Movie Review: Spectre

James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) go on a mission to find out the origins of the evil organization in

James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) go on a mission to find out the origins of the evil organization in “Spectre”

Spectre is the 24th entry in the long-running 007 franchise, which started in 1962 and made Sean Connery get his biggest break of his acting career. Five other actors decide to step in with their gadgets and tuxedos and save the day with style. Daniel Craig was first introduced in 2006 with Casino Royale. He became the new sex symbol. With his tough physique and quick wit, he has hit it out of the park as Bond. The movie, under the direction of Martin Campbell, had brisk-paced action (which the series is known for), a menacing villain, a nail-biting game of poker, and featuring one of the most intense torture scenes ever. Following Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace didn’t quite live up to what its predecessor succeeded. The choppy editing and the minimal charm it had made it such a disappointment. With Skyfall, however, it was such a breath of fresh air to have nonstop thrills and Bond showing up face-to-face with one of the most menacing villains in the franchise, brilliantly played by Javier Bardem. Sam Mendes made one gorgeous entry.

Craig recently said Spectre will be his last outing as everyone’s favorite agent. But the franchise will never die.

The movie opens up in Mexico City. The Day of the Dead parade is in full motion. James Bond (Daniel Craig), wearing a skull mask, is on a mission to assassinate two men planning to blow up a stadium. He fights one of the men in a helicopter hovering in the middle of the parade (action at its finest). He suddenly sees a ring with an octopus symbol on it. Suffering from a midlife crisis, he returns to the MI6 in London. The new M (Ralph Fiennes) is facing a new enemy, Max Deinbigh–which Bond refers to as “C” (Andrew Scott), decides to reshape the organization.

Bond goes to Rome to meet Lucia (Monica Bellucci, who looks amazing at 51). She states her husband was part of an evil organization. This leads him to go to Austria to meet Madeleine Swann (the lovely Léa Seydoux), a French doctor working in a private medical clinic in the Alps. They have a relationship together, and comes to the conclusion that the symbol resembles SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion). They embark on a mission to trace the origins of the organization which connects to Bond’s past and eventually encounter the mysterious Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz).

Mendes brings the beauty and thrills that made Skyfall such a massive hit. He also brings the traditional 007 roots back. For instance, the gun barrel sequence starting the movie off with a bang (pun intended) and Bond preferring to have a vodka martini (shaken, not stirred). There is one scene involving a fight between Bond and Oberhauser’s mute henchman Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista, Guardians of the Galaxy) reminiscent to From Russia with Love. The Aston Martin makes its way back to the franchise with its high-tech gadgetry (i.e. seat ejector, machine guns) set up by no other than quartermaster Q (Ben Whishaw). Waltz’ Oberhauser has subtle menace that makes him a mystery. Without spoiling too much, those who are familiar with the Connery era, there would be little surprises once the movie begins wraps up.

2015 has been a year for strong, independent women. Seydoux gives a fresh take on the Bond girl. Compared to Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, Swann is more of a real person. She’s more than a pretty face. She’s strong, independent and smart who prefers not to live in a world of espionage. If this is Craig’s last film, he gives a one hell of a send-off. If Tom Hardy doesn’t take his place, I don’t know who will.

3.5/4

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Top 20 Most Anticipated Movies of the Fall of 2015

2015 has been a pretty damn good year for film. There were as much surprises and disappointments as last year. This fall seems to have a lot of supposedly great films that have yet to come out. There’s a highly anticipated sequel that might top Avatar and Jurassic World as the highest-grossing film of all-time, another film from the brilliant minds of PIXAR, plenty of historical pieces, a biopic about one of the most influential people who changed technology for the better, and a handful of riveting dramas. I made a top twenty list of my most anticipated movies of this Oscar movie season.

