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The Vatican Tapes Review

Good

With its above-average cast and a gritty, realistic tone, this exorcism thriller is a lot more involving than most. Not only is it packed with demonic mayhem, but the complex characters make the drama much punchier, setting up the audience for several big jolts. Even so, the plot builds slowly, finally reaching its most intriguing twist right at the very end, so the credits start rolling just as things get properly riveting.

The title refers to a secret archive under the Vatican run by Cardinal Bruun (Peter Andersson) and his assistant Imani (Djimon Hounsou). It contains files and lots of tapes of demonic possession, including scenes of 30-year-old Angela (Olivia Taylor Dudley). She has a happy life with her cute boyfriend Pete (John Patrick Amedori) and tough-but-kind dad Roger (Dougray Scott), but starts acting a bit strange whenever a raven is nearby. As her behaviour gets more erratic, she is assisted by Father Lozano (Michael Pena), who takes a personal interest in her case. But things spiral far beyond Lozano's expertise, so he calls the Vatican for help. And when Bruun arrives in America to meet Angela in person, he's unnerved to discover that this might not be a demon: she could be the Antichrist.

The screenplay cleverly weaves in news reports and current events to make everything that happens feel grounded in real life. As it continues, the biblical and fantastical flourishes intriguingly fit into this context, while director Mark Neveldine delays tipping over into effects-based action until the final act. This means that the film quietly unnerves the audience from the start, using CCTV footage and some enjoyably scary touches that add to the atmosphere. As a result, the actors are able to flesh out their characters. Dudley gives Angela a strong personality that lingers even after the presence inside her starts to take over. As the three priests, Pena, Andersson and Hounsou don't have much to do, but they add subtle details to their scenes.

Continue reading: The Vatican Tapes Review

Furious 7 Review


Very Good

For their seventh adventure, the Fast & Furious cast and crew continue to outdo themselves with mind-boggling stunt driving and outrageous action mayhem, this time infusing everything with emotion as a way of honouring late actor Paul Walker. The rip-roaring pace and more internalised drama combine effectively to create a riotous thrill ride that might actually bring a lump to the throat. Even if it's all utterly preposterous, it's solidly entertaining.

Things pick up right where Part 6 left off, with former black-ops killer Deckerd Shaw (Jason Statham, who else?) determined to avenge his fallen brother. As he tracks them down, Dominic and Brian (Vin Diesel and Paul Walker) have reassembled their team (Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges) to take a job with shady government agent Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell). Their target is the even shadier villain Jakanda (Djimon Hounsou), who has kidnapped a genius hacker (Nathalie Emmanuel) to get his hands on her all-seeing gadget. But Shaw is on their trail as they track Jakanda to the mountains of Azerbaijan, and he interrupts their mission there as well as in the deserts of Abu Dhabi and the streets of downtown Los Angeles.

The double-edged premise offers all kinds of opportunity for plot twists, but of course the main point of these movies is to create increasingly insane set-pieces. This time, the film opens with Brian explaining to his young son that cars can't fly, after which director James Wan proves otherwise, flinging our heroes' hot rods into the sky from airplanes, tower blocks and cliff tops. Amazingly, they seem able to steer even in mid-air! But never mind, it looks so painfully cool that there's little do do but sit back and enjoy the chaos, knowing that even though a flashy vehicle is destroyed every minute, there's a newer, more awesome car coming in the next scene.

Continue reading: Furious 7 Review

Vin Diesel Confirms 'Fast & Furious 7' Release Date


Vin Diesel Paul Walker James Wan Chris Morgan

Fast & Furious 7 is definitely still happening, and if Vin Diesel's Facebook account is to be believed, then it will be here by next spring. The star of the franchise took to his Facebook page late on Sunday, 22 December, night to leave a tribute for deceased star Paul Walker, before eventually revealing the release details for the upcoming film.

Paul WalkerVin Diesel
Walker and Diesel were set to star together once again

F&F7 will arrive in cinemas on 10, April, 2015, according to the Facebook post, after production was put on hold. Filming for the next instalment of the F&F series had been put on hold indefinitely following the untimely death of star Paul Walker on 30 November, however Universal decided to go ahead with the filming when writer Chris Morgan and director James Wan, apparently, devised a plot eventuality where they can retire Walker's character from the series using scenes already shot. The film was initially due to be released on 11 July, 2014.

Continue reading: Vin Diesel Confirms 'Fast & Furious 7' Release Date

Keanu Reeves Back In The Far East As Outcast Warrior In '47 Ronin' [Trailer]


Keanu Reeves Chris Morgan Hossein Amini

Keanu Reeves plays an outcast in the fictional retelling of the forty-seven ronin, and while it looks a lot more promising than his other recent movies, could it be the one to save his career?

'47 Ronin' posterKeanu Reeves in '47 Ronin'

So, he's not exactly been rolling in the glory in recent years with 2012 seeing him star in major commercial and critical flop (an understatement) Generation Um and this year in the China based film Man of Tai Chi which was also his directorial debut and fared a lot better considering it was his first directing stint but still failed to grasp mainstream attention.

