Connect with us

Movie News

Review: “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” Explodes with Cruise and Cavill Carnage

Published

on

Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie returns to Mission Impossible with a fresh jolt of stunts, yes, but also more character, style, and grit that stacks so high it nearly topples over a cliff. If Rogue Nation was an attempt to reshape the franchise for his caliber of filmmaking, Fallout is the main course, serving up a fully-loaded Tom Cruise action vehicle. It’s as if both McQuarrie and Cruise took a look at the ideal Mission: Impossible movie and said let’s make it even better with more dangerous setpieces, more intense fight scenes, and double-crosses that turn to third and fourth crosses.

My biggest criticism of the previous film was that it seemed as though Cruise left everyone else in the dust and the death-defying agent Ethan Hunt, eager to hang from high places and hold his breath underwater for absurd amounts of time. Now he has an equal or at the very least a capable rival in the form of Henry Cavill playing CIA agent August Walker. If Ethan is the spry spy that can take a punch, August is the big brute that can give the blows, as seen in a brutal bathroom battle of knuckles. What role he plays in this plot is as layered and secretive as the return of MI:6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). We can still rely on Ethan’s pals Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) to provide backup and snarky comments.

Staged as a direct sequel, Fallout carries on with the story of the sinister Solomon Kane (Sean Harris), a rogue agent that grew a beard and started the evil Syndicate organization of international terrorists. Ethan’s mission, should he choose to accept it, is to foil a new Syndicate plot of building nukes for some nasty old-fashioned political cleansing. Sounds like a standard spy affair, complete with a ticking clock and snipping the wires at the last second, but it’s brilliantly staged with the most electrifying of thrills and a personal questioning of Ethan’s history and actions.

The action scenes go the extra mile to ensure that the Impossible brand hasn’t grown stale, pushing every scene to be a tad more violent and a bit bigger with chaos. A car chase through tight streets certainly gets the blood flowing, but it becomes interesting when exploring what happens if Ethan’s extraction team runs into a lone police officer. An infiltration mission that should have gone smoothly with a classic disguise goes awry and Ethan must wing it without the aid of masks and voice changers. Effortlessly the most gripping of action pieces features Cruise in a fight of dueling helicopters that eventually crash and slide down a mountain like the most frightening bobsled run that won’t stop.

McQuarrie very much ups the ante with this sixth installment to keep up with our expectations, making sure the twists and surprises always come frequent, fast, and bright enough to rarely give the audience a chance to theorize and annoying shout “called it” in the theater. You may be able to spot a few if you keep your eyes peeled but what’s the fun in that? It’s far more fun to just get lost in Ethan’s intricate, complicated, and sophisticated plans of outsmarting the Syndicate, the CIA, IMF, and his tangled relationships.

Fallout comes with all the decadent trimmings of a summer spy blockbuster, from the sexy addition of arms dealer White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) in a club of assassins to the clever tech that always has you second-guessing, to the dazzling cinematography of globe-trotting locations. It’s not only vibrant and alive but bursting with gorgeous visuals of symmetrical expanses and further solidifies Ethan’s heroic nature that never leaves a man behind or an innocent casualty in the race for nukes. He’s the type of spy hero that’s not only fun to watch in his stunts of dangling from helicopters and zipping through oncoming traffic but also exudes a morality that’s noble and inspiring amid his many lies and disguises. After all, who wouldn’t want to be Tom Cruise at the age of 56, still jumping from roof to roof with mad speed and taking tumbles like a champ? Fallout gives him more stunts to flex those veteran action muscles amid his personality and charm, proving that both Cruise and this franchise still has plenty of vigor.


Movie News

Review: “First Moon” is an Emotional and Exciting Race to Space

Published

on

Damien Chazelle’s take on Neil Armstrong’s tough road to making it to the moon may not be the most accurate but it is certainly entertaining. Similar to how he directed intense jazz players in Whiplash, he lets us feel everything in Neil’s missions, from the rickety and nightmarish howling of straining spacecraft to the deepest fears of death always one error away. While the accuracy and motivation are debatable, there’s no denying that Chazelle locks us in as tight as Armstrong was to that rocket and never lets us go.

Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong as a pilot of few words, so focused on the next mission he pushes aside the death of his young daughter to get back to work. He doesn’t let it affect him but Chazelle’s direction suggests it does in a pocket of his mind. To keep his mind off such a traumatic event for his family, he pursues and is accepted into the Gemini program for the ambitious mission of traveling to the moon. His tone doesn’t sit well with his wife Janet (Claire Foy). She’s willing to stick with him, raise his son, and have another child, but she can’t stand the toll. Her husband is so distant and plainspoken, hiding all emotion that it drives her nuts to see his comrades bite the dust in the dangerous testing leading up to the ultimate launch. There’s a good man in there but he’s committed when it comes to the business of reaching the stars.

Armstrong’s journey always keeps us in the cockpit where he is, witnessing with his limited scope of what the glass and gauges allow. It’s intense to listen to the alarms go off, the metal straining, and the static-laced radio voices calmly state firm instructions and warnings. Few times do we cut away from the chaos when things spin wildly out of control, sometimes literally when a test of docking procedures sends his craft hurtling through the darkness of space as the grinding speed never seems to stop. He faces many fearful challenges, including a test of the lunar lander that goes up in flames. Yet he shakes off the dirt and keeps going. One person heading the team asks if all this will be worth the cost. “It’s a little late to ask that question,” Armstrong responds.

The few times we do cut away from Armstrong focuses on his wife trying to keep it together, expertly played by Claire Foy. Janet strains and stresses, sure, but she realizes that if she doesn’t try to snap Neil out of his tunnel vision that she’ll lose him before she knows it. One of her best scenes features her finally confronting Neil before heading off to the grand launch, shouting at him to say something to his children instead of treating it like one long business trip. But as they sit the kids down and Neil tries to explain where he’s going, he treats it more like a press conference than a family meeting and Janet coldly realizes this is her husband.

Where the film unfortunately plateaus is in its finale of when Neil Armstrong and the cocky Buzz Aldrin (Corey Stoll) finally make the landing on the moon surface. Chazelle keeps this section quiet and contemplative, letting the original transmission audio fill in some of the gaps. It’s perhaps too contemplative the way the imagery and soft soundtrack tries to bring Neil’s grips with death to a realization. It’s a scene that perhaps comes off melodramatic but Chazelle’s direction keeps us more in the moment than rolling our eyes at the emotional bells and whistles of a realized character. The exceptional cinematography becomes astounding to be lost within, from the great use of lighting and shadows everywhere from the cramped quarters of the capsule to the hallway of the Armstrong household.

First Man is definitely an intriguing and gorgeous film, one that should certainly be seen in IMAX for the full effect of its well-shot sequences, but it still feels lacking as Chazelle’s lesser film. This fault mostly lies in how Armstrong’s aim shuts out most of the other elements of the film, including his co-pilots who have arcs that peter out as the mission takes on greater importance. While the film succeeds at making us stare directly into Armstrong’s psyche, there are too many distractions that I sometimes wish the story veered off course from its obvious target.


Continue Reading

Movie News

Review: David Gordon Green’s “Halloween” Revives The Fear and Terror

Published

on

After numerous sequels, remakes, reboots, and even a failed divergence of trying to weave the saga into an anthology, it is ultimately David Gordon Green’s take on Halloween that is the worthy successor. It may have taken forty years to find that perfect follow-up but, as we’ve seen from the likes of Blade Runner 2049 and Mad Max: Fury Road, several decades can make a world of difference for a sequel. And though we had to suffer through a long road to get here, we’ve finally arrived at the true Halloween film I’ve been pining for. And it feels so good to have a slasher picture so grim, beautiful, straightforward, and intense.

