A History of The Grudge – from Japan to America (and every remake in the franchise)

The Grudge hits theaters January 3.  It’s been fourteen years since the 2004 American remake, also titled The Grudge, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar.  This horror franchise has had a long history in Japan and America.  So here’s a deep dive into the story of The Grudge.

Origin of the Series

Director Takashi Shimizu said the inspiration for the film Ju-On came from Childhood Fears, a dance troupe that would paint their nude bodies white and perform, and an increase of domestic violence cases during production of his previous films.  The title roughly translates to “Curse Grudge.”

The movies in the series generally revolve around a curse created by a murder.  In the world of the films, when a person dies with a powerful rage, a curse is born.  The curse gathers where the person died or at the place they frequented, and it repeats itself there.  The dead haunt the location and may kill anyone who encounters the curse (say, by entering a cursed house or being in contact with someone who was already cursed).  The curse’s main manifestation is death.  The deaths may create more curses and spread them to other locations.

The first two films in the series (Ju-on: The Curse and Ju_On: The Curse 2) were direct-to-video releases that became surprise hits.  Both films were shot in just nine days.

Ju-On: The Curse

The first movie is a non-linear episodic film divided into six parts, which follows the tenants of a cursed house where a man murdered his wife and  child in a jealous rage.  Most of the films in the series follow this non-linear format of storytelling.

Ju-On: The Curse 2

Half of this film is a retelling of the first movie.  But it introduces some new information on the events of that film and a few new characters.  It also sets up some plot points that play into the later theatrical timeline.

Ju-On: The Grudge

Ju-On: The Grudge is probably the most famous of the original Japanese Ju-On horror films, because it’s the movie that the 2004 American remake The Grudge is based on.  (Even though it’s actually the third movie in the series.)  Ring screenwriter Hiroshi Takahashi helped Shimizu develop this sequel for theatrical release.  Whoever enters the murder house is consumed by the curse, which spreads to the place they die in, and in turn consumes anyone who comes in.  A social worker is sent to care for an ill old lady living in the house and faints at what she finds.  The police are called and soon they start investigating the history of the house, and consult a retired detective who is wary of revisiting the case.

Ju-On: The Grudge 2

The director of a popular TV horror show casts a scream queen as a special guest star in an episode set in the murder house.  The curse begins to affect everyone involved with filming, including the actress herself.

The Grudge (2004)

Shimizu got to remake Ju-On: The Grudge with an English-speaking cast.   It was a box office success.

In this version, Sarah Michelle Gellar (star of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer) plays a second care worker sent to the murder house when the old lady’s first care worker disappears.  She is then terrorized by the curse.

The Grudge 2 (2006)

Shimizu returned to direct the American sequel.  Instead of a remake, this time the movie used a new storyline continuing from the last film.  The three subplots include: Gellar’s younger sister coming to Japan after finding out about her boyfriend’s death, a schoolgirl being hunted by the ghosts after entering the house, and a boy whose apartment building is haunted by the ghosts.

The Grudge 3 (2009)

This was a DVD release, with Toby Wilkins directing and Shimizu executive producing.  The living sister of one of the ghosts tries to break the curse by holding an exorcism.

Ju-On: White Ghost

This 2009 movie is one of two films produced in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Ju-On series.  It was written and directed by Ryuta Miyake.  A boy is possessed by a spirit from a mirror and murders his family, and then himself, creating a new curse.

Ju-On: Black Ghost

This is the second film produced to honor Ju-On‘s tenth anniversary.  It was written and directed by Mari Asato.  A cyst found in a young girl’s body turns out to be the remnant of her unborn twin (who then tries to posses her).

Ju-on: The Beginning of the End

This is a reboot of the series that returns to the original family/murder house.    It was directed and co-written by Masayuki Ochiai.  Subplots include a group of high school students who visit the house for kicks, and a school teacher who comes to the house out of  concern when one of her students is absent for a week.

Ju-On: The Final Curse

This movie follows the continuity of the last film and was directed and co-written by Masayuki Ochiai.  A young boy who lost his parents moves in with his aunt and cousin where hauntings begin.  A woman named Mai, who sees visions of her dead sister, tries to end the curse once and for all.

Sadako vs. Kayako

This movie is a crossover of the Ring and Ju-On series.  It was originally teased as an April Fools joke.

When two college girls watch the cursed video tape (from the Ring) and only have two days to live, they pit evil spirit Sadako against the ghost Kayako (from the murder house) in a bid to save themselves.  If the two vengeful spirits destroy each other, the girls will be free.

The Grudge (2020)

The latest American entry in the series takes place at the same time as the 2004 version.  Fans familiar with the series will catch references to other films, but new viewers will be able to enjoy the movie without getting lost.  Director Nicolas Pesce said the movie is closer to the original Japanese films.  He made an effort to shoot it in a claustrophobic style.

What is the best all-time series franchise?

harry-potter sorcerers stone
It started well and kept getting better. Congratulations, Harry!

So many movie franchises, so little time. While it’s easy for producers to add yet another movie to any long-running series, it’s not so easy to have every one of them qualify as good, quality films. And in some series, all are decent, but none are outstanding. How to decide who gets the top spot for film series narratives where everything is both above average and don’t contain a clunker?

Definition: What’s a movie franchise?

We figure anything beyond a trilogy counts as a true series. Also, I’m looking at stories with an element — any element — of cannon material.

We fudged a few times here. Riddick only makes four films by including Dark Fury, an animated but CANNON inclusion to the series. The Matrix (at least through now, since a 4th movie has been recently announced, but hasn’t been filmed) has an entire cannon series of Animatrix anime. We’re going to take a leap and include those.

So, we’ve decided we have to draw a line somewhere, since linear story-telling material in so many series are all over the map.

Here we go: Soft Reboots are included…Hard Reboots are not. In other words, if the series nods to any previous incarnations and characters, that’s a Soft Reboot (ie – the Kelvin Timeline in Star Trek that refers to our Classic Timeline and has Old Spock and New Spock as continuous characters), but Hard Reboots are out (removing something like Evil Dead from the equation, for example, since the new version goes back to the beginning and erases the entire previous trilogy).

James Bond films are tough that way, and might be based on who was Bond when. Probably. We’re mulling over whether each Bond series has any connective tissue to the last. But clearly with each Batman version, it’s a Hard Reboot from the ones that follow. Which makes detangling DC an issue.

Note: We can’t say we’ve covered every series out there, especially those in the horror genre, which can malinger like old laundry. We see a lot of movies, but aren’t superheroes here. Let me know what I left out in the comment section below. 

Interesting “leading” actors note:

Vin Diesel, Harrison Ford, The Arnold, and Sylvester Stallone each have two entire lead role franchises on this list. Wow! We could possibly, maybe, conceivably, say so do Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, but those are “starring” roles in large ensemble films, instead of clear leads.

What do you think? We aren’t sure where to draw the line on this, so feel free to chime in to the comments with your opinions. We realize people can get worked up about their favorite movie series, and we want to hear all about it!

So, let’s get to it. Here are the franchises we’re looking at, and our personal, very opinionated comments as we go.