Continue reading: Keanu Reeves Back In The Far East As Outcast Warrior In '47 Ronin' [Trailer]

Fast & Furious 6 Review


Good

The most impressive thing about the sixth entry into this noisy franchise is that it's both more preposterous and more self-important than ever before. Which is no mean feat. The cast and crew clearly went for something bigger and more explosive, but by removing their tongues from their cheeks they leave us laughing at them rather than with them. Even so, some of the crazed action scenes are breathtaking.

The story picks up right where the last one ended: Dominic and Brian (Diesel and Walker) have taken the fortune they grabbed in Rio and started an idyllic life in the Canary Islands. Brian and Dom's sister Mia (Brewster) have even produced an adorable baby. Then US Agent Hobbs (Johnson) appears asking for their help in capturing the villainous Shaw (Evans), who is collecting military technological gadgets for some nefarious purpose. And they agree to go along because Dom's presumed-dead girlfriend Letty (Rodriguez) is working with him. So they reassemble the team (Pataky, Gibson, Bridges, Kang, Gadot and Carano) and get started in London.

Yes, this chapter takes place in Europe, which gives the filmmakers new landmarks to race past in their elaborately orchestrated chase sequences, throwing cars like toys at every plate-glass window in sight. The first night-time set-piece in London is fairly incoherent (and nonsensical), but things get better from there, with a whizzy bit of competitive driving for Dom and Letty and a few other showdowns before the action moves to Spain for a couple of massive, gob-smacking action sequences that would boggle the mind if we thought for a second that they were even marginally possible.

Continue reading: Fast & Furious 6 Review

Fast Five Review


Very Good
Director Lin and writer Morgan throw literally everything at the screen in this loud, meaty, almost breathtakingly stupid sequel. The stony performances don't really matter, and neither does the blunt dialog. But it's still great fun.

After ex-cop Brian (Walker) and his girlfriend Mia (Brewster) break Dom (Diesel) out of prison, they head to Rio to hide out with Dom's old pal Vince (Schulze). Naturally, Vince has an elaborate heist planned, of course involving superfast cars. And it goes so spectacularly wrong that doggedly determined Federal agent Hobbs (Johnson) heads to Brazil to track them down. But there's one last job to do, which involves getting even with Rio's ruthless crime boss (de Almeida), so they call their old team (including Gibson, Bridges, Gadot and Kang) into action.

Continue reading: Fast Five Review

Fast & Furious Review


Bad
Doing its best to further erase whatever pleasant memories (guilty or no) people may still have had from the 2001 original, Fast & Furious reunites The Fast and the Furious cast with much ballyhoo, only to kill one of them off in no time flat and leave viewers fairly unconcerned with what happens to the rest of them. Given that this third sequel is intent on treating the events of the origin film as some sort of holy text, this is probably not the effect that the filmmakers were going for.

For the record, Rob Cohen's The Fast and the Furious -- which took the name from a 1955 Roger Corman racing flick, and updated the master's exploitation bent with well-deployed studio gloss -- was a perfectly enjoyable piece of work. Throwing squadrons of neon-colored muscle cars and a still-trying Vin Diesel into the middle of an overheated potboiler drama about family honor and loyalty turned out to be a genius stroke; the thing left scorch marks. It moved with the skillful speed of well-honed pulp. By contrast, the near-laughable Fast & Furious (directed by Justin Lin, who did the honors on the last installment, Tokyo Drift) tries far too hard and achieves very little.

Continue reading: Fast & Furious Review

Wanted Review


Very Good
A scrawny, self-loathing office drone gets plucked from his humdrum existence by a steely, gun-wielding super babe, is mentored by a Zen warrior with limitless intelligence but limited patience, then endures harsh physical training to prepare for a deadly mission only he can complete.

What sounds an awful lot like The Matrix is actually Wanted, an adaptation of Mark Millar's 2004 comic book miniseries by style-conscious Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov. His name may ring a bell with adventurous moviegoers who sampled his frenzied vampire thriller Night Watch and its muddled sequel, Day Watch. And though it's unlikely Bekmambetov will become a household name once Wanted explodes on the scene, a wider audience certainly will become more familiar with the director's uniquely kinetic aesthetics.

