The Wedding Ringer (2015)

Wedding-Ringer

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Hitch 2: Groomsmen.

Kevin Hart…he’s quite a character. Whether that’s a character you personally love or a character that you would rather hate…that’s up to you. I find him funny enough…but he’s kind of like a black Melissa McCarthy – he does the same shtick every time. That’s sometimes the downfall of comedians in film – they don’t quite understand that an acting range can be a good thing…it changes things up! Instead, what you have in The Wedding Ringer is more or less Kevin Hart being Kevin Hart in a movie that is more or less a combination of other like-films. Similar movies that come to mind are Hitch andThe Wedding Singer. The originality goes out the window before the movie even starts, so what does that mean for the rest of it?

The Wedding Ringer focuses on Josh Gad’s character, Doug, as he prepares to marry the girl of his dreams. There’s only one problem – he not only needs a best man – but also seven extra groomsmen as well – so he turns to a professional best man to hire. From here, it is Mission: Impossible because pulling something so extravagant off in so little time is what Kevin Hart’s character calls a “golden tux”, which has never been done before. Can they pull it off? Only time will tell…or spoilers if you enjoy those.

This movie is so ridiculously predictable that I could throw up. That predictability comes from countless romantic comedies and similar-plotted films before this one. There was no originality, just rehashed things you’ve probably already seen before – unless you’ve been hiding under a rock your whole life. Predictability, however, doesn’t necessarily have to mean a bad thing. What’s more important for a film like this to achieve – is a good segway to get from Point A to Point B. We can guess how it’ll end, but how it gets to that part is just as important sometimes – and that includes this film.

What I can tell you is that I like the concept and I like the characters. It’s somewhat believable and unbelievable at the same time, but that’s okay. All of the nine main guys work really well together to pull off this “heist” of sorts – and for such a large cast, they were able to maintain a good level of diversity throughout each character – and that’s not always an easy task. Kevin Hart may be the same, and maybe even Josh Gad, but when they blend with everyone else…it kind of works. Unfortunately though, too much of the actual comedy falls flat.

It’s true – I did giggle here and there while watching this film – but other than that, it was a quiet experience for me. I never laughed out loud, and primarily held a straight face through-and-through. I don’t think the movie itself is bad, but the execution for a partially promising feature was poor…if I’m being honest. As a movie goer, I wanted more from the movie and received less, and that’s always something you want to avoid as a filmmaker – so all in all…this movie failed. I didn’t hate it, I was just a little disappointed in it.

The Good:

There’s nothing wrong with the concept for this film. It’s a little bizarre, but that sometimes works for it really well. The characters work together rather well, and all-in-all, I find this movie to be watchable.

The Bad:

Unfortunately, watchable isn’t the best way to describe a movie. You want something captivating – whether that means exciting, funny, emotional, thrilling…whatever. This movie was only watchable, because the rest of it was predictable and unoriginal. In algebra, predictable and unoriginal equal “not funny”.

King Arthur (2004)

King-Arthur

It’s always been a mystery to me why the 2004 King Arthur seemed to fade away without a great deal of attention. But given the growing excitement over the upcoming Guy Ritchie film Knights Of The Round Table, it seemed like a good time to recap it. King Arthur earned only a 30% critic rating at Rotten Tomatoes, but was more or less approved of by the general public (60% of viewers gave it the thumbs-up). Part of the reason for the split opinion might have been just how atypical the film was as an Arthurian legend.

King Arthur starred Clive Owen in the title role, presenting a decidedly different take on ancient Britain’s mythical hero; in fact, this take was that the hero might not be mythical at all. The film introduces a curious backstory (which is somewhat based in real history) involving a Roman named Artorius charged with commanding a group of soldiers who owe their lives to the Roman Empire as a result of a previous conflict. Specifically, the group must serve a predetermined sentence protecting the remote Roman outpost of Brittania, a land divided between Romans, Saxons, and native tribes.

