Furious 7

Furious 7 brings exhilarating vehicle chases, violent hand-to-hand combat, fiery explosions, a really bad bad guy, a tribute to a fallen star and… Kurt Russell!

Not to mention skydiving cars and trucks, a visit to the glossy Abu Dhabi, a major cat fight and computer snooping worse than anything the NSA has come up with.

But Furious 7 is not just about the spectacle of reckless actions in and out of cars. It’s also about the camaraderie of the ensemble. They are courageous (mostly) and cool to be sure, but they also have a bit of fun and some tender moments, too.

The poster for Furious 7 has a double meaning. It’s the 7th film in the series and the 7 people shown are the key characters. Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Hobbs (Dwayne [The Rock] Johnson), Tej (Ludacris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) are the team that takes on the Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and terrorist Jakande (Djimon Hounsou).

Shaw, a former British black ops killer, is bent on avenging the death of his brother (from Furious 6) and Jakande wants to grab the God’s Eye computer program. Meanwhile, the Furious crew is recruited by Mr. Noboby (Kurt Russell) to fetch the programmer who can help prevent God’s Eye from getting into the wrong hands. She’s the gorgeous Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel).

Not that you should be concerned with the plot. Just enjoy the chases, the crashes, the close calls, the mayhem and the energy Furious 7 delivers to the screen. Director James Wan doesn’t let the respites from action last very long.

What about Paul Walker? He died 16 months ago when he crashed his Porsche, but his character Brian is a vital part of the film. Over half of the scenes were shot before he died. His brothers worked as stand-ins and CGI can do amazing things. There’s a nice sequence at the end of the movie that remembers Paul Walker.

Furious 7 is a review-proof movie. It will be huge. Last year’s Captain America: Winter Soldier set the April record with a $95 million open. Expect Dom, Brian and crew to zoom past that mark.

Guardians Of The Galaxy

 

Guardians of the Galaxy is a big ol’ chunk of sci-fi fantasy fun. Because of its characters, the film resembles a cartoon. But it’s all live action, with some help from computer-generated images. St. Louis native James Gunn directed and co-wrote the script.

Earthling Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) AKA Star-Lord is a child of the 80’s who grooves on music from the 70’s. (Come And Get Your Love by Redbone is the film’s opening theme.) He’s the quasi-leader of this motley crew, similar to Han Solo, but with more flaws and funnier.

Rocket Raccoon is a CGI figure that could pass for real. He’s voiced by Bradley Cooper and has a sardonic smart-ass attitude and several good laugh lines.

Another CGI guy is Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel. Groot—who resembles a big tree—is not particularly graceful but he gets to play a vital role as the 5 guardians try to save the galaxy.

Rounding out the team are Gamora (Zoe Saldana), an alien assassin with bad attitude and Drax (Dave Bautista). You saw Saldana as a blue character in Avatar; here she’s green. Drax is an enormous hulk of a creature with a violent streak.

The film’s plot centers around a mysterious orb that Quill has stolen. Bad guy Ronan (Lee Pace) and his henchmen and women want it back.

The story is not why you want to see GOTG. You want to meet and enjoy these characters, especially Quill. This role appears to be a star-making turn for Chris Pratt. (He also was a key player in another of the year’s better films, The Lego Movie. He voiced lead character Emmet Brickowski.)

Another reason to embrace Guardians of the Galaxy is its cool oldies soundtrack. From Go All The Way by Raspberries to It Takes Two by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Good stuff!

Is GOTG suitable for younger kids? It’s rated PG-13, so this is where moms and dads will have to exercise real parental guidance. Today’s 8 and 10 year olds may have been exposed to more violent images than Millenials born just a few years earlier, so recommending a minimum age is dicey. But the content has huge kid appeal.

Presuming that your age is well into double digits, I have no qualms about recommending Guardians of the Galaxy to everyone. Big fun!