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Fast and Furious 5

A decade ago the remake of The Fast and the Furious became a monster hit.  Loaded with tough guys, hot chicks and fast cars, it became the ultimate guilty pleasure.  Five films on and the series continues the same formula which made it such a hit.  Including many characters from the previous chapters, it sets out to be a pure adrenaline rush for rev-head fanatics.  This it certainly succeeds doing with the old adage ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ looming large over this fun formulaic production.
 

On the run after their last adventure Brian (Paul Walker) and Dominic (Vin Diesel) find themselves in Rio de Janeiro.  Scraping together a living via their souped up cars, they run afoul of a local drug kingpin who wants them dead.  Also on their trail is federal agent Luke (Dwayne Johnson) whose lethal pursuit places them in jeopardy.  Caught between both sides of the law, the gang use their skills to extract themselves from a deadly situation from which there seems no escape.
 

Given we’re now up to No. 5 in the franchise, it’s amazing how fresh the concept still seems.  This could be put down to Justin Lin’s energetic direction which maximises the opportunities for outrageous stunts.  He should know how to do this by now given this is his third film in a row for this series.  He is ably supported by the regular team who have much fun causing tons of mayhem and destruction in their own style.
 

The best aspect of this entry is its eagerness to explore the characters.  Whilst the action is still spectacular, these scenes are heightened immeasurably by the viewer actually caring for our heroes.  Probably due to the increased running time, each character has their moment to shine with their input effectively leading to a typically outrageous finale.  The cars are given a fine work-out once again and should dazzle those who see these movies for the four-wheeled stunners on display.
 

A strong entry in the series, Fast and Furious 5 builds on the gains made in its last entry.  With No. 6 announced to be on its way, there’s no stopping it and given how much fun this one was some more escapist nonsense isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
 

Rating out of 10:  7

Thor

As an avid comic-book collector for many years, one of my favourites was Thor.  Showcasing the ongoing saga of a Norse god dealing with earthly and alien beings, his adventures captured the imagination.  Now arrives its cinematic incarnation which is suitably lush and rich in artistic and creative colour.  Blessed with a mega-budget and some decent acting, it does justice to a series lasting decades.
 

Banished to earth by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), the reckless Asgardian warrior Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is left to his own devices.  Forced to interact with humans, he forms a relationship with Dr Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).  Learning to tone down his impetuous ways, Thor’s strengths are tested when his evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) threatens his new home.  Determined to protect his new friends, Thor battles his foes with a vigour as only an ancient fighter can.
 

After being in Hollywood’s ‘development hell’ for nearly two decades, Thor’s cinematic incarnation has been worth the wait.  Wasting not a second of screen-time, the plot thunders its way through some slick action sequences, great acting and vibrant production design.  Expertly bringing the comic book’s flavour to life, Director Kenneth Branagh ensures his characters have believable traits despite the outlandish events taking place.
 

Much of this success is due to a great script co-written by Mark Protosevich and noted science fiction creator J. Michael Straczynski.   Both have clearly done their homework and infuse lots of famous moments from Thor’s past adventures.  For much of the film Thor is forced to live as a mere mortal, with his arrogance only standing in the way of gaining true power.  This allows the actors to fully flesh out their roles with Hemsworth equipping himself admirably as the God of Thunder.
 

Yet another fine adaptation of a Marvel comic, Thor is an excellent addition to their growing cinematic output.  Exciting, engaging and spectacular, it hits all the right targets that should please Thor’s old fans and draw in the new ones to come.
 

Rating out of 10:  8