That basic setup is introduced with a boy Artorius being told about his future, and we’re next introduced to the grown version, commanding a dwindling population of men who have become a sort of gruff version of the knights of the round table. Most of the big names are there: Lancelot, Gallahad, Gawain, and Bors, but instead of focusing on protecting the land with knightly honor, the group is primarily focused on earning its freedom by completing its sentence. Upon the very day they’re to do so, the Roman Empire charges them with a final task: retrieving a prominent heir in the Catholic church from a northern settlement under threat from a massive Saxon invasion.

It’s not exactly the quest for the Holy Grail, right? And yet, King Arthur does become a sort of quest film. The group must travel north, retrieve the heir, and escape back to the south. All the while Arthur displays, in a very different way, the same qualities we know from old stories and myths: he’s honorable to a fault, skilled with a blade but more admirable for his compassion, and he values the lives of his knights above all else. It’s these characteristics that drive the film as Arthur seeks to achieve a near-impossible task without sacrificing his men, and almost accidentally begins to form the beginnings of a British nation in the process.

Despite being a largely forgotten 2004 adventure flick, King Arthur actually holds up pretty well today. Antoine Fuqua’s direction carries hints of influence from Gladiator (which is never a bad thing), and while the film arguably takes itself a little too seriously, it’s also not afraid to present an Arthur devoid of cheesiness. But what interests me now about it is how it’s determinedly unique takes on a few key characters will differ from what we’re about to see in Guy Ritchie’s new adaptation. Three characters in particular, besides Arthur, are almost bizarrely presented in King Arthur: Lancelot, Merlin, and Guinevere.

For his part, Lancelot (played by Ioan Gruffudd) is angry and vengeful. Lancelot is often designed as an edgier character than Arthur, but this version is more bitter and selfish, furious over his life of servitude and willing to go the extra mile for his King only when absolutely necessary. So far, it’s impossible to guess whether or not this take will be upheld at all in Knights Of The Round Table, because the film’s IMDB page shows no Lancelot having been cast, and none of the rumors surrounding the plot include Arthur’s most famous knight. It appears that he may be saved for a later version in what’s expected to be a lengthy series.

Merlin was also presented very oddly in King Arthur as a sort of woodland mystic in charge of the good-hearted, but barbarian, native Brits. This is a far different take than perhaps the most traditional image of Arthur’s wizard, which is more in the vein of a wizened Dumbledore type. Then again, we’ve also seen Merlin as a sort of all-powerful demi-god. InterCasino presents the famous wizard in this light in its “Merlin’s Millions” game, which may be familiar to those who explore fiction through gaming, and indeed it is one of the few modern examples of games based on Arthurian legend. And then there’s the younger version of Merlin seen in the show on BBC One! But as for Ritchie’s upcoming series, Merlin, too, is anybody’s guess. A report by CinemaBlend claimed that Djimon Honsou wou
ld take up the role of a wise advisor to the King, though Honsou is listed now as playing Sir Bedevere. It could be that it’s a Merlin-like role not imparted to an actual wizard, perhaps in an attempt to keep the series more grounded.

And then there’s Guinevere, arguably the role that King Arthur strayed the most with. Keira Knightley turned the part on its head, depicting a fearsome warrior princess roaring into the thick of battle, as opposed to the gentle, beautiful queen of lore. Enchanting young Spanish actress Astrid Berges-Frisbey is set to play Guinevere for Guy Ritchie. While it seems like a breakout role for her, it’s also an unknown. Given her naturally gentle appearance and the more traditional look of Charlie Hunnam (who’s playing Arthur), we could be in for a more familiar Guinevere.

At any rate, I recommend a re-watch of the 2004 King Arthur whether or not you’re excited for the upcoming Guy Ritchie version. My take is that while it has its ridiculous moments, it’s an underrated film and a welcome fresh take. Oh, and Stellan Skarsgard as a Saxon warlord is one of the more under-appreciated villains in recent history!

Rating: 80/100

Any higher would be taking a little too much personal preference into account (I love Clive Owen and grew up on King Arthur stories), but I still believe this is a rock solid battle epic with strong performances all around.

Guest Review by George Riley

True Story (2015)

True Story

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
A true exclusive.

