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Despite many critics slamming it, I was surprised to see that "Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows" was sold out at my local Cineworld. This left my group of friends and myself left with 3 alternatives: "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "The (Highly Critically Acclaimed, Multi Award Winning, Unique, Golden-Era-Of-Cinema-Throwback) Artist" or "Mission: Impossible 4 A.K.A. Tom Cruise's film".
Since GWTDT was also sold out and the majority of my group did not want to see 'a black and white, silent movie' on the basis that it would make them 'fall asleep' we were destined to watch M:I4 which would be 'more interesting'. (Curiously, a recent study has shown that as Tom Cruise's popularity increases, national IQ lowers. Go figure!)
I've never really been a fan of the Mission:Impossible franchise. I mean, don't get me wrong, James Bond, Jason Bourne, heck even Austin Powers have shown us that the spy thriller franchise is strong and can captivate audiences across the globe bringing said franchise worldwide recognition and respectability. But the M:I films never seem to keep me on the edge of my seat nor do they make me root for the hero. The "missions" of each film never seem clear to me. Sure, you get the "Your mission, should you choose to accept it" speech at the start of the movie, but in-between that and "Mission accomplished" it all seems to get thrown in the air and I'm never sure what's what anymore.
Take the first film as an example. One minute the IMF team are killed off near the start of the film, (save Tom Cruise, his agent insisted he survive to make at least 2 sequels) the next they need to steal a computer disk for... some reason, then the next they have to kill one guy who was head of the IMF but turned out to be a spy for another team all along? Whatever happened to the traditional "find the bad guy, kill the bad guy, get the girl" formula? You know, the foolproof one? (Or in the case of the Bourne films, Escape/kill some bad guys, escape/kill more bad guys and then find out your real name)
Well needless to say this was what we could watch. Take it or leave it. And who knows? Three films have gone by, maybe this time they'll have made something that could please everyone, not just die hard fans?
Ha ha ha.
First of all, and I wish to make this clear, I do not like Tom Cruise. I never have. I never will. I don't like him for the following reasons:
1) He's obnoxious, on and off camera.
2) I don't think he's a very strong actor. I mean, do you expect him to do Hamlet any time soon? And make it fun to watch intentionally?
3) He seeks attention and thrives on it. Don't believe me? Oprah Show, Tom Cruise, YouTube it.
4) Despite being an obnoxious, wooden actor who seeks attention on an hourly basis; somehow he is one of the most powerful people in Hollywood. Doesn't help I suppose that there are people out there who accommodate his absurd behaviour. (It boggles even science!)
This is a Tom Cruise film. (The film is credited as "A Tom Cruise Production") It's a wonder how they managed to write all the other characters in to be honest!
Ok, ok. I'll stop ranting about Cruise. At least, I'll try.
The Plot: After The Kremlin is blown up, the Impossible Mission Force is blamed and disavowed by the White House. In reality, it was a set up to make the IMF look bad. The team discovers that codes to a Russian nuclear warhead have been stolen and they must work to avert bombings in the USA which could lead to a global nuclear holocaust.
Simple enough right? You'd be forgiven for thinking so. See, in order to get the codes, they have to make a deal with this assassin who can give them the paper copies providing they pose as two of the bad guys. Meanwhile the real two baddies who are supposed to be meeting the assassin meet up with one of the IMF crew posing as the assassin, who has to give them copies of the codes so the two baddies think they got what they wanted and don't kill her, so the two pretend baddies have to close their side of the deal quickly for the real baddies to get what they want as well as what the fake baddies want. Erm, but um, before that, Tom Cruise (or at least, his stunt double!) has to climb up this building and disable the security server and climb back down before the whole deal starts in twenty minutes. Then they have to meet up with this guy who Tom Cruise released from prison because... um... ah... well, we don't really know why he did. But he meets up with him anyway so he can meet this guy's friend who can tell him about the satellite that sends a signal to confirm the launching of a nuclear device, and um, err, em, then they go to a party to try to turn the satellite off, but the real bad guys get there first and.... download... a virus...? Which... is the signal to launch...?
Ok, I got lost as to what the plot was about, heck it was hard to keep track of who the villains were! The main bad guy though turns out to be some English dude (yeah, I don't think he even has a name!). Why does he want to wipe most of the world out?