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order): About Ray (September 18), Burnt (October 23), Concussion (December 25), Everest (September 18) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (November 20), In the Heart of the Sea (December 11), Pan (October 9), The Peanuts Movie (November 6), Sicario (September 18), Snowden (December 25)

20. The Visit20. The Visit (in theaters September 11; directed by M. Night Shyamalan; starring Ed Oxenbould, Olivia DeJonge, Kathryn Hahn, and Peter McRobbie) – Ever since getting unanimous success with The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, it looked like M. Night Shyamalan had a long career ahead of him. Not to mention being known as “The Next Steven Spielberg”. After the critical failure – but financial success – of The Village, his career slowly went downhill. His last five films have made him one of the most hated people in Hollywood (Lady in the Water will always be a guilty pleasure of mine). Why am I looking forward to his latest film, The Visit? I want to see him redeem himself after his previous disasters (After Earth, in particular). The film is marketed as a low-budget comedic horror film. There is a sense it might be awful, but I have faith it might turn out to be an eerie midnight movie. Fingers crossed.

19. Sisters19. Sisters (in theaters December 18; directed by Jason Moore; starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Brolin, and John Cena) – Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are two of the funniest actresses working today. This movie seems to be no exception. Their chemistry together is the main focus. Being from the director of Pitch Perfect, this might be the funniest film of the year. The trailer had me laughing out loud quite a bit.

18. Suffragette18. Suffragette (in theaters October 23; directed by Sarah Gavron; starring Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw, and Brendan Gleeson) – 2015 has been a year featuring strong, independent female protagonists. From Cinderella to Mad Max: Fury Road to Far from the Madding Crowd. Suffragette looks like the most feminist movie of all. It takes place during the British suffrage movement of the 20th century where women are forced to work underground. We follow three women fighting for women’s rights. It’s no surprise that the Academy loves Meryl Streep. This seems to be her most challenging role to date. Starring alongside Carey Mulligan (fabulous in Far from the Madding Crowd) and Helena Bonham Carter, this movie screams “Oscar bait!”

17. Creed17. Creed (in theaters November 25; directed by Ryan Coogler; starring Michael B. Jordan, Graham McTavish, Phylicia Rashad, Mark Rhino Smith, and Sylvester Stallone) – Rocky is one of the best movies of all-time. It’s a film about rivalry, fighting for one’s life, and going the distance. Creed, the spin-off from the director of Fruitvale Station, brings us back to the streets of Philadelphia. Michael B. Jordan plays Adonis Johnson Creed, who wants to follow his father’s (Apollo Creed) footsteps to become a boxer. When Sylvester Stallone returns to reprise his role of Rocky Balboa, it’s hard not to get pumped up.

16. The Martian16. The Martian (in theaters October 2; directed by Ridley Scott; starring Matt Damon, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, and Jessica Chastain) – Ridley Scott’s career has been in the gutter ever since Robin Hood. Despite his controversial Alien prequel Prometheus, he hasn’t been making a fantastic movie in years. The Martian has a possibility to redeem him from blandness. With Matt Damon leading an all-star cast, this looks like one hell of a funny and suspenseful film about one man’s struggle to survive.

15. Carol15. Carol (in theaters November 20; directed by Todd Haynes; starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sara Paulson, Jake Lacy, and Kyle Chandler) – A lesbian love story that looks engaging. Cate Blanchett plays the title character where she meets a department store clerk who is attracted to her. Everything about this movie looks perfect. From the casting to the story. Todd Haynes brings the 1950s to life. I’m glad to see Kyle Chandler taking a break from playing a government official.

14. Steve Jobs14. Steve Jobs (in theaters October 9; directed by Danny Boyle; starring Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogen, Kate Winslet, John Ortiz, and Jeff Daniels) – Another biopic of the CEO of Apple. This follows Steve Jobs and the events surrounding his launches of products including the iMac. However, his involvement with Apple begins to affect his family life. I have not seen the film with Ashton Kutcher. But I can say that this version looks a million times better. With Danny Boyle behind the camera and Aaron Sorkin writing the screenplay, I sense that this is going to be one emotionally tense flick. Michael Fassbender looks like he’s going to hit it out of the park as Jobs.