Love them or hate them, but comedians nowadays try really hard to be good in all types of roles, including drama. Take James Franco for instance – he has some seriously lacking roles out there because, like Will Ferrell, he just doesn’t care and wants to have a good time. At the same time, a few winning performances leak through the crack that remind you on just how good of an actor he is – or others like him. True Story, for example is a movie starring James Franco and Jonah Hill in double the drama, but double the surprise – because this movie is pretty good.

Okay, so True Story  is ultimately about a New York Times journalist, Mike Finkel. Now Mike is a really a really well-known journalist – that is, until he’s fired for getting one main detail wrong. Now his identity is being stolen by someone accused of murdering his whole family. So what do you know – a new story is being written about this guys incredible tale, but did the guy take his name out of flattery, or is that a signal that he’s just a liar? Only time can tell, and because this actually is a true story, you can go ahead and read it. But for argument’s sake, let’s just say you don’t.

I wasn’t sure before seeing this if I’d even like it. I’m not usually fond of true stories, and I’m even more questionable when it comes to comedic actors doing drama…you just never know. You know? I have to say though, James Franco did an absolutely wonderful job portraying Chris Longo – I was almost…ALMOST blown away. My personal favorite role of his was in 127 Hours, and I can easily add this as a close second. I can’t really say why, but there is a reason. Jonah Hill on the other hand…not sure. He tries very hard, and does a great job, but you know Jonah’s voice is born for comedy, and it’s hard to take him serious at times. I have to say though, it’s not a huge problem. Not at all. These two had some crazy good chemistry and contributed rather well to this mysterious plot.

This is a mystery I can get behind, especially because it’s a true story. What’s so interesting about true stories is – you know they’re true more so if the mystery is unpredictable – which this film is. It’s depressing to say most mysteries are predictable, but in a way – that’s true. We are running out of ideas. This film keeps you on the edge of your seat and most importantly, keeps you guessing. To make this movie just a little more entertaining, I’d suggest to future viewers not to look up the story behind the film. Going into any movie with a blind eye makes everything just a little better off.

The Good:

I’ll say this, True Story is a great movie that is equel in parts with its drama, suspense, and mystery. The acting that both Jonah Hill and James Franco present are both wonderful and unforgetable. This really is a true story, and it’s one of the few I like.

The Bad:

I can’t really think of many problems this film faced…it did almost everything right. Apart from some few minor faults here and there, I guess my only problem would lie in Jonah Hill…his voice is still a little off-putting in the world of drama…he still sounds funny and like a comedian. His performance was wonderful, his voice…can’t do anything about that.

Waterworld (1995)

Waterworld

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Mad Max: Galactica.

Way back in the ancient times of 2006, me and my family ventured off to Los Angeles, where we visited some truly remarkable places within Universal Studios – including a watershow based off this movie…or was the movie based on that show? Anyways – the show was a lot of fun, but I had my reasons not to watch the actual movie, I’ve heard two main things about Waterworld1. It’s really long, and 2. It’s just plain boring. With long movies, it’s always something I consider a give or take scenario. It could be great, or like I mentioned above, boring. What I came to realize is that yes, it’s a little lengthy, but only a little – it was much longer when it was released twenty years ago. Back then, 90 minutes was standard. Nowadays, it’s not as long when compared to practically every other modern movie…so that’s a good sign. What about the movie itself?

Waterworld is esseentially about just that – a world of water. It’s the future, and the polar ice caps have melted, covering the planet in water – leaving only a good handful of survivors that will do just about anything for you bare essentials – and if you can get a jar of dirt or fresh water – you’re basically a god among men. Kevin Costner plays “Mariner”, a loner due to his evolved state of being – and he gets thrown into the middle of a bunch of drama when a group of pirates, or smokers, speak of a mythical place called “dry land” – and a young girl has a tattoo on her back that apparently points the way to the land. The whole movie is basically an action adventure rat race to get there first.

I’m actually glad I saw this movie, especially after not seeing it for the last twenty years. This movie may have been prime when it came out, but it now reminds me of two pretty popular series – one – Battlestar Galactica, and two – the most recent Mad Max film. It looks and feels like Mad Max because of how post-apocalyptic, violent, crazy, and primitive the survivors act. The plot, on the other hand, reminds you of BSG because of the mission. In BSG, the team is looking for the mythical place called “Earth”, and this particular story is “dry land” – both things that exist in our world, but both things that could technically not exist in their specific world. I liked that though – those are storylines that I can get behind and cheer about.

