We Want Action: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

Mission-Impossible-Rogue-Nation-2015-Poster-HD-wallpaper

Over the years, the Mission: Impossible movies have translated into a variety of highly entertaining films from a diverse group of directors who put their own stamp on things. The first, second, third and fourth movies — directed by Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird receptively — have all offered crazy, wild and wonderful scenes that often feature Tom Cruise doing something incredibly dangerous that looks far more real than they should and Christopher McQuarrie’s Rogue Nation is no exception.

mission impossibel rogue nation posterThis one follows Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he goes rogue on a mission to shut down an international terrorist group called The Syndicate that wants to destabilize the world. This become all the more difficult when Alec Baldwin’s head of the CIA lead to the dissolution of the Impossible Mission Force. So, he recruits Benji (Simon Pegg) to come help him track down the Syndicate’s leader Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) and also find out who the mysterious Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) is really working for. Of course, Luther (Ving Rhames) and Brandt (Jeremy Renner) also get in on the fun to help save the world.

mission-impossible-rogue-nation-poster-simon-peggI won’t get into all the twists and turns because I can’t remember them all and even if I could, I wouldn’t want to ruin them, but this was a fun, super-taut thriller that kept my undivided attention for hits just over two hour run time. We caught it at the drive-in last weekend after watching Minions (you can read my review of that film over on my dad blog Pop Poppa). Even our 4 year old daughter seemed to enjoy the first part before she fell asleep.

Now that this film has racked up five films, I’ve come to really enjoy these characters and how they interact with one another. I’ve been a big fan of Rhames since I saw him in the first film and appreciate that he’s stuck around. And, how can you  not like Pegg and Renner? In a way, them all being together is kind of like the ensemble cast in the Fast & Furious movies which is a big reason they’re so popular. The downside to that is that, even though I really enjoyed Ferguson in the movie, I missed seeing Paula Patton in this movie, but maybe she’ll be back in the future!

Also like the F&F movies, these are just packed with crazy action scenes. I was glad that this one wasn’t bogged down with a love story (we’ve seen enough of that in these movies) which meant that Ethan and company could focus on the main villain. This also meant that threatening a woman wasn’t a major part of the bad guy’s plan. It’s so easy to go down that route, so I appreciated Lane’s somewhat more inspired choice in kidnapee. Also, that whole thing with the underwater lockbox was super intense and it was quickly followed up by one of the franchise’s best chase scenes so kudos all around!

McQuarrie Accepts Mission: Impossible 5 Assignment

Mission-Impossible-Ghost-ProtocolTom Cruise will be teaming up with Jack Reacher director Christopher McQuarrie once again. This time, the action star is bringing the director along into his most successful franchise, the Mission: Impossible films. McQuarrie’s name had been floating around the project for a while now, but he’s officially joined a club of directors that includes Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird.

“I am thrilled to reunite with Chris for the latest installment in the Mission series,” Cruise said via statement. “I began producing the films with the goal that a different director with his own vision would make each one. Chris is an extraordinary filmmaker who will deliver the heart-pounding action and thrills that audiences around the world have come to expect from the Mission: Impossible franchise.”

The film, which is being produced by Bad Robot, also features a script written by Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3).  The fifth film is expected to see Ghost Protocol actors Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames and Paula Patton return along with Cruise, though nothing has been announced officially. The film is expected to hit screen in 2015.

[via THR]

Halloween Scene: Piranah 3D (2010)

Well, it’s October and you know what that means: I will attempt to watch a horror movie a day in honor of my upcoming favorite holiday. With Lu being old enough to know when someone’s getting killed on screen, it might be trickier than ever, but I’ll do my best.

Back when I watched the original Piranha, I was pretty excited about checking out the 2010 3D remake in theaters. As it turned out, I didn’t make it to the theaters and only just watched it on Netflix Instant, so much of the post-converted 3D hijinks were lost on me.

Like the original, the film follows the adventures of people trying to stop an onslaught of super piranhas intent on eating a group of spring breakers. However, unlike the original film, this one seems to only exist as a parody of the earlier film and others like it. The problem here is that, I felt like the original had an earnestness to it that was both funny and bad that this one lacks. When you go so hard for the jokes and to look bad, it’s hard not to come off as bad all around.