13. Brooklyn13. Brooklyn (in theaters November 6; directed by John Crowley; starring Saoirse Ronan, Domnhall Gleeson, Michael Zegen, Emily Bett Rickards, and Julie Walters) – Another movie that brings the 1950s to life. Brooklyn is the love story following a young Irish immigrant woman moving to Brooklyn. She falls in love with a young Italian man, but she quickly starts getting homesick. She must choose between the U.S. and Ireland. Unlike most romances nowadays, this looks charming without being too sappy. The cinematography looks gorgeous. Saoirse Ronan is a delight!

12. Legend12. Legend (in theaters October 2; directed Brian Helegland; starring Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton, Paul Bettany, and Chazz Palminteri) – Tom Hardy has had one hell of a decade. He was a member of a heist team where they can infiltrate people’s dream, a MMA fighter, Bane, an outlaw during the Prohibition era, and Mad Max. Now, in Legend, he plays twins Ron and Reggie Kray, who were part of the mafia in London during the 1960s where it’s becoming “Las Vegas of Europe”. From the director of A Knight’s Tale and 42, this does look like your typical Hollywood picture. But this looks like a lot of fun.

11. The Walk11. The Walk (in theaters September 30; directed by Robert Zemeckis; starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Ben Schwartz, James Badge Dale, and Charlotte Le Bon) – I’m glad Robert Zemeckis went back to live-action following the box-office bomb of the animated film Mars Needs Moms. Flight is one of the best movies so far this decade featuring one of Denzel Washington’s best performance of his career. The Walk follows the unbelievable story of Phillippe Petit’s involvement of doing the impossible: walking on high wire between the Twin Towers. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is becoming one of the greatest actors working today. I do have a feeling his French accent is a little bit cartoonish. But I think he would pull it off well.

10. The Good Dinosaur10. The Good Dinosaur (in theaters November 25; directed by Peter Sohn; starring Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright, Anna Paquin, Steve Zahn, and Sam Elliott) – 2015 is the first year in which PIXAR releases two movies in the same year. Inside Out is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. The Good Dinosaur might continue its streak becoming one of PIXAR’s best. The animation is some of the most breathtaking that PIXAR has done. Following the footsteps of the first half of Wall-E, this movie seems to feature minimal dialogue.

9. Crimson Peak9. Crimson Peak (in theaters October 16; directed by Guillermo del Toro; starring Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Doug Jones, and Charlie Hunnam) – Today, it’s rare that a horror film focuses more on the atmosphere instead of cheap jump scares. In Guillermo del Toro’s vision, it’s more than that. It’s a Gothic love story. Stephen King called it “Gorgeous and just fucking terrifying”. I cannot agree with him more on what the movie is going to look like.

8. Black Mass8. Black Mass (in theaters September 18; directed by Scott Cooper; starring Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, and Kevin Bacon) – Johnny Depp’s career isn’t holding up over the years. His last two movies – The Lone Ranger and Mortdecai – featured some of his worst performances. With a new Pirates of the Caribbean coming out in two years, I wouldn’t know if Depp would take on a different role. As a matter of fact, he did. In Black Mass, he plays Whitey Bulger, the most violent criminal in South Boston, who is on the FBI’s most wanted list. I have a feeling this would be Johnny Depp’s best roles in years. With a wonderful cast, very dark humor, and an engaging story, Black Mass looks like one hell of a movie.

7. Joy7. Joy (in theaters Christmas Day; directed by David O. Russell; starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Virginia Madsen, Dascha Polanco, and Bradley Cooper) – David O. Russell reunites with the trio – Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro – from Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle to star in Joy. Starring Lawrence as the title character who creates a business with the Miracle Mop. What more is need to be said other than “This looks brilliant”?

6. Bridge of Spies6. Bridge of Spies (in theaters October 16; directed by Steven Spielberg; starring Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan, Austin Stowell, Billy Magnussen, and Alan Alda) – Tom Hanks is my favorite actor, and Steven Spielberg is my favorite director. They are back to collaborate for the sixth time (if you could count Band of Brothers and The Pacific) in this Cold War thriller about an American lawyer negotiating the release of a Soviet Union pilot whose plane has been shot down. With the Joel and Ethan Coen writing the screenplay, I smell Oscar!

5. Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens5. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (in theaters December 18; directed by J.J. Abrams; starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford) – Seriously; who isn’t looking forward to seeing this? I’m ready to sit with a packed theater and have the experience of a lifetime!

4. The Hateful Eight4. The Hateful Eight (in theaters Christmas Day; directed by Quentin Tarantino; starring Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, and Channing Tatum) – Quentin Tarantino is one of the greatest filmmakers of all-time. His extended dialogue scenes, wonderful cast, wit, drama, and trademark graphic violence make him such a master. Even though if his movies are long, they fly by like a breeze. His ninth feature The Hateful Eight, and his first shot in Ultra Panavision 70 mm film, looks breathtaking and tense in every way.

3. The Danish Girl3. The Danish Girl (in theaters November 27; directed by Tom Hooper; starring Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Ben Whishaw, and Matthias Schoenaerts) – Following the news of Caitlyn Jenner, the world is not going to shy away from the LGBT community. We’re going back to see how it all began in The Danish Girl, the true story of Einar Wegener living as the first person to ever undergo a male to female sex reassignment surgery to become Lili Elbe. With Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables) behind the camera and Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne as its star, I sense this is going to be one devastatingly beautiful character study. There is a chance that Redmayne might win his second consecutive Oscar.

2. Spectre2. Spectre (in theaters November 6; directed by Sam Mendes; starring Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Léa Seydoux, Dave Bautista, and Christoph Waltz) – James Bond has been around since 1962. With him being in 24 films, played by five different actors, that’s saying a lot. Spectre is Daniel Craig’s fourth time playing agent 007, and Sam Mendes’ second film as the director. Skyfall is the most breathtaking 007 film of all, thanks to Mendes’ directing. Looks like Spectre is going to be one of the best. The movie is going to feature James Bond’s origin story, which is going to be interesting.

1. The Revenant1. The Revenant (in theaters Christmas Day; directed Alejandro González Iñárritu; starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Paul Andersen, and Domnhall Gleeson) – It’s about time Leonardo DiCaprio wins his first ever Oscar. After winning an Oscar for Birdman, The Revenant seems to be Iñárritu’s most ambitious film ever. Being in these cold conditions seems to make the movie all the more intense. This movie has had some production delays because of the conditions. The crew has been searching for snow in South America. Not only is the schedule delayed, the budget has increased from $90 million to $135 million. Let’s hope Iñárritu finishes the movie in time to come out on Christmas.

Thanks for reading what my most anticipated movies of the fall are. Please feel free to leave a comment on what you are looking forward to. Take care.

Movie Review: Mission: Impossible II

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) rides through the flames in "Mission: Impossible II"

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) rides through the flames in “Mission: Impossible II”

Take out the brains, the mystery, the wit. And add in some over-the-top fun. You get Mission: Impossible II, directed by John Woo.

We introduce Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) rock climbing in Utah. His mission is to destroy a deadly virus called “Chimera”. Meanwhile, a group of terrorists led by Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) are after the virus so they can get rich for infecting the world. He relies on his fellow hacker Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and international thief Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton) for help. Since there is a cure called “Bellerophon”, Hunt must get rid of “Chimera”. All this leads to an awesome action-packed finale. Mission: Impossible II isn’t necessarily a spy film rather than a straight-forward action flick. This is definitely a John Woo movie. We have slow-mos, doves, and handguns. This is also more of a James Bond movie. Instead of a slick, sophisticated spy, Ethan Hunt is more of a playboy. There are times where the movie becomes too silly. Nevertheless, it’s a fun movie.

3/4

My Most Anticipated Movies for 2015

Happy New Year, everybody. I hope you made your resolutions. Last year has been a strong year for movies. There were many great surprises and some great disappointments. I hope 2015 will have movies that will meet and exceed audience’s expectations like last year. With that said, here is my list of the ten most anticipated movies for this year.