I’m honestly a bit surprised at the fact that this movie never got a sequel or reboot. I guess that was less important back in 1995, but I can still see them rebooting this series and taking advantage of things like the practical effects used in the film – and just the whole concept of a watery planet – and the things you’d have to do in order to survive. They delved a little into that, but you just know there’s a lot more to it, there’s a lot more they can do with it than they did. I’m not complaining, I’m just open to seeing more.

Now, because this was mid-nineties, we have some very basic issues regarding villains. They were corny, no, they were cartoony. There was a few moments where the main villain, played by Dennis Hopper, said lines that could be compared to Claw in Inspector Gadget – “I’ll get you next time, Gadget!”or maybe, “Noooooooooo!” – it was okay, just a bit overdone and not as believable. I’d rather have something a little deeper and darker – this is a post-apocalyptic world…it’s impossible to imagine a world where this is possible – let’s make it even worse by creating an evil, insane villain! It’s not a huge problem, just something I thought was a little tacky.

The Good:

The movie was a lot better than I previously thought it would be. It’s a post-apocalyptic film made in 1995 set in the future that doesn’t involve tin-foil suits or flying cars – but instead something primitive – like it probably would be if the world was forced to survive in a quick apocolypse.

The Bad:

What can I say? It’s a little aged, but only a little. The only thing that really feels aged about it is how it’s a bit corny in how the actors react to a few scenes. Other than that, it’s not bad.

Big Game (2015)

Big Game

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Finnish the movie!

We’ve all probably seen Finnish movies here and there, but I don’t think we really see them as Finnish movies, instead we just try to see them as movies. Period. It gets a little more complicated when the spoken language is something other than English, but when you have something like Big Game, where half the film is clearly American, it doesn’t make that big of an impression as a Finnish one – that being said, this is the most expensive Finnish film ever made, and for the most part, I think it’s really well done and fun. Plus, where can you go wrong with Samuel L. Jackson? You can have the corniest movie in the world, or the most epic – but his participation in the thing is always welcome – in my opinion, that is.

Big Game stars Samuel L. Jackson as the President of the United States by the side of Oskari, a Finnish boy in the middle of a coming-of-age tradition. He must go into the wilderness alone to kill something to prove he is a man, just like everyone in his family has done before him. When the President’s plane is shot down, the President teams up with the young boy as his own security force is out to kill him for some unknown reason.

There is a lot of themes that are going on at one time in this film. First of all, it’s a fish out of water flick. The President is lost in the wilderness without the aid of anyone but a small child. Secondly, it’s a coming-of-age flick with the young boy. Thirdly, it’s an adventure flick. Fourthly, it’s a man-against-man as well as man-against-nature film. Finally, what you’ll mostly notice is the surprisingly well-done mix between the American side of things, and Finnish – both readily apparent – and both perfectly balanced in sweet harmony. It’s a weird combination, but personally…I like it, because even though you have so many different themes, they are all interchangeable – and the plot never strays away from what it was going for from the very beginning – not for the President, and not for the kid.

I will say…I’m not so sure about Samuel L. Jackson in this one. It’s not necessarily that he did a bad job, but we have seen similar acting from him, and similar roles from him. It wasn’t anything new or impressive…and to be honest, it was quite predictable if I’m absolutely honest. His performance, that is. I read that the director originally wanted Mel Gibson in the role, my only guess as to why that didn’t happen is because of all the negative gossip surrounding Gibson’s life. However, I do actually believe Mel Gibson would have portrayed a better, and more memorable president. In fact, I think it would be more comparable to maybe Harrison Ford in Air Force One. Had he taken the role, I think Iwould have rated this just a little higher, if not a lot.

I wasn’t so sure about this movie before I saw it. The poster looks like the movie is more joking than it is serious, like it was a sequel to Snakes on a Plane or something, but after watching, you’re impressed with how good it actually is. Don’t watch the trailer though – it does happen to show a little more than it should.

