Monday, August 13, 2018

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  When it comes to Mission:  Impossible movies, I always choose to accept...and, yes, I know that was stupid and cheesy but I just love these movies!



Mission:  Impossible – Fallout – 5 out of 5


I love the Mission: Impossible franchise.  Pretty much every single movie (but the second one) is top notch action and exciting fun.  So, totes obvs, I was excited as hell when I saw that first trailer for the new one; Mission:  Impossible – Fallout.  What kind of insane stunt was Tom Cruise going to pull off this time?  What type of crazy nutso action was going to be presented?  Like the previous ones (except the 2nd one), it delivered the goods and it was awesome!

                                                                                                      Paramount Pictures
Behold, the mustache that will live in infamy in Justice League.



A terrorist group calling themselves The Apostles recently was able to get their hands on three plutonium cores during a botched IMF mission; they plan on using them to creature nuclear weapons and bring chaos to the world.  IMF agent; Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), is charged with retrieving the cores.  The problem is that he must extract the former leader of the defunct criminal organization called the Syndicate; Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), in order to do so.  With his team at his side; Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), Hunt sets out to complete the mission but finds himself saddled with a dangerous CIA operative named August Walker (Henry Cavill) and is being shadowed by a former ally; Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) who both have their own interests in Lane.

                                                                                                      Paramount Pictures
I love that action movies can make business casual an awesome uniform
for a fight scene but when I have to dress like this for work I feel
like I'm being tortured.


Director Christopher McQuarrie becomes the first director to return for a second movie in this franchise and that is a great thing.  As writer and director, McQuarrie crafted a captivating thriller that is incredibly exciting and a whole lot of fun.  Overall, the story is very solid and does a great job of building off of the previous film Rogue Nation and I like the development we see; whether it is from the antagonist Solomon Lane, the heroes like Hunt and Faust or even Hunt’s ex-wife Julia, who makes a return.  Fallout is the first film to really feel like a continuation and McQuarrie makes this feature feel a tad bit like universe building rather than just another mission that the chose to accept.  However, that doesn’t take away from the new developments this film delivers.  For example, the character of August Walker was a nice addition to the series and his role was exceptionally memorable from both an action standpoint and a story one.

                                                                                                     Paramount Pictures
Benji and Luther are back...already that means this movie is awesome.


One element that really struck me was the use of sound in the film.  From a sound editing perspective, the audio track is tight as hell.  It does a tremendous job of amplifying the action and making everything feel like it has more weight.  Whether this comes in the form of items whizzing by as Hunt flies past cars while on a high speed chase or the simple sound of elbows and fists being thrown in a fist fight, the use of sound really aided in creating very vivid moments of action.  Sometimes, action scenes are accompanied only by natural sound and it helps make these already memorable sequences even more stark and attention-grabbing.  Playing in concert with the sound is the score, which is varied but never random feeling.  While the use of music may not be the first thing a viewer would notice in a film like this, Fallout still did a tremendous job of having the perfect musical accompaniment for what you were seeing on screen.

                                                                                                      Paramount Pictures
The Foley work on that mustache was next level.
Okay, that's the last mustache joke.


                                                                          Paramount Pictures
Ilsa is back and still bad as hell.
Performance-wise, Fallout is great.  Cruise is keeping the formula true for the character he’s played now for 22 years and he’s backed up by franchise regulars excellently with Rhames providing the hip and tender factor and Pegg hitting all the right comedic notes.  While Cruise may also provide a nice badass factor, he’s definitely out-badassed by Rebecca Ferguson as Faust and Henry Cavill as Walker.  Both of them are tough-as-nails characters and they make it damn believable.  Finally, Sean Harris is extra unsettling as the antagonist Solomon Lane and his performance is really a thrill to take in.  He is able to be this looming threat despite the fact he spends most of the story in custody.  

                                                                                                      Paramount Pictures
I have an intense fear of drowning.  This scene is my effing nightmare.


                                                                            Paramount Pictures
While it is definitely an insurance headache, seeing
Cruise's face while these stunts happen really
helps emerge one into the action.
Of course, the biggest and most anticipated portion of these films is the action and stunts.  Somehow, the Mission:  Impossible films are able to out-do themselves with each passing entry.  Hell, watch the first one nowadays and it just looks so mild by what they’ve churned out since the third film.  This one really made a name for itself by having Tom Cruise make history by being the first actor to perform a HALO (high altitude, low opening) jump.  He trained for a year for this and it was worth it because the final sequence is epic.  It looks incredible and it is very exciting.  And that is just one moment in the film!  Fallout delivers memorable moment after memorable moment and makes the film a non-stop thrill ride that basically never lets up on the action.  The movie provides an incredible array of stunt-based action scenes that run the spectrum of a simple foot chase to a helicopter showdown to an incredibly thrilling car and motorcycle chase through some very busy streets.  To put it bluntly:  The action is very satisfying.

