Baywatch: In Name Only

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Zack Efron and Dwayne Johnson’s physiques are emblematic of Baywatch the movie: All strength and no stamina. Every actor’s talents were wasted by the actors playing themselves or stock characters. Baywatch might have gotten away with it if it was at least funny.

Admittedly, I did laugh twice. But twice in the span of 116 minutes is quite a thin spread. Baywatch is in name only as it’s less of a movie about lifeguards on the beach as it is a buddy cop movie. It kept reminding me of a far lesser grade of Beverly Hills Cop. Or if that’s too archaic of a reference, it more like a lesser grade 21 Jump Street.

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I expected Johnson and Efron to interduce themselves as Axel Foley and Sgt. Tagget. Only 80’s movie fans will get that joke.

The story follows a two-time olympic gold medalist Mike (Zac Efron). Mike has fallen from grace as he vomited into a swimming pool competing for this thrid gold medal. Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) is the head lifeguard at Baywatch and both have to investigate a drug ring that is smuggling flakka on the shores of Baywatch.

You may wonder why lifeguards, not the police, are investigating and planning a potential drug bust. I saw the movie and I am still wondering why. It has too many tonal shifts between beach comedy and drama and action comedy and drama. It eventually settles with criminal espionage with lifeguards instead of cops none of which is particularly funny or thrilling.

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Where the gags go in Baywatch: In the bin and recycled again and again.

There are gags in Baywatch that constantly repeat, making me want them to move on. There is one where they constantly reference that hot people run in slow motion and another string of gags where lifeguards name Efron’s character different teen-bop artists. While not particularly funny, at least there is variety in the name calling with the various punchlines. He was called “Justin Bieber” “NSNYC” New Kid on the Block” and various other names. Those gags got tiring quickly and the movie constantly rehashed the same joke.

There were also scenes that were a complete waste too as they added nothing to the story. There were entire scenes which you could take out and the movie would have made just as much sense. Why they made an entire scene with David Hasselhoff instead of a quick cameo appearance with Pamela Anderson I have no idea. Why Efron did a complete obstacle course that had nothing to do with the lifeguard recruitment process I also have no idea.

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“Baywatch works because we follow rules” HAHAHAHAHA!

Overall, I believe that Baywatch is so long because all the actors have to get all their shit in while constantly running out of steam by flip-flopping between genres and locations. It also looked like the editor forgot his scissors on he day at work as pointless scenes made the final cut and made the movie 116 minutes long. Because of this, I highly doubt the filmmakers had a solid idea for the movie before they started filmmaking. ⭐3/4

PS: Baywatch has the fakest CGI fire I have ever seen. I have seen Zack Snyder films with more convincing CGI.

The Fate of The Furious: Still chugging along

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They say you cannot judge a book by it’s cover. They never said you can’t judge a movie by promotional picture!

The Fate of The Furious is one-upping itself by having bigger action set pieces than ever before. There are cars that topple over a multi-story parking lot like tears in the rain, five cars trying to hog tie another car, there is a car race were one of those cars was on fire and a goddamn submarie break thes ice of the Russain freaking ocean chasing our heroes. None of which is a spoiler because either 1. They happen early on or 2. They revealed them in the trailer.

The reason I describe the movie like that is simply for this one notion:

What more did you expect from this franchise?

Despite the enthusastic tone, let’s not be mistaken, The Fate of the Furious is an unsurprising, middle of the road film. To continue this car analogy, this installment of the franchise is the pitstop. A 1 billion dollar pitstop, but a pitstop nonetheless. At least it was not the car crash of the franchise. The pitstop isn’t a bad place to be but it isn’t running the laps. That’s because this movie was a hit and miss: some action scenes worked, others were too ridiculous. There is a story in it that darting around, but at least there is a story to this movie. If you are a fan of the franchise, you will like this because The Fate of the Furious keeps chugging along rain, hail or shine.

The Positives: The story and the Script

The plot: Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) goes rogue because the antagonist Cipher (Charlize Theron) has something on him and uses that to her advantage and Toretto helps her against his will to implement her own plans (and to the horror of his “family”).