Here’s an interesting fact for you – you watch this film expecting to watch it solely for Samuel L. Jackson, but you end up watching it for the kid. Sure, he has his issues with acting now and then, but for the most part, you love the character. He’s just so different and unique, it’s hard  not to love. Especially because he has a personality that anyone in the world, not just Finland, can relate to – like the disappointment in his father’s eyes – being alone when no one else believes in you. It’s quite impressive, and shines louder than Samuel L. Jackson’s performance. In the end, Jackson was just…there.

The Good:

The movie. No kidding, the movie is surprisingly well done for a Finnish film, and the adventure/man v. man/man v. self/man v. nature, and all of the coming-of-age stuff was all stitched together amazingly. You’ll be as impressed as I was after you watch it.

The Bad:

I mean, Samuel L. Jackson wasn’t exactly bad, per se, but he was probably the corniest and most overdone part of the whole thing.

Ant Man (2015)

Ant man

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Baskin Robbins Approves.

Now, I’m a guy that appreciates a good superhero flick. Especially if it’s Marvel, and undoubtedly if it’s an addition to the MCU. When I first heard of Ant Man, I was pretty worried…it wasn’t ever a movie I truly cared to watch, but I knew I had to watch it because I’m just…devoted to the MCU. Now that I’ve seen it, I can see that for the most part, I was right in predicting how the movie itself was going to feel, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – just different. After all, when the MCU was just starting out in 2008, I felt the same uncertainty when faced with Iron Man, yet another hero I wasn’t completely knowledgeable on. So in that light? How was Ant Man?  It was “okay”.

Ant Man stars Paul Rudd as Scott, a burgler by trade, but currently trying to clean his life up for his daugher – who already sees him as her own personal hero. Meanwhile, Hank Pym is trying to recruit him to be the Ant Man, a hero that wears a powerful suit that shrinks the wearer into the size of an insect – while still maintaining their human strength. The reason Hank needs him to become the Ant Man is because an old assistant of his has recreated the technology – which would be destructive in the wrong hands. Scott needs to become the Ant Man to recover the technology and save our world.

So, the first interesting element comes from my only understanding about the character – that Ant Man is Hank Pym. That’s the only thing I really knew about the character, so I was surprised to see this Scott guy take the role on. But here’s the thing, the rest didn’t surprise me. Not in the slightest. You can blame the trailers (I only ever saw one trailer) or you can do what I do – blame the early 2000s. This movie feels like a movie released in the eary 2000s – you know? Corny because it’s trying a little too hard to be serious when it’s clearly a silly concept? The whole thing feels quite silly, but doesn’t present itself that way. Guess what else happens? It become predictable – movies in the early 2000s that felt like this were always predictable. Fun, but predictable, and the same applies here.

I have to say – I am a little disappointed. This doesn’t feel like a movie that belongs in the MCU, honestly. Apart from a few familiar faces, this felt like a Marvel movie from that other movie company. I could definitely see Ant Man helping out the Fantastic Four or Deadpool, for example…not so much the Avengers. The Avengers are serious, but also funny – which is why I understand where this movie is coming from – but I think, in a way, it was trying way too hard to fit into that universe when it probably would have fit a little better as more of a comedy.

It was a bit of a gamble, that I understand. I wasn’t so sure of Iron Man or Guardians of the Galaxy at first either, but as it is – those are among the highest rated movies I have in the MCU – so as a blind member of the audience, I was prepared for anything – I just wished it fell more in line with the afore-mentioned films than what it did. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s fine, it’s decent, just not incredible. It’s a good time at the movies, it’s not boring, so don’t think that’s what I mean or anything. It’s just a little silly – and should have embraced the sillyness.

The Good:

Ant Man isn’t a bad flick, it’s decent and has some fun action sequences – and I do believe Paul Rudd fit into the character a lot better than I ever thought he would. Same goes for Michael Douglas. They were all pretty good.

The Bad:

It was just so silly. It was silly and because they didn’t embrace it like they should’ve – it turned pretty corny, and comparable to movies released in the early 2000s. Those movies were fine when released – this feels…dated somehow. My main complaint, however, is just the fact that they didn’t embrace their biggest characteristic.

