"The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" offers something for every type of Coen Brothers fan                Updated Academy Award predictions for early November                Review Round-Up: "Dr. Seuss' The Grinch", "El Angel" "The Long Dumb Road", and "Outlaw King"                Taking a look at potential Best Documentary Feature contenders                "The Front Runner" is a terrific and timely film for right around Election Day                Hollywood Film Awards Marked the Launch of Awards Season                Taking a first crack at Golden Globe predictions                “The Favourite” and “The Front Runner”: Films to see in November                Awkwafina to Host 22nd Hollywood Film Awards                Review Round-Up: "Bodied", "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms", and "The Other Side of the Wind"                Rosamund Pike is a force to be reckoned with in "A Private War"                Black Panther, Incredibles 2 to Receive Hollywood Film Awards                "Boy Erased" has Joel Edgerton stretching himself as a prestige filmmaker                Rami Malek does his best to elevate "Bohemian Rhapsody" from being a standard biopic                What to do with "First Man": Updated Academy Award predictions for late October        

2011 Summer Movie Review Part I

HollywoodNews.com: We’ll see if my schedule allows me to do a comprehensive ‘end of summer’ box office wrap-up, but since summer 2011 doesn’t officially end until next weekend, I figure I’ve got time. For now, here is my annual rundown of the various scenes, performances, moments, and miscues that defined the summer just past. Because sometimes, discussing the ‘parts’ is more fun than discussing the ‘whole’. I’ll try to avoid divulging plot twists and the like, but consider this a SPOILER WARNING.

Best Fake-Out: Vin Deisel sacrifices himself for the team at the finale of Fast Five.
Even if you feel silly admitting that you cared about the characters in this fifth and inexplicably terrific entry in the eleven-year long racing action franchise, you cannot deny that the characters cared about each other. What made the movie pop was the genuine sense of camaraderie and bonding that existed between our main characters, which is one of the benefits of being the fifth film in a long running franchise.

So when Deisel’s Dominic Toretto separates himself from the pack during the final chase scene, apparently intent on sacrificing himself to give the rest of his friends (including his pregnant sister Mia and her boyfriend Brian) a chance at freedom and riches, I bought it. The film had built up a genuine ‘series finale’ vibe, and it seemed completely appropriate that the franchise would end with Dom, the series’s most prominent character, giving his life so that his sister’s unborn child wouldn’t have to grow up without a father. When Toretto miraculously survived his one-man cannon-ball run, I rolled my eyes a bit. It wasn’t until a week later that I remembered that this fifth film actually took place BEFORE the third film in the series (Tokyo Drift), at the end of which Vin Deisel made a cameo appearance. Point being, Dominic Toretto was never in danger. But the film was so unexpectedly compelling and exciting that I completely forgot what I already knew going in.

Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures

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