REVIEWS – Fast6; The Call; Epic

Fast, slow, inert
Review by Vives Anunciacion
Published May 27, 2013
Inquirer Libre

Fast & Furious 6
Directed by Justin Lin

Hooray for taking itself less seriously (than the 5th) –  humor-laced, high-octane over-the-top car stunts and a never-ending finale action scene ending involving a Russian Galaxy.

Toretto (Vin Diesel) and the rest of the Furious crew are back in order to help Hobbs take down and capture the leader of a group of mercenary drivers, Shaw (Luke Evans.) Complicating the situation is the second-in-command of that group who is very familiar to Toretto – a resurrected Letty (Michelle Rodriguez.)

By now this high-speed franchise feels like a TV series. The characters return to do almost the same thing – drive fast cars insanely well – except with variations on action scenes and situations per character just so the audience knows what happens to their favorite driver. Like, “this week in Fast & Furious, Toretto’s gang is offered a return to the US in exchange with helping the law capture criminal mastermind Shaw. Meanwhile, Han (Sung Kang) proposes to Gisele (Cal Gadot).”

This is Lin’s final Furious movie, after starting the franchise in 2001. So far, he has successfully given each episode unique full-throttle action set pieces that practically made this franchise its own  cinematic sub-genre. In other words, if you like cars, you like.

The Call
Directed by Brad Andersen

Cheap thrills. Halle Berry stars as Jordan, 911 emergency call operator who takes a very crucial call from teenage Casey (Little Miss Sunshine’s Abigail Breslin) who has just been abducted. The girl’s rescue depends on that cellphone call. You know, like phone call movies Cellular or Phone Booth.

The director has a few notable thrillers to his name (The Machinist which starred a pre-Batman Christian Bale and The Transsiberian, ala Murder on the Orient Express), so it’s understandable that many suspense setups in The Call work, like spilling the paint on the expressway, putting a dead guy in the trunk next to Casey, and the gas station scene.

How can one take this movie seriously? That 911 call must’ve lasted 10 hours, without getting disconnected. In fairness, the film effectively portrays the stress that call operators handle on a daily basis. Half of the time, the film feels like a cautionary tale for teenage girls on how to survive an abduction. The other half of the time is a long character buildup to make Jordan a heroine so she can rescue Casey herself. Like, yeah.

Epic
Directed by Chris Wedge
Based on the book: “The Leaf Men and The Brave Good Bugs”

Gorgeous animation can’t make up for the fact that the story isn’t compelling and the proceedings quite lethargic. A couple of slimy invertebrates provide some laughs inconsequential to the story.

Amanda Seyfried voices MK, a teenage girl magically transported into the tiny world of the forest which she must protect together with the Leaf Men (led by Ronin, voiced by Colin Farrel) against the forces of decay led by Mandrake (Christoph Waltz.) Beyonce voices Queen Tara, who transposes her powers to a flower pod that MK must protect.

Epic isn’t exactly a pro-environment movie (protect the forest yes, but against deforestation and not against weird bug people) meaning that message would never be clear to kids, but it’s biggest crime is the fact that it’s a foregone conclusion from the start. At no point in the film did it feel like the heroes were going to lose. Epic looks grand, but feels very ordinary.

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