The Fast and the Furious (2002)

If loyalties must be broken, If the lines must be crossed, do it fast, do it Furious

Reviewed by Simon Drake

Directed by Rob Cohen
Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Michelle Rodriquez.

    Everyone’s seen Point Break right? Well transform the surfboards to fast cars; transmogrify Keanu to the plank-like Paul Walker, Swayze into Diesel and Bingo! You have the Fast and the Furious.
    Only without the sky diving.

What’s wrong with it?

    Obviously made with 16 year old boys in mind (so they can have ‘Gangsta’ pretentions whilst driving up and down their suburban streets listening to Limp Bizkit). The film has a feel that is much like a Dad trying to relate to his teenage kids, like the committee of Hollywood producers are all middle-agers trying to come across with ‘street cred’.
    For starters there is an annoying abundance of characters starting conversations with (usually shouting) things like “Yo. Yo. Yo!” “Don’t trip S.A!” or my fave “He’s totally in my face!” (any Simpsons fans may recall ‘Poochey the rocking dog’)
    Lots of gratuitous shots of leather/bikini/wet T-shirt clad models draped over sports cars. Constant (Constant!!) pounding rock/techno soundtrack, It’s like watching a Limp Bizkit video for 90 minutes.
    Oh did I say it’s a total rip off of ‘Point Break’?

What’s right with it?

    It’s sort of mindless fun if you’re into that sort of thing (personally I’m not). Vin Diesel is a charismatic lead (although seems to sporadically loose his acting ability from scene to scene.)
    The car chases are amazing, edge of the seat stuff, seamlessly mixing impressive stunt work with CGI (it’s a pity the editor, and lip synch editor, couldn’t be arsed with the non action scenes which, for the record, are a shocking display of bad continuity and 70’s Kung Fu dubbing).
    At least there is a semblance of a plot, and it’s a car chase movie with at least some car chases (unlike say Gone in 60 seconds).

How bad is it really?

    I’m probably unfairly ragging on this film as I’m not a huge fan of fast cars with alloy wheels and big spoilers. It’s not that bad at all and is slick (and silly) enough for an enjoyable evenings mindless fun.

Best Bit?

    The last 20 minutes has some wicked car chases, especially Vin Diesel’s car flipping over the top of the camera which is inside Paul Walkers car. Cool.

What’s up with?


Production Values – Nice use of downtown L.A locations. Flashy cars. Things going ‘boom’ every few minutes. All pretty slick. Although the lip-synching lets it down a bit. 9

Dialogue and performance – The dialogue is complete garbage. It’s the sort of film where the plot is shouted from one character to another. Nobody has any depth. Vin is cool, just because he’s Vin Diesel. Paul Walker does bugger all apart from brood and toss his sun bleached hair around (which he does with alarming regularity). All the rest of the cast are resigned to token ‘girlfriend’ ‘mechanic mate’ type roles. Even the evil Chinese triad gang don’t seem to even try to over act. 14

Plot and execution – As I’ve already said, the plot is a complete re-hash of Point Break but director Rob Cohen (hack responsible for Dragonheart, Daylight and The Skulls) keeps things moving along. 7

Randomness – Not really, apart from the character names and mechanic talk. 3

Waste of potential – People rave about this film as ‘The film Gone in 60 seconds should have been’ and it was a huge hit; So I’m guessing it reaches it’s target audience. 4

Overall 37%


Ice Pirates (1984)

You have to be there to see it!

Reviewed by Simon Drake

Directed by Stewart Raffil.
Starring Robert Urich, Angelica Huston and Ron Perlman.

    Set 10,000 years in the future we are informed (by the camp nasal voiced narrator) the “the universe has run dry” and “water has become the only thing left of value”. Huge blocks of ice are hoarded by the evil Templars (sort of a wussy amateur Star Wars Empire) on planet Mithra.
    Enter the ‘Ice Pirates’ led by roguish Captain Jason (the recently deceased Robert Urich) wisecracking mechanic Roscoe and a rag-tag team of adventurers (including a pre-Oscar Angelica Huston and Ron Perlman (aka ‘The guy from Alien 4 who looks like Tom Waits’). There job is to fly around the galaxy ripping off ice from Templar spaceships (hence their name).
    On their latest ice heist Jason stumbles across beautiful Princess Karina (who’s sleeping (Michael Jackson style) in a plastic bubble full of dry ice) and decides to kidnap her for no real reason (other than getting his end away).
    His kidnapping is soon thwarted (in about 6 seconds) by the uber camp evil leader ‘Supreme Commander’, but Jason and his crew are spared by the Princess because she clearly has the horn for the guy (although she does also have other motives too).
     Jason and Roscoe have to pretend to be eunuchs of the Princess’s home planet (cue comedy high pitched voices) until they are rumbled by the Templars when Jason is caught looking up a woman’s skirt “Hey you’re not supposed to have feelings like that anymore…Wait it’s the Ice Pirates! Get them!” Which results in a bike chase and Jason, Princess Karina, Roscoe and some American Footballer they met on the way go burning off to the Pirates Moon (Oo-er!), “a most retched hive of scum and villainy” for some reason.
    Then the plot (following the little known Stephen Hawking theory of ‘narrative implosion’) folds backwards on itself. Suddenly they are being chauffeured by frog ladies in search of ‘the legend of the 7th world’ which is the key to Princess Karina's missing father and going to planets of the horse riding amazon woman ruled by a camp bearded detached head.
    Then they all go through a time warp and find the 7th world (which is an ocean planet or something).