                                                                                                     Paramount Pictures
I say this all the time but despite how I hate his religious beliefs, I respect the
hell out of Cruise for having the courage to do these stunts.


Mission:  Impossible – Fallout keeps the traditions and tropes this action franchise has established and juiced them up so it never feels repetitive or stale.  Even when the story slows down for exposition and development purposes McQuarrie is able to make it feel like the foot is never let up from the gas pedal and the story moves along at an amazing pace.  The movie is exciting, badass and fun.  It has all the right ingredients at all the right measurements and it makes it one of the best in the series so far.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Gringo

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Chase the gringo last night through a field.



Gringo – 3 out of 5

There’s a lot of talent in the film Gringo and I think that is the number one thing that drew me to this movie.  I saw a preview for it and it looked fun but having the likes of Joel Edgerton, Charlize Theron, David Oyelowo and Sharlto Copley in the film was what really made me want to check this feature out.  Overall, the movie is fairly decent but, ultimately, the thing that was the best part about it is what brought me to it to begin with.

Oyelowo isn't impressed with your memes.

Co-presidents of a Chicago-based pharmaceutical company; Richard Rusk (Edgerton) and Elaine Markinson (Theron), are preparing for a merger but have to travel to Mexico in order to stop an employee from dealing with a local drug lord.  As this is going, their employee; Harold Soyinka (Oyelowo), discovers that Rusk and Markinson are going to fire him when the merger goes through.  In return, Harold decides to pretend to be kidnapped in an attempt to get his hands on a large ransom.  Rusk decides to send his mercenary brother; Mitch (Copley), to Mexico in order to retrieve him.  Before Harold knows what is happening, the drug cartel kidnaps him for real and now must use the mercenary hunting him to escape.

Fun Fact:  Joel Edgerton's brother directed this.

Gringo has a great idea, a terrific cast and isn’t afraid to have a little fun along the way.  However, the film is hampered slightly by a pace that never really feels like it has any “get up and go.”  When the film starts, it’s doing a fairly decent job at establishing the stakes as its beginning moments involves a fantastic scene that really sets the stage and got me invested quickly.  Sadly, though, the film feels like it puts on the brakes as it backtracks in the story a little bit and then takes a long time to set up the sequence you just watched.  After that, the film feels like it is just gingerly going from point-to-point and is in no real rush to hit its main point of conflict.  Then, chaotically when it gets into the third act, the pacing goes crazy and feels like it is on a mad rush to wrap things up.  It made the film feel very uneven and made it a tad difficult to get completely invested into Harold’s journey and didn’t come close to how strong the opening moments of the film were.

That's a lot of talent at one table.

The final element that held Gringo back for me was the seemingly superfluous nature of the film’s B-story.  Amanda Seyfried and Harry Treadaway play the couple Sunny and Miles and their story never feels truly connected to Harold’s.  Miles is a drug mule and has a backhanded attachment to what is going on but never do these characters feel like they belong or are even needed for the story.  Above everything else, their inclusion feels more like a speed bump that slows the plot down.

Honestly, you could edit these two out and it really wouldn't change the story
at all.


Despite the story issues this film has, the feature looks great and the performances are fantastic.  Edgerton and Theron are so good at playing the asshole corporate types and ride the line of being fun to watch and fun to hate on.  Sharlto Copley has a cool and totally badass aura about him as the mercenary Mitch—which really shows his range as a performer because this isn’t the first time he’s played a tough guy and be believable as one.  Copley has quite the spectrum as he can play the dweeb in one film and a badass in another and everything in-between and pull them all off.  Finally, David Oyelowo’s incredibly strong and sympathetic performance as Harold helps carry the film effectively, especially when the story has its dragging and mundane moments.

Copley is definitely one of my inspirations when I perform.

Gringo is a film with a workable idea and an amazing cast but the story held this one back for me.  With characters that felt unnecessary and a pace that felt inconsistent, the movie ultimately didn’t deliver on the potential that it held.  It was never boring or bad but it never got as interesting or as good as it could have been.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Blockers

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  The poster of Blockers had a rooster on it before the word "blockers" and--oh, I just got it.



Blockers – 4 out of 5

I saw the trailer for Blockers when it was on its way to the theaters and there were moments that made me giggle but comedies, especially sex-based ones, can be quite the gamble.  While it’s true with any film, there’s always a risk that the best parts are shown in the trailer and, due to the nature of comedies and how the end result that is a desire to laugh, experiencing the disappointment that comes when you learn that all the funny parts were in the trailer can be quite the letdown.  However, I was told by several friends that the film was better than they anticipated and that’s something I love to hear.  And, as it turns out, they were right!  Blockers isn’t too shabby!

