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Posts Tagged ‘James Wan’

"Furious 7"...the usual suspects

“Furious 7″…the usual suspects

“FURIOUS 7” My rating: B-

135 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Subtlety is not the reason the “Fast and Furious” franchise became a box office juggernaut.

Rather, it’s all about roaring engines, outlandish stunts, bikinied babes, music-video pacing, racially diverse (if one-dimensional) characters and a playful sense of camaraderie — elements that appeal to audiences all over the world.

“Furious 7” doesn’t mess with the formula, though this latest entry can’t help coming off as bittersweet, what with the 2013 car-crash death of leading man Paul Walker as filming neared completion.

If the action is spectacular, giving us violent ballets of speed and destruction, the film’s attempts at emotion are simplistic and sappy. But the lingering sense of loss over Walker’s demise gives the material a dramatic underpinning it doesn’t really deserve.

“7” concludes with flashbacks of Walker from the previous films, and even sneerers may reach for the Kleenex.

Mostly though, Chris Morgan’s screenplay and James Wan’s direction keep things moving. Like a second-grader with ADD, the film is impossibly restless (is there one shot that lasts more than 10 seconds?). The dialogue is often stunningly (intentionally?) bad, filled with cliches from the action movie playbook.

This time around the blended team of crooks and lawmen — the alpha dog Dominic (Vin Diesel), Brian (Walker), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris) and Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) — are being stalked by an implacable and seemingly unbeatable enemy.

Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), brother of the criminal mastermind the crew took down in the last film, wants revenge and methodically goes after our guys.

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Lili Tqylor...it's behind you!

Lili Taylor … it’s behind you!

“THE CONJURING” My rating: C+ 

112 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“The Conjuring” might have been subtitled “Exorcism’s Greatest Hits.”  When it comes to manifestations of demonic possession, the damn thing is practically encyclopedic.

Levitation. Foul odors. Disgusting vomit. Rotting ghost-corpses. Sleepwalking.  Doors that open and close when nobody’s around. An animated evil doll. Strange noises. Unexplained bruises.

No head-spinning, but there is a Hitchcock-ian bird attack.

It’s all quite silly but surprisingly effective, thanks to the taunt direction of James Wan (creator of the “Saw” series) and a cast of talented pros who keep our doubts at arm’s length.

“The Conjuring” is inspired by the ghostly experiences of husband-and-wife team of Ed and Lorraine Walker, who specialized in paranormal investigations. These real-life ghostbusters did on-site studies of hauntings publicized in the movies like “The Amityville Horror “ and “A Haunting in Connecticut.”

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