Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – Movie Review

Shameik Moore is back to voice Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Hello superhero fans, it’s Slick Dungeon! I’m here to review the newest animated Spider-Man film to hit theaters, Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse. There will be some spoilers below so if you haven’t watched the film yet you may want to do that first. I will try to keep it to light spoilers though.

If you have seen the first film in this series, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse you’ll be unsurprised to learn this film pushes the boundaries of animation. However, the sheer skill and technique present in the sequel is mind-boggling. At every moment, with every frame of this film, the animators are able to blend, create and innovate all at once in ways that are not only surprising but thematically brilliant. There are hundreds of characters here (a lot of them variations on Spider-Man) and each and every one has it’s own defining style. All this is to say, this is far and away the most visually ambitious animated film I have ever seen. I can’t say enough about how good this looks. Every frame has intention.

With a film looking this good you might expect it to simply fall into lazy tropes of so many superhero sequels we’ve seen before. And while there are certainly some aspects of the film which fall into that, this story is not a simple morality play. The film gets deep. And I don’t just mean deep for a kids film. It forces the protagonist and the audience to think about what a hero really is. Is a hero the type of person who will let one bad thing happen so thousands of good things can happen? Or do they try to save the individual and the group? What if they fail? What if their good actions have unforeseen horrible consequences? These are just some of the themes touched on here.

The film also allows quiet character moments to happen. Some of the best scenes in the film are not the moments where hundreds of Spider-men chase one another around, the bad guy surprises in ways one could only achieve in animation, or when we see favorite cameos and easter eggs. Two of the best scenes are when Spider-Gwen has a quiet heart to heart, upside down with Miles and when Miles’ mother tells him how much she loves him. The emotional impact of this film is incredibly surprising.

I don’t think this is the best animated Spider-man film ever made. I think this is the best Spider-Man film ever made. Seriously, it’s that good. I found myself thinking over and over in the theater, “I cannot believe how good this is.”

The voice acting is strong with the return of Shameik Moore as Miles, and Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacy plus the addition of newcomers like Oscar Isaac as the Spider-Man from 2099.

This film honestly gives me hope for the future of animation. Why? It accomplishes things that can only be done in animation and tells an incredibly complex story while still defining heroes and villains well enough that even young superhero fans know when to cheer or boo.

I’ve seen a lot of films this year already and I can say hands down, without reservation, I enjoyed this film more than any other I have watched this year. One small warning is the movie does leave you wanting more at the end, but in the best way possible.

Really, my only criticism of this film? I could have used a lot more Peter Porker Spider-Ham but that’s just me.

If you are deciding what movie to go out and see in the near future, do yourself a favor and go watch this. If you are not impressed, you didn’t have your eyes open during the film.

Praisingly yours,

Slick Dungeon


Empire: Metropolis – Book Review

Empire: Metropolis by Tim Goff

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Corber Port is the commercial center and largest metropolis of the tottering Solarian Empire. A devastating earthquake and fire have reduced much of the city to charred rubble roamed by gangs.

Tia Samos, once a prominent imperial citizen, is held captive in this urban wasteland by demons masquerading as mortal men. Tia’s former companions scour the city searching for her but are stymied at every turn.

Worse, dark forces plot to unleash yet another calamity on Corber Port – and Tia’s captors may be the only ones who can prevent it – if they choose to do so.


The last book in the Empire series left us at a crucial moment with Tia making a great sacrifice in order to save her friends. Peter, Kyle, and Rebecca had no power to stop Tia’s decision, leaving them with the only option of regrouping later to find Tia and attempt to rescue her from evil. In Empire: Metropolis we find our characters in the largest city in the Empire, attempting to make new lives for themselves, gaining increased knowledge, and even magical power. But at the same time, they must attempt to locate Tia, and Kyle’s nephew Barry, without allowing evil entities to gain knowledge of what they are doing. To make matters worse, there are places in the city where Kyle’s burgeoning magical powers are ineffective, there are those in power who stand to gain from keeping it that way, and in this city teeming with humanity, a demon on the loose could cause permanent havoc, not just for Tia and her friends, but all of the Empire.

Throughout the first three books in this series there has been a bit of a pattern emerging with small story threads occurring over and over again in slightly different ways. In Empire: Metropolis those threads start to come together to create a larger picture of why Kyle, Rebecca, Peter, and Tia all keep encountering the same evils, and what it will mean if they can’t defeat the darkness. But even the most corrupted of humans may still have some humanity in him. To stop the darkest of times, this man will have to remember what he was before he was taken by darkness. It’s up to Tia to figure out how to make that happen, while it’s up to her companions to save her before it is too late for her and everyone else.

So far all of the Empire books have been worth reading with a good blend of a fantasy setting, dark and cosmic horror, and even a bit of modern technology thrown in. The setting of Empire: Metropolis improves on the formula a bit by giving a real sense of the larger society and helps the reader to understand what life is like for common folks in the largest city in the Empire. The end still leaves the reader with some questions which will hopefully be answered in subsequent volumes. Tying the whole story together will be a real challenge but if the series stays consistent, author Tim Goff should be up to the task.

If you like your fantasy blended with a good dose of horror, a bit of the supernatural, and a bit of the cosmic, this series is well worth checking out.

Empire: Estate – Book Review

Empire: Estate by Tim Goff

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Winning the decades long war against demon ruled Traag almost destroyed the Solarian Empire. Now the nation hangs by a thread. Worse, they didn’t get all the demons.