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order): Child 44 (April 17), Crimson Peak (October 16), Far From the Madding Crowd (May 1), The Good Dinosaur (November 25), The Hateful Eight (December 25), In the Heart of the Sea (December 11), Inside Out (June 19), Jupiter Ascending (February 6), The Last Five Years (February 13), Pan (July 24), Paper Towns (June 5), True Story (April 10)

10. Ant-Man (in theaters July 17; directed by Peyton Reed; starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Hayley Atwell, and Corey Stoll) – Before seeing footage for this, I haven’t heard a lot about Ant-Man. Paul Rudd is one of the funniest comedians working today. It’s interesting to see him in something unlike his other work. I have a feeling this would be pretty good. The effects reminded me Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

9. The Fantastic Four (in theaters August 7; directed by Josh Trank; starring Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell) – Even though a trailer has yet to be released, it’s about time for a reboot after that awful 2005 version starring Chris Evans and Jessica Alba. Gotta love that cast.

8. The Walk (in theaters October 2; directed by Robert Zemeckis; starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon) – I’m glad Zemeckis returned to live-action in 2012 with Flight. This movie tells the true story of Philippe Petit attempting to cross the World Trade Center on a high wire. I think the movie would look quite something in 3D. With Gordon-Levitt becoming one of my favorite actors, I have high hopes for this.

7. The Untitled Cold War Film (a.k.a. St. James Place) (in theaters October 16; directed by Steven Spielberg; starring Tom Hanks) – Following  American lawyer James Donovan recruited by the CIA to help rescue a pilot from being detained in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Steven Spielberg is my favorite filmmaker, and Tom Hanks is my favorite actor. I smell Oscar bait.

6. Tomorrowland (in theaters May 22; directed by Brad Bird; starring George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, and Britt Robertson) – Given that Brad Bird directed the best film in the Mission: Impossible series – Ghost Protocol – I think the movie looks amazing. Again, the cast is great!

5. Mad Max: Fury Road (in theaters May 15; directed by George Miller; starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, and Rosie Huntington-Whitely) – I haven’t seen any of the Mad Max films. This movie looks absolutely insane and over-the-top fun. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron can do no wrong. The action looks breathtaking!

4. Jurassic World (in theaters June 12; directed by Colin Treverrow; starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Judy Greer, and Vincent D’Onofrio) – Jurassic Park is one of my all-time favorite films. It made me feel like a kid seeing something unlike anything I’ve seen before. This movie looks as tense as the first film was. I cannot wait to see Chris Pratt capture his charm and dinosaurs chasing him while riding his motorcycle.

3. Spectre (in theaters November 7; directed by Sam Mendes; starring Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Lea Seydoux, and Dave Bautista) – I love James Bond. I love the cast. I loved the last film. I CANNOT WAIT!

2. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (in theaters December 18; directed by J.J. Abrams; starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Andy Serkis, and Max von Sydow) – Why am I looking forward to this? Because It’s STAR WARS!!!!!

1. The Avengers: Age of Ultron (directed by Joss Whedon; starring Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson) – Do I need to explain?? I loved the first Avengers, and I hope this will have the humor, the phenomenal action, and the awesomeness that made the first film a hit. I want May 1st to come quicker!

I hope you enjoyed my picks. Leave comments on what movie you are looking forward to see this year. Stay tuned for my lists of the best and worst movies of 2014 in the middle of January. Take care!

Create Your Own James Bond Cast

Today, Sony has announced the title of the new James Bond movie, appropriately named Spectre. Even though we have yet to know what the movie is about, w do know that it’s going to be released on November 6 of next year, and Daniel Craig is going to reprise his role as Agent 007. Christoph Waltz will be cast as the villain, while Lucia Sciarra and Lea Seydoux will be cast as the “Bond girls”. Ralph Fiennes will be the new spy chief M, and Ben Whishaw will reprise his role as Q.

Have you ever wondered who would you like to cast as the new James Bond after Daniel Craig? Now here’s your chance! In honor of this astounding news, TIME has create a unique “app” in which you can create your own fantasy James Bond cast. You can cast five actors to play the role of 007, the Bond girl, the villain, Q, and M. Here is what I came up with:

James Bond Fantasy CastCheck it out here: http://time.com/3616630/james-bond-cast/