What’s wrong with it?

    Clearly made to cash in on the space opera genre of the early 80s, and ripping off scenes from every adventure/sci-fi film ever made (Most notably the Star Wars films. The Roguish pilot, beautiful Princess etc), hero getting dragged behind massive land craft (Indiana Jones and Mad Max!), egg hatching killer alien (have a guess) fresh water used for currency (erm…Waterworld?), ocean planet (Water…Oh never mind!).
    Or with no plot to speak of, and a script containing double entrendres that the ‘Carry on’ team would balk at and setting up every action scene as a flimsy pretext for a lame retort. It’s very bizarre, and very very silly.
    I’ve seen the film about three times, (and once with my Sister) and we still couldn’t understand what the bloody hell was going on. Plus with a budget of about £16.93 half the props and sets look like refugees from Dr Who.

What’s right with it?

    It’s a complete hoot! Any film where a spaceship is infected by a rubbery alien creature called “A space herpy – the love bug” it’s obvious that its tongue is fairly firmly in its cheek.
    Ice Pirates has absolutely no pretensions to be anything other than a gloriously demented spoof of the Star Wars/Trek heroic pomposity (over 10 years before Galaxy Quest).
    Everyone seems in on the gag, and enjoying themselves immensely, so there is good chemistry between the characters.
    Sure the ‘special’ effects are complete shite, the acting over egged and the scenes baffling, but it just adds to the fun.
    Watch with a few friends, a few drinks, and some hard drugs and it’s a blast!
    A note must be given to the wonderful score by Bruce Broughton (who went on to score ‘proper’ sci-fi films like ‘Lost in Space’) which varies between rousing 1930s ‘Yahhhh Matey’ orchestrations and 1980s prog-rock…It’s amazing, and if anyone ever comes across a copy, please let me know!

How bad is it really?

    It’s terrible, so terrible in fact that it’s absolutely brilliant.

Best Bit?

    The pirates battle through a bunch of Templar robots whilst going through a timewarp which ages them 10 years a minute. And rather than the special effects crew using expensive ageing prostectics they simply get longer hair (or bigger Afro’s in Roscoe’s case) and greyer beards. Then as the crew begin to die of old age, they are rescued by Jason’s son who’d been born and grown up throughout the duration of the fight (and is also played by Robert Urich).
    R2D2’s wife and baby get run over by a motorbike leaving R2 to cry out “baby!” in his shrill robo-voice. Which is really funny.

What’s up with…?

    It seems a little pedantic to pick holes in a spoof film, however:


Production Values – Excuse me whilst I stop laughing…There isn’t much in the way of effects, and when there are they aren’t special (although the box tries to convince you otherwise!). However it could be argued that the crummy sets, crappy costumes and hokey music adds to the charm. 13 (18 minus 5 for the funky robots that actually look quite good)

Dialogue and performance – The script is a never-ending barrage of bad puns and spacey talk half inched from Star Wars. The performances are quite good considering the film, most of the actors seem to be actively involved to the point of emoting. Robert Urich (using the full gamut of emotions he uses for the daytime soaps he appeared in) makes an appealingly hapless self-deprecating lead, and the Supreme Commander looks as if he was the inspiration for Lord Farquaud in Shrek. 10

Plot and execution – No discernible plot that I can find, at least the Director seems to know this as he simply fills time with as many parodies (or possibly just ripping off) as many sci-fi films as possible. 16

Randomness – Talking Heads (not the band), Kung Fu Butlers, Space Herpes, Goth clubs, Angelica Huston looking ready to fire her agent. Yup this film is pretty damn random. 18

Waste of potential – This is tricky. Sure it was never going to beat 2001 or Close Encounters as the best sci-fi film ever made, but as a dopey tongue in cheek spoof film I’d say it works pretty well. And it’s funnier than Spaceballs! 10 (I’ll rate it average as I’m still not sure of my score for this one.)

