Category Archives: Snapshot Reviews

Snapshot Review: ‘The Fate of the Furious’

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS 

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Photo courtesy of EPK.TV

Critical Rating: 2 stars (out of four)

Rated: PG-13 for prolonged sequences of violence and destruction, suggestive content and language

Directed by: F. Gary Gray (“Straight Outta Compton,” “The Italian Job”)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Charlize Theron, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russel, Luke Evans

Story snapshot: Dominic “Dom” Torretto (Vin Diesel) finds himself working against his own team. Because Dom is such a fearsome opponent, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Tej (Tyrese Gibson) and the rest of the crew take on an unlikely partner, their one-time enemy Deckard (Jason Statham).

The scoop: Like all the “Fast & Furious” films, “Fate of the Furious” is big, dumb fun. Plot holes? Yeah, it’s got ’em. Great acting? Not so much. Of course, fans of this franchise don’t queue up for witty dialogue and philosophical ideas. Mostly, they want to see fast cars do impossible things. And … there’s plenty of that. Since it’s in the trailer, it’s no spoiler to note that one sequence features a tank, a nuclear submarine and a Lamborghini. “Fate of the Furious” is not a good movie, but it moves like lightning, and it’s hard not to smile at the goofiness. In other words, see it if you liked the first seven pictures. Avoid it at all costs if you didn’t.

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Snapshot Review: ‘A Walk in the Woods’

A WALK IN THE WOODS

Robert Redford and Nick Nolte star in

Robert Redford and Nick Nolte star in “A Walk in the Woods.”

Photo courtesy of epk.tv

Critical rating: 3 stars out of four

Directed by: Ken Kwapis (“Big Miracle,” “The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants”)

Starring: Robert Redford and Nick Nolte

Rated: R for language and some sexual references

The story: Screen adaptation of writer Bill Bryson’s bestselling, 1998 memoir, “A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail.” The film, like the book, focuses on Bryson’s attempt to walk the 2,200-mile trail with his friend Stephen Katz.

The scoop: A comedy for mature audiences that value strong acting and subtle humor over car crashes and a barrage of crass gags. “A Walk in the Woods” is consistently funny, but it’s also a reminder that older folks needn’t act as though their best days are behind them. The movie is a likable mix of comedy and drama made better by the wonderful performances of Nolte and Redford. Like a hiker on a long journey, director Ken Kwapis takes an easygoing pace, covering a lot of territory but taking time to breathe and enjoy the scenery.

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Snapshot review: ‘American Ultra’

AMERICAN ULTRA

Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart star in the action-comedy "American Ultra."  Photo courtesy of EPK.tv

Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart star in the action-comedy “American Ultra.”
Photo courtesy of EPK.tv

Critical rating: 2½ stars out of four

Directed by: Nima Nourizadeh (“Project X”)

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo and Bill Pullman

Rated: R for strong bloody violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexual content

The story: “American Ultra” is an entertaining action-comedy about a youthful slacker (Jesse Eisenberg) who easily dispatches two assassins that attempt to kill him, leading to the realization that he is really a former CIA agent who had his mind wiped. His loyal girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) is along for the ride.

The scoop: There are funny moments, and director Nima Nourizadeh mixes them with sequences of brutally graphic violence. Viewers will have a good time if they can look beyond the glaring plot problems and focus on the solid performances and Nourizadeh’s emphasis of style over substance.  Those who demand more from their filmmakers will see “American Ultra” for what it is: a lightweight Tarantino clone.

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Snapshot Review: ‘The Internship’

The Internship - HorizontalThe Internship

3 stars (out of four)
Rated: PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language
Story: Two middle-aged salesmen (Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson) lose their jobs and try to reinvent themselves with internships at Google.
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Aasif Mandvi and Max Minghella
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Bottom line: The film takes product placement to a new level; as it is essentially a recruiting ad for Google. Get past that and it’s also a consistently funny comedy that benefits from the same winning chemistry that Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson displayed in “Wedding Crashers.”

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Snapshot Review: ‘After Earth’

Will Smith, left, and his son, Jaden, star in Columbia Pictures' "After Earth."

Will Smith, left, and his son, Jaden, star in Columbia Pictures’ “After Earth.”

AFTER EARTH

3½ stars (out of four)
Story: The events in “After Earth” take place in a distant future where human beings – having seriously damaged Earth – have been living on a different planet for centuries. During a routine military mission, a famous human general (Will Smith) and his 13-year-old son (Jaden Smith) crash land on the planet and must figure out how to survive amid dangerous creatures and a hostile physical landscape.
Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Sophie Okonedo and Zoë Kravitz
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Bottom line: Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan, who hadn’t made a truly great film since 2002, returns to form with this exciting and well-paced adventure. As with many science fiction efforts, there are flaws. For instance, the characters seem to possess only close-range weapons designed for hand-to-hand combat despite having the technology for intergalactic travel. Look beyond the flaws, however, and one uncovers a thrilling action movie that also has a lot to say about father-son relationships.

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Snapshot Reviews: ‘Fast & Furious 6’ and ‘Epic’

"Fast & Furious 6" makes its way into theaters today (May 24).

“Fast & Furious 6” makes its way into theaters today (May 24).

I’m introducing a new feature here at ForrestHartman.com: Snapshot reviews. Please note that I will still write long-form critiques for my Video Verdict column. These are designed to give readers a quick assessment of new movies. Hopefully you find them useful and fun.

FAST & FURIOUS 6

2½ stars
Story: Dominic Toretto and his crew team with U.S. agent Hobbs in order to capture a dangerous mercenary who is at skilled at motorized hijackings as they used to be. Sweetening the pot is the apparent appearance of Dom’s longtime love, Letty, a woman the whole crew thought was dead.
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris and Gina Carano.
Directed by: Justin Lin (“Better Luck Tomorrow,” “Fast Five”)
Bottom line: The plotting is ridiculous and the dialogue is melodramatic, but the stunts are as good as they get.

EPIC

3½ stars
Story: Animated film about a teen girl who discovers a tiny world of forest creatures engaged in a constant battle between good and evil. When she is magically transported into their world, she goes on a fantastic adventure.
Voice cast features: Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Beyonce, Chris O’Dowd, Pitbull, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz and Jason Sudeikis
Directed by: Chris Wedge (“Ice Age,” “Robots”)
Bottom line: Beautiful 3-D animation coupled with a compelling story. The fantastic writing, and Wedge’s excellent execution, make this the best animated movie since “Rise of the Guardians.”

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