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

Pitch perfect

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
A little pitchy.

Pitch Perfect, man, I was a fan. Now there was a musical-type film that not only I could enjoy, but so could a larger percentage of people all around. Men and women alike can appreciate what this franchise has going for it. It’s funny, bold, and is really easy to fall in love with regardless on if you actually like musicals or not. Plus, if you really paid attention, right after the release of the first film – all of those songs you liked hearing from the cast…the original versions showed back up on the radio again after who knows how long. Coincidence? I think not. I’ve been waiting anxiously for the second movie, and here it is, Pitch Perfect 2.

The second film in the franchise focuses once more on the Borden Bellas. They are still singing and striving to make it out on top – that is until one of their members accidentally bares all while the president was watching – which kicked them out of the competition. To get back, they have to join a different, much tougher and global competition – where they come face to face with a wickedly talented erman accapella champion team. All the while Anna Kendrick’s character tries hard to fit into a new internship where she’s trying to become an actual musical producer…but does she have the chops to do it…or is the only thing she can do mashups?

So, I guess the real question is – how does this one compare to the other? That’s not always an easy question. In some ways, it feels absolutely perfect, and in others…it fails in comparison. I think in general, the comedy felt a little stiffer in this film than the others to pave way for more songs and deeper storylines. It still had the same type of humor as well as your favorite comedic characters, but something about the whole thing felt off and dull, unfortunately. If you watched the first movie completely for the nonstop comedy – you are definitely not going to find that in the second, though there is still a good amount of humor in it. If you like the first film for maybe the dramatic elements/romance/or music – there may still be some hope for you yet.

It’s true, this film focused a lot more on the dramatic and musical side of things. You obviously like the renditions made in the first, so there is a lot more the second time around. If I had to guess, there’s probably about twice the music here. Before you ask, yes – the music is very well done. The real question is if you like the first movie’s selection in music or the second. I personally prefer the first, but again – it’s just a preference thing. I personally just like how the selection in the first movie felt like they escalated with the tone and feel of the film – I didn’t get that here. Also, for the dramatic side of things…it’s very similar to the first in terms of Anna Kendrick trying to do her thing, but being weird because of it. Only this time she’s older, so her choices are more…responsible. I have no problems about that.

Here’s where I really get a little iffy. A lot of the side characters in the first movie get their own side-stories, as well as an introduction to a new girl, Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), who is more or less the Anna Kendrick for this movie – girl with big dreams, likes to sing, blah blah blah. The side-characters from the first getting their own stories…that’s okay…not necessary but okay – Emily’s character? I did not like. She wasn’t a horrible character, exactly, but she was unbelievably dull. She made no impression on me whatsoever. In no way, shape, or form did I ever find her unique or special. In my opinion, she was just…there…in the background – which is really bad, considering the role she held was kind of important!

The Good:
I think Pitch Perfect 2 is a fine film that fits well within the universe the first film set out. It’s still really funny, has great songs and singing talent, and a deep enough story to make you care about the characters.

The Bad:
I see the second film as a fun movie to watch, but not something you’ll really remember in the long run. It’s funny, but the first wasn’t just funny – it was hysterical. It barely even let you settle down before making you laugh harder the next time. This movie, the newer characters that have been added aren’t that great, espeically Emily who kind of dulls everything down all around.

Mission: Impossible (1996)

Mission-Impossible

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Aged, but classic.

My how you’ve aged, Mission: Impossible. I know it’s been a while since I’ve actually seen the first film in the franchise, but there is a huge difference between the first and second, even though the gap was only four short years. This movie feels more classic and in tune with how a spy movie should look and feel – sort of like a few 007 movies out there…only more grounded and down to earth. Even though it is very different than the others…it’s somehow a very welcome different. This is where it all started…at least the movie versions – and it probably has something to do with the start of Tom Cruise’s history as an action star – so let’s get to it.

