Need For Speed

March 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots, Dominic Cooper
Directed by: Scott Waugh (“Act of Valor”)
Written by: George Gatins (debut)

Soon after actor Paul Walker’s tragic death in a car accident this past November, many people wondered what the future of the “Fast and the Furious” franchise would be. Beyond the obvious logistics of how the series would carry on, fans wondered how they would get around making a film and telling a story that so heavily involved dangerous driving, the very same thing that took Walker’s life. While the next installment of “Fast and the Furious” isn’t slated until next year, the loose video game adaptation “Need For Speed” is the first test to see how the car racing/driving genre fares in the wake of the passing of one of it’s biggest stars.

After being framed for a crime he didn’t commit, mechanic and amateur car racer Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) gets out of jail and decides to get back at the man who framed him, professional driver Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). To do this, Tobey must drive cross-country to get the attention of a man who runs an underground race in order to gain entry to this exclusive competition where he can get revenge on his archenemy.

From a story perspective, “Need For Speed” stumbles right out of the gate by introducing Tobey’s rivalry with Dino without giving any back-story or reason to become invested.  This kicks off a series of events that is meant to pull at the heartstrings and give Tobey his motivation, yet can be seen from a mile away. From there the film begins its revenge plot by way of a wildly generic screenplay. Similar to the “Fast and Furious” films, “Need For Speed” spends time around a crew of fellow mechanics and drivers that aid Tobey in his cross-country trip. Unfortunately, these are all characters who themselves are also generic and add nothing but a means to push the story forward and spew cheesy, inane dialogue. For his performance, Paul isn’t given much to work with in Tobey. He’s the “strong and silent” type who is hellbent on revenge and reluctantly bringing car broker Julia (Imogen Poots) along from the ride. Aside from a terribly written introduction to her character, Poots is probably the most enjoyable character to watch and her scenes with Paul become better as the film carries on.

Aside from a mess of a story, the main draw to “Need For Speed” is obviously its action sequences. Admittedly, there is some pretty neat stunt driving and coordination, including one wild scene involving a car and a cliff. But mostly, the film spends most of its time glorifying completely reckless driving all in an often obnoxiously loud presentation.

More to that point, there is even a scene of Tobey driving stupidly in an effort to “scare” Julia from wanting to ride with him. To do this, and with assistance from a friend in a helicopter, Tobey speeds his way through city streets, zigging and zagging, driving purposely on the wrong side of the road and leaving mass destruction in his wake. Coupled with some fiery car crashes that are eerily similar to the images associated with the wreck that took Walker’s life, it will be very interesting to see how audiences react to this film now that one of the actors who popularized the genre has fallen victim to the very same thing he made popular in a unbelievably cruel twist of life imitating art. But any and all of that aside, “Need For Speed” is just a bad movie. It’s noisy, overlong and features a banal screenplay and characters. For his first performance after his amazing and nuanced role as Jesse Pinkman on “Breaking Bad,” Paul deserves much better.

Imogen Poots – Fright Night

August 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Interviews

When it comes to remakes, British actress Imogen Poots, 22, sees nothing wrong with revisiting an original film as long as it’s handled in the right way. Just don’t mess with a classic like the 1955 drama “Rebel Without a Cause.”

“It would be a crime if someone tried to remake it,” Poots told me during an exclusive interview for her new film “Fright Night,” a remake of the 1985 comedy horror of the same name. “James Dean plays such a wonderful character and there would be so much trepidation if you were to approach a project like that again.”

In the updated version of “Fright Night,” Poots plays the character Amy, who was portrayed by actress Amanda Bearse in the original film. Amy is the supportive girlfriend of Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin), a high school student who believes his new next door neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell) is a vampire.

During our interview, Poots, whose filmography includes “28 Weeks Later,” “Solitary Man,” and “Jane Eyre,” talked about her favorite kind of vampires and why she thinks bloodsuckers are usually written as sexual beings.

You weren’t even born when the original “Fright Night” came to theaters in 1985. When did the movie hit your radar? Was it when you were cast for the remake?

I think I was always aware of the original, but I only saw it when I was cast for the remake, yeah. (Laughs) I was into more of the John Hughes classics like “Say Anything” instead of movies like “Fright Night.”

In 2007, you were in another horror film, “28 Weeks Later.” What kind of stories are you looking for when you accept a role in this genre?

Yeah, I had worked in the genre before. I worked with [director] Juan Carlos Fresnadillo on “28 Weeks Later.” He is a real genius and artist. I like doing horror films when the director doing it is approaching the story from a place of humanity.

When do you think a movie needs to be remade? Some people would argue that if a movie worked the first time, there’s no reason to revisit it again.

It’s like any art. There could be this incredible painting and someone might say that no one should ever redo it again because they wouldn’t understand it like the original artist did. But someone could always re-imagine it and make it their own. If a novel was only adapted once it would be a shame. I think that’s why they’re going to remake “The Great Gatsby” again because it’s bringing the story to a modern audience who may not even be aware of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I think as long as it’s handled in the right way it could be an interesting idea to explore.

Is that how you feel about the “Fright Night” remake?

I think “Fright Night” is appropriate because the original is so time specific. The ’80s is almost like a character in the film. That’s different than trying to remake “Rebel Without a Cause” without James Dean. That would make me very nervous.

“Fright Night” finds time to take a few digs at the popularity of the “Twilight” franchise. Are you a fan of more romantic vampires or do you like your vampires mean as hell?

I like the Colin Farrell vampire the most. I think it goes back to the original concept of the vampire. I’m certainly aware of all the other approaches. What’s interesting is that the vampire can take on such a malleable form and really dictate its role in somebody’s life, whether as a vampire in a romantic melodrama or a sexual predator. But, yeah, I think Colin is the best vampire in town.

What is it about vampires that some women find so sexually appealing?

In terms of the sexuality of the vampire, I think what is attractive to some people is the potential danger because there is something almost forbidden about vampires. I think as a human with intuition and basic primal instincts, if you can’t protect yourself in that moment of seduction, there is nothing you can do. I think that’s why vampires are presented in that light. For something like a zombie, it would be more about the mentality and the sensibility of the monster. I think the vampire is elevated beyond the monster.

Talk about working with Colin Farrell and the creepiness he exudes playing Jerry in this movie.

Colin was great to work with. He really created a vampire that takes on an original format. It was really wonderful to be in his presence and observe him creating his character. Colin has these sort of wild eyes. Then once his contacts are in, it all gets kind of crazy. It was really cool working with him.

When the cameras are off, did you try to keep your distance from Colin so you could keep that tension high or does the whole cast take it down a notch and just hang around at the craft services table together?

(Laughs) Everyone is pretty easy going. Of course, you’re focused on your work, but at the same time everyone is hanging out and having a good time.

Without giving too much away, things get a little bloodier for your character in the third act. Was it more fun playing the innocent girlfriend at the beginning or the victim at the end?

It was really nice to have that transition, that’s for sure. It was nice to switch it up. I really liked bringing out my vampire. I was really influenced by Colin’s performance. I really wanted to explore something beyond my character Amy. Once Amy turns, she no longer embodies that innocence we saw from her at the beginning.