Tia traveled to bucolic Copiah House, stronghold of the once great Bestia Family, on what was supposed to be a simple business trip. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a web of intrigue, wartime secrets, and black magic. Unraveling this mystery will take all of her skills – and more…


Traag has been defeated and the demons are weakened but not outright gone. Tia, Sir Peter Cortez, Kyle and Rebecca all travel on business but when they are attacked in the road by a group of bandits and thieves, they find themselves without proper transportation and stuck in Copiah House. It seems safe enough but there the group will meet old foes and new enemies and allies. The political and business efforts of Tia become even more difficult as she tries to navigate her way with nobles while facing money trouble. Peter gets a glimpse of what his future life might be and he finds it to be more complicated than expected. Meanwhile, Kyle is in the one place he dreads most and realizes there may be a major threat to the people he cares about most.

Empire: Estate continues to tell the story of the Empire saga, full of fantasy, magic, lore, family connections and what happens to a world recently recovering from a major war. It’s a unique blend of horror and fantasy along with a good dose of politics which keeps the reader turning pages. Each main character has a distinctive personality and this has only solidified since the first volume. As with all of the books by Tim Goff thus far, there are major surprises and plenty of action to be found. The world feels grounded in reality for the most part as the characters not only have to deal with people who delve into dark magic but also with the day to day troubles of not being cheated out of money when they need a vehicle repaired.

The most interesting part of the story still remains the fact that this takes place after a major war where opportunists can take advantage of the situation and even those who were heroes on the battlefield find they need to figure out a way to make a living outside of war.

If a mix between The Wheel of Time series and nightmares out of cosmic and supernatural horror intrigue you, Empire: Estate is well worth reading. This is the third in the series so it’s best to start with the first book but they have all been good reads thus far and I look forward to more in the series.

Fast X -Movie Review (Spoiler Free)

Vin Diesel is back in Fast X

Hey action fans, it’s Slick Dungeon here. I’m here to review the newest installment of the Fast and Furious franchise. It’s still pretty fresh in theaters so this will not have any major spoilers. Still, if that sort of thing concerns you, go see the movie first and then come back here to read the review.

Each and every Fast and Furious movie has tried to outdo the last both in stunts and character drama. Going into this film you can expect several huge stunt pieces, lots of talk about family and who is family and whether it’s good to have family or not. There aren’t any cars in space but the stunts are still as big and spectacular as you might imagine.

We have the return of some favorite characters, we have our franchise regulars, and a new cast of enemies. The best addition in this film? One person. Jason Momoa. It’s clear this guy is having the time of his life in this movie and he just chews up that scenery like it’s bubble gum. He’s so into it the movie feels like it just belongs to him and I kept just wanting more of him on screen.

Overall the movie does a good job of bringing together plot points and characters to tie things from previous movies together. On the other hand, the film leaves us with some major questions which I am sure will be answered in the subsequent films.

If you have watched the other movies in this franchise this is a good but not the best entry in the series. It does however have the best villain we’ve seen and that’s saying something. I’m excited to see where they can possibly go from here.

Speedily yours,

Slick Dungeon

F9 – Movie Review

Fast 9 brings back old faces and brings in new ones

Hey fast fans, Slick Dungeon here. I’m back to review the ninth movie in the Fast and Furious franchise. There will be spoilers from some of the previous films as well as this one in this review. If that sort of thing bothers you, watch the movies and then come on back here to read the review. And if you need a refresher on the franchise you can check out my previous reviews. You can read my review of  The Fast and the Furious here2 Fast 2 Furious here, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift hereFast and Furious here, Fast Five here,  Fast and Furious 6 here,  Furious 7 here, Hobbs and Shaw here and Fate of the Furious here

The Fast and Furious films have consistently tried to outdo themselves. Each one tells a bigger story, has bigger stunts, and introduces us to new characters. It’s a little hard to believe but if you watch the whole series from start to finish you can see how a little group of street racers from Los Angeles turn into a team of elite super spies who consistently save the world. If you get over the silliness of the premise, the ride is always fun for these films. The ninth film came back with more story, more stunts, and new connections to tie everything together.

Did it work as a big blockbuster film or would this have been better left on the shelf?

Let’s dig in and find out.

Spoilers follow below!

We Go Back to the beginning

Way back in the first movie we found out Dom began his life of crime when he beat a man nearly to death with a wrench. And we learned he did that because the man was the race car driver Dom felt was responsible for his father’s death. What we didn’t know was the involvement of Dom’s younger brother Jakob. Jakob was the last person to touch the Toretto engine before the race car blew up. Dom realizes Jakob had cut a fuel line in the engine and Dom forever blames Jakob for the death of their father.

Once Dom is out of prison he tells Jakob he’ll race him. And the result of the wager on the race will determine the fate of both men forever. Dom tells Jakob if Jakob wins he can come back home and they’ll be a family. But if Dom wins, Jakob has to leave forever and never return. Then we see what we can assume is Dom’s first, and most consequential race of his entire lifetime. Dom wins and Jakob leaves.

I should mention in the movie all of this gets revealed in smaller flashbacks throughout the movie while the events of the larger story unfolds.

Thirty years later Dom is raising his son Brian aka “Little B” with his wife Letty. One day Roman, Tej and Ramsey show up at Dom’s door and tell him Mr. Nobody has been attacked by rogue agents and the villain from the last movie, Cipher has been abducted. Dom agrees to help on the mission to find Nobody and secure Cipher only because he knows Jakob is involved. At the site of the crash where Mr. Nobody’s plane went down, the team finds half of a weapon called Project Ares. This is a thing that can hack into and take control of any computer controlled system. Before the team can do anything else, Jakob attacks them and recovers this half of the Ares device. Most of the team is pretty shocked to find out Dom has a brother since he’s all about family and has never mentioned this guy.

The team eventually gets away and they learn the device has something to do with Han who died several films ago. Mia and Letty decide to go to Tokyo to see what the connection is. Jakob is working with a dude named Otto who is basically a wannabe dictator who is the actual son of a dictator. Cipher tells Jakob where the other half of Ares is.

To find Jakob, Dom goes to see the one guy who might know. This is Buddy (Michael Rooker) who was their father’s mechanic and took Jakob in after Dom chased him out of town.

