HOBBS & SHAW: The bald guy did it!
A horror movie, a female-led comic book adaptation and a big-screen version of a family favorite cartoon character lead the attack on last week’s No. 1, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. (More on that movie later.) If you went to school in the 1980s, you probably remember checking out Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark or one of the sequels by Alvin Schwartz—More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones—so long as no parent had them removed from the school library. Well, Guillermo del Toro checked them out longer than you did, and he is spearheading the live-action adaptation directed by Trollhunter’s André Øvredal.
Straight Outta Compton’s Oscar-nominated screenwriter Andrea Berloff makes her directorial debut in The Kitchen, an adaptation of the Vertigo comic book by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle. Three mob wives played by Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss take over Hell’s Kitchen after their Irish gangster hubbies get nabbed by the FBI. Berloff also wrote the film.
In Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Isabela Moner—a memorable standout in her previous features, Transformers: The Last Knight, Sicario: Day of the Soldado and Instant Family—stars as the popular bilingual explorer in her first big-screen adventure. Now a teenager, Dora leads her cousin, Diego (Jeffrey Wahlberg), and others into the jungle to solve an ancient Incan mystery. Danny Trejo voices Dora’s monkey, Boots; Benicio del Toro voices her anthropomorphic antagonist, Swiper. Eva Longoria and Michael Pena appear as her parents; Eugenio Derbez is also featured. James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller, a couple of the minds behind the 2011 and 2014 Muppets movies, directed and co-wrote this take on "Dora the Explorer."
If none of those films strikes your fancy, Ciné is getting Lulu Wang’s festival favorite, The Farewell. Wang, who wrote and directed, and star Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians’ BFF) have been drawing raves for this family dramedy, in which a Chinese-American writer travels to China with her family to be with her terminally ill grandmother. The twist is that no one has told Nai Nai she is dying. The trailer looks appealingly heartfelt and humorous—bring some Kleenex.
On Aug. 12, Showdown at the Equator presents 1988’s Top Squad at Flicker. Cynthia Rothrock stars in this Police Academy meets Jackie Chan (who produced) flick, also known as The Inspector Wears Skirts—a less vague, more sexist title. The Oconee County Library highlights Marilyn Monroe in its Thursday Theater Throwback on Aug. 8, while senior citizens can enjoy a Seniors’ Monday Matinee at the Oglethorpe County Library on Aug. 12.
FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW (PG-13) With its ampersand-abusing title, Hobbs & Shaw is the latest version of the franchise’s OS. (Consider it Fast & Furious 3.0.) The writer of every Fast & Furious from No. 3 to now, Chris Morgan, may have built the franchise that eventually takes down its patron.
The not-so-secret feud between Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel has forced Johnson’s federal agent, Luke Hobbs, to team up with bad-guy-turned-begrudging-ally Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to save the world from a super-virus incubating in Shaw’s sister (Veronica Kirby). A fellow disgraced MI6 agent outfitted with cutting-edge technology (Idris Elba) seeks the virus for a secret tech cult with a mission statement approved by Thanos. Brixton Lore calls himself “black Superman,” but “cyborg Superman” would be more accurate, considering the amount of metal and tech embedded in his body. (His rate of gadget usage moves him into black Batman territory, too.)
Hobbs & Shaw is the current evolution of the ’80s buddy-cop-medy and a way better G.I. Joe movie than the 2013 sequel that also starred The Rock. (Several tough guys and a gal from various international agencies team up to fight terrorists—all that is missing are the code names.) The action is on par with the most recent Fast & Furious, and like most current action movies, Hobbs & Shaw watches like a video game. Where this disposable blockbuster—one wonders how, and how well, these movies will age—establishes itself is as a playful aggro-roast hosted by the charming Johnson and the only slightly less charming Statham.
A couple of other movie stars liven things up in uncredited cameos—one stands out so much I now want a Hobbs & Locke movie more than a Hobbs & Shaw 2. (Stick around for the fun of all three post-credits scenes.) Leavening the franchise by focusing on the faces carrying less baggage than Vin Diesel may win some new fans and even help sell more tickets for the next Fast & Furious.