My main complaint is the CGI stuff looks terrible. If it’s supposed to look terrible because that’s the joke, then that’s not the kind of joke I like. I had a similar problem with Tarantino’s Death Proof, which felt like he was trying too hard to poke fun at something that maybe isn’t as funny as he thought going in. As it happens, crappy CGI just looks like bad CGI isn’t particularly funny, even when it’s used to show a piranha eating a dismembered member.

However, there are some pretty great gore scenes. That bit where the wire snaps and you get a good pair of cut/slides is pretty great as is the look of what happens to Jerry O’Connell’s legs. And, of course, there’s plenty of nudity in here if that’s what you’re looking for.

Man, this makes me sound like something of a fuddy duddy, but this movie just really didn’t do it for me. I guess dumb jokes, intentionally bad effects and boobs just aren’t enough to really sell me on a flick anymore. I guess that’s a sign of my increasing maturity. Now to read more comics and watch more fictional people get killed!

Halloween Scene: Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

George Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead is one of my all time favorite horror movies of all time. I’ll go one further and say it’s one of my favorite movies period. There’s so much greatness in there from drama to horror and really everything in between. It’s a great film. I don’t feel the same way about Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake, but I still like it. I get why fellow fans of the original would dislike this movie which just takes the basic concept of the original–people take shelter in a mall during a zombie apocalypse–and dumped most other things aside from a few other basics (pregnancy, cops in the mall) and made a whole new movie. But, if you just came out with a mall zombie movie, the outcries about it being a Dawn remake would have been deafening. So, I’m okay with it. The basic idea is cool enough that I would be okay with a new remake every few years as long as whoever worked on it moved enough pieces around to make it interesting.

And that’s why I like this remake, the basics might be the same, but the specifics are so different that I get drawn in. Both flicks have female entry points, but the difference between the two movies and characters is pretty huge. Unlike the original we start off in the woman’s house and really get personal with her, even seeing her last love making session with her husband. Then BANG zombie apocalypse is full on. She’s on the run and winds up catching up with other survivors. I like that Snyder kept the idea of a woman getting pregnant in all this mess, but I’m also glad that he transferred that to another character in order to give Sarah Polley’s Ana the opportunity to do lots of other things in the movie like fall for a fellow survivor and really get into the action. Speaking of which, the whole pregnancy thing gets insane in such an amazing and creepy way that I’m still surprised it’s in a pretty big budget studio horror movie. I just shook a bit thinking about it again. Bleh. But in a good way.

Another change I liked about the film is how it opens up a bit. The wide open claustrophobia of the first film is pretty amazing and complex, but there’s also something to be said about these people being proactive and looking to get the heck out of there. The building up of the trucks might be just a little goofy, but it made enough sense and seemed likely, so I was in. And the chainsaw thing is a GREAT idea, though not for a couple of the characters. Snyder seemed to have a good handle on mixing the “have fun with it” mentality with the “this is serious business” one in a way that really hits for me.

So, yeah, I like this movie and I’m glad I picked it up for a buck at a used book store in New Hampshire a month or so back. It’s cool to have different takes on both the zombie genre and a specific story idea like that of the original Dawn Of The Dead. I will say that I’m surprised exactly how much of this movie was borrowed or straight-up swiped for Dead Rising and its sequel–two video games I wished I loved but really wound up disliking. It might seem strange calling this out for a remake of another movie, but it felt at times like whole scenes from the movie were digitized and dropped into those games. Speaking of video games, I actually played Left 4 Dead 2 with my dad on Xbox Live, and I think the intense feeling of that game has helped put me into zombie movies a little bit better. There are scenes that felt exactly like the game with zombies coming on, the character blasting away and trying to push them away without dying. It’s kind of an interesting way that one medium can alter the way you experience another one. Fun stuff.

Revisiting Mission: Impossible (1996)

What a difference fifteen years can make. When Mission: Impossible came out in 1996 I was 13, Tom Cruise was still a viable actor and Emilio Estevez was still in movies. Okay, that last one wasn’t very nice and I might be completely wrong about the second one, but I know I’ve been leery about watching Cruise flicks ever since his Oprah freakout and learning more about the weirdness that is Scientology.

I think I saw this movie in the theater with friends when it came out, but can’t be certain. I remember really liking it at the time, not knowing anything about Brian De Palma (I think this was the first of his movies I ever saw) and probably not having as much experience with the kind of plot featured in the flick. Since then, I’ve seen the whole “It’s not what you think!” thing done better and worse, but even if this wasn’t the first example I saw, it was highly influential.