While in Tokyo, Mia and Letty discover that not only is Han alive, he’s been protection a girl named Ellie for years. We get a sort of complicated backstory of how Han is still alive and it basically boils down to Mr. Nobody setting up a fake death for Han so Shaw can’t get to him, and then using Han to try to recover Ares. While trying to recover Ares, Ellie’s parents are killed and Han does the noble thing and protects and raises her.

Meanwhile, Tej and Roman meet up with Sean Boswell who was the main character in Tokyo drift, his buddy Twinkie, and a rocket scientist named Earl Hu. Yes. This is the movie where a Pontiac Fiero goes to outer space. These dudes are trying to figure out how to strap a jet rocket to a car.

Dom finds out from Queenie Shaw exactly where Jakob is because she takes him right there as she is stealing high priced diamonds and cars. Jakob basically tells Dom he has the chance to walk away and never come back. We all know Dom’s never going to do that.

Dom gets arrested but he’s rescued by a woman named Leysa (Cardi B.). Yes. This is the movie with a cameo from Cardi B. because, why not?

From this point on there is a whole bunch of action involving high speed chases, heavy duty electromagnets, a Pontiac Fiero going to space to crash into a satellite, and John Cena as Jakob tossing around like dozens of dudes.

In the end, Dom, of course, forgives Jakob and apologizes because he knows he walked away from his own family. Things end with everyone relatively happy. But we do get a mid credit scene where Shaw is beating on a punching bag where there is an actual human zipped up inside it. And right around then is when Han shows up at Shaw’s door, shocking Shaw since Han is supposed to be dead.

In Conclusion

This movie is sort of insane. I mean putting a car into space and expecting us to believe it? I mean, I don’t believe it but it was fun anyway. Bringing back old dead characters? This is not the first franchise to do that and it won’t be the last. Have a long lost brother come back into the fold of Dom Toretto’s family? Yeah, sure why not?

It’s pretty much a ridiculous film full of almost nothing but nonsense. However, it’s still at its heart about family both found and blood, and it’s an enjoyable wild ride. It’s not the best in the franchise but the stunts here are probably the wildest of them all.

In a lot of ways this franchise has already gone too far with what it does. But since it has, we might as well let them finish and just be along for the ride, whatever comes next.

Speedily yours,

Slick Dungeon

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson star in the Fast & Furious spin off, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Hey action fans, it’s Slick Dungeon here. I’m here to review the one and only spinoff movie in the Fast and Furious franchise. In true spinoff fashion, you don’t have to watch this one in order to understand the events of the Fast and Furious movies. If you watch this one, it does help if you have seen the Fast and Furious movies which have Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs) and Jason Statham (Shaw) in them but it’s not totally necessary. The main things you need to know before watching the movie are pretty basic. Hobbs is a cop, Shaw is a criminal and the two of them hate one another. Other than that, just buckle up for the ride.

There will be some spoilers for this movie and possibly from Fast and Furious movies below so be forewarned.

This film takes two of the most popular characters from the Fast and Furious films, gets rid of the rest of the main characters, amps up the action and comedy but reduces the emphasis on driving fast cars. Was this film worth it or should we have just left Hobbs and Shaw in the original films? Let’s dig in and find out.

It’s a Rom-COM but with Bullets

Want a couple of good reasons to watch this other than Hobbs and Shaw? Let’s start with Idris Elba (Brixton Lore) and Ryan Reynolds (Victor Locke). They’re both entertaining as always. And there is an appearance by Kevin Hart that works pretty well too.

The movie starts with a contrast between the morning routines of Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw. Shaw is refined and wealthy and Hobbs is a by the book government spy. They both get a call from people they trust. It seems there is a woman they both need to find. This is Shaw’s sister (Vanessa Kirby) Hattie. Also trying to get to her is Brixton Lore who is a cyber-genetically enhanced terrorist capable of taking both Shaw and Hobbs out.

Turns out Hattie is carrying a virus inside herself and it needs to be extracted so Brixton doesn’t unleash it on the world. Hobbs and Shaw will have to team up to save her and to extract the virus without killing her and without getting killed by Brixton.

There’s a whole bunch of back and forth action and Hobbs and Shaw insulting one another. In the end they win against the bad guy, save the woman, and have a little more respect for one another.

The stunts here are not as spectacular as in the main films but the hand to hand fighting and shootouts are all great. Hobbs uses his size to gain advantage while Shaw uses speed and superior fighting skill to stop foes. But they are both evenly matched by Lore since he has advantages they can’t have.

We find out Shaw was set up to be the bad guy in the past and he’s not as bad as Hobbs thinks. We also get some backstory about Hobbs and why he isn’t in contact with his brother in Samoa.

Of course in the end Hobbs and Shaw have to work together to defeat Brixton with the help of a bunch of people. There’s more stunts, a little romance between Hobbs and Hattie Shaw and in the end our heroes win out.

In Conclusion

As far as an action film goes this one is fine. It’s not as engaging as the other Fast and Furious films but it’s still a decent watch. You don’t really need to know much about any of the rest of the movies for it to work. This does set up for a sequel but I’m not sure it’s needed.

If you’re a fan of the Fast and Furious franchise you may want to watch this just to complete the set but it’s absolutely skippable if you don’t want to watch it.

Statham and Johnson are good together and it’s a fun time but it’s not essential vieweing.

Argumentatively yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Fate of the Furious – Movie Review

Icy stunts are featured in Fate of the Furious

Hey Fast fans, it’s Slick Dungeon back to review yet another film in this huge franchise. The Fate of the Furious is the eighth film in the series and it’s just as full of ridiculous over the top stunts as you can possibly get. Until they make the next one that is. Note there will be spoilers here so if you haven’t seen the first eight of these movies you may want to watch before reading. I do have reviews of the first seven films if you want to save some time though. You can read my review of The Fast and the Furious here2 Fast 2 Furious here, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift hereFast and Furious here, Fast Five here,  Fast and Furious 6 here, and Furious 7 here.

