2018 Summer Movie Review: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

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Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) hangs on the edge in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. (Source: The Hollywood Reporter)

The popular Mission: Impossible series, based on the television show that aired from 1968 to 1973, has come a long way since the 1996 original. Audiences weren’t expecting a spy thriller that required them to pay close attention. Tom Cruise makes a perfect protagonist in Ethan Hunt, who would eventually go to new heights. Due to the film’s success, five sequels were made; using a different director in each of them to generate a different style.

Mission: Impossible II is a typical popcorn flick from director John Woo. It is ridiculously stupid, but it still kicks ass. To be fair, Cruise’s hair is easily the best character in the entire movie. Mission: Impossible III goes back to serious mode. And it marks J.J. Abrams first feature-length film. The handheld camerawork and the constant close-ups definitely show it’s an Abrams feat. However, the series has improved with both Ghost Protocol and Rogue Nation, with clever writing, brilliant sets (Hunt scaling the Burj Khalifa probably being the most memorable in the series), and awesome characters. Not to mention the technology evolving and becoming more advanced. Christopher McQuarrie has taken over for Brad Bird as the director of the most recent two entries. With Fallout, he returns to bring another terrific thrill-ride (with a brain) to the silver screen.

After a failed mission, Ethan Hunt (Cruise), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), and Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) race against the clock to disengage three nuclear bombs containing plutonium, used by a terrorist group known as The Apostles–the predecessor to The Syndicate, led by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris). Along with CIA agent August Walker (a mustachioed Henry Cavill), the IMF must prevent mass destruction, or else they will be disavowed.

The cast brings great work into their performances. From the comic relief of Pegg’s Benji to the suave nature of Rhames’ Luther to the fierce energy of Ferguson’s Ilsa and Cavill’s Walker to the slyness of Alec Baldwin’s Alan Hunley, Tom Cruise’s Hunt will always be the heart and soul of the franchise.

Cruise never ceases to amaze me; not only with his acting abilities (particularly Hunt’s spy knowledge), but he risks his entire life to perform his own death-defying stunts. On the verge of 60, he’s still in incredible shape. Whether it would be running and jumping off rooftops, doing a HALO jump–in one long take!–during a lightning storm (rendered through CGI, of course), riding a motorcycle through the streets of Paris, or chasing the villain through the mountains of Kashmir in a helicopter, he can do it all!

Speaking of action sequences, the helicopter chase is the best you will see all summer. With McQuarrie’s clever use of camera angles, fast-paced editing, gorgeous setting (kudos to Rob Hardy’s cinematography), and Lorne Balfe’s thrilling score, it makes for one white-knuckling moment that I will never forget. This movie also contains the most brutal bathroom fight, some of the most intense chases, and so much twists and turns.

Fallout is everything a Mission: Impossible movie should be: edge-of-your-seat suspense, a sense of humor, and thoughtful storytelling. Not only is it the best in the series since Ghost Protocol, it’s easily the best blockbuster of the summer. Fingers crossed for more M:I films.

4/4

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Movie Review: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

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Two superheroes are about to clash in Zack Snyder’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Sadly, the red capes have come to the silver screen.

With years of anticipation, we finally get a movie featuring two of DC’s most iconic superheroes—Batman and Superman—going at it. It does sound like a fun time, right? Not exactly.

Ever since Ben Affleck was announced, he didn’t seem to be the right actor to play the caped crusader. Zack Snyder returns to the director’s chair after giving his own darker take on Superman in Man of Steel (although flawed there is still some mild enjoyment to be found), and Henry Cavill gives a fine portrayal as the title character. I figured Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice might make up for the problems Man of Steel had; making Superman a controversial figure after destroying mankind as opposed to saving it. With a promising beginning, the movie quickly falls apart.

Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is now working at the Daily Planet. The controversy surrounding Superman gets everybody’s attention including Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), whose parents got fatally shot when he was a child. Now, he lives with his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons). As Batman, he fights crime in Gotham City (with a darker side of his own). As his rivalry with Clark begins, they encounter the LexCorp CEO Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), whose diabolical plan known as Doomsday (who looks like a decomposed version of the Hulk) will bring chaos to Metropolis. Along with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), they team up to save the world.