Watching it again was a lot of fun because I haven’t seen it very many times since it came out. I had forgotten that Estevez was in the flick, then after a few moments remembered and then remembered why I didn’t remember. Ouch. About 10 or 15 minutes in, I remembered the whole plot and was along for the ride. On the negative side of things, this is not a Usual Suspects-type fake out movie where it’s actually more interesting watching after knowing the secret. In fact, it actually felt a little silly at times, knowing the truth as the heroes slog through things. On the other hand, I was able to look at the movie with a new eye thanks to having studied film a bit and watching a ton of movies. De Palma uses all kinds of actual director’s tricks to help convey mood and emotion without slamming you in the face with it. When Cruise’s Ethan Hunt first realizes he’s not in a good spot and returns to the safe house, the director uses all kinds of high angles making Hunt look small and worries. I’m sure there’s lots more, but that’s the one that really stuck out.

Aside from that, though, it’s still a pretty solid movie. Sure, some of the special effects don’t hold up so well (the helicopter at the end), but overall I was jazzed to watch the movie again. Of course I was looking forward to the big scenes I remembered, but was also surprised by the ones I had forgotten. I knew the “hanging-from-the-ceiling” bit was coming, but had forgotten about the exploding fish tank. Oh man, that is such a cool looking scene! I’ve got the next two flicks queued up from Netflix and am excited to revisit them. This is such an interesting film series to me because it not only spans a fairly long period of time in Hollywood, but also has a diverse and impressive line up of directors: De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird doing Ghost Protocol, which I probably won’t get to see until it comes out on DVD.

Robo Rampage: Runaway (1984) & Surrogates (2009)

If you’re like me, then you’re a big fan of NBC’s Community (on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m.). As a big movie and TV fan I’ve come to love Abed and his string of pop culture references, most of which I’m proud to say I bet. In last week’s episode called “Romantic Expressionism” Abed and some of the gang got together to watch a crazy sci-fi action movie called Kick Puncher. Up next on their list was going to be Runaway, which I looked up immediately and realized I already had in my instant queue. So, of course, I bumped it up to the top and gave it a watch. The surprising thing is that it’s actually pretty good. Michael Crichton wrote and directed the movie starring Tom Selleck as a cop whose beat involves putting down/turning off rogue robots dubbed runaways and Gene Simmons who plays the villain. Kirstie Alley’s also in it, but doesn’t have a huge part (man, she used to be hot, even in that up tight bitchy sort of way).

The story takes place in the future and instead of having robots shaped like people, they’re boxier and just do regular household and other other duties to make life easier for humans. Until they go crazy. Sometimes its Westworld-style and sometimes it’s just a tractor-bot running its own course. Soon, a number of bots who shouldn’t be running away becme runaways and all signs point back to Simmons who is amazing at playing a villains (just think of that stare and give him a gun that can shoot around corners).

I don’t want to get too much into the details of the ending, but I liked it a lot because, not only does the hero face some potential physical scarring in the facial region (stars usually like to stay pretty), but the villain’s plan has a huge loophole that I picked up on right when I heard it and then turned out to be right. They also do a great job of making what could have been some silly robots look pretty creepy. I’m mainly thinking of those spider-looking ones and even the ones that can move as fast as cars and keep up with them. Overall, I’d give this one the thumbs up and recommend it to anyone. There’s enough to laugh at if that’s what you’re going for, but if not, it’s a pretty solid film all around. That Crichton guy sure knew how to tell a story.

First off, I have to say that I have not read the comics this movie is based on, so my opinion of it will be solely based on the film itself and not it compared to the source material. It is kind of cool to be in this position as I’ve either read most of the comics the comic-based movies I’ve seen are based on or I haven’t (like V For Vendetta which I recently got from Swap but haven’t started reading yet).

Anyway, I liked Surrogates. It had a somewhat similar to that of Gamer which I watched recently and loved in which real people were being controlled by other people for selfish purposes. Instead of real people though, Surrogates has people piloting life-like robots that they control from the safety of their own homes. Not everyone has one, of course, and some people are diametrically opposed to them. Bruce Willis plays a cop (hey, there’s another similarity between this one and Runaway) who’s using his surrogate to figure out who killed the son of the guy who created the surrogates in the first place. As you might expect the plot gets more complicated from there (though never too terribly hard to understand), with Willis abandoning his surrogate and getting out in to the real world on his own, which he hasn’t done in years.

