Currently browsing the "franchise" tag.

Jurassic World

I came really late to the Jurassic party, finally catching the original in re-release in 2013 — 20 years after its theatrical debut. So it’s kind of a big deal that I sat through a screening of the fourth installment, pre-release, despite recovering from shingles (note to all: if you have a chance to get the shingles vaccine, do it!). Anyway, Jurassic World is frighteningly entertaining, though like the original, not for the very young or faint of heart. If you’re into dinosaurs and a fan of Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Parks and Rec), then JW is a fun ride. However if you’re a purist or over-analyzing type, you should probably skip it. The crowd I saw it with seemed quite divided between indifference, disappointment, and elation.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Fans of the Avengers – assemble! My guess is they’re already packing the midnight showings and putting this superhero superflick in prime position to knock those Fast and Furious folks from the top of the Box Office. And rightly so. Avengers: Age of Ultron delivers the goods. It’s not as good as the first one, but it serves the purpose of advancing the Marvel mythology and providing pure escapist entertainment by bringing together, once again, the world’s mightiest heroes, including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Eye candy, sarcasm, action. What’s not to like?

Furious 7

Furious 7 is totally absurd. The stunts defy all laws of physics and gravity. The acting and the dialogue are inconsistent. And yet, it’s still a fun ride. No wonder Dame Helen Mirren wants to play a villain in the next one!I didn’t see the first four installments of the Fast and Furious franchise, but I became a fan with 5 and 6. They are guilty-pleasure movies, pure and simple, delivering a consistent formula of action, special effects, scantily-clad bods (male and female), bonding, romance, bromance, and family dysfunction – all delivered with a wink and a nod.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I’m always a bit torn when it comes to Captain America, the first Avenger. Chris Evans wears the suit extremely well, but his storylines never seem to grab – or entertain – me the way Iron Man (my favorite Avenger) does. CA: Winter Soldier is thin on plot and heavy on fight scenes, so it’s more of a means to an end for advancing Marvel’s Avengers franchise and less of a stand-alone movie. Here’s the gist of the plot as far as I could discern:Oh wait. First, a quick refresher: Captain America, aka Steve Rogers (Evans) was a scrawny kid transformed by a super serum into a super-soldier during World War Two. At some point while battling the evil HYDRA organization, Steve fell into some ice. Fast forward a couple of decades, and a newly-defrosted Captain America is struggling to reconcile his time-honored morals, sensibilities, and tastes in music with what’s evolved in the modern world. It’s classic ‘fish out of water’ stuff.

Divergent

Okay, I guess there is room for another young adult movie franchise that centers around a strong female character battling to survive in a dystopian futuristic society. Divergent doesn’t rise to the level of The Hunger Games, but it should satisfy fans of the best-selling book by Veronica Roth. The movie doesn’t offer up anything particularly fresh character or story-wise (compared to the aforementioned Hunger Games), but it survives – and will likely thrive- because the actors are all quite good. Especially the lead actress, Shailene Woodley (The Descendants, The Spectacular Now).

The Wolverine

C’mon, it’s Hugh Jackman, ripped. Does anything else really matter? If so, then you may have some issues with the movie’s inconsistent plot and dialogue. But all things considered, The Wolverine is a fast-paced, stunt-fueled, entertaining flick about the brooding “X-Men” superhero who’s blessed – and cursed – with immortality and metal claws.

Star Trek Into Darkness

I enjoyed Star Trek Into Darkness, but I wouldn’t call it a “must-see” unless you’re a true Trekkie – or, at the very least, a casual fan of the TV and/or movie franchise. The more you know of the characters and the mythology going in, the more you’re likely to appreciate the latest round of challenges facing the familial crew of the Starship Enterprise. Most of the diehard fans have already seen the movie or read the spoilers relating to the villain. But I’m going to play it safe and keep it simple. Basically, the plot involves the Starfleet facing a major threat from within. Ultimately, Captain Kirk and his crew take it upon themselves to venture into some dark territory to capture the one-man wrecking crew responsible for a whole lot of death and destruction. The bad guy is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who I’d never heard of, but certainly has a name (and face) to remember!

Iron Man 3

The plot of Iron Man 3 is wonky. But when you’ve got Robert Downey Jr. donning the suit, it doesn’t really matter. You’re in for a fun ride – especially if you’ve seen the previous two Iron Man movies and The Avengers, one of my favorite flicks of 2012.

This time around, wealthy industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man (Downey) finds his Malibu complex reduced to rubble and his loved ones (most notably, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts) threatened by a menacing terrorist known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

A Good Day to Die Hard

The fifth time is not the charm for the hugely successful Die Hard franchise. A Good Day to Die Hard is, without a doubt, the weakest of the bunch – and I’m not even sure I’ve seen them all. That said, the movie is mindless entertainment that should do well at the box office because, well, it’s Die Hard. Bruce Willis. Action. Good guys. Bad guys. Things going boom. Father-son bonding. Bullets flying. Cars flipping. Helicopters crashing. And more things going boom. Get the picture? If the movie had tried to take itself too seriously, I’d have a much more serious problem with it. Instead, I will simply take exception with the fact that it has no comprehensible plot.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Mission Implausible is more like it. But no matter – this movie isn’t really about plot or plausibility. It’s about cool stunts and stunning imagery. So if you’re into the action stuff, go see it (in IMAX) and enjoy the adrenaline rush through Budapest, Moscow, Dubai and Mumbai.

For those actually counting, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is the fourth installment in the franchise starring Tom Cruise as secret agent Ethan Hunt. He leads a black ops team known as the IMF – the Impossible Mission Force (not the International Monetary Fund, though both are equally mysterious to me).