Fighting With My Family Review

The world of wrestling was a source of much entertainment for me as a child during the early 2000s. I had the likes of the Rock, Stone Cold, Shawn Michaels and Triple H in their prime and I was absorbed by the stories they were telling. Towards the end of my time following the WWE, I enjoyed the rise of John Cena, Kurt Angle was a big star and Batista was an absolute animal. What’s missing from this troop of names? The females of the WWE. I do not follow it much now except for an annual WrestleMania viewing, but I have heard over the last few years that the Women’s division is the new hot thing in the industry, and not just because of Scantily clad women.

Fighting With My Family tells the true story of WWE Star Paige, delving into the trials she endured on her journey from her English wrestling family to the top of the WWE world. Starring a few unknown actors alongside a couple of familiar faces, this is a film focused very much on Paige’s journey, with the subplot of her families various struggles along the way. Writer and first time Director Stephen Merchant is behind the camera, and as a fan of his work, particularly The Office, so I was looking forward to a witty, cleverly funny script and intrigued by the storytelling ability of Merchant as a director.

Merchant’s first effort behind the camera is excellent, directing the actors brilliant and getting some great performances out of the main cast. Florence Pugh stars as Paige, real name Saraya Knight, giving a performance full of heart and embodies the character well. She’s likable enough to get us on side at the same time as being clearly a bit of a social outcast. You feel like part of her journey and that goes down to both the actress and the direction of Stephen Merchant to get the audience invested in the film.

The other stand out for me is Jack Lowden as Saraya’s brother Zak. His journey is arguably even tougher for him to deal with than his sister’s, and again I felt invested and connected with the struggles he was going through. These two characters act as the heart and soul of the movie, both sharing the first act equally before the movie focuses on Saraya’s journey. Lowden shows a wide range in this performance, with highs and lows being engaging moments.

The side characters of the film include the parents and the WWE coach. First off Nick Frost is funny in his role as the father of the siblings, but I felt he struggled a little to live up to the performances around him in the more emotional scenes. Lena Headey is transformed in the role, with her unrecognisable when compared with the sinister Cercei she plays in Game of Thrones. She is almost the opposite of Frost, thriving in the dramatic scenes and none of her funnier lines really hit me how they should have. Vince Vaughan is the best of the three for me, displaying a blend of the serious acting with his comedic timing that I felt matched the tone of the film just right.

The rise to stardom of Paige is an interesting story to have picked, as even in the film its established as being a reasonably common path. Dwayne Johnson, the biggest star the WWE has produced when it comes to branching outside of the ring, hints at having a similar story himself in this very movie. Whilst it’s easy to appreciate the look at the journey, I don’t necessarily think there is anything shocking or unusual about this story, making it a little bit predictable even if you didn’t know the details beforehand. This wrestlers life after the end of this movie has more drama and twists than the story this film tells, both in the ring and outside of it.

Fighting With My Family delivers a thoroughly entertaining insight into the world of professional wrestling and the hard work required to make it to the top of the chain. The comedic touches of Stephen Merchant really bring the film together. Without those it would have been a solid film, but with them it’s a really good one. Boasting some top performances and a healthy side dish of Dwayne Johnson being himself, Fighting With My Family is a great time.

Good: Excellent performances, well-directed, and some good laughs make this an all rounder of a film.

Bad: Has a predictable and not particularly remarkable story for the wrestling world.

8/10 – Fun for the whole family.

The Fate of the Furious (2017) Review

By now everyone knows what to expect with a Fast and Furious film. Mad stunts and car chases, a nonsensical story, a few touching moments and a title that throws doubt over what the franchise should actually be called.  

Here is the run down of the names:

The Fast and The Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and The Furious Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, Furious 7, The Fate of the Furious, Furious and Fast, Fasten and the Furious, Faster and Furiosa, Infinity Fast, and of course Fast and Furious Pod Racing – A Star Wars Story.

Fast 8, as I shall refer to it for the remainder of this review, picks up with a Dominic Toretto who has finally settled into a normal life, coffee with his partner, crosswords by the pool, settling feuds with street races in a car that is exploding, getting into a good book before bed, you know the normal lives we all lead. The opening scenes are incredible to watch, the way it’s done so seriously despite the clearly mental things happening on-screen I found to be hilarious, although I am not sure that was the intention.

An encounter with Charlize Theron’s Cipher leads him to have to go against everything he stands for, and from there we have the events of Fast 8. This films plot is predictable, ridiculous, and absolutely pitch perfect for what this franchise has become. Cipher could actually develop into a rather interesting character judging by the glimpses we get into her psyche and motivations behind what she wants to do. Rather than delve into this, she is given a little hint of that flavour and then left to be a generic villain.

The rest of the team from Fast 7 return, minus franchise legend Paul Walker after his unfortunate passing a few years ago, and the film uses The Rock to step into the void that Walkers character leaves. Dwayne Johnson could make pouring a glass of water entertaining, and he drives the movie well. My favourite parts of the movie are his interactions with Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw, which bodes well for the next film in the franchise, this years (Deep breath) The Fast and the Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw. Their chemistry is fantastic, and you can see why the two have been paired up for their own movie. The rest of the team has always been there, but never really stepped up to be leading characters, so it’s good for the franchise to branch out from just Vin Diesel leading the way.

This being a Fast and Furious film, there is an abundance of action and chase scenes. How everyone know where to go is explained in quick, absolute word salad car crashes of dialogue that sound like they’re making up words. “If we dooble the soodle and double down on the shaba we can stogey it and then we will find exactly where we need to go” is an actual, legit quote from the film*. A lot of the film is there just to fill in gaps between action sequences, and I was conscious of that watching the film. I found myself staring into space waiting for the next round of explosions and crumpled bumpers to arrive.

The action we do get is over the top, crazy good fun. The laws of physics are applied sparingly, with the rock climbing out of a car, hanging on with one arm, skidding along the ice on his shoes, travelling at 100s of miles per hour, then of course he reaches down and redirects a torpedo that is propelling itself along the ice. That’s just one, 15 seconds example, from a film that’s over 2 hours and 15 minutes long. You don’t ever feel that length, because the film has very few slow moments, but it shows the point that fast and furious has reached.

Overall Fast 8 delivers exactly what I expected, a batshit crazy two hours where you have to suspend your disbelief just as much as an Avengers film. These are super hero movies, just with no powers. Well no powers yet, I would not put it past them for that to happen at some point. Oh no wait, check out the trailer for Hobbs and Shaw, Idris Elba is bulletproof. The time is now. If you can shut down your brain for a few hours and just enjoy the craziness for what it is, there isn’t much better than the Fast franchise for this type of stuff. If you want an action film on a similar scale but less ridiculous, find yourself a recent Mission Impossible film.

Good: Mad action, Great one liners, and if you’re a big fan of the word “Family” it is said an incredible 44 times.

Bad: Plot is an afterthought, Everyone has forgotten Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) murdered one of their tight-knit “Family”, and he’s welcomed in. Dom Toretto is more capable than Superman.

6/10 – Epic, Dumb, Crazy and Dumb, but still kind of fun. 

*It’s not, but it might as well be.