Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: In Which a Bold Claim Is Advanced Regarding the Furious Franchise

June 13th, 2017 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.


Fate of the Furious (Film, US, F. Gary Gray, 2017) After a terrific street race in Havana, a whirlwind of heel and face turns, and one horse-pill of a plot contrivance, we’re off on another manic spy adventure set in a world where street racers are America’s most strategic resource. Charlize Theron plays the best villain the series has had since Cole Hauser, and the Manhattan set piece manages to actually invent (and sell!) an original motif for car chases. –KH

Gotham Season 3 (TV, US, Fox, 2016-2017) Jim Gordon and young Bruce Wayne go down ever darker paths as the Penguin becomes mayor and a monster-making virus takes hold in the city. Third time’s the charm as the show’s pacing and structure finally catch up to the strength of its characterizations.—RDL

Historical Atlas of Central America (Nonfiction, Carolyn Hall and Hector Perez Brignolli, 2003) For scope and information presentation, this atlas probably can’t be beat. If you’re interested in the history of Central America, this is your atlas. If you’re not, admittedly, this may not do much to convince you otherwise. –KH

The Historical Atlas of the Vietnam War (Nonfiction, Harry G. Summers, 1995) With 100+ clear strategic and tactical maps (from the Mongol invasions to the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979) bolstered by Summers’ (mildly revisionist and heatedly anti-McNamara) text, this fine atlas doubles as a brief military history of the war. Its only real flaw is having just one map on Laos, focusing on its fall in 1975 rather than the lengthy “Secret War” we fought there from 1962 to 1972. –KH

Tunnel (Film, Korea, Kim Seong-hun, 2016) Motorist (Ha Jung-woo) waits desperately for rescue after a shoddily constructed highway tunnel collapses onto his vehicle. That great theme of contemporary Korean cinema, endemic institutional incompetence, adds an extra level of nailbiting to this rescue suspenser. —RDL

Wonder Woman (Film, US, Patty Jenkins, 2017) Well whodathunkit, when you provide believable emotional beats in a superhero film, the usually tiresome last-act fight scene actually means something! Patty Jenkins inspires Gal Gadot (Diana) and Chris Pine (Steve Trevor) to the top of their acting range and rescues the DCEU film franchise with assists from fight choreographer Ryan Watson and an intermittently excellent score by Rupert Gregson-Williams. –KH


Furious 7 (Film, US, Justin Lin, 2015) Playing more as a series of meticulous action set pieces than a fully realized story (likely as a result of star Paul Walker’s death mid-filming) Furious 7 nonetheless successfully shifts what is arguably the best overall* movie franchise** of all time from heist films to spy-fi, much as its fifth installment graduated a “killer B” street-racing series to the big leagues. Kurt Russell plays the crucial role of “guy you like watching so much you follow him into the entirely different movie without a qualm.” –KH


Funeral Parade of Roses (Film, Japan, Toshio Matsumoto, 1969) Hostess at drag bar carries on with its owner and aspires to displace her aging madam. Experimental, gender-bent retelling of Oedipus could do with more Fassbinder and less Godard, which would require it to have been made about three years later.—RDL

* All meat, no sawdust: no Phantom Menace, no Star Trek V, no Harry Potter 2, no Thor 2, no Thin Man Goes Home, no Skyfall.

** Multiple directors + more than a trilogy, so shut yer pie holes you lovable Buzz Lightyear/Sergio Leone/Mad Max scamps

One Response to “Ken and Robin Consume Media: In Which a Bold Claim Is Advanced Regarding the Furious Franchise”

  1. Jeff R. says:

    Hm. I feel like Tokyo Drift has at least as much sawdust content as Chamber of Secrets…

    (Also…Police Story?)

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