  • Aliens — Pure disaster from 2 onward. What not to do. ARGHHHH. So much original goodness, so, so wasted. After the first and the sequel, which ROCKED, we can’t recommend anything else. And they keep on trying…to no avail.
  • Terminator —  None actually suck, but it’s very uneven. A good effort. Also, with all the timelines, working out what is a Soft Reboot vs Hard Reboot is problematic. This would have been worth consideration as a winner, especially with the new Dark Fate offering, if Genisys wasn’t so damned dumb.
  • Predator —  All of them are rather good, if you don’t throw the Aliens vs Predators into the mix. That 2nd AvP is one of the worst movies I have ever sat through. And, to be honest, I don’t like Predator 2 much at all either, except for the fun spaceship ending. It felt like a gangster film and was not very sci fi. Bummer.
  • Resident Evil — Jeez. Past the first, are any good? There are six live action films to date, and a few animated ones. Did you realize six movies even happened? I remember really liking the first one a whole lot, with the brand new Alice and Raccoon City. Then the Resident Evils seemed to blend into a massive zombie mess, and can’t recall anything important, except for a cool scene with a motorcycle crashing through a church stained glass window. Which movie was that? I sure don’t know. Oh, wait, and didn’t one film have the remnants of humanity in Alaska? I really tried to keep up…
  • Harry Potter — Most consistently above par as a series. Each one is great-to-excellent. Probably the All_Over_Series Champion for this article’s purposes. So far, the Fantastic Beasts films are pulling it down a little, but not by much. None of these suck. The first two are juvenile….because the intention is that the audience will grow up with the series.  And the juvenile ones even knock my socks off, by introducing a magical ambiance and the firm foundation of a wizarding wish fulfillment fantasy. You know you want to get an acceptance letter to Hogwarts too. Don’t deny it. 😉
  • Twilight — Oooo boy. Best case: they are consistent…consistently bland. Next…
  • Star Wars. Yikes. It’s really too bad how uneven this series is. Even if you love the prequels, you’ll argue about the new films. No one agrees here with any of this. It’s really too bad. How did this happen?
  • Star Trek / original and Abrams — More yikes. Do you prefer Kirk or Picard? And which Kirk do you prefer? It doesn’t really matter, since each series has some great highs and some low, low, lows. Somehow, each movie manages to keep the continuity going (the Kelvin Timeline of JJ Abrams is a borderline Soft Reboot because of the alternate timeline including Old Spock). But the classic Kirk stories have their greats (Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home) and their losers (The Motion Picture, The Final Frontier). And the Patrick Stewart efforts are also up and down (Great: First Contact, Awful: Nemesis). I’m not going to argue about Nu-Trek. The big issue: no matter how you slice it, none of the parts of the series are consistent enough to come close to winning this prize. Sorry, Trek fans.
  • Indiana Jones — Sigh. Yep, uneven…I doubt I need to elaborate. Honestly, I only love the original. The rest are good-to-poor in execution. And it’s not Harrison Ford’s fault. I don’t know what happened with such a great premise.
  • MCU — Sooooo close to perfection. None are bad. The Hulk isn’t exactly good (it gets by with a ‘fair’). We think after the Harry Potter series, this is the Runner-Up Winner in terms of being consistently excellent. One could say the MCU should win by default, however, since after a WHOPPING 23 films, they are almost uniformly excellent. Should we allow one ‘fair’ Hulk film to drag this amazing feat down? (This Hulk was definitely better than the Ang Lee Hulk, which is frankly unwatchable). Seriously, none of these films are bad. But not all of them rank as good. This is a toughie. Also, Agents of SHIELD, Peggy Carter, and a few other one-offs with good material count as cannon. (Not sure if Thor’s adventures with his roommate Darryl count, but I don’t see why not. It’s even a trilogy in itself!)
  • X-Men/Wolverine/Deadpool — Part of the fun here is even the characters don’t know what is or isn’t cannon. Personally, I think this is an example of Marvel working out the bugs in making a contiguous franchise. Even their most recent X-Men movie this summer shows how awfully bad things can get when the writing isn’t planned well. I’m as confused as Wade Wilson when it comes to the X-Men.
  • DCEU — OH DEAR GODS. I’m going to just disqualify the DC universe until they figure out what the heck they’re doing. Some of it is cannon. Some are quite enjoyable (for me: only Wonder Woman and Shazam). Some of the DC films are hard reboots and some are soft reboots, and some suck no matter how you slice them.  Even after the successful new Joker film, I think they still don’t know what they’re doing. I hope James Gunn’s Suicide Squad 2 will be great, but even that is supposed to be a soft reboot. Will Birds of Prey fit in? Do we even care?
  • LOTR/Hobbit — It’s really too bad about that last Hobbit film. Our trips to Middle Earth could have swept all the wins. Battle of Five Armies was just awful. Damn.
  • Lego Movies — These are almost all pretty good. But the Ninjago one isn’t worthwhile. Sorry, Lego fans. Alllmost. It’s too bad. The other three are excellent. One clunker ruins the score.
  • Men In Black — Only the original is GREAT. The other three are…fine. Even the new one is…no better than fine. My personal ranking is 1, 3, 4, and then 2. Pass.
  • Toy Story —  Quite good as a series. 2 is kind of a clunker and brings the series down, which is too bad. This is almost a winner.
  • Shrek — Do you know there are four Shrek films out there? Me neither. And that boots this off the list. Sorry, Mike Myers. Were the last direct-to-video? I have no idea where this went.
  • Despicable Me + Minions — A fairly even series, I’ll grant it that, and a lot of fun. Not one is a clunker. But if Despicable Me wins this contest, I may have to eat someone, like a random Grip or Best Boy or Foley Artist…please, don’t make me do this. Cute, cute, cute. But seriously amazing storytelling? This might be a runner up. Seriously, for being a silly premise, this is kind of a winner. Banana!
  • The Matrix — The first movie redefined action movies. On the DVD box set there’s an option to watch the movie while three movie critics (yes, movie critics) commentate on the movie — how brave of the directors! One of the critics commented: “I realized while watching this movie that I was witnessing a watershed moment.” Then the other two movies came out — Reloaded and Revolutions — a few years later, to less than critical acclaim. As a huge Matrix fan, I didn’t know what to think, but upon rewatching, and rewatching, I understand that the story couldn’t have been better. Even the universally panned Burly Brawl fight scene in Revolutions served an important plot point than few people understand. (There’s a reason the fight went on, and on, and on.) Between Reloaded and Revolutions, we had the collection of animations –in the Animatrix. While it’s probably only appealing to uber-fans, the stories are all entertaining and are artfully done. Well worth watching, and they help fill in much of the back story, and even introduce a character who later shows up in Revolutions.
  • Riddick — All are good. Two are great. But having only half be amazing isn’t enough to win the franchise prize.
  • The Monster U/Godzilla — This series is ongoing, so the jury is still out until we see King Kong vs Godzilla. So far, the series is enjoyable, but far from great. I remember thinking during the first Godzilla movie that there wasn’t nearly enough Godzilla. Mostly, watching any of these movies just makes me crave watching Pacific Rim again.
  • Mission Impossible — Most of these mush together in my head. I can recall it around the stunts…as in, “This is the one where Tom Cruise does a Halo Jump.” Some of these are really very good, and some (early on, mainly) are mediocre.
  • Fast & Furious/H&S — None of these are bad, but it’s a pretty uneven series. Like with Mission Impossible, it gets better as it goes, and I remember them by stunts (“This is the one Vin Diesel flew a car between skyscapers in Abu Dhabi…”).
  • Rocky/Creed — The first movie was pretty amazing, and I don’t usually like fight plots. But then each following film focused more on fighting and less on story. Things got mediocre fast, even with the Creed films bolstering the narrative.
  • Rambo — I hate to say this, but I’ve never watched a single Rambo film. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.
  • Jaws — HA!  The first two have some decent continuity and are worth viewing…but then things dwindle fast. Do you know how many Jaws movies there are? (Hint: officially, 4. But with the ‘bad shark franchise’ being so fat and happy, you’d think there were more.)
  • Bond — Very uneven, if you look at all the Bonds in all the years. Some Bonds are more consistent than others. But since each one is a Hard Reboot, this makes it hard to grade. I don’t think any new Bond character acknowledges a prior Bond storyline. But I might be wrong. If you have some thoughts, share them in the comment section. I’d love to know if any Bonds refer to prior incarnations.
  • Die Hard — Did  you realize there are five films in this series? Poor John McClane, running barefoot through glass shards every Christmas. So to speak. I love him and the original film, but  this series is still too wobbly to win the Ultimate Franchise award. A+ plus for the original. then thing get mediocre quickly.
  • Mad Max — With Fury Road, this is 4 films and thus enters our competitive list. And I hate to say this….but I have NOT seen Fury Road. (Man, I know. I suck.) Even so, I think this is a consistent series, and each one is worth a watch. But they aren’t AMAZING, no matter how you slice it. So it’s not a win, not compared to Harry Potter.
  • Hunger Games — Decently consistent, but the 3rd is sort of lame and drags the series down. It’s too bad — this really could have been a contender. All it takes is one bad movie…
  • Transformers — Let’s face it:  that any single one of these movies is watchable is a win. The best I can say about any of the Transformer movies is that they make great films to play in the background for cleaning the house.
  • Halloween — There are 11 movies in this series. The most recent brought Jamie Lee Curtis back in a true sequel (and Soft Reboot) that continues where the first film left off, discarding the rest. Thankfully. This is how to do a follow-up, and it performed very well at the box office. There are two more films on the pike to continue this narrative.
  • Jurassic Park — The original is an A+ film and Lost World was a pretty good sequel. Then we got the abyssal Jurassic III, which should be taken out behind the shed and shot. It’s that bad. It took a long time to revive the series with Jurassic World, and the 4th movie is quite charming — a great relief for dino-philes like me. The 5th film is good, not very good or great, but certainly isn’t a dog like HP 3. It’s too bad 3 happened at all: JP could have been contender. JP 3 is THAT BAD.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean — Although there are four movies in this series, the only one to be taken seriously is the first. While the original was ground-breaking and fresh, everything that followed seemed like a live-action cartoon. FAIL.
  • National Lampoon’s Vacation – All, at least in the 5 films, (American Vacation, European Vacation, Xmas Vacation, Vegas Vacation and Vacation) are watchable. None are above a B grade, however. Just because all are watchable doesn’t mean any are great.
  • The Bourne movies – There are 5 of these! But the quality is up and down. Bummer.
  • Saw, Chucky, The Conjuring Universe – I’m just not a horror fan. I’ve seen exactly zero of these films, so I can’t comment on them. We’re hoping RunPee Sis, our resident horror fan, will make her own franchise list. I do have the sense that all have a very uneven quality. Feel free to tell me what you think in the comment section below.

