After a modest showing in the domestic release of Jack Reacher (2012), I was surprised to learn of a sequel. Tom Cruise reprises his role as the ex Army Military Police Corps Major, turned lone wolf. We catch up with Reacher in the aftermath of brawl in the scene from the trailers. Still drifting through the countryside with only the clothes on his back, Reacher makes his way to Washington, D.C., to visit his successor and only friend Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders). He arrives at his old office, only to find Major Turner has been relieved of command. On trial for espionage, stemming from the suspicious deaths of two Army investigators in Afghanistan. Assuming the worst, Reacher looks to help exonerate Major Turner, but has problems of his own, as his past threatens his future.
With the Impossible Missions Force disbanded and under investigation by the CIA and US Congress, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has gone AWOL. After successfully thwarting terrorists from buying nerve gas, Hunt is captured by The Syndicate; a shadowy organization that moves without fear of repercussions from any country. Imprisoned by The Syndicate and at the mercy of a man known as ‘The Bone Doctor’, Hunt, to his surprise is helped to escape by Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), a disavowed British secret agent. Unsure of her intentions, Hunt resumes his mission to bring The Syndicate down, clearing his name and restoring credibility to the IMF. His only lead is a sketch of a bespeckled male that maybe the key to the operation.
‘Tom Cruise Saves The World’ seems like a common theme in his movies since 2003’s The Last Samurai. Cruise always finds himself in an impossible situation where he is the only, and I mean ONLY person alive that can defeat the enemy. It happened in War of the Worlds, Oblivion, Jack Reacher, Valkyrie, The Last Samurai and all four Mission: Impossible movies. With the exception of Oblivion, the films mentioned before are pretty entertaining, despite Cruise’s infallibility. Edge of Tomorrow isn’t any different. Tom Cruise saves the world, because he’s Tom flippin’ Cruise. Luckily for Cruise, the marriage of ‘Groundhog Day’ and ‘Starship Troopers’ proves to be instering and engaging throughout. It’s the first time in a while where Tom Cruise saves the world; and I’d actually like to see him try.
Even though it takes place on a demolished Earth some 60 years in the future, Oblivion manages to be far more beautiful than bleak. With the grand spectacle of our abandoned planet as a backdrop, there’s never too little to marvel at in between moments of chaos and brain-twisting revelation.
Avoiding the dreary look of its post-apocalyptic predecessors, Oblivion is almost as retro in tone as it is advanced in execution. Director/co-writer Joseph Kosinski reunites with Tron:Legacy cinematographer Claudio Miranda to bring some very bright, eye-popping visuals to the screen, which they are careful never to crowd even in its rare claustrophobic moments. With that style comes a sense of depth that matches the grand scope of the film’s premise, which might have fallen flat in less capable hands. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Oblivion”
Science-fiction is a very broad genre these days. My wife once told me that traditional science-fiction can be boiled down to two specific premises: technology gone awry and social commentary. A lot of what passes for “sci-fi” films are really action movies, like Alien vs. Predator or the recent Star Trek reboot. But real science-fiction is a wonderful thing, and films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and the original six Star Trek films really hammer home how important the genre can be. Not every science-fiction film has to do with space or invaders from another galaxy; it’s more effective when it’s kept closer to home, and Oblivion manages to be just that. Eye-popping and gorgeous, Oblivion throws actual science-fiction into the waiting audience’s laps with style and substance to spare. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Oblivion”
With just a week away from its official release, Universal provides us a look at OBLIVION with a new featurette. Set in 2077, the film (from the visionary director of TRON: LEGACY and producers of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES) follows security Continue reading “OBLIVION Provides New Featurette”
The expression ‘they don’t make ’em like they used to’ is commonly used to describe action films these days. This is why the old-fashioned approach that writer/director Christopher McQuarrie takes in adapting the 2005 novel ‘One Shot’ for the big screen makes it such a stand-out crime thriller. Devoid of digital augmentation, Jack Reacher has the type of heart – and punch – that I sorely miss from the ’80s, an era when the camera remained steady for fight scenes and car chases were dependent mostly on the talent of stunt drivers to do the work. It’s the same reason I loved McQuarrie’s first feature The Way of the Gun(2000), which was defined by its brutal simplicity and didn’t seem like it was trying too hard to prove anything. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Jack Reacher”
I must confess my approach to this review of Rock of Ages with a quote:
“I’m old and I’m not happy. Everything today is improved and I don’t like it. I hate it! In my day, we didn’t have hair dryers. If you wanted to blow dry your hair, you stood outside during a hurricane. Your hair was dry, but you had a sharp piece of wood driven clear through your skull! And that’s the way it was, and you liked it! You loved it! Whoopee, I’m a human head-kabob!”
— Dana Carvey as Grumpy Old Man, “Saturday Night Live”
You see, this is the way I feel about Rock of Ages. Having grown up in the era from which the songs from this film (and the Broadway musical upon which this film was based) were culled, I realized early on that this movie wasn’t geared toward me; this movie was more for the “American Idol” and “Glee” fans, neither of which I am. What Rock of Ages manages to do is take the “rock” out of every song and replace it with the Auto-Tuned, toneless vocal bravura that seems to dominate current pop music and television shows. The story found amid the songs is no great shakes, either – if you’ve seen 2000’s Coyote Ugly, 2001’s Rock Star, 2007’s Music and Lyrics, and 2010’s Burlesque, you’ll catch yourself wondering if you’ve seen this movie before. But where the latter three at least propelled their stories forward with original music, Rock of Ages relies on everything from the 1980s: the hair, the glam, and the music, whether rock or not. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Rock of Ages”
In light of the new television series, The Firm, NBC has released a featurette of sorts featuring The Firm author (and the television series’ executive producer) John Grisham discussing the origins of his novel; particularly, how his story journeyed from page to the big screen ( in the 1993 film, starring Tom Cruise), and finally, how it has now developed into a tv series. Continue reading “Sequel To The Firm Premieres On NBC This Sunday”
NOTE: This review is representative of the 70mm IMAX version of the movie as shown at the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, not a faux-IMAX screen found in so many multiplexes these days. For a great, impassioned piece about IMAX vs. “LieMAX”, go here to my friend Kevin’s blog.)
The Mission: Impossible film series has been a curiously odd set of films. The first, directed by Brian DePalma, focused more on intrigue and the various, oft-confusing collection of double-crosses within the Impossible Missions Force. The second, directed by famed Hong Kong director John Woo, focused more on the action; definitely the easiest story of the series to follow, Mission: Impossible II also received low marks for its lack of complexity and its sole focus on Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, rather than making it about the team as well. This was instantly remedied by J.J. Abrams’ Mission: Impossible III, which was a terrific balance between the intrigue of the first film and the action of the second. And with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, director Brad Bird takes Hunt and his team to colorful locales and vertigo-filled heights, backed by a fairly compelling story and blow-you-out-of-your-seat action. Continue reading “MOVIE REVIEW: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”
It seems as of late the entertainment world has fallen back in love with the spy genre. While it’s great to have such great films in the genre like Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, it’s also great to balance it out with some completely over the top save the world spy epic. Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol is the movie for that. With Tom Cruise back as Ethan Hunt with a new cast of a new team members Mission Impossible brings a nice piece of summer blockbuster in during the cold winter.
December is a month that Hollywood saves some of the biggest and best movies for. And Paramount Pictures is releasing Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol on December 21. But, if you want to see it a full six days before everyone else, you’re going to have to see it in select IMAX theaters. And those of you in the Washington DC metropolitan area can see it exclusively at the National Air and Space Museum’s Airbus IMAX Theater at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center on December 15th!!