Since this is a newer movie that I did like and do recommend, I don’t want to get too far into the details, but there are a few elements that I really liked and wanted to mention. The movie got me thinking a lot about the practicality of how this kind of society would work. It would be interesting because, at first, as people started using surrogate, the pilots would drive their surrogates in the same way they themselves would navigate their normal day. But, if you’re just using robots, wouldn’t you be able to start making smaller rooms for them to do their operations in? Also, wouldn’t it be possible to make some worker bots that would just follow commands to do shitty jobs? Or go to war (they show real people piloting G.I. Robots, these ones don’t have life-like faces because, what’s the point?). I’m not sure which aspects came from the comic or the film’s writers/director, but really liked how the surrogates moved. There’s a human/surrogate footchase which looks really cool because the human looks very normal and lifelike and Willis looks more stiff, but also way more powerful. There’s even a scene where actual Willis is walking down the street and all the surrogates are bumping into him or just barely missing him. At first they just seemed like jerks, but I realized it’s because they probably have some kind of sensors that keep them from hitting each other. It’s the little details like that that make this more than just your run of the mill, cop trying to figure out something bigger story.

Anyone read the comic and watch the movie? How did it stack up?

Quick Movie Review: Out Of Sight (1998)

I had seen Out Of Sight once in high school. We were all hanging out at my friend Charlie’s house and goofing off, so no one was really paying attention. I do remember the part where the big guy trips while walking of the stairs and shoots himself through the head. I laughed pretty hard and got a few funny looks, but what are you gonna do? I also remember making jokes about the soundtrack. It sounded like there was a 70s porno soundtrack band following the main characters just off screen. If I remember correctly, those jokes killed. Watching this movie again after about 10 years (sheesh) and having read a good number of Elmore Leonard books, I really enjoyed it. One thing I’ve noticed about the last two movies I’ve seen based on his movies (this one and Jackie Brown) is that they’re very long, maybe a little meandering and very interesting. I actually got really bored with Jackie Brown and turned it off, but Out Of Sight really nailed Leonard’s tone in my opinion. Plus, it stars George Clooney who’s one of my favorite actors and reminded me that Jennifer Lopez was actually a pretty good actor once upon a time. I guess I should mention the plot. Clooney breaks out of jail, kidnaps and falls for J Lo, lets her go and then goes to rob a house in Detroit. The idea is that the forced intimacy of being locked in a trunk together is what sped up their attraction to each other and lead them both to making questionable decisions when it comes to their professions (she’s a law enforcement agent of some sort and he’s a thief) which also lead to some pretty steamy scenes, though no nudity on either account. You also get the added bonus of performances by Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, Ving Rhames, Albert Brooks and Michael Keaton who plays the same character as he does in Jackie Brown. I can see how some folks would think it’s slow (it IS 123 minutes long), but if you’ve got the attention span for a slow burn this Steven Soderbergh-directed flick might be right up your alley.

13.5 Quick Movie Reviews

2009-01-17
5:32:32 am

Hey gang, sorry again about my complete lack of posts lately, things have been crazy. I have been keeping myself busy with movies though, so here are 13 short reviews about some flicks I’ve seen lately, plus one movie I didn’t watch.

SIX STRING SAMURAI (1998)

I really liked this post apocalyptic-like road trip movie with a samurai Buddy Holly. The howler-monkey kid got annoying fast, but the action and snappy dialogue kept things moving along at quite a clip. Much better than I thought it would be.

OUR MAN FLINT (1966)

Flint’s a swinging secret agent int he 60s more worried about having a good time than stopping an international incident (at first at least). Great, campy 60s spy fun, that both pokes fun at but also sets itself up in the same universe as James Bond. A lot of fun, can’t wait to check out the sequel.

THE MAJORETTES (1986)

I don’t actually remember too much about this movie other than it involved some maniac hunting down and killing high school cheerleaders. It’s a way lower budget movie and apparently very little of the money went to snag actors who can, you know, act. Skip this one unless you’re a horror completist or you’re looking to cross another movie off in your copy of Creature Feature (like me).