I don’t pretend to cover every series. I’m not that awesome. But from this list here, it’s clear who wins, and who just misses the cut.

Winner: Harry Potter (even including the 2 Fantastic Beasts films), with 10 films of good to ‘fantastic’ quality that all easily make the ‘film classics’ list. Congrats to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Newt!

Runner Up: The Marvel Cinematic Universe. I really want to give this series the win. It’s hard to have 23 movies (plus two cannon TV shows and several one-shots) all be amazing. And it’s not fair to have Hulk (and maybe Thor 2) drag the entire thing down. When they did Hulk they really didn’t have the MCU formula worked out — that was the same year as the original Iron Man, which was a long shot at best. But you know what? It created an empire that almost nothing could compete with. It’s just soooo close. MCU, we love you 3,000.

Honorable Mention: The Matrix. A lot of people just do not like the sequels, and haven’t even seen the Animatrix Collection. In fact, the sequels spawned some serious vitriol when they came out. But if you watch them now, 20 years later, and forget “all you know, and think you know”, you’ll actually enjoy what the directors have accomplished. This cinematic experience is really very deep, and the quality can’t be argued against. We only hope the previously announced four-quel will add to the story (unlike the new Men In Black: International).

Honorable Mention 2: Believe it of not, Despicable Me/Minions is right up there, and more consistent than the otherwise beloved Toy Story series. I’m shocked too.

Do you agree or hate my assessments? Comment below. I promise I’ll respond with respect. This is what makes films fun. 

Top 5 Whodunnits in Film

After months of positive buzz, Rian Johnson’s mystery Knives Out is finally being released.  It features an all-star cast with Daniel Craig playing the detective, and Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, and Jamie Lee Curtis among the suspects.  In case this new release whets your appetite for a good mystery, here’s my list of top five whodunnits.

1. Murder on the Orient Express (1974) 

This list would not be complete without a good Agatha Christie adaptation.  I wanted to to include one of the versions of Ten Little Indians/And Then There Were None but I’ve

Poirot explains it all.

never seen any of them.  I can highly recommend the novel, however.  Back to The Orient Express:  Detective Hercule Poirot is one of Albert Finney’s best roles.  And this is one of Christie’s greatest puzzles.  When a murder is committed aboard a train, a famous detective has until the train reaches its destination to solve the impossible mystery.  It’s such an irresistible story; it’s been adapted countless times, including as an American TV movie, starring Alfred Molina.  Most recently, Kenneth Branagh directed a 2017 adaptation, starring himself as Poirot.  It’s a quality production with some great performances, and it spawned an upcoming sequel I’m looking forward to.  If you’ve managed to never have this mystery spoiled for you, please seek it out at once.

2. Gosford Park 

Stephen Fry on the case.

In Robert Altman’s 2001 film, a murder occurs after a dinner party at a wealthy British estate.  Like most of Altman’s films, there is a huge ensemble cast.  The investigation is shown from both the guests’ and the servants’ perspectives.  The delightful comedian Stephen Fry plays the detective.  Julian Fellowes wrote the script.  He later created the TV show Downton Abbey, which was inspired by the film, and at one point was meant to be a sequel to it.  The movie received seven Oscar nominations.

3. Brick

Rian Johnson’s own debut film is a neo-noir, set in a high school.  After receiving a frantic phone call begging for help from his ex-girlfriend, and then finding her dead body soon afterwards, a teenage loner vows to solve her murder.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the detective this time, in one of my favorite performances of his.  This film has a twisty plot and hip dialogue full of invented slang.  The podcast Filmspotting named their annual Golden Brick award for Best Film by a new voice after this movie.

4. Clue

Was it Col. Mustard in the library with the lead pipe?

Yes, Clue is based on the board game.  I watched this movie endlessly throughout my childhood on Showtime.  Six strangers are invited to a mansion for dinner.  When the host is killed, they have to work together to solve the murder.  Tim Curry is brilliant as the butler.  There’s a lot of fun humor in this one.  How can you resist a comic mystery, with a cast that includes Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn, Susan Sarandon, Michael McKean, and Martin Mull?  One of my favorite things about this movie is that it has three endings.  When the movie was released theatrically, what part of the country you lived in/watched it in determined which ending you saw.

5. The Thin Man

If you’ve never seen The Thin Man series, you’re in for a treat.  William Powell and Myrna Loy trade barbs and imbibe alcohol as retired detective Nick Charles and his wife Norah.  They are accompanied by their faithful pooch Asta.  These comic mysteries are a joy.  The chemistry between Powell and Loy is amazing.  They made several other pictures together.  The Thin Man movies always end with an old school round-up of the suspects, where they build up the suspense before finally revealing who the killer is.

Don’t miss the most suspenseful part of a movie.  Always use the RunPee app when you go to the theater.  We have the latest PeeTimes for movies like Ford v Ferrari, Midway, Charlie’s Angels, Knives Out, and more.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

 

Frozen Adventures You May Have Missed

Disney has finally given in to the demands of countless children, and made a sequel to their hit film Frozen.  I already have my tickets and will be seeing it opening weekend with my girlfriend, the world’s biggest Olaf fan.  (No, seriously.  I can’t sleep at night anymore because of all the stuffed snowmen staring at me.)  In-between the two films, Anna, Elsa, and Olaf had a few adventures you may not know about.

So, in case you’re a completist like me, here’s three Frozen adventures you might want to see.

Frozen Fever

This seven minute short debuted in theaters in front of Disney’s live-action Cinderella in 2015.  Elsa tries to give Anna a surprise birthday party.  However, Elsa has caught a cold, and with every sneeze she produces a bunch of “Snowgies” — adorable snowball-like creatures — who begin dismantling the decorations.  The cartoon features a catchy new song: “Making Today a Perfect Day.”

Frozen Fever can be found here:

  • Available for purchase on most major streaming sites like Amazon and iTunes.
  • Available as an extra on the Cinderella Blu-ray and DVD.
  • Available as part of the Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection on DVD/Blu-ray combo pack or streaming.  (There’s also a funny Tangled short in that collection.)

Lego Frozen Northern Lights

Frozen gets the Lego treatment in this four-episode TV miniseries.  Elsa and Anna journey to find the Northern Lights, which are invisible from their home of Arendelle.

  • This appears to be available for free on YouTube, with each of the four episodes running about 6 minutes.

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

This twenty-one minute cartoon debuted in theaters in front of Pixar’s Coco.

Unfortunately, many audience members didn’t come prepared to see Olaf, and didn’t like waiting nearly half an hour for their Coco feature to start.

The cartoon was eventually moved to play after the feature, and then removed completely and made available on streaming sites.

During the first Christmas since the gates reopened, Olaf tries to help Elsa and Anna start some new holiday traditions, by finding out how the residents of Arendelle celebrate.

  • This is available on Blu-ray, DVD, or from major streaming sites like Amazon and iTunes.  It comes with six classic Disney winter/holiday-themed shorts.

Don’t hold it in.  Let it go.  With the RunPee app, you don’t have to wait for the credits to go to the bathroom.  We’ll tell you the best times to go so you won’t miss the best parts of the movie.  And we always have Peetimes for the latest movies like Playing With Fire, Arctic Dogs, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

Movie Review – Frozen 2

The 5 Best and Worst Films of Tom Hanks

A Beautiful Day in the NeighbourhoodThere’s something so satisfying about the idea of Tom Hanks playing children’s TV show host Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.  Who can resist one of America’s favorite actors playing one of America’s most beloved TV icons?  And I know Mr. Rogers was beloved because every time the preview for Won’t You Be My Neighbor played at the local art house theater last year, it got applause.  In honor of Hanks’ latest performance and a possible sixth Oscar nomination, here’s a look back at some of his best and worst films.

