depth so much in the past two decades. As a result, Bloodshot feels a bit unstuck in time. It’s a throwback to an era that’s passed and, depending on how inclined audiences are to take a sidelong glance at it, the film also operates as a sort of commentary. It seems to be reflecting the evolution of the action movies from their ‘80s ascendance to their superpowered present. Continue Reading →