DAY OF THE DEAD (2008)

I was actually pretty impressed with this remake-in-name-mostly of Romero’s Day of the Dead. I’m not a huge fan of the original or anything, but I wasn’t expecting much out of this flick and was surprised. The story moves along the same speeds as the fast Zack Snyder/28 Days Later-like zombies, but my favorite part is seeing actual people I recognize like Mena Suvari, Nick Cannon and Ving Rhames killing and becoming zombies. When was the last time you saw a non genre actor semi-famous person in a horror movie after they became famous? Hopefully it’s a trend that will continue. I’m actually kind of surprised that they didn’t release this movie in theaters. Oh well, a pretty good zombie movie all said and done, though not a classic.

THE SHADOW (1994)

In my opinion, it’s hard to go wrong when you populate a movie about a pulp hero with actors like Alec Baldwin, Peter Boyle, Tim Curry, Ian McKellen, James Hong and Jonathan Winters and luckily The Shadow held up my opinions. I’m not all that familiar with pulp heroes, especially the Shadow, but I like the idea of him having a network of people all over the city (usually people he has saved) who help him out. There’s all kinds of cool stuff like secret labs and ancient forces of good and evil. Oh and for 30 Rock fans, I highly encourage you to think of these as the early days of Jack Donaghy.

LAST MAN STANDING (1996)

A pretty cool story about a gangster-era hitman (Willis) holing up in a ghost town populated by two rival gangs, gets slowed down with a little too much back and forth back stabbing. I definitely don’t remember all the details about this one, but I’m a Willis fan. Michael Imperioli plays pretty much the same role he always does and Walken stars as Willis’ main competition and they fight which is cool. Can you imagine Walken fighting now? Aside from a dance fight I mean. Oh, also Walter Hill of Warriors fame directed LMS, so it’s gotta be pretty good, right?

FOXY BROWN (1974)

So far my experience with blaxploitation films as been hit or miss, but luckily Foxy is enough of a hit. In the plus column, Pam Grier cuts quite the figure, plus she kicks ass. I also like the idea of a group of inner city dwellers taking the law into their own hands and creating their own kind of police force. I’m not a big fan of the sexual assault stuff, but I guess that’s all part of the exploitation riff. Too bad Foxy and Shaft never got together. That would have been a great flick.

LEATHERHEADS (2008)

I’m not sure if I’ve professed my heterosexual man love for George Clooney on the blog before, but I’m a big fan. I think we’d get along smashingly. I do know that I’ve talked about how much I like the American Office, so you probably know I’m a John Krasinski fan. So, Leatherheads was a good flick in my book. It doesn’t make my top 10 sports movies of all time (well, maybe, I’d have to come up with that list actually), but it’s fun and it offered up a look at a period in professional football that I am completely unfamiliar with, so that was cool. Of course, it’s a comedy, so I’m not sure how accurate it was, but who cares? Like I said it was fun. Has similar story elements to League of the their Own (which probably would make my top 10 because I’m a huge softy). Not groundbreaking by any means, but worth a watch.

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (2008)

I liked Leatherheads more than Journey, but it’s not a terrible movie (even if it is very predictable). The special effects bounce back and forth between boderline okay, pretty good and not so great, but the effort is there. I really wish I would have been able to see this bad boy in 3D. I missed out on the phenomenon in the 80s and have gotten a taste for it by watching Superman Returns (ugh) and Nightmare Before Christmas in lame separate the background from the foreground 3D. I can’t freaking wait to see My Bloody Valentine 3D!!!

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988)

Holy crap I loved this movie. Rickey got me a subscription to a horror movie mag called Horror Hound that’s not expertly edited, but still offers up tons and tons of horror goodness. One such bit of goodness was a whole feature on Klowns. The movie is just so much freaking over the bigtop fun. I really can’t believe that a studio made this movie. Please, do yourself a favor and check it out. Also of interest on the DVD is the Chiodo brothers’ home movies from when they were making monster movies as kids. Pretty impressive stuff for pre-teens with a 16mm camera.

VAMPIRE EFFECT (2003)

The combination of Hong Kong action and vampires drew me to this flick pretty quickly on Netflix. Heck, it’s even got Jackie Chan in a roll that’s more than him just walking on and being called Jackie (which he is). As with a lot of movies like this that I’ve seen, the special effects and fight scenes are sick, but the story itself is nothing new. I did really like the cool retractable whip/sword weapons they used. I think I designed something very similar what I was younger.