The seventh film was the last one with Paul Walker in it. This movie had to continue the franchise, try to tie up some loose ends, be a spectacular action film, and provide a coherent plot with a great villain all while including a huge roster of characters. It’s a pretty big to do list for a film. Did this one pull off a stunt worthy of a torpedo sliding along the ice at high velocity or was it just an exploding submarine of a film?

Let’s dig in and find out!

Spoilers follow below!

Dom’s Gone Rogue

In this movie there’s a pretty complicated set up but I am going to try to summarize it the best I can. Deep breath. A few films ago, Dom thought his lifelong love Letty was dead and he was dating a woman named Elena. But Letty actually wasn’t dead, she had just lost her memory. Dom found out and rescued Letty, becoming a super spy in the process along with the rest of his team who have all gone from petty theft to global espionage because they are good at racing cars. Dom is on his long awaited honeymoon with Letty in Cuba where he races a local racer named Raldo so he can keep his cousin’s car from being taken. Dom takes the worst car in Havana to race against the fastest car there. With a bit of Dom’s magic engineering skills, including ripping doors off of the car with his bare hands, he wins the race even when Raldo cheats. But Dom does win the dude’s respect.

Also, in the last two films, Dom and his team have stopped a pair of brothers with the last name Shaw and a guy named Mose Jakande and saved the world in the process.

The thing that means the most in the world to Dom is family and that’s how he treats his team. All in all, Dom is a good guy who might be a little rough around the edges but you can count on him when you need him.

So, it’s extra strange when Dom is stopped by a woman who acts as if she needs help fixing her car. Turns out she rigged the car because she wants to get Dom to not only work for her, but betray his whole team. This woman is Cypher (Charlize Theron) and she shows him a video on her phone. We don’t see what it is but it’s enough to get Dom to agree.

Hobbs, one of the heroes of the last few films is recruited back to work to track down an EMP which can take out the functions of a city block. Hobbs goes to Dom’s team for help. We never actually see how the team recovers the EMP but things are exploding everywhere and they make it clear this is Roman’s fault. At the end of the job, Dom and Hobbs split off from the group and Dom rams his car into Hobbs to steal the EMP. Hobbs is unable to get out of the wrecked car in time, despite, you know, surviving an explosion and jumping out of a fourth story window and being mostly fine in the last movie. Anyway for the movie to happen Dom needs to get the EMP thing.

He delivers it to Cypher and it’s clear Dom is under her thumb. Mr. Nobody from the last movie gets Dom’s team together as well as Hobbs and Deckard Shaw. Hobbs and Shaw are the only two people in the world who have successfully located Dom when he didn’t want to be found. They hate each other but they have to work together.

There’s a bit of back and forth with the team trying to use God’s eye from the last movie and Cypher hacking back so they can’t. They pinpoint Dom to be right where they are. Dom and Cypher and the rest of her team attack and Dom gets God’s eye. Letty knows there is something wrong here and can’t believe Dom ever really betrayed them.

The team next see Dom in New York City where he is working with Cypher to get the nuclear codes from a Russian diplomat. Cypher is able to hack all the computerized systems in the cars in the area and the movie must have set a record for destroying the most cars in a single movie ever with that sequence. The team catches up to Dom but try as they might, he’s too good for them and gets away.

We find out Dom is being controlled by Cypher because it turns out when he and Elena were together, she got pregnant and Dom is now a father. Cypher has Elena and their son locked up in a secure glass cage under threat of death if Dom disobeys. Although it seems he is turning his back on his team who is his family, he’s really just doing what he always does, he’s protecting his family. Cypher hates Dom because the last two bad guys he has taken down were basically working for Cypher. She also has Elena killed so we know Dom is going to be royally pissed.

There’s an insane amount of stunt set pieces going on in the film. There’s a sequence involving a bunch of cars racing on ice in Russia, a sequence of Jason Statham having a shootout on an airplane while holding a baby, at one point Dwayne Johnson pulls out a concrete bench from a wall and does bicep curls with it, four cars try to draw and quarter Dom’s car but are unsuccessful, oh and did I mention Helen Mirren is in this?! Yeah she plays the Shaw boys’ mother. Plus, there is a nuclear submarine which is “car-jacked” although I would say it should be called submarine-jacking but whatever.

Basically if you took all the ingredients of an action film and threw them against a wall to see what sticks, it is in this movie.

And of course, Dom has set things up so he and his team will be safe and victorious. He even brokers a deal with Shaw’s mother so they help him out. Deckard and Owen Shaw rescue the baby. Dom comes to the aid of his team just in the knick of time and Cypher is forced to parachute out of her own plane, setting her up as a return villain.

The team learn Dom has a kid and they understand why he had to act the way he did so they can all be together as family once again. Even Shaw is not completely unwelcome, except Hobbs still hates him (but that’s a tale for a spinoff movie)

And in a gesture to Paul Walker, Dom names his kid Brian. We leave the team in relative safety but with the looming threat of Cypher still out there.

In Conclusion

I tried to summarize things above but there is so much happening in these movies at this point it would be nearly impossible to catch it all. I didn’t even get into the side competition of Roman and Tej vying for the affections of Ramsey, nor did I talk about how Scott Eastwood comes on as the new guy working with Mr. Nobody.

