Week Of 06.27.2021 Movie Reviews

Reviewing F9, Werewolves Within, And Good On Paper

Our Movie Grading Scale:
- S Grade; 5.0 Stars: The Best Film One Has Ever Seen, Everyone Has An S Film
- A+/A- Grade; 4.0/4.5 Stars: One Of The Best Films Of The Year, If Not All-Time
- B+/B- Grade; 3.0/3.5 Stars: Worth A Trip To The Theatre For First Viewing
- C+/C- Grade; 2.0/2.5 Stars: Watch From Home For First Viewing
- D+/D- Grade; 1.0/1.5 Stars: Don’t Bother Watching This At All If You Can Help It
- F Grade; 0.5 Star: One Of The Worst Films Of All-Time
- Reminder: Reviews For These Films Can Change Over Time And Will Be Reflected Over At Our Letterboxd

- The Plot: Dominic Toretto and his crew battle the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they’ve ever encountered - his forsaken brother.

- The Review: I have a confession to make. Up until a few weeks ago, I had never seen a film from “The Fast Saga”. Not a single one. It never seemed like my cup of tea given I am one of those rare males who has no interest in cars past whether it’ll get me to my destination or not, and the cultural flavor of the films’ characters and settings are far from the more rock centric aesthetic I enjoy with my action flicks. But given this was coming up, I did bother to binge the whole franchise beforehand and I have to say…not as bad as I expected.

The first, second, and fourth film are pretty average to mediocre but the third and every film since the fifth have been quite enjoyable albeit I wouldn’t give any of them an A tier grade either. In fact, I think the franchise has only gotten better with practically every film that has followed up on the other making it a very binge friendly set of films. So going into this one “I got” why this had become a major franchise with a massive fanbase. Because while I never found myself loving it, I did like it enough that I actually cared to see what will come next with it. Unfortunately I have to say with the ninth installment in the main franchise of this “Saga”, I think it took a step back - perhaps even a significant step back. I’d say this is the lesser of the films since the fifth one in which the franchise’s focus shifted (no pun intended) from car eye candy to more action blockbuster.

The film’s flaws are numerous from sloppy writing and dialogue that makes some of the previous films’ look like it were Sorkin scripts, to pacing that might be the worst I’ve seen in the franchise, to questionable character motivations and development, and towards the second half the plot starts to become bloated and turns Han’s already spoiled return from the dead go from what should be an easily explainable re-write to a convoluted mess that adds more fat to the plot than needed in the form of another new character that the trailers haven’t spoken of. Not to mention I never bought or thought the shock of their meeting Han alive again was ever really earned which is amazing given that to their credit they did try to give time for them to react to the news.

On top of this the film has plenty of globe trotting in a CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR or GODZILLA VS KONG style of storytelling but unlike those films it almost feels like these characters are just traveling around nonsensically going from place and action sequence to action sequence. And talking about characters hopping from place to place, the supporting roles range from some characters that get a lot to do to some that feel like they could have just stayed home for this one - including characters we should be excited to see again!

And yet with all my whining and bitching and the fact that I do feel this is the worst of the franchise in some time…I still enjoyed myself somewhat. There’s something about what these movies have become that allow them to get a little bit of a pass no matter how silly and unrealistic they get. There’s still plenty of comedic relief moments in this that the franchise has been known to do well, there’s some risks in this that I thought do pay off with certain action sequences, and the main plot of the Toretto brothers is actually the highlight of the film for me. It adds a little heart to an otherwise sloppy generic action adventure film.

Overall if you’re a fan of this franchise you should enjoy yourself. This isn’t going to be anywhere close to a Best Of 2021 contender for us over here at the Café, but even with all of its plenty of flaws it is a ridiculously crazy ride that just manages to be enjoyable enough that I think folks will have fun seeing this at their local theatre. Its turn your brain off entertainment that flirts way too hard with getting into the C range but does just enough with some heart in it and enough fun to barely get into the above average range for me. B- for F9. Lets hope the next and final two films in the franchise don’t make some of the sloppy mistakes this one did.

- The Plot: When a proposed pipeline creates hostilities between residents of a small town, a newly-arrived forest ranger must keep the peace after a snowstorm confines the townspeople to an old lodge. But when a mysterious creature begins terrorizing the group, their worst tendencies and prejudices rise to the surface, and it is up to the ranger to keep the residents alive, both from each other and the monster which plagues them.

- The Review: As seemingly the only person on this planet who did not like KNIVES OUT, its been a bit unnerving to hear the marketing campaign and the reviews for this film compare it to that film. But after seeing it for myself I think that’s an apt comparison - if that movie had stuck to the plot, didn’t try too hard with the twists, and had a more satisfying ending. But this isn’t about my gripes with that film, but about this one which just so happens to be a video game adaptation.

The decision to make this a horror comedy was probably the best fit, with each character having their own personality, backgrounds, motivations, and moments albeit always with a comedic twist and thus some stereotypes and tropes. But regardless the film pulls it off through most of its runtime thanks to great comedic timing and using each character’s strengths to its advantage. As for the horror aspect you will get plenty gore in this and there is a significant body count.

The movie does have a glaring weakness in the third act where that stacking up of the body count does get silly and over the top in a way that the film seems to be trying its hardest to remind you that you’re watching a movie, but it makes up for it with an interesting twist in the climax that ends with the final survivors being what were for me arguably my favorite characters of the whole thing. Aside from those negatives and the nitpick of releasing a Winter set film in the Summer, I had fun with this and got plenty of chuckles. I just wish they had cleaned up that third act to deliver what I think could have been something really special. B- for WEREWOLVES WITHIN. Easily my favorite horror film of the year so far even with all the comedic elements in it.

- The Plot: After years of putting her career ahead of love, stand-up comic Andrea Singer has stumbled upon the perfect guy. On paper, he checks all the boxes but is he everything he appears to be?

- The Review: I have to congratulate this film - its only the second one this year that I outright loathed and came extremely close to giving the dreaded F grade tier to. What should have been a hilarious and fun rom-com turns into a mean spirited film that leaves you angry and frustrated and as if someone came over and just punched you in the face. And to be somewhat fair to the writers and producers of this I think that was the point of the film but regardless it just didn’t work for me in its execution and given the reviews this has from both critics and audiences, I don’t think I’m alone in this.

This is reportedly based on a real nightmarish dating experience from comedian Iliza Shlesinger’s life who plays the lead role here, and in a way the film’s decision to play rom com and then suddenly twist into something more unsettling in the third act is likely how she felt going through it herself and lord knows no man or woman would want to or should go through something like that. But what’s a nightmarish story you tell for laughs at your own tragedy might not necessarily translate well to film.

This isn’t to say this couldn’t have worked as a dark comedy, and I think that was likely the original idea behind what they were trying to do here, but it plays off like such a typical rom-com that when the twist here comes (Though it is kinda’ ballsy for them to take such an atypical and unpredictable turn for a film of this genre), I think most people just end up feeling like the film wasted their time and I believe that’s why audiences both the general and the cinephile types have reacted to it so negatively.

On top of all that the film decides to splice into it some of Shlesinger’s actual standup routine as the film goes along and it just becomes an annoying interruption that doesn’t flow well with the movie.

This movie left me so angry, so frustrated, and so perplexed I can’t give it anything but a worse than average or even mediocre grade. Maybe for some people out there they’ll appreciate the ballsy climax here for a film of this type, but I myself just felt like I wasted almost two hours of my life. D- for GOOD ON PAPER. Like a review I saw on Letterboxd said, this seems like an angry jilted lover’s deleted Facebook post that never should have gotten a full blown script for a movie.

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