"To create peace."
Well, that's just... Stupid. I mean think about it. If you want to ensure peace and restart humanity from scratch again, maybe turning most of the planet into giant radioactive wasteland isn't the best way to do it. Where will this new human race live? Underground with the moles and rats? What kind of peace can you have if you can't live in a simple house with clean water and preferably a nice view of the coastline from your back garden?
But hey, there I go bringing logic into the picture.
So, we know I hate Tom Cruise and we know the premise is dumb. What can we say about everything else?
Well the supporting cast (that is, the ones that aren't killed off within 2 minutes of their screentime) are pretty good. Simon Pegg returns as the gadget/computer expert and provides most of the comic relief in the film, Jeremy Renner is very strong as the agent who is almost as good as Cruise's Ethan Hunt, and Paula Patton does a really good job of portraying the sexy, hard as nails female agent in the group. She may well have been the strongest female character I've seen in a long time. I'd have to say though that Renner really stood out in this film for me, you could see potential for his character to develop, and maybe even get his on story arc if they ever decided to replace Cruise as the lead role, (Yeah, not in my lifetime!) whilst the others (as much as I enjoyed watching them) just feel a bit like bog standard fillers for the spy team.
As this is an action film there are plenty of death defying leaps, jumps, crashes, explosions, fight scenes, car chases and shoot-outs to appease the combat hungry eyes of the audience. What was a nice touch was the air of uncertainty that characters would pull off these complicated exploits. We had people leap off the side of buildings hoping to glide through the open window of a hotel room, only to miss and fly smack into a pane of glass. The director, Brad Bird, had worked on Pixar's "The Incredibles" and thus you can clearly see the similar unique, and slightly comedic action/espionage sequences. (One in particular involved a portable "green screen". Now THAT was clever!) This is a fresh change and audiences will no doubt welcome that, however the majority is just more of what we've seen already, cars flipping over on highways, heroes diving between cover throwing bullets out of their guns, and bone-breaking kung fu. But then, you can't go wrong with that can you?
In terms of special effects, both CGI and practical, this film boasts plenty, no doubt thanks to Brad Bird. Again, you could compare the amount of high tech that appears in this film and "The Incredibles" easily. The CGI effects are wisely restricted to creating explosions, lasers and a sandstorm, all of which look believable. Props seemed well designed and cool to use, but I don't recall seeing an awesome gadget actually used in fight sequence which is a real shame. It reminds me of "Thunderball" when James Bond is given an opportunity to use his Aston Martin's weaponry on a car that's been tailing him for sometime, only for the car to be taken out by someone else. All that build up and no payoff! In addition we're never really told what certain technology will do. We just have to wait and see it being utilised.
So overall; how was the film?
It was ok.
How was the acting?
It was ok.
How were the effects?
They were ok.
This is the movie's biggest problem. It's one giant ball of adequacy. It has its moments when it builds up, really builds up, but then like a burst balloon suddenly all the air is let out of it. I really want to like it, purely because it's Brad Bird, Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg working on the same project! Alas, for me anyway, there is definitely a key ingredient missing, one I just can't quite put my finger on.
Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol doesn't quite live up to the same intensity or charm as "Bourne" or "Bond", but if you don't mind Tom Cruise and just want some fun, give this a go.
Back in the Golden Age of film-making, most movies were silent and relied on actors who could do big, theatrical performances and a bit of camera mugging to convey emotions to the audience. It was a simpler time in which we didn't have special effects or CGI to wow the crowds. Film-makers simply needed a good story, and a good actor, the rest would follow.
One man, Michel Hazanavicius, is obviously a fan of this era and has graced the world of cinema with "The Artist". A film which is a throwback to the good ol' days of the Motion Picture Industry when silence was king and talkies were just around the corner. See, rather than make a conventional movie, i.e. anything that is produced by Michael Bay, stars Tom Cruise, is adapted from a comic book or has fake vampires; this man has put real thought and effort into his latest work which is a tribute to the films of the yesteryear.
I love this film.
This goes on my top ten list.
Now, as I mentioned in a previous review, my peers of my generation turned their noses up at a film like this.
"Black and white?" They said. "Black and white film? SILENT?"