Tom Hanks 5 Best Movies

Tom Hanks has such a plethora of great films, it was hard to whittle it down to just five.  His IMDb page is an embarrassment of riches.  I encourage you to explore his filmography.

1. Philadelphia

PhiladelphiaTom Hanks won Best Actor for his role as a man with HIV suing his law firm for wrongful dismissal.  Antonio Banderas plays his partner.  Denzel Washington plays his attorney in a powerful performance.  Hanks gave a memorable acceptance speech, thanking his gay high school drama teacher.  The movie was groundbreaking at the time for not only having a gay main character but casting an A-list actor in the role.  It was also one of the first mainstream films to take on the topic of HIV.

2. Forrest Gump

One year later, Hanks won his second Oscar for playing the dim but big-hearted title character who was always at the right place at the right time throughout the twentieth century.  He is one of the few actors to win back-to-back Oscars.  (Others include: Luise Rainer, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, and Jason Robards.)  Forrest’s famous quote from this movie is, “Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re going to get.”  This is probably the movie Tom Hanks is most famous for.  The film spawned a popular soundtrack and even a chain of restaurants named Bubba Gump’s.

3. The Green  Mile

The Green  MileEveryone knows The Shawshank Redemption.  This is director Frank Darabont’s other Stephen King adapted prison movie.  Hanks plays a compassionate death row corrections officer in this Best Picture nominee.  He and the other guards face a moral dilemma when accused child murderer John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) displays extraordinary supernatural gifts.  This is one of my favorite movies of the ’90s.  The entire cast is amazing.  It features one of Sam Rockwell’s great early performances.  I think about Tom Hanks and Graham Greene’s discussion about the afterlife all the time.

4. Big

Hanks got his first Oscar nomination for this performance.  His character is a boy who makes a wish to be big and wakes up in the body of a grown man.  (A little bit like Shazam.)  Hanks’s performance as a man-child is endearing, as he takes on the joys and burdens of adulthood.  The film features a famous scene where he and his boss play “Chopsticks” by dancing on a giant toy piano.  Hanks started out doing comedies in the ’80s.  This is a great place to start if you’ve never seen anything from his early career.

5. Cast Away

Cast AwayHanks got his fifth Oscar nomination for this Robert Zemeckis film.  When his plane crashes over the Pacific Ocean during a storm, Hanks is the only survivor.  He makes it ashore to a deserted island where he must learn how to survive on his own.  The description may not grab you, but I assure you the movie will.  I have watched people get sucked into this film while watching it on display televisions in stores.  Somehow Zemeckis manages to weave a spell over you.  And he does it with a movie that has hardly any dialogue.

Tom Hanks’ 5 Worst Movies

Every actor has their share of missteps and Hanks has some doozies.

1. The Bonfire of the Vanities

The Bonfire of the Vanities

What do you get when  you put Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, and Melanie Griffith in an adaptation of a Tom Wolfe novel?  Pure dreck.  This is generally considered one of the worst movies of the ’90s.  Hanks is miscast as an unlikable character.  The power of Wolfe’s writing is lost in its transition to the screen.

2. Punchline

PunchlineWho wants to watch a movie about stand-up comedians that isn’t funny?  Hanks plays a young comic who helps a housewife (Sally Fields) develop her stage act.  I tried to watch this movie several times in the ’80s and could never get through it.  I was used to seeing Tom Hanks kiss mermaids and solve crimes with dogs.  Nothing nearly as exciting happens in this movie.  The punchline is there are no jokes in this film.

3. The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci CodeOne of the best-selling novels of  all-time, one of the most protested movies ever is also…a total snooze fest.  Not even Hanks’ charm or a controversial plot twist can save this so-so thriller.  Things pick up a little when Ian McKellen finally shows up.

4. The Ladykillers

The LadykillersThis is one of the Coen Brothers’ worst films.  Hanks plays an eccentric Southern professor whose gang is posing as musicians in order to rob a casino.  They practice in the basement of his landlady’s home.  I’ve already forgotten most of this forgettable film.  But I’m still haunted by Hanks’ odd performance.

5. Cloud Atlas

Cloud AtlasWhat can I say about Cloud Atlas?  As a friend of mine likes to say, it’s a lot of what it is.  Nearly three hours to be exact.  It’s a movie I want to like.  But I’m not sure I want to put in the mental work and repeated viewings required to do so.  The Matrix, it’s not.  The movie deals with reincarnation and how our actions ripple through time to affect others.  Hanks, Halle Berry, and others play multiple characters across multiple storylines.  It requires a lot of concentration to keep up with everything.  And that’s before the post-apocalyptic people start talking like five-year-olds (“Tell me the true true.”)

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Virgin Movie Review – Sully

Movie review: Cloud Atlas

A Happy Shazam Review – A delightful time in the DC universe (for once)

 

The Essential Kristen Stewart – Her Best Films

The Charlie’s Angels reboot comes out soon, starring one of my favorite actresses: Kristen Stewart.  She began acting at age eight and has nineteen years of experience under her belt, giving her quite a resume.  So for anyone who wants to catch up on her career before the new movie, or who just wants to worship at the shrine of Kristen, here are her most essential films.

Panic Room

From a young age, Kristen Stewart had the chops to be an actor.  She gave a memorable performance in one of my favorite thrillers as Jodie Foster’s daughter.  The two of them are terrorized by three robbers and have to hole up in a panic room (an impenetrable room designed to keep homeowners safe).

Speak

At age 13, Stewart gave a mature performance in this made-for-TV-movie based on the popular YA book.  She plays a teenage rape victim who becomes an outcast and stops talking.  It’s heavy material that’s handled very well.

New Moon

This is easily the best of the Twilight films.  Stewart’s heartbreak as a lovelorn Bella is palpable.  This also has the best soundtrack of all the films….and the funniest scenes with Anna Kendrick’s Jessica.  This is probably the movie where Bella is most active in pursuing both Jake and Edward.

Adventureland

Stewart plays the girl next door in this comedy about a run down amusement park.  A welcome break from Bella Swann, Stewart is the more mysterious and unattainable object of Jesse Eisenberg’s affections.  This was their first pairing together.

The Runaways

Stewart went against type to play bad girl rocker Joan Jett.  Her performance helps to anchor this rock biopic, featuring Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie.  Michael Shannon steals scenes as manager Kim Fowley.

Snow White and the Huntsman

This is one of Stewart’s most commercial and best known roles outside of the Twilight films.  This dark take on the classic fairy tale doesn’t really get good until towards the end.  But once Stewart’s Snow White finds her power and begins to lead a revolution, you’ll find yourself wanting more.

Clouds of Sils Maria

Kristen Stewart became the first American actress to ever win a César Award (the French Oscar) for her performance in this film.  Stewart plays the personal assistant to Juliet Binoche.  Binoche plays an actress cast as the older character in a lesbian drama, who wrestles with jealousy and insecurity while preparing for the role.  There is some sexual tension between her and Stewart.

Still Alice

This weepie isn’t one of my favorite films (Julianne Moore should have won her Oscar for Freeheld instead), but Stewart gives a solid supporting performance as the daughter.  Her scenes with Moore feel authentic.

American Ultra

This is Stewart’s second pairing with Jesse Eisenberg.  This unexpected action film goes a little bonkers with the violence, but it’s a fun ride.

 

Personal Shopper

 

Stewart teamed up with Clouds director Olivier Assayas again for this haunting drama.  She plays a personal shopper, trying to make contact with her twin brother who has passed away.

—–

Kristen Stewart hasn’t garnered an Oscar nomination yet.  However, she keeps choosing interesting and surprising roles.  And she continues to play characters from all walks of life.  So it’s probably only a matter of time.

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Movie Review – Charlie’s Angels

Best Superhero Movies That Were Never Made

Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker

Todd Philips’ controversial new film Joker opens this week.  It’s kind of amazing that a character piece with no connection to the DC Universe and no Batman in sight got the green light.  Many other movies aren’t so lucky.  Even movies with major talent attached to them.  Here’s a look at some superhero movies that were never made.

Superman Movies That Were Scrapped:

Christopher McQuarrie’s Man of Steel sequel

In July, the writer-director of Mission: Impossible-Fallout revealed on Twitter that he had pitched a Man of Steel sequel idea that would have tied in to a Green Lantern movie proposal.  Ultimately, Warner Brothers rejected both ideas.  McQuarrie did not give specifics of the plot of either film.