With his unique visual style, Snyder cannot direct a compelling story. It’s a shame given that I have been a huge fan of Batman and Superman for a long time. There is so much potential being put in the two-and-a-half hour running time. As a result, the movie goes all over the place!

When I saw the movie late Saturday night with a decent-sized crowd, I had a lot—I mean, A LOT—of thoughts going on. It keeps raising questions without any answers. There are scenes that are there for the sake of keeping the movie going (e.g. Superman saving the day in Mexico during a Day of the Dead parade). Even though Affleck (who gives a surprisingly emotional portrayal of Batman/Bruce Wayne) and Gadot exceeded my expectations, they, along with everyone else, are written as thin as a piece of paper. Hell, Batman murders people without any given reason whatsoever. Amy Adams’ Lois Lane is a bore, and Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is laughably psychotic—how could he ruin such a great comic book villain? Even though how deadly serious the movie’s tone is, he provides moments of unintentional hilarity especially when he comes face-to-face with the judge (Holly Hunter) prior to Superman’s court appearance.

The faulty exposition leads up to yet another boring CGI-fueled, PG-13 fight sequence consisting of the two heroes throwing fists and crashing through walls. The audiences cares less on who will win. Snyder has created yet another convoluted mess, and it reminds me that I’m glad Affleck is going to direct and star in his upcoming Batman trilogy.

1/4

2015 Summer Movie Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are forced to team up alongside Gabrielle Teller (Alicia Vikander) in Guy Ritchie's adaptation of the 1960s TV show "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."

Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are forced to team up alongside Gabrielle Teller (Alicia Vikander) in Guy Ritchie’s adaptation of the TV show “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

This is the closest we’ll get to see Henry Cavill as James Bond.

After a handful of crappy movies coming out over the past few weeks, it’s nice to see something that is actually worth your time (even though The Gift was amazing). The Man from U.N.C.L.E., based on the television show from the 1960s, is one of those movies. Not to mention being a throwback to the 1960s spy flicks. Is it original? No; everyone is familiar with the story.

The Cold War is in full swing. A suave CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and a menacing KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are forced to work together after a clever action sequence. As the two agents of U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement), they embark on a mission to stop an organization, led by the deliciously evil Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki, The Great Gatsby) from using nuclear weapons. The key to infiltrate the organization is Gabrielle Teller (Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina), the daughter of a deceased German scientist.

Guy Ritchie’s (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes) sleek visual style overshadows the genuinely inconsistent tone. The fast-paced action, the chemistry between between Cavill and Hammer, and the witty dialogue are pure fun. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is matinee entertainment at its finest. It’s great to see Hugh Grant again.

3/4

Star Wars VII & Batman vs. Superman Trailers

There have been a lot of trailers for some good-looking movies so far. Two of them have released this week, which had many people buzzing about. They are Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

These are some of the most highly anticipated movies of the rest of the decade. Who knows how long I have been waiting for another Star Wars trilogy!? I was hooked from the very first image of the new teaser. These movies are a kid’s dream come true – with the exception of the prequels that came out more than a decade ago. Stormtroopers. New heroes. Some exhilarating action. Han Solo and Chewbacca coming back home. What more do you need from this trailer? I hope J.J. Abrams doesn’t mess this up.

A lot of people were mixed about Man of Steel. Zach Snyder has a unique visual style even though all of his movies aren’t that great (300 and Sucker Punch being two examples). I personally thought he, along with producer Christopher Nolan, did a good job bringing Superman (well-played by Henry Cavill) back to life on the silver screen. However, it was definitely overhyped.

When I first heard about Batman vs. Superman, I thought this would turn out to be an epic battle. But when I heard about Ben Affleck playing Batman, I had a bad feeling this would turn out to be garbage. He has surprised me with every movie he has starred in lately. Argo, The Town and Gone Girl are some of my personal favorite movies of this decade. Based on the trailer, which came out a few hours ago, Affleck looks pretty badass, but I’m still not buying it. Let’s wait and see what the final product would look like.

What do you think of the trailers?