The first film in the franchise is about Ethan Hunt, an agent of the IMF that isn’t quite leader status yet. No, he’s just a member on a team about to embark on an impossible mission of sorts. You see, there is a hidden file in the CIA’s database that lists off agent’s secret identities, which would be a massive threat if unleashed – and someone has their hands on it. Ethan and the rest of the team must get that person behind bars, which proves impossible when the entire team, other than Ethan, is killed off and Ethan is labeled a mole. He must work against the IMF to discover who the true mole is and end this charade once and for all!

Here’s a spy movie for you. It’s got all of the essential spy requirements and then some…but it has aged quite a bit. There’s no missing the age of the movie, guys. As soon as it starts, Tom Cruise looks young (which is surprising), the entire look and feel seems more like a film set in the ‘80s than anything else. They had computers, but the graphics were silly and the models of the actual things were a joke. It tried to be really fancy with those video watches and that bullet-train sequence, but for the most part…it felt a lot different than any of the other films in the franchise.

One of the main differences of this particular film is the amazing lack of action. This is more like a slower-paced spy mystery. There is action, don’t get me wrong, but for the most part, it was far more focused on figuring out the impossible mystery…something closer to Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher. That means more smart writing and a concept you can’t ignore. It’s a good movie. As a kid, I never could understand anything that was happening in the movie, so it was always my least favorite. As an adult, I can fully appreciate the story. At the same time, I’m torn because I do want action in the Mission: Impossible movies.

I still believe the fourth movie is the best in the franchise, but I have yet to see the most recent, fifth installment of the series. The reason why I like the fourth is because – as an all-around balanced spy flick, it had absolutely everything you could ever want. While I don’t really see the first movie so much as a Mission: Impossible movie, I do see it as an amazing and absolutely well-written spy movie in general.

The Good:

The entire series is amazing, and out of the entire thing, I really do believe you need to see every last one, even though they’re basically standalone – simply because every single one has some truly amazing sequences and stories. The first one, in particular, is the best written movie. It takes its sweet time engaging the audience.

The Bad:

The movie has just aged so much. Especially looking at the difference four years brings between the first and second film, my god. Aging is a huge factor for spy movies, because they need to have the coolest gear – and if they have gear that looks like it does in this movie, well…it’s not really that impressive now, is it?

Mission: Impossible II (2000)

Mission-Impossible-2

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Your mission: Matchmaker

When it comes to the Mission: Impossible franchise, the third movie and after, even though I love them, doesn’t quite feel like the Mission: Impossible I grew up with. The first film came out in 1996 and the second was released in 2000, which as you probably know – have similar filming styles back then. That filming style is a little corny, but feels just…right. Not too flashy, not too aged. Those first two will remain in my memory for a long time – and memorability is a factor in how I review. When I think of Mission: Impossible, I mostly think of Mission: Impossible II, which came out when I was 12 – the start of when I wanted to be a spy. That’s right, this movie is super nostalgic for me, but how is it for the rest of you?

Mission: Impossible II centers around a genetically modified virus called Chimera that basically gives you a day before it affects you and cannot be reversed. This thing, if unleashed on humanity – would be bad. When Ethan learns that another IMF agent stole the virus to sell on the black market, he enlists the help of a common citizen, the other IMF agent’s ex-girlfriend – to go undercover and retrieve the virus back.

So there are good things and bad things.  The main bad thing I saw with this movie was how much focus Tom Cruise wasn’t given. It was more a movie centered on Thandie Newton’s character than anything else, but that’s not bad and I’ll tell you why. It’s not bad because it’s still clearly a spy movie. Mission: Impossible III had a romantic element as well, but it could have gotten away with claiming it wasn’t at the same time. It was way too emotionally-driven, while this one was emotionally driven as well – it had enough really cool spy stuff at the same time.

I guess another negative aspect to this film was in way too many uses of the spy mask. Too many uses of a spy mask like that is unnecessary and makes you wonder why they don’t just wear one at all times if it makes things that much simpler? At some point in this film, you’re bound to ask when enough is enough, because it becomes a bit of a gag – something a parody film could have made fun of. It’s a cool concept, even cooler in the third, but keep it simple, stupid. For the most part, that’s just a pet peeve of mine.

