16 Apr

Furious 7

This one is dedicated to Paul Walker, who is racing for pink slips in heaven right now. So long, Paul, and thanks for the ride.

The one we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. Furious 7. We saw it opening weekend, and we think it’s fair to say that the full depth of the movie is still sinking in with all of us. More on that later.

This post is a little different that the other ones we’ve done. This is the first movie we’ve seen in theaters (For the purposes of the blog, at least. We’ve been to movie theaters before. C’mon.), and since the distance between the movie and the kitchen increased so drastically, we had to change up our game a little bit. So with that in mind, this will probably be the layout for a series of post we will call Munch at the Movies.

The Meal

Rather than cooking a full meal, we made some homemade movie theater snacks, with our own Munch twist.

First up on the docket was popcorn. Ben provided us with a popcorn machine, so we were able to control every aspect of our recipe. (If you are serious about popcorn, you need a popcorn maker: it is so much better than that microwaveable stuff.) After popping and buttering the corn to our liking, we decided to take it to the next level with some homemade za’atar. The full recipe is on Kitchenbowl again if you want to try some for yourself.

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Now imagine the concessions stand in a theater: you see the soda machines, the popcorn, and next to that, strutting their delicious stuff, is the pretzel carousel parading in circles before you. The soft and chewy texture, bite of salt on your tongue… That’s what we wanted to capture next. So behold, our wonderful creation, the incredible soft pretzel.

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Finally, how could we not have something sweet at the theater? We all know of the classic “theater candy” boxes of sweet delights running the gamut in flavors, but next to those sit the candy bars. The go to’s, the classics, the pick me up after a long day, the “you only have me once a year, but you enjoy me whenever you do” line-up of candy bars. And within that realm is the Twix bar. These chocolate-caramel-shortbread morsels that come in pairs and are perfect to share. We decided to make our own from scratch, and although they were a mess to eat, the experience was so much better than a real Twix, which is saying a lot. We can’t go back to the store bought stuff now.

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The Drinks

This week, we made up a completely new drink, name and everything, dedicated to Paul Walker. It’s kind of a mix between a Sidecar and a Manhattan with our own special twist on it. Think pre-prohibition cocktail, with a modern aged-tequila taste. A wonderful drink for relaxing that still contains that extra bit of “furious” you are looking for on the inside. This drink is two parts añejo and one part cointreau, with a couple dashes of your favorite herbal bitters. If you’d like to toast Paul for yourself, you can make one using our recipe here. And now for the grand unveiling of the name: 1327, in memory of Dom’s family home.

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The Movie

We knew Furious 7 deserved to be seen in the best theater possible, so we reserved seats at Cinerama weeks in advance. In addition to being the most beautiful movie theater we’ve ever seen in the United States, Cinerama also serves beer, which is necessary to have in your hand for any Fast & Furious movie.

The movie itself was spectacular. This was the highest-budget Fast & Furious movie yet, and it definitely showed. While the stunts in Furious 6 were cool but pretty unbelievable (specifically Vin Diesel’s Superman-like flight between the two bridges), the stunts in Furious 7 were totally over the top while still remaining in or near the realm of possibility. We’re going to talk about two specific scenes, which have both been in every trailer so far, so there won’t be any new spoilers below.

First, the scene where they parachute the cars out of planes. Yes, it sounds unbelievable, but they ACTUALLY PARACHUTED CARS OUT OF PLANES WHILE FILMING. And the scene where the car flies between the buildings? A professor of physics at Pierce College said that stunt was totally plausible. I should add that both of those scenes are waaaaaaay cooler in the actual movie than they look like they’re going to be in the trailer, and that’s saying something. There are a couple other crazy stunts that we won’t spoil for you, suffice it to say that the director went through some effort to actually film, rather than just rely on CGI and green screens, and we can all respect that.

The cast was great, as always. Our one complaint coming out of the theater was that there wasn’t quite as much Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the movie as we would have liked, but he did get a few good zingers. Tyrese Gibson finally had his chance to shine in this movie, and he really made the most of it. Vin Diesel was ironically both more violent and more family focused than ever but we wouldn’t have had him any other way.

Finally, we have to talk about how they wrote off Paul Walker, who died midway through the filming of Furious 7. The director had to change the story quite a bit, refilm lots of scenes, and make clever use of Paul Walker’s brothers, voice recordings, and CGI to allow Brian O’Connor to flourish. Watching the movie with that in mind, you can make some educated guesses about where and how the story was changed to write his character off, but I don’t think the average viewer would suspect that the movie had to shift its story so dramatically midway through. If anything with the real world events colliding with what takes place in the movie, the ending has such emotional heft that we’re pretty sure everyone teared up as Brian O’Connor says his final goodbye. We were all surprised an action movie affected us as it did, but we couldn’t have asked for a better send-off for our friend or a more tasteful goodbye to a character so central to the films.

It was a tough goodbye, though. Brian O’Connor has been so necessary for the Fast and Furious films. He doesn’t necessarily have the most distinct character but that is what makes him great. You can get lost in his dirty blonde hair and stunning blue eyes, but at the end of the day Paul Walker is there to make you, the viewer, feel like one of the gang. We feel like his sole purpose is to be a vehicle for you to be placed into. You are him in that you can paint his character in any way to allow yourself entry into the series. Paul Walker, you were an incredible man and will be sorely missed.

All in all, Furious 7 was a great movie, and one we plan on seeing again soon.

And that concludes our extended Fast & Furious Feature on Munch! I am sure we will gear up for more adventures when Fast and Furious 8 rolls around but in the mean time we are looking forward to what is next for Munch. Tune in next week to see what’s next on our menu and on our TV. And with that, we leave you with a song straight out of the movie that gives you a good overview and means so much while saying so little.

The Ratings

Andre: Best Action Picture of the Year. Vin Diesel said in an interview that Furious 7 “will probably win best picture at the Oscars, unless the Oscars don’t want to be relevant ever.” While I doubt this movie could actually win best picture, I think we need to add an Oscar category called “Best Action Picture of the Year” to keep the Oscars relevant and so we can give Furious 7 more awards, because this movie deserves them.

Leanna: I distinctly remember scoffing in the movie theater in previous years when I saw ads for Fast & Furious movies. And yet there I was, on opening weekend, tears rolling down my cheeks as I said goodbye to Brian O’Connor with a theater full of strangers. It really got to me. I think anyone who doesn’t enjoy this movie is going into it with the wrong attitude or just doesn’t believe in the power of family like the rest of us. The movie did a fantastic job throwing in references to themes or plot points from previous movies (Vin’s love of Corona, for example), which made the viewing experience all the more rewarding for us. A++. Would see it again.

Ben: It is bittersweet. We have come such a long way and have spent so much time with this series. I never would have expected it to take up so much space in my head and heart but here it is. The Fast and Furious Franchise is incredible. It is revolutionary for cinema and action films. It packs a punch and shows emotion. It is everything you could want from it and more. Here is a series that you are just meant to have fun and enjoy, and I am sure I will be watching these films for years to come. These films are a constant reminder that I need to “live my life a quarter-mile at a time.” As for Furious 7 it was everything it needed to be. And consider me surprised when I cried at the end. 90%.

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