Overall 67%


Valentine (2001)

Love hurts

Directed by Jamie Blanks
Starring David Boreanaz, Denise Richards, and a bunch of pretty young things you've never heard of

    A group of friends - Kate, Paige (Richards), Dorothy, Lily and Shelley - all blow off the class nerd at a Valentine's Day dance in 6th grade. Well, all except Kate who says she might dance with him later, and Dorothy, who makes out with him then accuses him of attacking her.
    Ah, high school; breeding ground of the psycho. Especially as we later learn that Dorothy's lie saw the nerd sent to reform school, juvenile hall and so forth.
    Flash forward ten years, and Shelley blows off a dud of a date - just the first in a long line of obnoxious male characters - and heads off for some last minute autopsy revision before her med school finals. She finds a poison pen valentine, and gets her throat slashed by a killer with a nose bleed.
    We then follow the four surviving girls, as they pass by a succession of men who are all either sleazy or pathetic or just plain vile. In fact, the only half-way decent guy is Kate's recovering alcoholic honey, Adam (Boreanaz). Lily dies not long after - shot through the heart with a bow and arrow - but the rest sadly last rather longer. Also going in the ground are Dorothy's boyfriend - a con man after his money - Kate's slimeball neighbour, an unfortunate maid, the con-man's last victim and a lecherous cop.
    The last three buy it in the Valentine's Party dénouement - where Dorothy waxes bitter about her boyfriend dumping her and the fat girl not having a date, again - as does Paige (buys it, that is; not waxes bitter). The lights go out, there's a lot of tensy-tensy creeping about in the dark. Adam has a drink and gets all creepy stalker and Kate belts him with a bottle.
    Then the killer attacks Kate but is shot dead by Adam, and turns out to be Dorothy the bitter fat chick.
    Except that as Adam swears he's always loved Kate, and would never let anything happen to her, his nose starts to bleed.

What's wrong with it?

    Valentine is basically a dull, dull movie, about dull, dull people. And they're not nice or likeable dull people either. I mean, at the end we discover that Adam is a psychotic killer who's bumped off all his enemies and got the girl, and it's hard not to think: "Well, more power to him!" His victims - with the exception of Shelley, whom we hardly see, and the luckless maid - are all, frankly, scum. The men are all, without exception, more unpleasant than send-you-a-scary-valentine-slash-you-with-a-big-knife Adam, and the girls...well, they're all either spiteful or vapid or in Kate's case so entirely drippy that you can't give a rat's ass what happens to them.
    Actually, to be fair to Kate, she shot up in my estimation after she kneed creepy Adam in the bollocks, slugged him with a Champagne bottle then went straight for the firearms.
    Back to Adam, he's also quite a catch, psychosis aside. Having caught the creepy neighbour going through Kate's underwear and battered him to death with the iron, he not only cleans the place up like new, he also winds the cord of the iron and sets it neatly back on the ironing board. Now there's not many guys would be that thoughtful about the house.
    Also, the stalk and slash scenes are minimal stalk and for the most part single slash. The most elaborate death is the old 'electrical appliance in the hot-tub' ploy.

What's right with it?

    Well, there's a fair amount of decent eye candy on display, although it does rather favour the guys in the audience - there's more of David Boreanaz on display in the average 42 minute Angel episode than here.
    Oh, and Denise Richards' vapid slut gets brutally slain, which is always good value.

How bad is it really?

    Almost criminally dull, really. Not actively bad, just a little nonsensical. It's not at the Mean Guns, monkeys on crack level of randomness, but it never really take the trouble to explain itself.

Best bit?

    Really not one.

What's up with...?


Production values - Some understated death scenes, and nothing that screams 'phoney'. In general the sound and vision is good, even if the content and soundtrack are not. 6

Dialogue and performances - Pretty lame and uninspired. There is nary a memorable quote in the film except for the young Paige 'ironically' foreshadowing her hot tub electrocution by saying she'd rather be boiled alive than dance with Jeremy the nerd. 18

Plot and execution - The plot has its holes, but fewer than it could have. It's a little unclear how Adam manages to dress Dorothy up as the killer and throw her down the stairs on top of Kate without being seen, but otherwise most things add up. The direction however is lacklustre. The film generates little or no suspense, and even the ersatz heroine fails to conjure much audience sympathy. 14

Randomness - Another field in which Valentine scores quite well. Having accepted that there is a psycho killing people because he was victimised at school, everything else more or less fits. 6

Waste of Potential - While some people yearn for the good old days when a girl could be chased screaming through her house for the capital crime of having sex, and no one in the audience would think to ask why she didn't just call the cops at some stage, I myself am a fan of the more self-conscious horror film. I think that the standard slasher played out; that's why the irony comes about. What I'm trying to say is that this is an old-fashioned slasher, with little irony to its name, and thus was never going to be the catch of the day, but that by denying us our knowing asides - especially given this is the 'breakout' film for an actor with David Boreanaz' self-deprecating comedic instincts - a great seam of potential is left untapped. 12

Overall 56%