If it sounds like there is just too much happening in this movie, well, yeah there is. But who cares? This franchise has driven off the cliff of believability long ago. It’s also quietly and without fanfare built up one of the most diverse casts in film franchise history. (Would be nice to see some LGBTQ representation here though) And for whatever reason, this cast of people who start out as petty thieves somehow become more or less believable as super spies. I mean the stuff they are doing defies physics in every way possible turning this into a superhero movie franchise essentially but the character drama is real. When Dom turns on Letty, it hurts as an audience member but we also know Letty won’t give up on him. And I honestly defy anyone who has come this far with the series to say they didn’t have a good time watching this. Are there huge plot holes? Yup. Are there moments with extremely weird and cheesy dialogue like, “I am the crocodile at the watering hole?” Yup. Does any of that matter? Nope. They’ve built up enough good will here with solid hits and being able to top themselves every time that I am just along for the ride.

Sure, there are movies in this series I prefer more than others. I really like the first, third and fifth movies myself but on the whole, no notes from me for these movies. And while Fate of the Furious may not be critically beloved or even have the biggest fan base as far as the rest of the movies in the series go, it’s still a solid action film full of great stunts, good character drama, and twists at every turn.

Speedily yours,

Slick Dungeon

Furious 7 – Movie Review

Vin Diesel and Jason Statham star in Furious 7

Hey action film fans, Slick Dungeon here! I’ve made it through seven, yes seven, Fast and Furious films in the lead up to the new one releasing this week. The seventh film ditches the word fast and is just called Furious 7. There was definitely not a plan of how to name these movies but whatever. This review will have spoilers for the first seven films in the franchise. If you haven’t watched the movies you may want to buckle up and drive furiously over to see the movies and then get back here fast to read the review. You can also take a look at my reviews of the first six films. You can read my review of The Fast and the Furious here2 Fast 2 Furious here, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift hereFast and Furious here, Fast Five here, and Fast and Furious 6 here.

Having six films already made means you are guaranteed to have people come to the theater to see the next movie. However, this franchise was dependent on two stars who really made the movies work, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. Both of them are in this movie, but tragedy struck before it was complete. Sadly, Paul Walker died in a car crash as a passenger of all things before the film was finished. Most of his scenes had been completed but there are a few spots where a combination of stand-ins, stunt men, and CGI had to take over the job for the deceased actor.

So, with some clear disadvantages this film still had to deliver an action packed story, wrap up some loose ends from the previous movie, and finish the film without one of the two main stars. Did the movie deliver or is it one that signals the franchise has run out of steam and should possibly be retired?

Let’s dig in and find out!

Spoilers follow below!

We’re all Back Home

The start of the film has Brian, Dom, Mia and the rest of the gang back home where they belong in Los Angeles. They are leading normal lives (at least for them). Brian isn’t driving fast cars, he’s taking his son, Jack to school in a minivan. Dom is still working on his dad’s car like always. Han has gone to Tokyo and this movie is where the timeline starts to really catch up so we can place Tokyo Drift right around the events that start this film.

Owen Shaw, the big bad guy of the previous film, has been hospitalized and his older brother Deckard is now out for revenge. He is planning to find out who put his brother in the hospital and take everyone responsible for it down.

To find out who did it, Deckard Shaw heads to LA and breaks into Hobbs’ office. He downloads the file on Dom’s team and ends up in a fight with Hobbs. While Hobbs is huge, Shaw is a skilled fighter and extremely fast. But he also cheats. He basically blows up Hobbs’ office, causing Hobbs to jump out of a window to save a fellow cop. This leaves Shaw with the file, Hobbs in the hospital and Dom unaware of what is going on.

Mia tells Dom she’s pregnant again and Brian is struggling to find meaning in the slower paced life he now has. She hasn’t told Brian about the pregnancy. Before she can have that conversation, Dom gets a package from Tokyo. Then he gets the call from Deckard Shaw we saw at the end of the last movie. The package was a letter bomb which destroys Dom’s house. Everyone is okay but it’s a close call.

Dom’s not Happy

Dom then finds out Hobbs is in the hospital and asks Hobbs how to find Shaw. Hobbs tells him Shaw is a ghost, the government won’t allow anyone to go after him, but he knows Dom is going to go anyway. Dom goes to Tokyo and we see the end scene from Tokyo Drift, although we don’t see the race between Sean and Dom. Still, we all know Dom would make mince meat out of the guy. Anyway, Sean gives Dom the necklace of Letty’s found at the crash where Han died. Dom knows this is a message to him.

At Han’s funeral in LA, Dom, Tej, Brian and Roman mourn the loss of their friends. Dom sees Deckard Shaw and goes after him in an underground tunnel. The two get into a head on collision and Dom gets ready to fight. Shaw has a gun on Dom and it looks pretty bad when suddenly a bunch of military troops descend on the scene and save Dom. Turns out this team is led by a man named Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russel) who is a super secret spy operative for the government.

Apparently there is a device called the “God’s eye” which is capable of using all cell phone cameras, security devices and pretty much anything electronic in the world to find someone through facial recognition. It’s pretty much able to see anyone anywhere anytime someone wants. It’s made by a hacker named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) who is the only one capable of disabling it. Mr, Nobody wants Dom and his team to get Ramsey from a mercenary who has kidnapped her named Mose Jakande (Djimon Hounsou). In exchange, Mr. Nobody will let Dom use God’s eye to find Shaw.

In order to get Ramsey, Dom and his team will have to get onto a road in the mountains that is not normally accessible. The only way to do it is go by air. So, yes, this is the movie where they drop cars out of the back of an airplane and have the cars parachute onto the road. It’s a ridiculously insane stunt and I love it.

There’s a chase, a big shootout, a whole bunch of action but Dom’s team does get Ramsey. Ramsey agrees to help the team because she can tell a group as varied as this is either led by fear or loyalty. And she doesn’t see any fear of Dom from anyone on the team. But, to get God’s eye, they have to go to Abu Dhabi where a Saudi prince has installed a chip containing God’s eye into his car which is on the top penthouse of the tallest building in the world. Yeah, this is also the movie where they drive a car through three of the tallest buildings in the world. It’s a spectacular stunt.

