Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) Review

Director: David Leitch

Genre(s): Action, Comedy, Science-Fiction

Runtime: 137 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13

IMDb Page

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw has its own identity, but still pays homage to the tropes that made The Fast and the Furious franchise popular. The film’s plot is as typical as it gets: a superterrorist named Brixton (Idris Elba) has stolen a potentially-world-destroying virus, and two squabbling heroes, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham), are recruited to retrieve it before it’s unleashed on Earth. Yeah, you may think “I’ve seen this movie before,” but it’s the execution that makes this picture special.

Like the rest of the installments in the series since Fast Five (2011), Hobbs & Shaw is primarily concerned with ludicrous action. “Just how over-the-top can we be, and still get away with it?” seems to be a thought that ran through the head of at least one filmmaker. If the viewer suspends their sense of disbelief, they will be riveted to their seat by a series of increasingly preposterous set-pieces that push the boundaries of what an action movie is tastefully capable of. This rowdy bro film is proudly lunkheaded, so don’t expect any commentary on the human condition. However, do expect the flick to give equal opportunity to its two stars to win over the audience.

It’s a great piece of popcorn-munching entertainment, but I do think that the two main characters, a pair of bickering badasses, are a bit too similar in terms of personality. There are some distinctions between the titular duo, but I think that, in many scenes, their roles could’ve been used interchangeably. This is an action-comedy, but the physical stuff clearly works better than the humorous material. That’s not to say that it’s not funny (there are definitely some chuckles here), it’s just that the fighting is several notches above the jokes.

Hobbs & Shaw is one of the better motion pictures in The Fast and the Furious series so far. It’s a dumb movie, but I don’t think the filmmakers intended it to be a smart one. It’s aimed at fans of cinematic blockbusters, so your enjoyment of the film will depend on whether you’re in that demographic or not. If the idea of massive explosions, hulking tough guys, and intricate fights excites you, you’ll want to check it out.

My rating is 8 outta 10.

Island of Lost Souls (1932) Review

Director: Erle C. Kenton

Genre(s): Adventure, Horror, Science-Fiction

Runtime: 70 minutes

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

IMDb Page

My all-time favorite horror movie, Island of Lost Souls is a supremely depraved flick about a shipwrecked sailor, Edward Parker (Richard Arlen), trapped on a remote tropical island ruled by mad scientist Dr. Moreau (Charles Laughton). While the film’s atrocities are mostly kept offscreen, this movie is still as potent as they come. Pulpy and lurid, the Rotten Tomatoes blurb for Dave Kehr’s review of the picture describes it as “dripping with sex and sadism.” I couldn’t have put it better myself (although I would’ve also added “sweat”).

Combining South Seas adventure with gripping sci-fi horror, Island of Lost Souls has a thick atmosphere of cruelty. The costumes and make-up are excellent, and the lighting is awe-inspiring. It’s quick and fast-paced, featuring some well-drawn characters. Of course, it’s Charles Laughton as Dr. Moreau who steals the show. He’s deliciously evil here, making for a truly vile and repulsive villain. The grand finale builds up to a fury that could be described as unintentionally antinatalistic, and the whole thing has some fascinating philosophical and even religious implications.

Made during the “Pre-Code” era of Hollywood in the early 1930s, before the Production Code was being enforced, this film is full of the unnatural and perverse. It was even banned in Great Britain until 1958, according to its IMDb Trivia page. Island of Lost Souls would also prove to be a major inspiration for the prominent New Wave band Devo, among others (even rock titans Van Halen wrote a song, “House of Pain,” allegedly based on the picture).

To sum things up, this one is extremely underrated, and deserves to be remembered with the very best of the horror genre. Sick and slick, it never overstays its welcome and packs quite a punch. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it can’t be twisted.

My rating is 10 outta 10.

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) Review

Director: Edward D. Wood Jr.

Genre(s): Horror, Science-Fiction

Runtime: 79 minutes

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

IMDb Page

Plan 9 from Outer Space is rightfully one of the most famous of the so-bad-it’s-good classics. I won’t spoil any of the specifics (it’s best to discover the film’s mistakes and oddities for one’s self), but the plot is about a flying saucer of extraterrestrials sent to Earth to resurrect the dead in a small California town for reasons I won’t give away here. The acting is laugh-out-loud funny and the dialogue and narration are often downright bizarre. The special effects are notably inept.

Despite all the problems with the picture, it actually has some decent imagination behind it…just no talent. Its ideas are surprisingly ambitious given the low quality of the filmmaking. The pacing’s generally solid, with a slow spot or two, and it’s quite short. The musical score’s competent, probably because it largely consists of stock music. Plan 9 from Outer Space is actually pretty effective at generating the atmosphere of a small town under siege by ghouls. The scenes of the movie’s three heroes – airline pilot Jeff Trent (Gregory Walcott), police officer Lieutenant Harper (Duke Moore), and military officer Colonel Edwards (Tom Keene) – joining forces to investigate the flying saucer are just about as exciting as watching the Avengers assemble.

One of the cast members, Bela Lugosi, actually died before the proper filming of the movie began. Nonetheless, footage of him shot prior to the script being finished is awkwardly incorporated into the flick. It’s quite a riot. There are several other interesting behind-the-scenes stories about this film that can be found on its IMDb Trivia page if you’re curious.

Although it’s a horror movie, Plan 9 from Outer Space is probably only scary if you’re three. Is it one of the worst films of all time? Certainly not! It’s far too entertaining for that. If you’re looking for some 1950s sci-fi kitsch that’s downright fun, this picture comes highly recommended.

My rating is 8 outta 10.