Despite being titled as Halloween, like another dreary retread, this new film acts as the true sequel forty years later, ignoring previous entries. Jamie Lee Curtis returns to the role of Laurie Strode and she’s been waiting for her attacker Michael Myers, preparing for his return. He’s been locked up in solitary confinement for decades but Laurie is no fool when it comes to horror movie logic. She’s had plenty of prep time and nightmares that never cease to keep her pumped for Michael’s next rampage. And it’s coming up quickly when Michael is transferred to a high-security prison and makes his escape during transport.

It’s back to basics for the classic killer, slowly slipping back into his groove of intimidation and murder. He gets back his old attire by swiping a mechanic’s uniform to fit his massive frame and acquiring his old iconic Halloween mask that looks as though it hasn’t been washed since the 1970s. He’s a ways off from Laurie’s home but works his way over by attacking the neighborhood of Laurie’s family that includes her daughter Karen Strode (Judy Greer), her teenage granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), and Karen’s husband Ray (Toby Huss). Taking a stroll on Halloween night, he breaks into homes, finds some weapons, and begins his night of many stabbings with his following piano theme.

What makes this film so effective is that it never feels the need to delve deeper into Michael’s past, keeping his motivations a silent enigma hidden behind his mask and heavy breathing. There are many attempts to understand him, as with nosey podcasts journalists hoping to land a story and a curious psychologist who wants to know Michael’s secret of evil. Michael won’t spill the beans; he’d rather spill guts. Even Laurie, with her rocky history of not being trusted by her family, obsessed with keeping her home safe, and driven mad by Michael’s existence, has a tone that feels more natural than expositional. She’ll never slow down to explain herself when it comes to the dangers of Michael or how her odd house of tricks functions for trapping the killer she knows will come. She, too, will be interviewed by the podcasters and she won’t give them much, as though her wish to survive the night and kill Michael won’t come true if you tell.

David Gordon Green’s direction is superbly on track for matching the style of the original. The atmosphere always carries a creepy and intimidating feel, that familiar and simple John Carpenter style score piercing the tension almost as sharply as Michael’s knife. Michael’s kills are kept clever, bloody, and chilling; sometimes he’ll go as simple as choking someone to death with his giant hands and sometimes he’ll bring his boot down to splatter brains into the pavement. For as elaborate as it seems, I dug how Laurie’s secluded home comes with a slasher security system, including multiple door locks, an underground bunker of supplies, and special locks she can use to secure rooms she’s already explored. It turns Laurie into more of the screaming warrior than the scream queen she was originally known for. And there’s something oh-so-satisfying about transforming her into the gritty grandma with an arsenal of guns.

I doubt most jaded modern horror audiences would be as spooked into terror at the almost quaint killing spree of Michael Myers with his classic tactics but Halloween keeps a focus by maintaining its style and tone with grace. It’s a brilliantly shot film, from the checkerboard floors of a mental institution to the darkly lit interiors of Laurie’s stronghold, including some subtle callbacks and an alternate take on familiar shots. It’s viciously violent, slowly establishing that nobody is safe from the massacre via Myers, including kids. There are even a few twists thrown in to keep the story more interesting. Ultimately, it’s a wickedly faithful throwback to what made Halloween so gripping and infatuating before the saga descended into Stonehenge mysticism, a reality show, and dreams of white horses.


Continue Reading

Box Office

“First Man” Fumbles In Crowded Weekend, “Venom” Drops and Tops

Published

on

October is proving to be a crowded month for genre pictures and Oscar-worthy films. As such, it’s astounding that a superhero film has managed to set records for the month. Venom, Sony’s Marvel movie about the anti-hero, continues to be at #1 in its second weekend with a weekend gross of $35 million. This brings its domestic total to a towering $142.8 million, covering its $100 million budget. Once again, not far behind it is A Star is Born, the musical drama with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, ends up at #2 with a weekend gross of $28 million, the domestic total sitting at $94 million, still great for a $36 million budget.