Shaw is not so Easy to Catch

With God’s eye in hand, Dom is able to figure out where Shaw is at. He, Brian, and Mr. Nobody go to get the bad guy but they are ambushed when Jakande and his men show up. Mr. Nobody is injured but Brian and Dom make it out of there. But Jakande ends up with God’s eye.

Dom still has Ramsey though so he has a new plan. He’s going to head back to LA, let Shaw come after him, let Jakande come after Ramsey, and stop them all. How? Because he and his team know the streets of LA better than anyone.

Dom plans to take Shaw on himself. The rest of the team need to keep Ramsey close enough to the God’s eye she can hack into it but not so close she gets killed in the process. There’s a huge chase around LA, there are some fantastic car stunts, especially when two cars drift around each other and simultaneously pass Ramsey through the windows. Jakande comes with a full military assault drone and helicopter. Meanwhile Dom and Shaw face off once again. In the chaos of it all there is an explosion Hobbs sees so he…. umm… flexes his arm to break out of his cast… takes some pain meds… and is totally fine. Yeah, I guess the Rock is just a superhuman in these movies? I mean, that’s what he plays in most movies so, sure why not?

Dom battles Shaw to a standstill. Hobbs helps distract the helicopter. Brian has to go fix a satellite relay. In this scene you notice the absence of Paul Walker because in most of it, his face is in shadows or turned away. It still makes sense as far as the actions go but it’s pretty obvious this is mostly stunt coordination here.

And at one point Dom gets Shaw to fall through a broken street (yeah you read that right) and then uses his car to attach a bag of grenades to a helicopter midair (still read that right) which Hobbs then shoots and makes the helicopter explode. Dom nearly dies. Brian gives CPR with the help of Letty but she makes him stop so she can tell Dom she remembers everything at last. This is including the fact they were married. So Letty is all the way back and Dom is alive. But, just a little side PSA for folks here. Don’t stop CPR in the middle to try and bring someone back by telling them you remember stuff. If someone is in need of CPR continue until either trained medical professionals come, the person regains consciousness, or you become too exhausted to continue. Just figured I would put that here in case I ever need CPR, thanks.

We also see Hobbs put Shaw into a maximum security prison but it’s clear we are nowhere near done with Shaw in this series.

The end of the movie is kind of hard to watch. It’s not a bad ending by any means. It’s Dom talking about family and the usual stuff but it’s with the backdrop of Paul Walker’s death. They end the movie with Dom and Brian racing up to one another and Brian saying he can’t let Dom go without saying goodbye. They do use a CGI Brian here but it’s still really emotional and then they end the movie with a montage of Brian and some of his best moments from all the films. Not the ones full of stunts, but the ones where there are personal character connections and it’s really well done.

In Conclusion

Look, after seven films, I am totally beyond caring if stunts even sort of make sense here. So many people should have died in so many ways in this movie but it’s a roller coaster of a ride and I am here for it. The plot is a bit forced here with the whole God’s eye thing but Shaw makes a great villain. And there are still some great character moments between Brian and Mia and Letty and Dom. Without those moments throughout this franchise, we’d never buy Dom’s whole, “I don’t have friends, I have family,” routine.

From here on out I give this franchise full permission to pull off the most insane stunts they can because they want to. Just don’t forget to have those small moments in there too.

Speedily yours,

Slick Dungeon

Fast & Furious 6 – Movie Review

Fast & Furious 6 brings the biggest stunts so far

Hey action fans, it’s Slick Dungeon here! I’m back to review the sixth in a long line of Fast and Furious movies. This one is called Fast & Furious 6 and there will be spoilers for all six films in this review. If you need to, hop in your tank, catch up to a plane in take off, harpoon the movies, watch them, and race on back here to read the review. Or you can read my previous reviews instead. You can read my review of The Fast and the Furious here2 Fast 2 Furious here, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift hereFast and Furious here, and Fast Five here.

After five movies of fast cars, big stunts, certain characters coming in and out it seemed like Fast and Furious might have run out of ways to tell the same story. In order for the sixth film to be successful a truly new direction was needed. But what do you do with a group of illegal street racers who used to steal DVD’s? Obviously you still want this to be an action film, so stunts are required. There has to be a bad guy but there are so many people on Dom’s team, one bad guy is not really enough. So what was the solution? Why, make the whole team a group of super spies of course!

I know it sounds ridiculous but this franchise had already pulled off some unlikely stuff. So, did Fast and Furious 6 deliver on its promise or is it a forgettable sequel in a warmed over franchise? Let’s dig in and find out!

Spoilers follow below!

We’re spies Now

This film doesn’t start off with a huge stunt. It still starts with a couple of cars racing. This time, it’s Dom and Brian. But this isn’t for pink slips, it’s not to outrun a bad guy. Nope, this time they are racing to a hospital where Mia is giving birth to her and Brian’s son. It’s a fairly quiet beginning to a movie in this franchise. Dom and Brian are sure that Brian at least is out of this life of crime they have been leading from here on out. He’s got major responsibilities and putting his life in danger when there is a baby around is just irresponsible.

This lasts for maybe five whole minutes of the movie. We see Hobbs, the agent from the last movie who had it out for Dom. He’s investigating crimes in London that have been happening against Interpol. These robberies are being pulled off by a team that can get in and out of a place in ninety seconds or less. We sort of assume this would be Dom’s team and Hobbs goes into an interrogation room where there is someone who looks a lot like Dom from the back. But it’s not Dom. Hobbs throws this guy around the room until he finds out some vital information about where a man named Shaw’s team will strike next. Hobbs knows he is going to be one step behind so he decides to bring in some help. He finds Dom.

