Tag Archives: Tyrese Gibson

Dr. Feelbad

Morbius

by George Wolf

For a movie about a guy with a serious taste for blood, Morbius shows hardly any of it being spilled. That’s just one of the reasons the film feels hamstrung from what it wants to be.

What Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) wants to be is healthy. Born with a strange DNA abnormality that paired a genius mind with a broken body, Michael put “Dr.” in front of Morbius at age 19 on the way to becoming the foremost expert on blood borne diseases.

And now, his research with vampire bats from Costa Rica has yielded a breakthrough…with a catch. He gets super human, downright monstrous powers, but they wear off without more servings of blood. And while he’s getting by with the artificial variety for now, Morbius knows the time is coming when only human blood will do.

So the clock is ticking, and not just for Morbius. His colleague Martine (Adria Arjona) is feeling the heat, while Milo (Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith, who seems to enjoy hamming it up), Michael’s childhood friend who suffers from the same DNA abnormality, is eager for the cure – and fine with the consequences.

Director Daniel Espinosa (Life, Safe House) has plenty of fun with the CGI, and while the facial morphing is mighty impressive, the increased battle sequences end up trending more toward soulless, Van Helsing-style gymnastics.

Abrupt editing does Espinosa no favors, either, and the pace that initially feels nicely brisk leads to a narrative that just seems impatient. Many of the themes at work here are common to comic book adaptations, but just checking off the boxes is no substitute for development.

Screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (the duo behind Gods Of Egypt, The Last Witch Hunter and Dracula Untold – all dreadful) try to inject some humor via a pair of detectives (Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal) hunting the “vampire killer,” but what the script needs most of all is to take Milo’s advice.

Embrace what you are!

This Morbius seems too desperate to sit at the cool Spider-Man table right now, skirting the commitment to a more fully formed, standalone character that would only reap dividends down the road. And yes, sit tight during the credits for two extra peeks in that direction.

But come on, this is vampire stuff, right? Throw off those PG-13 shackles and really dig in! Go for the jugular, if you will. Man, that could have been a rush.

This isn’t.

Inner Conflict

Dangerous

by Hope Madden

I remember watching the inexplicably popular Bad Boys for Life and marveling at the film’s narrative purpose: to convince Marcus (Martin Lawrence) that being a violent man is better than being a man who does not commit violence against others.

Sure, there’s a mother/son angle, some explosions, a disco scene, but everything that happens does so to convince Marcus that his real purpose is to commit violence.

It’s different than the traditional “one man against the world” action flick, where a peaceful man is forced back into violence to avenge the death of his wife/child/puppy. Those have long existed. This idea that a man who chooses not to physically harm others needs to somehow be persuaded that he prefers a life of violence, that it is his nature and should be celebrated, is kind of new. This theme is also the driving force behind the admittedly enjoyable Nobody, among others.

The latest film that hates to see a man get his baser instincts under control is David Hackl’s Dangerous.

Scott Eastwood leads a solitary life. He works out. He eats frozen dinners. He waters his plants. Then his mind-numbing peace is disrupted when his brother Sean’s death brings him to the remote island where Sean had been renovating an old military base into a hotel.

Eastwood, who channels his father more and more these days, is now non-violent with the help of some personality-deadening drugs and call-me-whenever guidance from his therapist, played by Mel Gibson.

That’s funny.

Hackl’s clearly working on a shoestring here, and though the film sometimes shows a lack of funds, on the whole, it’s competently made. The humor Hackl, Gibson and Eastwood mine from Christopher Borrelli’s script delivers Dangerous’s saving grace.

Because, yes, D (Eastwood’s character) falls into ex-military, Black Op style gunplay once on the island, but first the recovering sociopath has to deal with his mom. Beyond that, the mystery is convoluted beyond measure, Tyrese Gibson and Famke Janssen are pointless, performances are forgettable.

In the end, the whole mess feels like the familiar fantasy of doing right by your mother just one time and then disappearing so you can’t screw it up. Which is a better story than the one about a sociopath who decides being a decent human is just not being true to himself.

John Cena’s In This One

F9: The Fast Saga

by George Wolf

So if this is the ninth installment, that means all laws of physics went out the window 7.5 Fast films ago. Just remember that when there’s a Plymouth Fiero in space for reelz.

Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have been trying to live a quiet life in the country with little Brian, but they’re going to need a sitter.

Seems Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) sent the gang an S.O.S. not long after he captured Cipher (Charlize Theron). Now Mr. N. is missing, Cipher’s on the loose, and everybody’s trying to get their hands on both halves of a device that, when made whole, will take control of every weapons system in the world.

And you know who already has one half? Dom’s bigger little brother Jacob (John Cena). We haven’t heard about Jacob until now because the boys have serious beef about who was to blame for their father’s death in a 1989 stock car race.

So Dom’s ad nauseam mantra of “family” has its limits.

Lighten up, right? Don’t take it so seriously, this franchise is about the action! I get it, and when the tone is right (like it was with director James Wan in Furious 7) I’m right there with you.

But this film takes itself waaay too seriously. Director/co-writer Justin Lin is back for his fifth go ’round, and after an opening filled with the usual auto gymnastics, settles into a story surprisingly heavy on the spy game.

Cena gets no chance to flash his charismatic mischievous side, as he and Diesel seem intent on making steely stares and jaw clenching an Olympic sport. Roman and Tej (Tyrese Gibson and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) try to fill the playful void left by Hobbs and Shaw, but their hi-jinx seldom rise above silly wise cracking.

Plenty of familiar franchise faces return (Lucas Black, Shad Moss, Helen Mirren, Jordana Brewster and Sung Kang), often bringing with them a good amount of exposition explaining what their characters have been doing or why they aren’t really dead.

There’s so much nostalgia, you’d think they were actually trying to put a bow on this whole thing if the film wasn’t simultaneously inventing new threads. And as the running time keeps running, it all starts to feel pretty tedious.

But if you want your flying cars and electro-magnet explosions on the biggest screen possible, F9 will eventually give that to you (even in IMAX where available). Just don’t expect the self-awareness to realize how close they are to self-parody.

Also, hang through the credits and you’ll get a stinger with a big clue about what’s coming in the tenth round: a Prius on top of Mt. Everest.

Not really. But at this point, why not?

Furiouser and Furiouser

Fast and Furious 6

By Hope Madden

 

There’s this code, see. And while Fast & Furious 6 doesn’t spell it out, I gather it has something to do with steroids and bald heads.

Six! Can you believe this is the sixth installment in this street-racers-turned-international-thieves-turned-good-guys series? Boy, that time sure slid by in a sheen of muscle oil and turtle wax, didn’t it?

Well, this go-round Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson participate in a big-and-bald-off for a little over two hours while some limey tries to steal a world-ending computer chip. Who cares about that, though, when Dominic has Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) to bring back?!

It is nice having Rodriguez back in the cast. Her level of skill is debatable, but her face is an impressive mask of undiluted contempt. Director Justin Lin wisely pairs her with MMA ass kicker Gina Carano, meaning she finally has the opportunity at a fair fight. Otherwise she’d have just had to make the rest of the cast her bitches and be done with it.

Flanking Rodriguez is the predictable assortment of hulks and hotties. Paul Walker took a break from his rockin’ career in pizza delivery to join Pumpasaurus Rex and the Pec-tets. Meanwhile, Tyrese Gibson gets the chance to be uncharacteristically but intentionally funny.

Diesel’s comic moments are more unintentional. He’s unflappable, sporting a weirdly peaceful expression and spouting lines like, “What you found out is for you. What we do now is for her.” He’s like a gravelly voiced Buddha.

Dwarfing Buddha is the enormous Johnson, whose performance feels eerily familiar – same head cock, same arched eyebrow, even the same undersized Under Armour tees. Yes, I believe he may have just wandered accidentally over from the GI Joe set. I think I heard him call Toretto Cobra Commander just now.

Eventually it seemed clear that my best course of action was to unplug the brainstem and let the loud noises and pretty colors wash over me. Ignore the “plot”, disregard the “acting”, and just appreciate the well choreographed car chases and fisticuffs. It was working, too – a little MMA, a little old school WWE and a whole lot of girlfight – until Act 3 reared its bulbous head.

No power to suspend disbelief is strong enough to contend with the epic ridiculousness of the final reel or two of this film.

I’ll have to try harder with FF7, I guess.

Verdict-2-0-Stars