The rest of the movie I like. I like the virus plot, the chemistry between Thandie and Tom, the fight choreography, the motorcycle chases, and most importantly, the “impossible mission”. This is the bare minimum requirement in a Mission: Impossible film for obvious reasons, and something the third lacked. The impossible mission wasn’t so much Ethan’s, but Thandie Newton’s character’s mission. She’s a civilian that has to act normal in arms reach of an old IMF agent who has possession of a destructive virus…and there’s not a lot Ethan can do to help. You just know something bad is about to happen – and that’s how you know this is an impossible mission.

The Good:

This is a spy movie at heart, and a good one at that. It has just enough spy action and character development to feel just right. The mission itself does indeed feel impossible, which is a big positive. Plus, that soundtrack is probably my favorite out of the series.

The Bad:

I wish the film centered a little more on Ethan’s character than it did, and I wish they didn’t rely so much on the spy mask – because it quickly started to feel like a cop-out, but other than that, I am satisfied with this flick.

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Mission-Impossible-3

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Mission: Impossible Difficult.

I don’t know why I do this sometimes, but I watch series in reverse now and then. I did it once before with the Harry Potter series, and now I’m doing it with Mission: Impossible. It’s okay though…I’ve seen them all before. Mission: Impossible 3 was an interesting film when it came out because it had been a few years since the second installment, and it was more or less starting a new, revamped version of the series starring the same cast. Specifically speaking, this was picked up by the increasingly impressive director – J.J. Abrams. Here’s the thing about Abrams – before this movie, we hadn’t seen a lot of films from him, period…just TV shows, so this was his first real impossible mission – to make a movie. After watching this one, you’ll notice incredible inspiration from one of his most popular TV shows – Alias. This movie is basically just another episode of that…but is that a good thing…or bad thing?

Mission: Impossible 3 is more or less about Ethan’s life outside of the agency and his brooding romance with his current girlfriend, soon-to-be wife. When a black market dealer goes around blowing people’s heads off, Ethan is pulled once more into the action – but the very fact that he has a relationship outside of the agency makes his life even that more difficult…or impossible – when her life is threatened.

Okay, so this movie is much more…romantically geared than any of the others. It’s mostly about Ethan’s vulnerability as a human male in love with a woman – which is something we’ve seen too many times before. Beyond that, the mission itself wasn’t impossible…just difficult…as I’ve mentioned above. There are definitely some interesting aspects, and the individual missions kept within the bigger picture are certainly unique…but that’s mostly as far as it gets. That being said, those unique and interesting elements are super smart. The entire explanation of the ridiculous masks and voice changers finally made perfect sense that was at least founded a little in realistic science. That’s how you make text-to-speech. Who’s to say a little futuristic spy gear couldn’t make it sound like the real deal?

Back to J.J. Abrams, this movie fit into his whole concept of Alias. It really did, but not so much what you have come to expect from Mission: Impossible. This film was full of little sections, or as I now like to call them – episodes. All of these episodes put together makes a season. Really though, there were scenes in this movie that borrowed directly from that TV show. The composer? Same guy. Beyond that, I personally don’t think it feels like a M:I movie. That doesn’t mean it’s bad…it’s still really good and very entertaining.

I think in the end, the only real requisite one of these movies needs is to have a mission that seems impossible for probably multiple reasons. The mission(s) in this film…it was simply okay and way too focused on emotional things rather than spy..y stuff. The Ghost Protocol sequel to this film was pretty much perfect, while this one was more or less the training-wheels version. All you really watch it for, though, is Tom Cruise and for a series that you thought was over…it was awesome to see him in the role again, revitalizing something you thought was dead and over.

The Good:

From purely a nostalgic stance, this movie is pretty awesome. J.J. Abrams stepping in to give it a whirl gave new direction to the series, which was more or less a welcome one, since Abrams is known for taking a pre-existing concept and expanding on it in really imaginative ways – and the same applies here.

The Bad:

Okay, so a couple of things I need to point out – it felt way too much like a collection of episodes straight from J.J. Abrams TV Show – Alias. Both are about spies, but one is focused more on relationships and emotions than the other – which Mission: Impossible 3 got a little more caught up on than it probably should. That made the movie feel less impossible and more like a “love complicates thing” movie. Just my thought – still a good movie in general.

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