LICENSE TO DRIVE (1988)

If you thought Corey Haim could have been a little bit smoother, though still pretty spazzy in Lost Boys and Corey Fledman from the Burbs could use a little mellowing out, then License to Drive is the perfect 2 Coreys vehicle for you (puns!). Haim fails his driving test, but still tells a young (though still 18 by my math) Heather Graham that he can pick her up. It’s basically like an episode of a sitcom, but stretched to 90 minutes and definitely edgier than your average Saved By The Bell. Good stuff. Next up from the Coreys? Dream a Little Dream (which I have absolutely no knowledge of).

LEGEND (1985)

Legend is one of those movies that I don’t remember at all, but have since come to find that it’s kind of a big deal (to some people). I knew that Tim Curry was in it, but had no idea Tom Cruise was. I thought it might be kind of a funny movie, but when I saw Tom prancing around the forest or whatever I clicked this badboy off and deleted it from my queue. I am no fan of fantasy movies.

JOHNNY BE GOOD (1988)

I’m becoming a pretty big fan of Netflix’s recommendations. I started watching Johnny after digging License and wasn’t disappointed. It’s got an older and more confident Anthony Michael Hall and a completely goofy Robert Downey Jr.. There’s a good deal of goofiness to this movie, which focuses on Hall as a football star getting courted by and visiting different colleges that want him. Downey plays his wacky best friend, but what struck me about the movie is how real it can be at times. Hall and Downey sell their characters like they’re up for an award. Oh, it’s also got Uma Thurman as Hall’s girlfriend and Jennifer Tilly has a quick role. If you’re an 80s movie fan, or just curious to see what Downey might have been like back in the late 80s give Johnny a look.

AUGUST RUSH (2007)

Sometimes you’ve got to add a movie for your lady to the ol’ queue. I was pleasantly surprised with August Rush, not because the story is all the unique (you’ve seen the broad strokes before plenty of times), but because of it’s view of music. The way they show the young boy experiencing music in everyday life, what it means to him and how he’s eventually able to play it in his own unorthodox way really struck me. If you’ve got to watch a chick flick with your girl and you’re a music fan, this is a good choice. Also, Keri Russell is in it and looking good.

KING OF KONG (2007)

If you haven’t seen this documentary about the surprisingly competitive world of classic arcade high score competitions, please stop reading and watch it right now. This one makes it into my top 10 movies of 2007 (should a list ever actually exist). First off, it shows off a world I’ve never seen, which you know I love. Also, that world is full of deceit, greed, cowardice, heroics, villainy, triumph and defeat. The way the story is put together feels like a really well scripted feature film, though the events and the ups and downs are completely real. If you’ve ever liked anything I’ve written about on here, watch this movie.

SUPERMAN/DOOMSDAY (2007)

Seeing as how The Death and Return of Superman is the story that got me collecting comics in the first place (and how deeply and utterly I bought into the idea that any of the four subsequent people could be the real Superman), I was very excited when I heard a few years ago that DC/WB was going to make an animated movie about that very event, I was psyched. I figured it probably wouldn’t have EVERYthing that made the comic so cool (Superman turning back to save a family instead of finishing Doomsday off, that very 90s JLA facing off against Doomsday, an eyes-swollen-shut Guy Gardner asking his teammate to aim his fist at Doomsday so he could blast it, not to mention the four other “Supermen”), but that it could offer up a cool new look on the idea. And it’s definitely a different look. I would have preferred them either go straight with the established look and continuity of the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini-verse or have a drastically different art direction on the project as little things like Superman’s cheek lines become distracting. I was also distracted by the different voices for these characters that I recognize from a specific other incarnation that looked very similar but sound completely different. Even at 77 minutes it felt kind of slow, but the fight scenes are pretty great (though they don’t hold a candle to JLU). I still hold on to my dream of one day seeing an epic, animated incarnation of the Death and Return of Superman though. A boy can dream, right?

Uncaged: Con Air (1997) and The Rock (1996)

2008-12-05
5:05:25 am

I recently switched from Blockbuster to Netflix as it was taking way too freaking long for me to get my DVDs (five days at times, even when I turned them in at the store, ugh). As a result I sat here switching my queue over and moving things around. I gotta say, I like the Netflix site a lot more. It’s way more user friendly and I actually like a lot of their movie suggestions. All of which I’m telling you to let you in on how I inadvertently ended up with two crazy, Nic Cage action movies from the mid 90s. I had never seen Con Air before and it’s been about a decade since I saw The Rock, so it was practically like watching it again for the first time.