There is a reason I mention the plot and that’s because it’s somewhat important. Yes, in movies as a whole, that’s a given but in action movies not so much. A prime example of bad storytelling being xXx The Return of Xander Cage in which the story was so aimless, scattershot and boring that it became laughable. The Fate of the Furious actually has some restraint in what it shows in terms of keeping the plot together as it kept me focused on the story which is a relief.

The other thing that was restrained was the script. It wasn’t cringeworthy like I have heard in most action movies. They only mention the word “family” thirteen times (I predicted twice the amount and it being more explicit than subtle). Therefore I consider it a success. The script isn’t Shakespeare but it doesn’t have to be. The funniest lines occur when Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) has a hang up that he didn’t make it to the ten most wanted list whereas the other friends did (conveniently, he was number 11). So the movie was salvageable in the script department as well.

Furiously Burning the Budget: The Action Sequences

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The picture totally doesn’t make me the think of the song “America, Fuck Yeah” from Team America World Police

What was not restrained was the action sequences. That was exactly what I expected. They normally started off by being cool and/or clever but then change gears and amp up the ridiculousness. A prime example is an opening scene where Dominic races a Cuban with a poorly run car that he soups up at the last minute. During the race, the engine catches on fire while he is neck and neck.

That was fun. I have seen it before, but it was still fun.

Then the engine combusts and the flames obscure Dominic’s vision so he decided to finish (and win the race) by driving backwards while the crowd is cheering that a flaming car is racing toward them.

That was dumb.

To be honest, Fate of the Furious was mildly interesting throughout. It is certainly not the best in the franchise (that was Fast Five for me) but it is certainly not the worst (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift). It aimed to be the biggest action film of the year in terms of sheer scale and yet I didn’t feel that way. In terms of money at the box office, that is a real possibility. **3/4

Moana Review: Disney Have Made Yet Another Good Movie

 

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If a marketing agency comes up with the line “From the creators of Zootopia and Frozen” to promote Moana, you know you are in for something good. I would not say that Moana was as good as those two movies, but it is great for what it sets out to do.

2016 has been a really good year for Disney. It isn’t as good as Pixar were in their heyday, but they are better than Pixar have been in recent years. Moana is only a shade behind of Pete’s Dragon, The Jungle Book, Zootopia, and Queen of Katwe which were other movies Disney have released in 2016.

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The Disney 2016 catelogue. I would be happy with that list even though it’s not perfect and some of tne movies don’t show Disney’s finest hour he he he. 

Moana is an adventure story about the titular character who is a young Samoan woman who is next in line to be the chief of her people. There is a problem with her community’s food supply as it is wasting away. She decides to sail across oceans to find the solution to the problem in which Mau, a demi-god (Dwayne Johnson) is involved in.

While I don’t think Moana is quite as good as Disney’s recent efforts, the filmmakers still put so much effort into making it fun and succeeding in the process. The songs are fun and people remember them, the animation is gorgeous and there is good character development in Moana the female protagonist. At least she is confident character going into the story. I wish more Disney movies go beyond “The Princess” as a stock character in the future.

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These supporting characters had good moments. The grandmother had a great one.

There are also many scenes that are distinctive and it builds up to the climax really well. As much as that sounds like the standard thing to do, you would be surprised how many films don’t do that. There are scenes that are memorable in their own right. There is a scene involving a dumb chicken and another that had coconut pirates that looked epic, but I could tell it was well restrained. Which is a good thing because I am not a fan of films where their most memorable sequence is in the first third of the story.

One of the things that Moana could have done better was developing Maui the demi-god. While he had good entertaining moments and was funny, he came off as a bit arrogant. Which is fine, as long as the film addresses it.

When the tattoos you are wearing have better character development that the person who is wearing them, you are going to have a bad time. 

There is a what I thought would be a pivotal scene in which Maui would come to realize his vulnerability and his rashness when he leaves Moana behind on her quest. Such a scene does not exist in Moana. Therefore it came off to me as Maui growing a conscience for no reason when he makes his return.

To be honest, that was my biggest criticism and that was only mildly offputting. It only stuck out because a lot of the story was done so well. It was like finding a stain on white clothing instead of a stain on a unhygienic person.

For the overly formulaic path of so many Disney movies about physical journeys being a metaphorical journey of self-discovery, Moana hits a lot of right notes. It is almost as good as you can get under the limitations of such a familiar path the filmmakers took to making the movie ***3/4