They looked at me agog.
"How can you like a film like that?"
Well, off the top of my head:
1) Cinema and films in general are a Visual art. You force your eyes to stare at the screen and your brain interprets what it sees into information for you to understand. Sure, dialogue and sound effects are nice, but these are not compulsory ingredients. Imagine your smart phone with all its apps. Sure, the apps are a sweet little accessory that help you take pleasure in using your phone, but at the end of the day it's still a phone and you use it for its most basic function. (I'm not talking about texting.)
2) People seem to forget that if it were not for the pioneers of film-making in the 20's and 30's such as Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, Capra, Hitchcock, Hawks and even the people responsible for German expressionism; we would not have the cinema you and I know today. Surely we should remember what these people achieved, despite poor technology, low budgets and small star power. Surely we should watch their films and think "These films stand the test of time, these films made me think, these films have influenced directors of today!" instead of "Black and white? Boooooooooooring!"
3) Black and white films are gorgeous to look at. The fact that film-makers of that time had to consider the lighting and contrast of each shot before the cameras started rolling is brilliant. Trying to figure out what the overall look of your masterpiece should be, as opposed to "Has Mr Cruise been given his Cappuccino?", definitely sets you apart from other film-makers. One of my favourite scenes from "It's a Wonderful Life" is when George Bailey (whilst in the world he was not born in) visits his house, now derelict and filled with cobwebs. As his face gets closer and closer to the camera it becomes enveloped in shadow. There's NO dialogue. None is required. The darkness symbolises isolation, the man slowly fading away from reality, cut off from all that he knows, and there's no one to guide him home. Only that could have been achieved in black and white. And it is gorgeous.
But I digress...
"The Artist" tells the story of an actor who is at the top of his game during the silent era. He discovers a young girl who wants to be an actress, sets her on the right path, then watches in despair as she begins to make "talkies". Realising that audiences no longer want to watch the man who says nothing, can he recoup his losses?
For a film with no dialogue, the acting is astounding from an all star cast. Every emotion is conveyed perfectly from the over dramatic scream, to a simple raising of an eyebrow. It's all there. It just goes to show you that actors can do their job, even when given little material to work with.
However, what really pleases a film buff like me though is the attention to detail. The late 20's are meticulously recreated. I'm not talking about props or costumes though. The film itself (and its films within the film) has been shot as it would have been from that period of time. There are long, focused shots on people speaking, to give audiences a chance to read lips before the title card is flagged on-screen, the sets have that made-on-the-cheap feel, there's even that dodgy bluescreen background they used to use when a character drives around in their car. And it's all filmed in a nostalgia inducing 4:3 ratio.
Whilst sitting in the cinema, two girls were in the row behind me. From the sound of it, one had dragged her best friend along to see the film because it was different. (Good for you sweetheart!) The friend was complaining that she wanted to see "War-Horse", despite reassurance from the girl that this feature film would be better.
"Besides, there's a wee dug in it!" The girl said to her friend.
"Ok," she replied. But added sulkily: "It better be, I'm not paying £6 to see some old sh**e."
Ah, the youth of today. So stupid, yet they get all the discounts!
As the opening credits appeared on screen I sat nervously anticipating to hear the girls give out a banshee wail of horror, realising what they had let themselves in for. Culture!
To my surprise though, they were silent. Fixated on what they saw. I looked around and could just make out that everyone else in the cinema was also engrossed. It was so quiet... Like they were in a museum, and had stumbled upon an ancient relic, pondering at what its purpose could possibly be.
As the end credits rolled, I had a huge grin on my face. I'm not sure if it was the movie, or the round of applause it was receiving.
Words cannot do this film justice. This is an affectionate, tender tribute to the men and women who paved the way for today's generation of entertainers, and solidly confirms that the silent era never really died. It just went away for a while. Whatever this film is nominated for at the Academy, it deserves! Screenwriter William Goldman once said that no-one really knows what the next big thing will be, until you see Hollywood trying to replicate its success. In 2008 we had "The Dark Knight" and films became darker in tone. In 2009/10 we had "Avatar", and with it we saw jumps in realistic CGI effects.
This year we have "The Artist", and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw another "Non-talkie" any time soon...