Matthew Vaughn’s Superman trilogy

The Kingsman director and comics creator Mark Millar pitched a Superman trilogy where the entire first film would have taken place on Krypton.  Superman would have grown up on Krypton, a change to his origin story, “maturing into an adult before having to reckon with his loyalty to both planets,” as Vaughn told Polygon.  This sounds like it could have really been epic.  I wish he’d reveal what his plans for the other two films were.

Superman: Flyby

J. J. Abrams wrote this Superman origin story that would have seen the hero fighting against new villain Ty-Zor, his Kryptonian cousin.  McG and Brett Ratner were each attached to direct the project at one point.  Warner Brothers ended up going with Superman Returns instead.

I want this sequel so bad!

Superman Returns sequel

Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns didn’t make enough money at the box office to revive the franchise.  He has hinted that a sequel would have been more action-oriented and might have featured the villain Brainiac.  This is the one that stings for me.  It always pulls at my heartstrings that SPOILER ALERT Superman has a son.  I really wanted a sequel to explore that concept in depth.  I remember watching Superman Returns with my friend Robert and both of us getting emotional during the scene where Superman watches his son sleeping.  This will always be one of the great unmade sequels for me.

Nic named his son Kal-El.

Superman Lives

This is the most famous unmade Superman film.  Tim Burton was attached to direct.  Nicholas Cage was going to play Superman.  Kevin Smith wrote a draft of the script.  There’s even a documentary about it titled The Death of “Superman Lives”:  What Happened?  The movie would have featured villains Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and Doomsday.  “The Death of Superman” story line from the comics was part of the movie’s inspiration.  After seeing what Tim Burton did with Batman, one can’t help but wonder what his Superman would have been like.

 

Spider-Man Sequels We’ll Never Get to See:

I know, I know.  Spidey’s a sore subject ever since the Sony/Marvel split.  But the truth is that Spider-Man’s been breaking our hearts for a while with expected sequels that never made it out of the gate.

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man

Casting rumors indicate that John Malkovich would have played the Vulture and Anne Hathaway would have played the Black Cat in this sequel.  Concept art indicates that villain Mysterio would have put in at least a cameo appearance.  Screenwriter James Vanderbilt was hired to write out plot lines for Spider-Man 5 and 6.  The exact reasons this sequel never came together aren’t completely clear.  Raimi takes responsibility and says he couldn’t deliver a quality film by the release date and didn’t want to disappoint the fans.  Adding insult to injury is the fact that we never got to see Dylan Baker’s version of the Lizard.

The Amazing Spider-Man 3

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ends with a cut scene that teases an awesome sequel.  It sets up a group of fan favorite villains called The Sinister Six which Spider-Man would have faced in the next movie.  Sadly, writer-director Drew Goddard never got to bring his vision to the screen though there are rumors it could still happen.

 

Batman Movies That Didn’t Happen:

Ivan Reitman’s Batman

The Ghostbusters director once had his eye on a 1960s-themed Batman project.  And the casting for this one is insane.  Bill Murray would have played Batman.  Eddie Murphy would have been Robin.  And David Bowie would have played the Joker.  (Aren’t you dying to see that?)  Fortunately, this movie fell apart, paving the way for Tim Burton’s Batman.

Robin Williams would have been amazing!

Batman Continues

If Tim Burton had made a third Batman film, Marlon Wayans would have played Robin and Robin Williams would have been the Riddler.  It would have set up a spinoff film for Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman as well.  As much as I like Batman Forever, I wish Burton could have completed his trilogy.

Batman Unchained

This would have been Joel Schumacher’s follow up to Batman and Robin.  Schumacher’s third Batman film, the fifth in the series, would have seen The Scarecrow and Harley Quinn make their first appearances on the big screen.  Batman and Robin also would have split up suggesting some of the darker storytelling associated more with Burton  than Schumacher.

 

Other Comic Book Movies That Never Made It To the Big Screen:

Would Armie Hammer have made a good Batman?

Justice League: Mortal

Before Zack Snyder’s Justice League movie came to fruition, Mad Max director George Miller was slated to direct this project in 2008.  The movie would have starred Armie Hammer as Batman, D.J. Catrona as Superman, Adam Brody and Anton Yelchin as dual Flashes, and Common as Green Lantern.  A high budget and a writer’s strike led to the movie being cancelled.

Still coming to a theater near you?

Doctor Doom

Fox hired Noah Hawley (creator of TV shows Fargo and Legion) to write a movie about Fantastic Four villain Doctor Doom.  Hawley has described his script as being an antihero story and a political thriller in the vein of Captain America: Winter Soldier.  The movie is largely considered dead after the Disney-Fox merger, however there is still some hope that Marvel may make the film at some point.  Especially now that they have plans to revive the Fantastic Four.

Someday, I will get my Silver Surfer movie. Someday.

The Silver Surfer

Speaking of Fantastic Four characters, comic book writer Brian K. Vaughn was hired to write a script for a stand-alone Silver Surfer script.  This was about two years before the Disney-Fox merger.  This secretive project is probably DOA as most of Fox’s comic book projects have been under the merger.  There is no word on whether actor Doug Jones would have reprised his role from the Fantastic Four sequel.

Green Lantern 2

Ryan Reynolds starred in The Green Lantern in 2011.  A sequel was written that focused on Sinestro becoming evil.  The first movie was a box office failure and plans for a sequel were scrapped.  Reynolds made fun of Green Lantern’s poor box office performance in the more popular movie Deadpool.

Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman

Before the Allan Heinberg script that became Patty Jenkins’ vision, Joss Whedon wrote an unproduced Wonder Woman script in the early 2000s.  It was recently leaked to the internet and has faced a lot of criticism for being sexist and focusing too much on Steve Trevor instead of Wonder Woman, even going so far as to make him the main character.  Whedon recently quit the Batgirl movie without completing a script, leaving it in limbo.  Which makes it another movie we may not get to see or at least not for a long time.

Make this movie, Hollywood!

Green Arrow: Escape From Super Max

I saved one of the best for last.  This one is cool as hell and I wish they would make it.  Framed for an assassination, Green Arrow has to partner with famous DC villains to break out of prison.  Doesn’t that sound awesome?  Cinema Blend has speculated that this would be an excellent script to transition the Arrow TV series into films.

What is your superpower?

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How to Avoid Being Eaten by a Shark In a Shark Movie (or real life)

the meg shark mouth poster
Don’t be like dumb people in shark films.

Like shark movies? Ever wonder WHY we enjoy these monster/disaster/fish bait movies so much? I wonder that myself. It’s not like they’re teaching us how to avoid being eaten alive, hunted like prey, or anything useful.

So here’s the top ten ways to avoid becoming “chummy” with the sharks. (Get it? Get it? Sheesh.) I’m getting my safety information from National Geographic, but I’m also not an idiot. These things are common sense.

Top Ten Ways to Avoid Being Eaten by Sharks (with movie examples of what not to do).

1. STAY AWAY FROM DEAD THINGS IN THE WATER.

You’d think this would be obvious. Someone something will be hanging around said dead fish, whale, or person, eating the body. Always. People in the movies are always dangling around with tasty arms and legs, paddling about, curious and/or sad about the dead thing. Move along, people! (These are the same characters who think it’s a great idea to split up in haunted houses to look for clues.)

the reef shark movie
Swim away from the bodies.

Point: In The Shallows, Blake Lively’s character swam up against a chewed up,  bloody whale. That would have been a great time to LEAVE. Don’t even get me started on the people in The Reef.

2. On a similar note, avoid schools of fish, seals, or sea lions.

Don’t add to the buffet. Simple rules, here.

3. If you see a lot of seabird or dolphin activity, be aware they are attracted to the same food sharks like. 

So far, Rules 1-3 are variations on a theme. Stay off the menu when there’s a meal about.

4. ALSO SHOULD BE OBVIOUS: Stay away from fishing boats, which usually dump entrails and blood in the water. 

I just watched 47 Meters Down 2 – Uncaged. Vague and minor spoiler: some people surface right as a glass bottomed shark boat dumped chum in the sea for the pleasure of tourists. This did not go well for those people.

47 meters down 2 uncaged fishbait meme
Fixed it.

5. Are you bleeding at all? Menstruating, even? Get out of the ocean.

Sharks can smell tiny amounts of blood over large distances. That big snout isn’t just a container for teeth. Remember the movie Pitch Black? (Which wasn’t a shark film, but the idea still applies.) #BloodSmells

pennywise chapter one it
Ewww. Okay. Just no to blood.