There were a host of new releases this weekend but weren’t as successful as they trailed behind the top two. First Man, the Neil Armstrong movie starring Ryan Gosling, only made $16.5 million, a major disappointment for the $59 million film. Just beneath it was Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, a sequel to the 2015 family horror film based on the books by R.L. Stine, coming in close with $16.2 million. Further down was Bad Times At The El Royale, the all-star ensemble campy thriller, making $7.2 million. Expanding for the weekend was The Hate U Give, the racially charged drama, but the expansion to over 200 more theaters did little to push it up the chart, making $1.7 million.

Though Venom took the big dip for the weekend with a 55% drop, it still ended up being the biggest money-maker of the weekend. It’s no surprise that the other big drop was for The House With A Clock In Its Walls falling 45% because there’s not exactly enough room for two Jack Black scary family comedies. Both Smallfoot, the animated comedy with the voice of Channing Tatum, and Night School, the education comedy starring Kevin Hart, each had only 35% drops. But it was ultimately the comedy A Simple Favor that took the biggest hit of dropping 59% to #10 in the box office.

View the full top 10 of the weekend box office below:
Venom ($35,700,000)
A Star Is Born ($28,000,000)
First Man ($16,500,000)
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween ($16,225,000)
Smallfoot ($9,300,000)
Night School ($8,035,000)
Bad Times At The El Royale ($7,225,000)
The House With A Clock In Its Walls ($3,975,000)
The Hate U Give ($1,765,000)
A Simple Favor ($1,380,000)

Next weekend will be far less crowded with a heavy-hitter horror film aiming for the top spot. While The Hate U Give will be expanding even more into 2,300 theaters, the new Halloween, starring Jamie Lee Curtis, will be hitting 3,700 theaters, presenting the biggest threat to Venom’s quickly draining box office.


Continue Reading

Find Us On Facebook

More

Movie News5 days ago

Review: “First Moon” is an Emotional and Exciting Race to Space

Damien Chazelle’s take on Neil Armstrong’s tough road to making it to the moon may not be the most accurate...

Movie News5 days ago

Review: David Gordon Green’s “Halloween” Revives The Fear and Terror

After numerous sequels, remakes, reboots, and even a failed divergence of trying to weave the saga into an anthology, it...

Box Office5 days ago

“First Man” Fumbles In Crowded Weekend, “Venom” Drops and Tops

October is proving to be a crowded month for genre pictures and Oscar-worthy films. As such, it’s astounding that a...

Movie News2 weeks ago

Review: “Venom” Goes Gross, Tone-Deaf, Wacky

The tagline for Venom is that the world has enough superheroes but after such films as Deadpool and Suicide Squad,...

Box Office2 weeks ago

“Venom” Makes Big Debut, “A Star is Born” Close Behind

Superhero movies have once again set a new record for delivering the highest of box office grosses for an October...

Box Office3 weeks ago

“Night School” Nets Number One, “Smallfoot” Makes Tiny Mark

For the last weekend of September, it’s a pretty mild time of lukewarm films with lukewarm box office as we...

Movie News4 weeks ago

Review: “A Star is Born” Shines Bright with Cooper and Gaga

We know Lady Gaga can sing, but can she act? We know Bradley Cooper can act, but can he sing...

Box Office4 weeks ago

“The House with a Clock in its Walls” Scares Up Small Box Office

As we venture into the fall, scary movies are going to start cropping up and this weekend saw the first...

Movie News1 month ago

Review: “The House With a Clock In Its Walls” Ticks With Messy Magic

Eli Roth’s The House With a Clock In Its Walls has a lot going on to be the type of...

Box Office1 month ago

The Predator Makes Mild Blast For Weekend Debut

While last weekend was a stellar box office debut for The Nun, the weekend is much more low-key with reduced...

Trending