Sorry that I only posted four times last week instead of five – life has a funny way of catching up with you, especially when you’re home visiting family for Easter Sunday (even when your family is about as religious as an upside-down crucifix). In order to make up for that, I’ll be posting six times this week, starting tonight (which is why I’ve taken pains (and by “pains,” I mean pains) to be less long-winded than normal, to get this posted by tomorrow). Not that anybody even reads these, but, for those of you out there who I may be wrong about, who may actually bite the bullet and read what I write, then consider this your appreciation post.
This entire weekend, I’ve seen James Wan’s Furious 7 (2015) everywhere in the news. The first installment in the franchise without the late actor, Paul Walker, the film is on its way toward earning a billion dollars at the box office, and it’s already netted one of the biggest domestic opening weekends ever. It holds a “Certified Fresh” critical rating of eighty-three percent on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, which is even higher than the seventy-nine percent for this year’s Academy Award-winning Stephen Hawking biopic, The Theory of Everything.
Not bad, for a movie with a trailer where Vin Diesel drives a car through a skyscraper window and lands inside another skyscraper window, electro-hip hop playing on the soundtrack all the while. I’ve never seen a Fast and the Furious flick – the closest I’ve ever come is the American Dad! parody of them. But I thought I knew enough about this saga of fast cars and half-naked pretty people that I didn’t have to respect it and its habit of dropping articles and adjectives from its titles the more it goes along.
Artistically, I’m sure there’s still not much to say for the series, but, industrially, it’s a godsend for Hollywood. According to Ben Fritz’s “’Furious’ on Fast Track to $1 Billion in Sales: Universal Pictures’ megamovie franchise stems from humble origins,” published today in The Wall Street Journal, all other titles in the top ten for opening weekend earners in the United States are either comic book superheroes (Marvel’s The Avengers, Iron Man 3, The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight, and Spider-Man 3) or young adult print-to-screen adaptations (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows II, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games, and The Twilight Saga: New Moon). I think we can all agree that it’s worth celebrating Furious 7 and its defeat of Chris Weitz’s New Moon (2009).
These texts are significant because they suggest a trend in show business that’s bankrupt of any “original” ideas, with greedy studio executives more interested in peddling toys than producing art. Granted, Furious 7 is the sixth sequel to Rob Cohen’s The Fast and the Furious (2001), but, even though it shares the same name and basic premise with John Ireland and Edward Sampson’s The Fast and the Furious (1955), Cohen’s non-remake is an “original” creation. The fact that there’s so much brand loyalty to a film which isn’t “based” upon anything that it’s been able to break industry records less than three days into its release, in an age when most Americans can get their entertainment at home for free, is pretty inspiring for the future of filmmaking.
Hell, maybe I should go and check out the furor surrounding Furious 7. Maybe the seventh time’s the charm, and, hopefully, James Wan is a better action director than he is a horror director. It’s not like I’d get lost in the highly cerebral storyline, anyway – maybe I’ll even enjoy myself (imagine that).