Don't call yourself a true film lover until you watch this. I guaran-damn-tee that this film is THE film of 2012. With only 1 month into this year, that says a lot.
It's been nearly 30 years since the first "Tron" came out, and let's face it, it's hard to make another movie about a guy who is transferred from our world into the digital world.
My biggest problems with this film is (obviously!) the story. As I've already hinted, it's hard to come up with something original. "Tron: Legacy"? Try "Tron: Remake".
Ok, that's harsh, but both films are very similar in plot synopsis. Plucky-young-man-gets-taken-to-the-computer-world-and-is-forced-to-play-pixilated-gladiatorial-games-whilst-organizing-a-rebellion-against-the-"chief"-programme/system/etc...
Despite this however, the film DOES hold your attention. (At least, it held mine long enough.)
Let's talk special/visual effects. The original Tron was one of the first, if not the first, mainstream movies to fully utilise computer generated images and it's sequel is no exception. Except for the fact that, you know, technology has advanced since '82! The entire movie is beautifully shot, turning a simple motion picture into a gorgeous lightshow. And actors around the globe, brace yourselfs! SFX teams can give you back your youth!!! No surgery required!!! What am I talking about? The one thing the whole film revolves around of course!
That Jeff Bridges is a lucky man. (Although, so is Arnold Schwarzenegger if you count "Terminator: Salvation". (On a side note is it just me, or are all movie titles getting a colon inserted in them?)) Using advanced facial muscle... tracking... mumbo-jumbo, and an old jpg file, those clever people sitting at their computer screens can turn back the body clock. In other words, Jeff Bridges appears in this film in his 60's, and, wait for it, 30's! You have to see it to believe it! Of course, it's not perfect, in fact for the duration of the film it is kind of "hit and miss". In some scenes he looks like he's stepped off fresh from the set of "Starman", whilst other times you'd swear the director got a waxwork model to "stand in" while Bridges throws his voice off screen like a ventrilioquist suffering from stage fright. Mind you, good old Bruce Boxleitner gets the cgi facial too, so at least you've something to compare.
And I don't know who the fan of "The Big Lebowski" is, but someone clearly told Bridges on set to act like "El Duderino". His character (Flynn, in both films) was a sort of surfer dude, laid back, and cool. In this film, he's still cool, but the surfer personality has been replaced with that of "The Dude". Not a bad thing! I'm a Lebowski fan too. My question simply is: why? (Watch the films, and you'll see)
There's not really much else to say: The protaganist, Sam Flynn, (played by some guy called Garrett Hedlund) is a little bland and lacks the magic Bridges has in both features, Michael Sheen has a weird Ziggy Stardust theme going on, and Olivia Wilde plays the-sexy-chick-whose-name-you'll-forget-or-mispronounce. The action scenes though are awesome, and the visuals as I say, are fabulous. Oh, and the soundtrack? Three words: Daft Punk EARGASMIC!
In summary, this film was clearly made for those who had seen the first so it won't appeal to everyone. Having said that, regardless if you know "Tron" or not, I would urge you to check it out. There's enough in here to make this film enjoyable despite a few system errors. My only advice? Don't bother to pay for 3D. Unless it's IMAX.
A surprisingly fresh approach to a sci-fi flick which contains elements of South Africa's troubled past during the apartheid years. A gripping, moving story and top notch special effects (apart from the walking battle-suit tank thing.) ensure that this indie film is a winner!
"In The Loop" is based off of the cult BBC series "The Thick of It". A political satire mainly focusing on spin doctors and propaganda. It has at long last managed to leap onto the silver screen at long last.
Not many people will appreciate the humour/plot however one cannot help but admire the fantastic dialogue spouted by one of the films most memorable characters, Malcolm Tucker. The man is an oracle for swearing and is completely encaptivating.
The story is simple, and oddly enough familliar. The UK and US Governments plan to invade a middle eastern country however do not have sufficient evidence to justify war. It is up to Spin Doctor Malcolm Tucker (Glasgow's home grown Peter Capaldi) and a reluctant Foriegn Affairs Minister, Simon Foster, (Tom Hollander, that wig wearing english bloke from Pirates of the Carribean 2 & 3) to gather the intel required to authorise the attack. But will James Gandolfini's disgruntled US army general allow the war to go ahead?