CON AIR (1997)

What a great and crazy movie. Like with The Rock, I don’t really buy into one of the initial plot points. In this case its the idea that a military man just home from a tour of duty (or something, I’m not always clear on the jargon) kills a dude in a fight, a dude with a knife near Cage’s pregnant girlfriend no less. According to the brief court scene, soldiers are held to a higher standard because they’re killing machines. Sorry folks, I don’t buy it. Isn’t that plain old self defense? Anyway, aside from that (and Cage’s ridiculous accent throughout the film), I bought in. You see, Cage is done with his five year sentence and just wants to get home to his girl and their kid, so they put him on a plane (why was he so far away from home anyway?) with a bunch of other cons to fly them someplace else. Once in the air, the prisoners take over the plane in a pretty ingenious multi-part plan and we go on from there.

The first thing that struck me about Con Air is the cast. Aside from Cage, you’ve got John Cusak as a cop of some kind, John Malkovich as the mastermind behind the hijack, Dave Chapelle, Danny Trejo (the best interview I’ve ever had) and Ving Rhames as cons and Steve Buscemi as a sociopath serial killer. The characters aren’t all that well rounded, but the actors really sell their parts, offering up some of the creepiest cons in recent memory. Even Cusak, who I love in High Fidelity, Grosse Point Blanke and even 1401, is believable in the roll as an action-faring blockbuster cop, who would have thought?

There are all kind of groan worthy aspects to this flick, but I’ll take all of them in exchange for a crazy balls-out action flick that pays off in big names, big explosions and big plots. The final scene takes place in the middle of Las Vegas, first as a plane crash, then as a chase between a fire truck and two motorcycles. One aspect of the movie that was too much, though, was Colm Meaney’s “disbelieving tough guy cop.” In a movie filled with otherwise compelling (if not likeable) characters, Colm’s character just comes off as a boring, one note pain in the butt whose role should have either been rewritten or toned WAY down. It is cool to see his car come to its end, though.

One last thing, I just looked director Simon West up on IMDb and was horrifying to discover he’s the man responsible for subjecting me to the When A Stranger Calls remake. Well, to be fair, I’m responsible for subjecting Ben, Rickey and myself to a pretty awful movie, but who’s counting? It was by birthday after all!

THE ROCK (1996)

Like I said, I’d seen The Rock before, but had very little memory of it, which is great because this movie turned out to be a great surprise. I had a ton of fun watching The Rock, even though I was a little worried about it’s long running time (I have gotten pretty lazy, going so far as to sending Armageddon back without watching it because of its 2 and a half hour running time). Regardless, I am officially a huge Michael Bay fan, so of me what you will, even given what I think was a fairly weak plot point. My biggest problem with the story is that I don’t really buy that Ed Harris’ character would at any point believe his plan would work. If he’s not willing to actually kill a bunch of civilians, why would the government do anything by completely annihilate the island? Oh well.

The island in question is of course Alcatraz, the famous island prison which has fascinated me since I first saw it on some long forgotten show when I was a kid. There’s always been a great sense of history and mystery surrounding that place so I’m pretty much down with any movie or comic being set there (I’m also a big fan the Mythbusters where they test to see if prisoners could have really escaped from The Rock). I am also a big Sean Connery fan, though who isn’t? Seeing how great he is in this movie makes me wish he’d come back and do a role or two. In the flick he plays the only man to have ever escaped from Alcatraz. he gets teamed with chemical weapons expert Nic Cage to stop Harris and his hired soldiers (one of whom is Candyman) from firing off a series of missles with highly toxic bioweapons inside, which means they’ve got to break back into Alcatraz.

If there’s one thing Bay knows, it’s how to make an awesome movie. This one’s got everything from chase scenes to bad ass lines to bigger than life characters and cushion clenching suspense. It really makes me wonder what happened to Cage, though. If nothing else, these two movies reminded me of how much fun he used to be to watch on screen. Maybe it’s that I used to feel like we were both on the same page (these are goofy fun movies and he’s having a goofy fun time doing it), but somewhere along the line he turned into the guy who would star in Ghost Rider. Yeesh. I’ve also heard some pretty terrible things about Wicker Man and really want to watch it after seeing this Best Scenes from The Wicker Man YouTube video:

Crazy right? Well, I can always go back and watch Con Air and The Rock, both of which looked super awesome on the new TV (I really love this thing). But, hey, maybe John Carpetner’s upcoming Cage starrer Riot will bring him back to action movie prominence (I sure hope so).