6. Avoid storm drain release points. Likewise, places where sewage enters the ocean.

These ‘garbage’ points attract bait fish, which attracts the sharks who eat them. Also, gross! Don’t swim there! I live right beside a lovely bay on the sea with plenty of nice places to swim, and STILL see young families playing in the water around the YUCKY WATER, E COLI PRESENT, DON’T SWIM HERE signs.

Just because the water’s shallow doesn’t mean it’s safe.

7. Avoid: Harbor channels, steep ocean floor drop offs, river entrances, and any place the water is murky. And be aware that after rains, river entrances will sweep yummy baitfish out to sea. 

These are places sharks like to patrol. And they can see quite well in the muck.

deep blue sea shark fin
They can still see you.

8. Don’t swim at dusk. Or dawn or night. Or any time alone, in an isolated area, especially at night. 

Twilight isn’t the time only Vampires like to feed. Also, with the not swimming alone? You’re safer in numbers. Just like with Vampires!

Did you see The Shallows? Blake Lively should have known better than to swim alone at a remote beach like that, even in broad daylight.

the shallows with blake lively
Don’t swim alone on a super remote beach, not even if you’re Blake Lively.

9. Don’t wear bright colors (yellow and orange are supposed to be the worst), or reflective jewelry that a shark will interpret as fish scales. 

Although, back to The Shallows, the jewelry did a fantastic job stitching up Blake’s skin after her first shark encounter. So if you wear jewelry, consider the kind that can double as a needle and thread.

10. Don’t splash too much. 

Man, it annoyed me in The Reef when those survivors not only hung around the dead bodies, but kicked and splashed and made too much activity while drifting around the Pacific. This is how scared prey acts.

Remember in Jaws when Richard Dreyfuss lost his poison-laced spear? He was not in the shark cage anymore, and a really mean Great White was right there. Playing a legitimately smart character, he dove down under some flotsam in his scuba gear to wait out the shark presence. The scientist survived with no worries.

jaws movie poster
Great movie that actually featured smart people.

There are different ways to swim. Some involve a lot of splashing. Others have more sinuous moves. Try to do, say, the breaststroke. Or at least kick smoothly, under the water, if you’re holding onto a float.

And keep your pets, especially dogs, out of the water. They make a lot of commotion. The pet rat in The Abyss was an unusual case, but worked out for the rat. The bird in Deep Blue Sea was less lucky. I won’t spoil what happens to the dog in Crawl, but that’s an alligator movie, and I don’t have any details on gator attacks.

What if you’re diving and a shark does approach you?

Stay as still as possible if you can’t easily exit the water. But if you’re actually attacked, or if the shark has you in its mouth, don’t play dead. Attack back with everything you can, and try to get the shark in the delicate areas of eyes, gills, or snout. If you recall, in Deep Blue Sea, a large crucifix made a great shark weapon.  (Again with the useful jewelry…hmmm…)

I’m not saying to use movies for your guide in survival situations, but at least these are things to think about.

Overall, Be Aware of Yourself in the Water

When all is said and done, here’s the note attached to the credits of 47 Meters Down: Uncaged Sharks kill ten people a year. People kill ten million sharks a year. So the idea here is to be aware, but not paranoid. Note also that this statistic doesn’t include people who are attacked and survived. Famous surfer Bethany Hamilton probably didn’t commit any of these Ten Deadly Sins, but lost an arm anyway.

bethany hamilton unstoppable movie poster
Bethany Hamilton, still rocking it.

Just be think of how sea predators work, and you won’t have to avoid swimming in the ocean altogether. And if you feel something touch you while swimming, calmly but efficiently get the hell out of the water.

Don’t be like the stupid people in these shark movies:

Movie Review – 47 Meters Down: Uncaged

Newie Review – The Reef – Low Budget, Decent, Non Campy Shark Movie

First View Movie Review – Jaws 2

The Shallows – First View Movie Review (2016)

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

 

The Top Six Richard Linklater Movies to See Before Where’d You Go Bernadette

boyhood movie shots
Boyhood. What an amazing feat of cinematic genius.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette opens this week.  While it’s not Richard Linklater’s first commercial film (Bad News Bears, School of Rock), it does appear to be wholly unlike anything else he’s ever done.

I’ve been following Linklater for a while and he’s one of my favorite filmmakers.  Below is a list of my favorite Linklater movies.  (Note: This is not The Essential Richard Linklater.  Because then I’d have to include Dazed and Confused.  Sorry, that one’s just overrated to me.)

 

 

Boyhood

Linklater pulled off one of the most amazing feats in cinema history with this one.  We get to watch a boy grow up over the course of the film.  And he’s played by the same actor at every age!  Linklater had the patience to shoot the scenes once a year or once every few years throughout Ellar Coltrane’s life.

The fact that he was able to do this with the same cast over a period of twelve years without the world finding out is amazing.  (And without anyone dying, quitting, etc.)  This movie was such a beautiful surprise when it came out and remains a gift to the world.

 

 

The Before Trilogy

In 1995, Linklater made one of the essential 90s romances, Before Sunrise.  It features Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy killing time together and falling in love, before having to part ways.  If that was all he’d ever made, it would stand alone as a beautiful, unique, romantic film.

Instead, he made a sequel nearly a decade later called Before Sunset where the two meet up again in Paris while Hawke is on a book tour.  They are each spoken for, but the spark is still there.  Again, if these two bookends were all there is to the story, it would be enough.

But then the artists reunited to make Before Midnight.  The final film in the trilogy deals with love and family at midlife, and all the complications that come with them.

 

Slacker

Slacker was Linklater’s debut film.  It’s a meandering piece where the camera follows an odd assortment of characters through a Texas town, moving from one interaction to the next, never returning to any of the storylines.  It probably sits somewhere at the intersection of Robert Altman and David Lynch.  One of the film’s most famous moments involves a woman being arrested as someone passes by, musing, “I know her.  She was in my ethics class.”

 

 

 

Waking Life

Waking Life is a documentary where the film cells were painted over/animated.  It features Wiley Wiggins trying to determine if he is awake or in a dream state as he encounters various talking heads.  It’s a visually beautiful film that is philosophical and haunting.

 

 

School of Rock

This is probably Linklater’s most accessible film.  A substitute teacher turns a classroom full of children into a rock band to try to win a local Battle of the Bands competition.  Jack Black gives one of his best performances without going over the top.  Writer Mike White who also cameos delivers a great story.  So great in fact, that Andrew Lloyd Weber turned it into a stage musical.  It works surprisingly well.  This is a great feel-good movie.

 

 

Everybody Wants Some

This movie is about the members of a college baseball team bonding together at the start of the school year in the 1980s.  It’s sort of an older cousin to Dazed and Confused. The main character, Jake (Blake Jenner), is figuring out who he wants to be.  This comedy was the first movie I watched after my grandfather’s death and I remember it lifting my spirits with its goofy charm.

 

 

It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock’n’roll.  It’s also a long wait to go to the bathroom if you’re gonna white knuckle it until the end credits.

Don’t do that to yourself. Get the RunPee app  (click on the header on top for info) and get some relief without missing any of the good parts of your favorite movies.  We add all the latest movies every week.  You can also keep up with all the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RunPee/.

Movie Review – Where’d You Go, Bernadette

The Essential Tarantino – What to watch before Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

11 Raunchy Comedies You Should Watch Now

 

Hobbs & Shaw – The Entire Backstory from Fast and the Furious

Hobbs & Shaw: You better go watch Hobbs and Shaw or a man wearing a skirt is going to kick your ass.The preview for Hobbs & Shaw looks like an exciting action comedy, but these two characters have a long backstory from the Fast and The Furious franchise.  If you haven’t seen all, or any, of the F&F movies, then you’re probably wondering what you need to know about Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson/The Rock) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to make sense of this spinoff.

Hobbs and Shaw, in a nutshell

Hobbs, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is a government agent tasked with capturing the worst of the worst. He was originally hunting Vin Diesel, who plays Dominic “Dom” Toretto, but in due course they become allies.

Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw
Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw

Shaw, played by Jason Statham, was a British Secret Agent – think James Bond with a bad attitude — but was “retired” by the agency six years ago, and now works freelance. Statham’s character is introduced in the end credit scene of F&F6 as a man out for revenge for what Dom’s team did to his brother. Of course, over time, he also becomes an ally.

We get to see Hobbs and Shaw fight a few times, but more often than not they simply fire epic and comical insults at each other.

Basically, Hobbs & Shaw is a action comedy version of The Odd Couple. That’s all you need to know before seeing their movie.

However, if you want to get caught up on the entire Fast and The Furious franchise, then read on.

