THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (2017) is a middling entry in the series. While Dom and Letty (Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez) honeymoon in Cuba (which allows for the requisite street racing scene), he’s contacted by ultimate hacker Cipher (Charlize Theron) who shows him Something on her phone. Later, when the team recovers an EMP generator for Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell again), Dom steals it for her — because, as we learn later, she’s kidnapped his ex-girlfriend and the son he never knew he had. Now Dom has to help her plan to steal a nuclear submarine to hold the world’s superpowers accountable (this isn’t really explained — I’m not sure if it’s another example of giving villains noble goals or a way to keep Dom from being too much in the wrong). To stop Cipher the team recruit both Shaw brothers, but will it be enough?
Cipher is a decent villain in the computers-are-magic vein, and in the vein of the Furious 6 retcons, she’s revealed as the mastermind behind the previous two films’ crimes. On the other hand, she’s prone to the kind of pretentious philosophizing that too many comic book villains these days give in to, explaining at length how Dom’s sense of family and his guilt are completely meaningless. The film as a whole is enjoyable enough, but the strains of trying to top themselves film after film are showing (small wonder after F&F9 this year, they’re only going to do two more). The Shaw brothers are redeemed way too easily and the team, as Camestros Felapton says, are no longer rebels and outsiders — they’re so government they might as well be the IMF or the GI Joe team.. “Now we know what it feels like to be any cop who’s ever gone up against us.”
BEYOND SKYLINE (2017) has some very HR Giger-looking aliens occupying LA and abducting humans as a power source for their tech; one angry cop escapes but he’s determined to go back and rescue his son by any means necessary. This makes me think alien abduction films are seeping into alien-invasion films; like Spielberg’s War of the Worlds this spends a lot of time showing the horrible tortures inflicted on us once we’re taken into the alien ships. As this is actually the sequel to another film, Skyline, I’ll have more insights (I hope) after I watch that one. A bit too much an action film, but some good ideas. “We did more than survive — we evolved.”
Directed by the Wachowskis, JUPITER ASCENDING (2015) has Mila Kunis discovers the’s the genetic duplicate of a dead alien queen — which as that culture considers genetic double as reincarnates, means she inherits all the queen’s wealth, including control of Earth. As we’re a prime source for genes useful in the aliens’ life-extension therapies, a lot of rivals would like her to give up what she owns — can genetically engineered fighter Channing Tatum keep her alive? This is big, colorful and very much old school space opera (I mean this as a good thing), but it’s a little too stock, and Kunis’ character is more acted upon than acting. As this takes place mostly out in distant space, it may not qualify for Alien Visitors. “Bees are genetically designed to recognize royalty.”
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