Notes from the Back Row 

Sequel season kind of sucks

A hefty string of movie nights is a good way to mend all the brain synapses you fried during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival, but at the same time the hockey playoffs mean it's all about the matinee anyway. And the people who enjoy the crunching drama of professional sports will probably not mind Fast Five , opening Friday at the Village 8.

Fast Five is the latest (and fifth) installment of the souped-up car racing franchise that started out as The Fast and the Furious and then got hit-and-runned by some of the shittiest sequel titles since I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer or X-Files 2: I Want to Believe.

But the Fast/Furious vehicle picked up a lot of steam last time around with the return of Vin Diesel as "Tank-Top Tough Guy #4" to Paul Walker's recurring "Too-Pretty Cop #7," all mashed into an elaborate heist film.

Justin Lin directed The Fast and the Furious: Toyko Drift and this time delivers enough rooftop chases, ridiculous car stunts and cheese-dick macho dialogue to satisfy die hard fans but there is no question he will have trouble bringing in new ones.

This is not a film aimed at geniuses, a point Lin hammers home by putting a "Rio De Janeiro" title over his sunrise aerial shots of the iconic "Christo Redentor" statue. Instead it's slick cars flying through the air, PG-13 hot girls standing around for little reason, evil drug kingpins, honourable thieves and the same gun and military "Hoo-Ra" we get with Michael Bay, just not quite as good. (And the fist-fight between Diesel and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is preposterous.) Fast Five is slick, dumb action, perfect for hangover/recuperation viewing.

Also opening is Prom, a basic Lady-and-the-Tramp tale set amongst the teen angst of the last days of high school. Look for the clichés and archetypes of high school without the bongs and heavy petting. This is a Disney flick after all and therefore not a problem to follow even if you sleep through the second act. I have a soft spot for dumb high school movies though - but did I mention this one's directed by the guy who did Sleepover, Sydney White and the fifth (and unreleased) American Pie movie, American Pie 5: The Naked Mile?

Speaking of stupid sequel titles, the last new flick in town this week is the pun-erific animated adventure Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil. Even I am not so partied out I will sit though this one and by all accounts it is terrible despite a cast of excellent actors like Glenn Close, Joan Cusack, Martin Short, Bill Hader, Amy Poeler and Cheech and Chong, all of them slumming for a paycheck in a flick with 2005 video game quality animation. Hayden Panettiere voices the main role - I thought she was awesome in Racing Stripes but it sounds like no one brings the heat in this one.

I guess kids would like it, kids and zombified partiers that smell musty, look dusty, and haven't gotten an eight-hour sleep in weeks.

The download of the week is Hot Dog. Sure, it's a ski movie but we've got plenty of snow left and the classic '80s film ties in nicely with Ace's "Hot Dog Party 4," a sequel that closed out the WSSF festival with style and class. Locals in costumes danced and competed in fun contests for ten to twelve hours while real DJ's played 45s on the patio. Ace also deserves credit for not slapping a dumb tagline on her  own sequel. Be sure to look for the 72-Hour Filmmaker showdown films online as well.

 

 

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