Yes, this scene is in the trailer and it was still funny when I saw it in the film proper.

Lifelong friends; Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon), have decided that their Senior Prom is the day they will all lose their virginity.  Their parents; the single mom to Julie, Lisa (Leslie Mann), the sports-centric father to Kayla, Mitchell (John Cena) and the divorced, absentee father of Sam, Hunter (Ike Barinholtz), find out about this plan and decide they need to protect the virginity of these girls at all cost and set out on a mission to stop them from going all the way.

"We'll tell our children about the day we all lost our virginity!!!"

For some reason, Katy Perry's "Firework" plays
in my head when I look at this screenshot.
Blockers has a razor thin line it is trying to walk.  On one side, it is actively subverting the traditional sex comedy roles by having the characters trying to lose their virginity be women.  Think of all the times you’ve seen films that involve a group of high school guys trying to lose their virginity—it’s been done and it’s been done a lot.  So, right off the bat, having this gender swap of this trope is appealing because, as much as we like to deny it in our society, women want sex too.  And that brings me to my next point; on the other side of this line, the film is playing off the outdated social idea that a women’s virginity must be protected at all times.  Think of all the sexually insecure fathers who tie their daughter’s virginity and sex life to their own fragile masculinity.  They wear shirts that brag they will murder any boy that tries to sleep with their daughter.  This idea crosses so many lines that it is just gross.  Why is a father so vigilant about his daughter’s sex life?  Well, because he’s essentially trying to protect her from himself.  Men who think like this often are or were really shitty dudes to women and now they are trying to protect their daughter’s perceived precious sex life from men that are no different than they were or are.  This latter element was the one thing I was very concerned about with Blockers.  I was worried the whole film was going to be a regressive commentary about how women are not entitled to their own sexual exploration and that parents must stop them from having sex—while in the male version of this film, the fathers are cheering their boys on in their quest to get laid.  

She must stop her kid from having sex because she doesn't want her to have
a kid.  Kids ruin lives.  It's true.  My mom sends me daily text messages
to remind me of that.  Sometimes this reminder gets hurtful.

Surprisingly, Blockers shows how truly progressive it is but acknowledging how primitive this line of thinking is as they have Hunter play the voice of reason against the backwards thinking of Lisa and Mitchell.  Hunter and other characters chide them on their activities and even points out the inherent double standard our society has.  Hunter’s character even is given extra treatment as he openly acknowledges that his daughter is confused about her sexuality and the only reason he is along for the ride is so that she is true to herself and isn’t conforming to archaic society standards.  Above everything else, this forward and progressive stance this film takes on the tired old sex comedy trope is very refreshing.

She can't see him.

There are times when the concept of this comedy starts to get stretched thin as the plot struggles to find reasons why the kids would remain one step ahead of the parents.  This is where Blockers is at its weakest.  There are definite moments that felt unnecessary and like the feature is actively trying to find situations to put the adults in that would result in unique comedic moments and make sure to get the kids to a new location for the parents to try and track down.  While this doesn’t happen often, these moments were noticeably different as the comedy is less about the situation of the parents denying their children their right to grow up and is more about momentary gags that have little to do with the overall premise—essentially throwaway gags.  Sometimes these parts are decent and workable but sometimes they feel out of place and different in tone from the rest of the feature.  These moments aren’t entertainment killers because the film still does bring in a lot of great humor but they definitely were mildly distracting.

I was hoping that they would have explored Sam's awakening to her sexual
orientation a little more but, for what it is worth, they explored it better
than other properties have in the past.
 

The cast to this one is fantastic.  The kids, while mostly just flat characteristics of teenage tropes—you have the smart one with the bright future, the athletic one with the bright future and then the quirky, nerdy one (the degree of illumination of her future is up in the air)—but the actresses portraying them are doing their job fairly well.  However, the true highlights belong to Mann, Cena and Barinholtz.  All three prove to be very funny on their own (I especially enjoyed seeing Cena as the uncool and uptight suburban dad) but together they were an amazingly efficient machine of comedy.  They all had such great chemistry as a unit and they really made the story move.

Three people I didn't think would work together but, dammit, they did.

Blockers takes a tired old sex comedy tale and gives it a fresh coat of progressive paint.  It may stray from its path on occasion and feel like it is trying to stretch the story out a little bit.  However, these are momentary speed bumps as the comedy is solid and the cast is fantastic and making even the weakest of comedic moments work.  Overall, it’s a comedy that is better than it could have gotten away with it and that is a damn good thing.