Dom doesn’t have a lot of reason to help Hobbs out. He’s in a country with no extradition, he’s wealthy and as far as he knows all the people he cares about are safe. Turns out he’s not quire right about that. Hobbs has a picture of Letty taken a couple of weeks ago. This should be impossible since Letty was supposedly dead. But if she is alive, this is the one person in the world Dom would want to help out.

So, of course, Dom gets his team together. We get most of the regulars from the first five films but this time they are working for Hobbs. Dom is just doing it so he can find Letty and that’s good enough for most of them but Brian is missing home so he wants the deal to be that everyone gets pardoned in exchange for helping. Hobbs agrees to the deal.

Hobbs shows them Shaw’s team and they are basically like an evil version of Dom’s team, almost one for one. There’s even a guy who is as big as or bigger than Hobbs.

Dom and his team try to stop the robbery by Shaw’s team but they have specially made cars that cause other cars to basically flip over on impact. They are some kind of modified formula 1 racers. At one point Letty sees Dom and shoots him. The team is able to figure out that there can’t be that many people in London who can make cars like this so they track down someone who must be connected. Before they get full information, someone comes in and kills the guy who made the modifications but not before he drops a name. Braga. This is a drug lord Brian put away a couple of movies ago.

Brain feels guilty for having Letty become an informant against Braga because this put her life in danger. To make things right, Brian decides to sneak into and out of America to see Braga in prison. Brian finds out Braga was being directed by Shaw the whole time. And we find out that when Braga’s man went to kill Letty, he didn’t shoot her, he shot her car instead. The resulting explosion knocked Letty from the crash site and caused her to lose her memory.

Meanwhile, Han finds out about a street race Dom can enter where Letty will be. Dom races Letty and beats her handily but he starts to reconnect with her. Her memories aren’t back but it’s clear she feels a connection to Dom.

Hobbs finds out Shaw intends to get a final component to a device that can essentially blind all electronic systems in a country. This thing is worth billions. Hobbs also knows the location where the component is being held so he figures they can catch Shaw there. But Dom and Brian realize Shaw is not going for the location, he plans to attack the convoy transporting the device.

There is a super complicated action sequence involving a tank, high tension harpoons, and a death defying jump in the air which almost undoubtedly should have killed both Dom and Letty.

After that there is another huge action sequence involving an airplane, high tension harpoons, and driving a car through the nose of a plane on fire. Yeah, it’s all ridiculous but in the most fun way possible. Han loses Gisele in the action. Presumably she dies but you never know with this franchise. Owen Shaw also falls out of an airplane so again, presumably dies.

At the end of the movie, Dom demands his payment for the job. 1327. That’s the address of his home in Los Angeles. Dom and his family are able to go home, free and clear, no longer criminals. Brian and Mia get to be home and raise their son.

And finally, Han makes it to Tokyo. We see the chase where Han’s car is overturned and explodes. But this time, there is someone there who drops Letty’s necklace at the scene. We don’t know who this is yet but he’s played by Jason Statham and he becomes a major part of the franchise. We’ll get to him later.

In Conclusion

Is this movie ridiculous not only in plot but in the death defying stunts? Absolutely. Is this film a great time at the theater because of all that? Again, absolutely.

Also, knowing that before filming of Fast & Furious 7 is complete, Paul Walker dies, a lot of these scenes hit with more emotional intensity than one would expect. I know we really say goodbye to Brian as a character and Paul Walker as a person in the seventh film but in a lot of ways, this movie feels like a goodbye to him. Particularly heartbreaking is a scene where Mia gives Brian the go ahead to help Dom out because they watch each others backs. She tells them, “You’re better together.” And this is true both for the characters of the film and for the two actors. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are completely at their best when they are on screen at the same time.

From this point on in the series you have to either decide to keep watching, crazy stunts, insane villains, and car thieves becoming super spies and be all in on it or pretty much just stop watching. I for one, think it’s still a lot of fun and as odd and unlikely as everything is, I still just have a good time watching these, this sixth one included.

Speedily yours,

Slick Dungeon

Fast Five – Movie Review

Fast Fine ups the stunts

Hey action fans, it’s Slick Dungeon here! I’m back for the fifth movie in the Fast and Furious franchise, just called Fast Five. This review is going to have spoilers for the first five movies in the franchise so if you haven’t seen them yet, hop in your ten second car, buckle up, hit that NOS button to get to the movies, speed watch through them and race on back here so fast police security cameras can’t spot you, and read the review after. Or, you can read my reviews of the first four films instead. You can check out my review of The Fast and the Furious here, 2 Fast 2 Furious here, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift here and Fast and Furious here.

The first four Fast and Furious movies sort of fall into a similar pattern. There’s a set of outlaws, there are cops trying to catch the outlaws, usually there is a drug deal going down, and there is a race that settles things. While that is certainly simplifying the movies, they did essentially pull this trick off over and over again. But with the end of the fourth film, the franchise set itself up to be able to change direction, introduce new characters, bring beloved characters together in the same film, and sort of change the DNA of what a Fast and Furious film could be. That’s a lot to ask of a film so pulling it off would be a particularly challenging feat.

So, did the movie deliver, not just on more action, more stunts, more cars and more races, but also make the films something more than a standard playbook? Let’s dig in and find out!

Spoilers follow below!

The Whole BAnd Gets Together

At the end of the fourth movie, Dom Toretto was in a bus on his way to jail. But, Brian was about to pull off a major escape plan for Dom. There’s a stunt at the beginning where the team makes the bus roll over, allowing Dom to escape. Somehow no one is killed in the crash but we’ll just go with that. With Dom’s release this makes Brian, Mia, Tego Leo, Rico Santos and Dom all wanted fugitives.