I’ll give you advice on which F&F movies are worth seeing, and a detailed synopsis of the ones you could decide to skip over.

You can see from the table below, the franchise really starts to pick up with Fast And Furious 5.  If you don’t have the time, or stomach, to watch all eight movies first, you could just cherry pick from the best of them. Then read my synopsis of what you missed in the ones you skip over.

Note: This article gets long after you view the chart below, but it’s chock full of details you need to be up to speed for Hobbs and Shaw. We helpfully also tell you in the chart if there are extra scenes over the end credits

Complete list of F&F movies

Year Tomatometer *Audience score Title Extra/End scenes?
2001 53% 74% The Fast and the Furious
2003 36% 50% Fast 2 Furious ❌
2006 38% 69% The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift ❌
2009 29% 67% Fast And Furious ❌
2011 77% 83% Fast 5
2013 70% 84% Fast and Furious 6
2015 81% 82% Furious 7 ❌
2017 67% 72% The Fate of the Furious ❌
2019 Hobbs & Shaw n/a
2020 Fast & Furious 9 (May 22, 2020) n/a

*Audience score from Rottentomatoes.com user rating.

Dominic "Dom" Toretto
Vin Diesel as Dominic “Dom” Toretto

Fast and The Furious franchise overview:

Every movie in the F&F franchise revolves around stories that create problems that can, seemingly, only be solved with fast cars and wildly fantastic action. This translates into paper-thin plots. They do so many completely impossible things that you don’t blink twice when they do something that’s just insanely improbable.

However, as much as each movie tries to amp up the action, the success of the franchise hinges on likable characters. Vin Diesel as Dominic “Dom” Toretto isn’t a good guy in the classic sense. In the first movie he’s nothing more than a thief with a code:  Robin Hood from the hood.

Fortunately, F&F hit gold when they cast Vin Diesel as Dom. Vin has the gravitas, something many actors lack, to become the center of attraction in a franchise.

Dom is similar to the Star Wars character Han Solo. Solo isn’t exactly a good guy. He did in fact shoot first, and he’s only in it for the money. But when push comes to shove, he does the right thing, and he’s always there for his friends.

If you don’t have the time to watch any of the movies before going to see Hobbs & Shaw, then here’s a general outline of each movie. If you’re only interested in the Hobbs and Shaw backstory, then skip down to Fast and Furious 5, where Hobbs is introduced.

2001: The Fast and the Furious
This is the movie that kicked off the franchise, and perhaps Vin Diesel’s career. (Along with a little-known, now cult favorite science fiction movie that came out the previous year called Pitch Black.) I would recommend watching the 2001 F&F; not because it’s any good, but because it’s the foundation upon which the franchise rests. Better yet, try to watch this movie and the 4th (F&F 2009) back to back. Together they make one complete story and really develop the characters and relationships.

Paul Walker as Brian O'Conner
Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner

What you need to know if you skip it:
Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) is an undercover FBI agent trying to track down a gang of street racers stealing cargo off moving semi trucks. Brian befriends Dominic’s (Vin Diesel’s) sister, who works at a small cafe. The investigation leads Brian to believe a gang of Japanese bike racers is behind it, but ultimately he discovers that it is in fact Dom’s (Dominic’s) crew. The movie ends with Dom’s crew trying to rob a truck. The trucker has a gun and fights them off. Brian eventually has Dom trapped with the police moving in, but out of respect for Dom, Brian lets Dom get away.

Below is the full end scene of Fast and The Furious
where Brian lets Dom walk away.

Beyond the sloppy plot, the characters are well-defined. Dom commands a great deal of respect from everyone around him, including his adversaries. Brian is an FBI agent with complicated feelings about authority.

2003: Fast 2 Furious
By all means, you can skip this movie. It has no redeeming qualities. Vin Diesel doesn’t have so much as a cameo.

Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce

What you need to know if you skip it:
Brian has been kicked out of the FBI for letting Dom get away at the end of the previous movie. He’s in Miami when the FBI and DEA approach him to help with a case, by going undercover and bring down a drug cartel. Brian enlists the help of his longtime friend Roman (Tyrese Gibson). Roman is currently in prison, and blames Brian for it, but Brian convinces the FBI they have to pardon Roman if he helps with the investigation. Blah, blah, blah, car chase in the Florida Keys, and Brian and Roman capture the drug lord…and are BFFs again.

Below is the full “reunion scene/fight”
between Brian and Roman.

Sung Kang as Han Lue
Sung Kang as Han Lue

2006: The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift
On advice from my sister, I skipped this movie. This movie is somewhat  controversial within the F&F fandom. Apparently the only thing you need to know is that the character Han is introduced, who comes back in F&F 5 and 6.

2009: Fast And Furious
Brian is back with the FBI, and needs Dom’s help to bring down a drug lord… Sorry, I nodded off a little bit there. Seriously, I just watched this movie last week, and I’m struggling to remember exactly what happened.

Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz
Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz

What you need to know if you skip it:
Dom is in hiding in Panama when he gets a call from his sister, Mia, who informs him that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), who plays Dom’s girlfriend, has been murdered. Dom comes back to LA to help Brian (who’s back working with the FBI) to track down the mysterious drug lord who murdered his girlfriend. During the movie Mia, Dom’s sister, falls in love with Brian. Brian has loved her since the first movie.

The movie ends with Dom in custody. Brian pleads with the judge that Dom should be pardoned because he helped put a dangerous drug lord behind bars. The judge rules that one good deed doesn’t wipe out dozens of bad deeds, and sentences Dom to a minimum of 25 years in prison.

Cut to Dom on a bus, headed for a remote prison. Dom’s crew, including Brian, drive up on the bus. The movie ends.

Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar
Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar

New character: Gisele (Gal Gadot, who would go on to be cast as Wonder Woman) is introduced to the F&F franchise. She works for the drug lord, but turns out to have a soft spot for Dom.

2011: Fast 5
Hobbs is introduced in F&F5, a.k.a.  Fast and Furious: The First Good One. He plays a government/military agent who is in charge of a team tasked with bringing in the worst of the worst criminals: he always gets his man. In F&F5 we get to see Dom (Vin) and Hobbs (Dwayne) go fist to fist. That’s worth the price of admission.

Below: (3:04) clip of the first Dom and Hobbs fight.

Prior to the final climactic action, Hobbs has captured Dom, Brian, and Letty and takes them to to the airport to bring them back to the USA. Suddenly, they are attacked by the antagonist’s men. Hobbs’ entire team is killed. Hobbs is wounded and, of course, Dom rescues him. Thus…setting up their mutual respect for each other in the movies to come.

Below: (4:08) “Dom rescues Hobbs” scene.

At the very end of the movie, Dom’s team has of course emerged victorious over the antagonist, but Hobbs “re-captured” Dom and Brian. Hobbs says, “You know I can’t let you two go. I ain’t made that way. The way I see it, you’ve earned yourself 24 hours… Come tomorrow, I will find you.” Dom smiles, “No, you won’t.”

Below: Hobbs re-captures Dom and Brian, but lets them go.

And thus begins the relationship between Hobbs and Dom. BTW, there’s a MUST see mid-extra credit scene in this movie.

Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves
Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves

Additionally, the character Elena is introduced in this movie. She is a police officer in Rio who acts as Hobbs’ local translator. She and Dom have a few scenes together that leads to her becoming Dom’s new girlfriend in the following movie. She plays a major role in the plot of The Fate of the Furious.

Below: (0:54) End credits scene in F&F 5.

Luke Evans as Owen Shaw (younger brother to Deckard Shaw)
Luke Evans as Owen Shaw (younger brother to Deckard Shaw)

2013: Fast and Furious 6
The Hobbs and Dom relationship builds in F&F6. Hobbs has a new assignment to bring in an international terrorist: Shaw. (No, not that Shaw. The younger brother of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham)). Hobbs goes to Dom, who’s living in a non-extradition country, for help bringing in Shaw because they have a photo of Letty working for him.

Short aside: Letty “dies” in F&F4, or so we thought. Turns out she had amnesia and doesn’t remember anything about her past. Shaw, the younger, “rescued” her and now she works for him.

By movies’ end, Shaw is in critical condition in a hospital; Dom and Letty are back together, and the entire team has returned home to LA after getting pardoned for their help in bringing down Shaw.

In the extra credit scene we see Han, a member of Dom’s crew, racing in Tokyo. Suddenly, Han gets t-boned by another car, driven by Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Han’s car flips and lands upside down. Shaw gets out of his car and tosses a silver cross necklace on the street next to Han’s car then makes a phone call and says, ” Dominic Toretto, you don’t know me.” Han’s car explodes in the background. Shaw finishes, “But you’re about to.”