Continue reading: Wanted Review

Chris Morgan - Thursday 19th June 2008 at Mann Village Theater Los Angeles, California

Chris Morgan
Chris Morgan

The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift Review


Good
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift plays like the archetypal Western. A newcomer arrives in town, upsets the locals, plays with hearts, and rides around a lot before a final "this town ain't big enough for the both of us" showdown sends him, or someone else, on their way. Of course, the movie is actually an Eastern: The frontier is Japan, the town is big enough for about 20 million, and there is plenty of horsepower, but not a mare or stallion in sight. Despite the setting, the basic principles remain unchanged. The stranger, Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) is an Alabaman High School student, sent away to live with his seafaring father (Brian Goodman) in Tokyo after getting in trouble with the law back home. It seems Sean can't stop racing cars. Unfortunately, for unknowing parents, the wild wild East of Japan is a paradise for the boy from the west, with its underground racing culture and scantily clad sirens, and soon Sean finds himself tangled in the criminal engine of his dangerous new town.In Tokyo, Sean meets Twinkie (Bow Wow), an iPod-dealing "army brat" who introduces him to the city's racing underworld. Every night, groups of outrageously dressed young people take their outrageously painted cars out for some dynamically orchestrated races. The Yakuza (Japanese mafia) is heavily involved in the races, and the Drift King, DK (Brian Tee), is high up in their ranks. Of course, in grand Point Break (and, um, Fast and the Furious) tradition, Sean takes a liking to DK's girl, Neela (Nathalie Kelley), causing DK to take an extreme disliking to Sean. The two race, and the newcomer loses. However, DK's business partner and seeming sage, Han (Sung Kang), sees a spark in the kid, and vows to train him in the ancient Japanese art of drifting (driving sideways). All Sean has to in return, is run a few criminal errands.To describe the plot of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is more effort than it's worth (and possibly more effort than it took to come up with). Plot, dialogue, character development: All are irrelevant. What clearly matters to the filmmakers, and one suspects, to those contemplating a trip to the theatre to see it, is the sound and fury of the thing. On this level, Justin Lin's film is a grand achievement. Every race and chase is brilliantly handled. The concept of drifting, really just a fancy name for a movement we've all seen before, is nonetheless utilized to breathtaking effect. When Sean races DK down a windy mountain road, both cars drifting dangerously close to an off-road disaster, Lin's camera plummets and whips around, itself racing and demonstrating the consequences of any potential mishaps. He is a director with an innovative eye suited to this kinetic material.Unfortunately, where the eye is strong, the ear is weak. Alfredo Botello, Chris Morgan and Kario Salem's screenplay is a paint-by-numbers job that fails even to color effectively within the lines. The script is woeful. There are attempts at exposition, humor and development, all of which fail and act merely as speed bumps for a film otherwise moving well. The most hilarious scene involves a rooftop discussion between Han and Sean, supposed to establish their bond and some bizarre driver philosophy, that instead sets itself up for instant parody.Despite its execrable screenplay, some dull performances (although it must be said that Black can scowl with the best of them), and failure on nearly almost every level but the action, Tokyo Drift still manages to kind of work. The racing scenes are that good and that frequent that one can almost forgive everything else. It's a Western: We know it's junk; we just want the showdown. On this level, the film provides. It is not as good as a certain other movie about "cars" currently playing, but then that movie hit on a fundamental point. It let the cars, not the people, do the talking. Looking at Twinkie's green Hulk car, I couldn't help but let my mind drift, and think, "Ahhh, if these cars could talk...."They went thattaway.

Cellular Review


Good
When my cell phone rings, before I answer, I always check to see who's calling. If I don't know who it is, I'll likely not accept the call. With airtime at a premium and overage charges through the roof, it just makes good sense. It's also the reason why cell phones include caller ID! But in Cellular, when a random call is accepted, it sets forth a series of events that takes one man on an incredible journey across Los Angeles to save the caller on the other line.

The man is Ryan (Chris Evans), and according to his former girlfriend Chloe (Jessica Biel), he's just an irresponsible and self-centered beach bum - not exactly the person you'd want on the line if your life depended on it. The random call comes from Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger), a science teacher and mother who's been kidnapped from her Brentwood mansion and is being held hostage in the attic of an abandoned house. While in captivity, a desperate Jessica is miraculously able to splice together some wires from a telephone that is smashed to pieces by her abductor (Jason Statham). Somehow, her resulting call reaches Ryan.

Continue reading: Cellular Review

Chris Morgan

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Chris Morgan Movies

The Vatican Tapes Movie Review

The Vatican Tapes Movie Review

With its above-average cast and a gritty, realistic tone, this exorcism thriller is a lot...

Furious 7 Movie Review

Furious 7 Movie Review

For their seventh adventure, the Fast & Furious cast and crew continue to outdo themselves...

Fast & Furious 6 Movie Review

Fast & Furious 6 Movie Review

The most impressive thing about the sixth entry into this noisy franchise is that it's...

Fast Five Movie Review

Fast Five Movie Review

Director Lin and writer Morgan throw literally everything at the screen in this loud, meaty,...

Wanted Movie Review

Wanted Movie Review

A scrawny, self-loathing office drone gets plucked from his humdrum existence by a steely, gun-wielding...

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift Movie Review

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift Movie Review

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift plays like the archetypal Western. A newcomer arrives...

Cellular Movie Review

Cellular Movie Review

When my cell phone rings, before I answer, I always check to see who's calling....

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