They go on the run to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, although Dom is separated from the group. Brian and Mia are trying to lay low and they go to see Vince from the first movie. Vince is leading a fairly decent life and even has a little family. But Vince also has a way for Brian and Mia to get enough money to live for a while. There’s a job where they can steal some cars off of a moving train. Vince, Mia and Brian go to do the job, along with a couple of guys who work for a drug lord named Herman Reyes. This guy runs everything in Rio. In the middle of the job, Brian realizes the cars they are stealing are impounded by the DEA, and Dom shows up out of nowhere to help steal the vehicles. The guys working for Reyes are interested in one particular car but Dom arranges it so Mia gets that car and drives off with it. In the middle of the job, two DEA agents are killed by Reyes’ men. The theft sequence is a lot of fun and it’s a pretty big set piece with lots of fast cars, explosions, and physics defying action.

Dom and his people get the car Reyes’ men wanted back to his garage. Inside the car, they find out there is a computer chip that’s really important to Reyes for some reason.

Next we get introduced to a major character in the franchise. DSS Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne, “The Rock” Johnson) is a no nonsense officer who is willing to take down his man with efficiency and precision. He’s after Brain and Dom and heads to Brazil to get them. He also recruits a rookie police officer who can’t be corrupted because she’s got it out for Reyes. Everyone else in Rio is on Reyes’ payroll. Hobbs figures out there is something missing from the car in the garage Dom was using.

Meanwhile, Dom figures out the chip is a delivery schedule which has every location where Reyes is conducting his illegal business. Dom has a plan to get everyone out of the life they are living, no longer worried about being on the run from the law. But he’s going to need a team.

This is where we get a bunch of characters from the previous films to come together for the first time. We have Brian, Mia, and Dom together but we also add Roman and Tej from the second film, Han from the third film, and Gisele from the fourth film. Dom explains what everyone’s role is and the movie, in essence becomes a heist film from here on out.

Dom finds one of Reyes’ drug spots, gathers all the money there together and burns it, telling the henchmen that Dom is coming for all of Reyes’ money. This causes Reyes to consolidate his funds.

And consolidate he does. Reyes owns the city so much that he is able to put all of his money into a police station for safe keeping. It’s over a hundred million dollars so if they pull off the job, everyone will get around eleven million a piece. They have to get some fast cars together, figure out how to bypass security, and get away without being caught by Hobbs.

At one point Hobbs catches up with Dom and tries to arrest him but it’s in the middle of a huge crowd and Dom just straight up has Hobbs and his men outgunned so Hobbs walks away. But Dom notices the rookie officer found the cross necklace Dom got from Letty around her neck. He goes to get it back from the rookie cops apartment and she lets him go because she believes Dom didn’t kill the men on the train.

Dom and our gang of anti-heroes try to get cars that can go fast enough to get past security cameras but even the fastest cars with the best drivers are spotted. But Dom still has a plan. Also, Gisele flirts with Reyes and gets his fingerprints from her bikini so they will be able to open the safe.

Dom’s plan for cars that can get in and out of the police station? It’s fantastic. Steal the cop cars. Such a bold idea and it’s one of the best parts of the whole movie. Dom, Roman, Han, and Brian bet each other a million dollars on the race out of there with the police cars. And this tine, Dom doesn’t cheat, there is no NOS, and driver to driver, Brian finally wins. But Roman and Han say Dom let off the throttle and let him win, leaving the audience and Brian with doubts of who is really the best driver.

Vince, who has split off from the group because he was in with Reyes’ men, grabs Mia before Reyes’ men can kill her. Vince gets to be part of the family again. And Dom says he can be part of the job to steal the money.

Also, Mia is pregnant, and Roman says Dom letting Brian win was a baby gift. Dom makes a toast to family and they get ready for the big job.

Cops descend on MIa, Brian Dom, and Vince. Dom stays to let everyone get away and we get to see a fight between Hobbs and Toretto. These are two huge dudes who do major damage to everything around them, including crashing through walls. Dom has Hobbs dead to rights and could smash his head in with a wrench but he doesn’t. Hobbs manages to take in Vince, Brian, Dom and Mia. But he hasn’t caught the rest of the team.

On the way to the station, Hobbs is attacked by Reyes’ men. The rookie officer decides to cut Mia, Dom, Vince and Brian loose so they have a chance of surviving. Most of Hobbs’ men are killed and just when it seems Hobbs is about to die, our heroes save him.

Vince has been shot and he tells Dom he has to meet Vince’s son Nico. Nico is named after Dominic. Vince’s death is pretty personal for Toretto since this is a guy he’s known since they were little kids. Dom is determined to finish the job. Most of the team doesn’t want to but Hobbs says he’ll go with Dom, at least until Reyes is dead. After that, the rest of the team agrees to go along with the original plan.

The remainder of the movie is big stunts, fast action, and pure fun. Hobbs drives a truck through the police station walls so Brian and Dom can tow a huge vault along the streets of Rio. We’re beyond caring about the physics of things in these movies now but it looks great.

You can probably imagine the ending here. Dom’s team ends up with the money. Hobbs gives Dom 24 hours to get away which is plenty of time for him. Brian and Mia end up on a beach in a place where we can assume there is no extradition, with Mia showing her pregnancy. Han and Giselle end up together, Roman and Tej stay friends and rivals, and Dom goes to visit Brian and Mia. We end the movie with Brian essentially challenging Dom to a final race, driver to driver, no tricks, no cheating. We don’t see that in this movie though.

In Conclusion

A lot of the movies in this franchise are hit or miss but this one ends up being too much fun not to like. This takes us from a repetitive series of races to something else. While there are still quiet, and important, character moments, the real spectacle of these films starts to shine here. The stunts are huuuge and impressive. The car racing is fantastic and this film gives the whole series some much needed new direction. And adding a good foil in The Rock really helps as well.

In the end this one gives a lot of the vibes of the first one. It’s basically a good time at the theater and I can’t really find fault with that.

If you haven’t seen this one in a while, it’s totally worth a rewatch.

Speedily yours,

Slick Dungeon