2015: Furious 7  <—-Read for our Review
That brings us to Furious 7 where… a lot of stuff happens. Let me explain… No, there is too much. Let me sum up. 😉 The movie opens with Shaw, the older brother played by Statham, visiting his younger brother in a hospital. Statham gives his comatose brother a speech about loyalty and brotherhood and revenge. Shortly afterward, we get to see a knockdown drag-out fight between Shaw (Statham) and Hobbs (The Rock). That ends with Shaw getting away, and Hobbs in a hospital room with a broken arm — he dove out of a 4th story window to save his partner.

Dom visits Hobbs in the hospital and gets the lowdown about Shaw: he’s a former British Special Agent that the powers that be decided to “retire” six years ago. He’s been a ghost ever since. Dom wants to find him and get revenge for Han, who died in the extra-credit scene of the previous movie. Oh yeah, and Shaw blew up Dom’s house in LA, almost killing the entire family. So yeah, there’s that.

At this point the story gets a little muddled.

Long story short: Dom’s crew ends up doing battle with a terrorist organization in LA, while Dom himself has a car fight with Shaw. During all this action Hobbs sees explosions from his hospital room and rips off his cast to join the fray. Dom nearly dies. Actually, he does die, but they bring him back. Shaw is captured and Hobbs delivers Shaw to a supermax prison.

Paul Walker Tribute
The actor Paul Walker, who plays Brian, tragically died in a car accident during the shooting of this movie — unrelated to the actual filming of the movie.

As far as the franchise is concerned, Brian has retired to family life.

2017: The Fate of the Furious <—- Read for our Review
Buckle up, because we’re going to be here for a while. This movie is like a parenthetical statement (Inside a parenthetical statement (Inside a parenthetical statement.)))

Seriously, you should watch this one. It might be shorter than reading this labyrinthine synopsis. But in case you really can’t, here we go:

Charlize Theron as Cipher
Charlize Theron as Cipher

How do you turn a “bad guy” into a “good guy”? By introducing an even badder guy, or in this case, badder woman. Fate of the Furious introduces Charlize Theron as Cipher — a super secret pseudo-terrorist who has been behind the scenes, pulling strings, since F&F 2009.

The movie opens with Dom and Letty in Cuba. Cipher tries to recruit Dom to her team, but Dom turns her down. Cipher assures him that one way or another he’ll end up working for her.

Next we see Hobbs coaching his little girl’s soccer team. A government agent interrupts Hobbs, and tells him they have an important mission for him: to get a team together to take back a stolen EMP device that is in Berlin, Germany. But, this is all top-secret, hush hush stuff and if he, or any of his team, is captured, the US government will disavow any knowledge of his mission.

Of course, Hobbs makes a phone call to Dom and asks for his help. Dom says the team will meet him in Berlin. Cut directly to the team getting chased by terrorists, after stealing back the EMP device. Dom has the device strapped down in the back of his car. Everything seems to be going according to script, when Dom runs Hobbs off the road and takes off, alone, with the EMP. Everyone is like, WTF? 🙂

Dom drives his car onto a moving transport plane and delivers the device to Cipher.

Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody
Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody

Hobbs is captured and gets locked up in the very same prison where he locked Shaw up at the end of the previous movie. Oh, and they’re in neighboring cells, and do nothing but trash talk on how badly they’re going to whoop up on each other.

Of course the cell doors, all of them, open, and Hobbs and Shaw fight their way out of prison, to be met by the shadowy Mr. Nobody — the head of a super secret government agency, sort of like the IMF from Mission Impossible — played by Kurt Russell. (Mr. Nobody was introduced in Fast & Furious 7.)

Next we see Hobbs and Dom’s team in a conference room getting a briefing about Cipher from Mr. Nobody. No one has a clue why Dom double-crossed them in Berlin and stole the EMP, but they know something fishy is up, because that’s not Dom. Then Shaw walks into the room and everyone, especially Hobbs, is on high alert.

We learn Cipher came to Shaw first, to recruit him to her team. When he turned her down, she got his younger brother — and we all know how that turned out — see F&F6. Shaw wants to get revenge. Of course Hobbs and Shaw want nothing to do with each other, but Mr. Nobody reminds them that they are the only two people to ever track down Cipher so, like it or not, they’re going to work together.

There’s a very long blah, blah, blah about tracking down Cipher, when she and Dom blast their way into the building and steal the ultra powerful/secret computer program they used to track her.

Cipher and Dom are back on her plane, and this is where we find out the reason Dom is helping her is because Cipher has Elena: the police officer from Rio introduced back in F&F 5; she was Dom’s temporary love when he thought Letty was dead. Now, it turns out that Cipher not only has Elena but also… duh, Duh, DUH, their baby boy. (Ohhhhh, so that’s why Dom is helping Cipher. That makes sense now.)

The action jumps to New York City. Dom is there, seemingly alone, to steal a briefcase from a Russian ambassador. Dom’s team, plus Hobbs and Shaw, are there to stop him. What follows is a wickedly cool scene where Cipher uses her elite hacking skills to hack every car with automated driving capability in a 2 mile radius, essentially creating a zombified demolition derby.

Prior to the action getting started, Dom sneaks into a restaurant to meet with Shaw’s mother, played by none other than Dame Helen Mirren. Dom is there for help, but we don’t learn the details until later in the movie.

We also get treated to a bonding scene between Hobbs and Shaw, where Hobbs reads off a list of commendations Shaw received while working for British Intelligence, before he became a traitor. Of course their bonding scene ends with Hobbs saying to Shaw, “When this is all over I’m going to knock your teeth so far down your throat you’ll need to stick a toothbrush up your ass to brush ’em.” (This is how real men say to each other, “I love you, bro.”)

After Dom gets the Russian ambassador’s briefcase (Which contains the super secret recipe for an ancient Russian version of Coca Cola; just kidding, it has nuclear launch codes.)

Okay, wait just a second. Why would a Russian ambassador, in NYC, have a briefcase containing nuclear launch codes? Please, don’t ask. I already said, these movies have plots thinner than that cheap, see-through toilet paper you find in truck stops. Just roll with it and remember, these movies are about action and bad ass characters.

In the ensuing mess about 10,000 cars get destroyed. Dom gets away with the briefcase, and in the process kills Shaw. (Of course Shaw isn’t actually dead, but Cipher needs to think he is.)

Now Cipher has the ultimate hacking program and launch codes for nuclear missiles. Now all she needs is the submarine that contains the missiles and total world domination will be hers.

(Okay, we’re almost done here.)

Since Dom hesitated during one of his tasks, Cipher has to punish him by killing Elena right in front of him. Everyone converges on the Russian base where the nuclear sub is docked. Cipher hacks the sub and launches it, because sure, that’s possible.

Next: A chase scene on the ice between the Russian military and Dom’s team. Then the nuclear sub, hacked by Cipher, is able to plow through the ice and catch up with sports cars, because the nuclear sub has been upgraded with a NOX turbo injector. (It wasn’t, but I’m surprised the writers didn’t add that.)

But wait, what’s that? Two men wearing personal jetpacks flying through the air? Who could that be? It’s both Shaw brothers? But of course it is. They catch up to Cipher’s plane, remotely open the rear door, fly in and take over the plane. Elder Shaw goes forward to save Dom’s baby boy, while Younger Shaw goes for the cockpit. There’s a hilarious action scene of Elder Shaw fighting against Cipher’s men while he carries Dom’s baby boy in a basket.

Once Shaw(s) have rescued Dom’s baby, then Dom is able to rejoin his team. Dom saves the day in epic fashion.

Shaw has Cipher trapped, but she grabs a parachute and jumps out of the plane.  (She was wearing a light jacket and jumped out of a plane, over the Arctic ice, at 10,000 feet. But I’m sure she’ll be fine. Bad guys/gals are immune to hypothermia.)

Denouement
If there’s one thing more ubiquitous in a F&F movie than a NOX (Nitrous OXide) booster, it’s a long denouement, usually involving a dinner table. At the end of the movie Mr. Nobody offers Hobbs his old position back, but Hobbs turns him down to stay home with his daughter. Obviously, this will be resolved in the Hobbs & Shaw movie.

Did you follow all this? Maybe print it out and bring it along to see Hobbs & Shaw. 😉 

Fast & Furious 1 & 4 Is Really ONE MOVIE

Fast and the Furious – Furious 7 Movie Review

Movie Review – The Fate of the Furious – F8

Movie Review – Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw