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Monday, January 30, 2012

ADVANCE "TV"IEW: Smash

TV SHOW
Smash

CAST
Katherine McPhee,
Debra Messing

RATING
TV-14

PILOT PREMIERE
February 6, 2012

CHANNEL
NBC

SERIES CREATOR
Theresa Rebeck

PILOT RUNNING TIME
43 minutes





STARS
***1/2










REVIEW:


In case you don't know me at all, I am a huge fan of the TV show 'Glee.'  Hell, you can probably consider me a "gleek" because I watch every new episode the night of its premiere.  Plus I went to see 'The 3D Concert Movie.'  The reason why I mention 'Glee' is that NBC wants some of that love, so they decided to create a new TV show starring 'American Idol' winner Katherine McPhee.  This new show is called 'Smash,' and NBC is letting YouTubers and iPod owners see the pilot episode before it airs on TV.  I knew that after finishing the episode that I had to write about it, so here I am.  Let me just start off by saying that if you don't like any type of musical related TV show or movie, you should probably stay away from this show at all costs.  However if you are a fan of that type of stuff, then you may want to watch the pilot episode to see what kind of groove it gives off to you.  The pilot episode is not perfect, but it got me interested in seeing what happens next.  Will 'Smash' become a 'Glee' for adults?  Maybe.  Will it be as good as 'Glee?'  If the NBC team keeps it up, then yes, it could be as good as the Fox hit. 'Smash' isn't perfect yet, but I believe that it could get much more interesting once the season really begins.

'Smash' takes audiences behind the Broadway stage into the gritty world of making a Broadway show.  The fictional Broadway show in this show is called "Marilyn: The Musical."  As you might have guessed, the show is about sex symbol Marilyn Monroe.  We are shown the inception of the idea, hiring the director, choreographing musical numbers, and casting a perfect lead to play Ms. Monroe.  Katherine McPhee and Megan Hilty are fighting for the coveted role, though you only get to see a glimpse of that in the first episode.

The cast is quite good for the parts they play, including McPhee, who is actually a newcomer on TV.  I also enjoyed Jack Davenport, aka James Norrington in the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' series.  I liked how snooty and devious this character is so far, and I'm curious to see how his chemistry with McPhee turns out in the end.  I also like the pop and flare that other newcomer Hilty has.  In some ways this show reminds me of a non-dark version of 'Black Swan.'  Its two girls competing for a star role, what more should I explain, because there aren't any lesbian love scenes in this show... yet.  They are also fantastic singers, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise for a musical show.  I can’t wait to see how far their musical voices take them in this show.  The rest of the cast, including Debra Messing and Angelica Huston are all very good in their roles.  Overall the cast is very good, and it looks like things will get very interesting between them all as the season progresses.

I'm very excited to see how far 'Smash' gets, because the pilot episode is a great intro to what could be a really great TV series.  If you want to know how exactly Broadway shows are created from the moment of inception, then this is the perfect TV show to check out in February.  The cast is good, the songs are catchy, and the stories are already starting to look interesting enough.  As I've said before, I don't think that this show will be as good or successful as 'Glee.'  'Glee' has a very strong following of teen and adult "gleeks," while this show is geared solely to adults.  This show is quite good, don't get me wrong; and I think audiences will dig it.  However I can't say that this show will be a hit upon release.  I still have hope though, and I hope it does become a successful show.  This show's pilot premieres on February 6 on NBC, but you can download it on iTunes, watch it On-Demand, or stream it right now down below.  If you're a fan of musicals, 'Glee,' and/or Broadway shows, then you will fall in love with this show.  If not, then don't even bother watching it.  'Smash' is off to a great star and I hope it becomes a "smash."





Tuesday, January 24, 2012

REVIEW: Man on a Ledge

MOVIE
Man on a Ledge

CAST
Sam Worthington,
Elizabeth Banks

RATING
PG-13

RELEASE
January 27, 2012

DIRECTOR
Asger Leth

STUDIO
Summit Entertainment

RUNNING TIME
1 hour 42 minutes





STARS
**1/2










REVIEW:

An action thriller in January is never really a good sign, because it seems that the studio wants to put something less than great out there to start off the year. In some ways, that is the case with Summit Entertainment, who is releasing a new action thriller called 'Man on a Ledge.' 'Man on a Ledge' has a great cast, including 'Avatar' star Sam Worthington, 'Billy Elliot'/'Tintin' himself Jamie Bell, and Academy Award winner Ed Harris. The trailer for the film was interesting, but not mind-blowing by any means. Actually, I probably wouldn't have seen the movie in the first place if I didn't get invited to a screening of it. Was I expecting a lot from this film? No. However did I want to see something much better than what I did see? Yeah! Sure the plot is interesting and the cast is fine, but the movie gets so ridiculous and farfetched that it took me out of what could have been a spectacular January movie. Still, this is a great film for a January release. If this was released in say April or May, then this would be a huge disappointment among almost anybody who goes to see it. 'Man on a Ledge' could have been so much more, but it was a fun ride nonetheless.

The movie is about a guy named Nick Cassidy who about two years ago was accused and found guilty of stealing a $40 million dollar diamond belonging to millionaire David Englander. Flash to a month before the movie takes place, and Cassidy escapes from custody and cannot be found. Now he decides to attempt suicide by coming out onto the ledge of some hotel in NYC. As it turns out, Cassidy is trying to prove himself innocent of the crime that was committed, so his brother is trying to break into Englander's private jewel stash to steal the diamond and prove that Cassidy is an innocent man.

Some of the cast were actually pretty good. The others were, well... meh. Sam Worthington surprisingly is very good in this movie. Worthington's Nick Cassidy is one of those people who you are behind the whole way through even when things don't exactly go his way. Elizabeth Banks is also good, but to be honest her role could have been played by anyone and it would've been just the same. In fact, all of the women in this film, including Kyra Sedgwick who is in this movie for no reason at all, are replaceable parts and could have been played by anyone walking on the street looking for an acting job. How Sexist! As for everyone else, Anthony Mackie is the movie's best actor in which he plays a character who you don't know whether or not he's a bad guy. Mackie is a guy to really look out for in the coming years, with his two 2011 roles in 'The Adjustment Bureau' and 'Real Steel' to be absolutely great. Still, his role in this film is his weakest one so far. As for Harris, he is good in it, but his character is the vaguest person in the entire film. What I mean by that is that he is a character who you don't know much about yet seems to have a lot of power. Nothing about is character is really explained, other than the fact that he set up Cassidy. I blame the writer of the film for the flaws of the characters.

This is the type of movie where a lot of back stories can actually improve on some of the film's quality. In this case, only about 5 minutes of the film is back story. All we know is that Cassidy escaped from prison after stealing this mysterious diamond, and that his father is dead and he attended the funeral before he escapes. This actually is shown to us within the first 10 minutes of the movie, so there are no spoilers here. After that, we gain no new information at all, rather the same info given with some comedic blots stamped into every other scene. In fact I wouldn't even call this movie a thriller at all. It's more like an action heist film with comedy thrown into it every other scene.

I saw a lot of the movie 'Tower Heist' in this film, but that was aimed to be a comedy, while this wasn't. Some of the jokes were funny, (got to love a "Where did you learn to fight: Jersey?" joke) but they soon got annoying and they took away from the whole action thriller aspect that the film was advertised as. Also, you never find out in the 102 minute running time why exactly Ed Harris set up Sam Worthington for stealing the diamond. Did they work together in the past? Were they old buddies who betrayed each other? You never find out at all. The small things like that would've made this movie 10 times more interesting. Nothing in this movie is very realistic. Hell, you wouldn't even be able to hear Sam Worthington shouting from the rooftop 20 stories above. It's just logic.

The movie starts to defy the laws of gravity and injury when Sam Worthington starts jumping from one building to another in order to escape the bad guys. If this movie was more realistic and less like a comedy, then the star rating would've bounced up a half or one star. For now, this is just the typical January release that is nothing special at all. The cast was okay, the story was dumb but interesting at parts, and the script was clichéd, unrealistic, and too comedic. If you want to see a stupid action comedy film on a Saturday or Sunday morning, then this is the perfect film to see. However if you are looking for something much more than anything I just said, then this is not the right film for you. 'Man on a Ledge' is fun at times, but overall it is a disappointing movie that will soon be forgotten by the time everything else starts coming onto the scene.



Monday, January 23, 2012

The Best and Worst Movies of 2011

It's taken me awhile to decide exactly what are my favorite and least favorite of 2011 because I really enjoyed a lot of movies.  My worst of also needed some work because I hadn't seen some of the panned films of 2011.  But now that I've seen what I felt I needed to see, here are my top 15 best and worst of 2011 lists for you to enjoy!  Let's hope 2012 can top last year, which won't be the easiest of tasks.
 

 

 
WORST:



Honorable Mentions

  • Beastly
  • Limitless
  • The Art of Getting By
  • Abduction
  • Arthur Christmas
  

15. Larry Crowne

 






















14. The Three Musketeers

 






















 














































 























 










































  
  

































  






















  
 










































3. Alvin and the Chipmunks:
    Chipwrecked




























  








 

 





















  

 
BEST:

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
  • Puss in Boots
  • The Help
  • Footloose
  • 50/50
  • Tucker & Dale vs. Evil 

 
15. The Adjustment Bureau














  


      & Incredibly Close
 























13. Crazy, Stupid, Love























12. Being Elmo:
      A Puppeteer's Journey
























11. X-Men: First Class

 
























10. Source Code

 






















9. Harry Potter and
    the Deathly Hallows Part 2






















8. Midnight in Paris

















































6. Super 8

 






















5. The Descendants

 






















4. War Horse
























3. Hugo

 























2. Warrior
 






















1. The Artist

 






















  

 

 
Any surprises?  Any comments?  Please tell me what your favorite of 2011 was, and stay tuned tomorrow for two reasons:  A.) it's my 15th birthday! and B.) I have a review for an upcoming release from this weekend.  Stay tuned, and Happy New Year!

MINI REWIND REVIEW: Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

MOVIE
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

CAST
Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk

RATING
R

RELEASE
September 30, 2011

DIRECTOR
Eli Craig

STUDIO
Magnet Releasing (Magnolia)

RUNNING TIME
1 hour 28 minutes






STARS
****










REVIEW:

It has been proven by many that high school/college kids are complete idiots. Not all, but some of them. In horror movies, they always get themselves into some serious trouble involving sex, drugs, and a mass murderer that likes to chop people up like pieces of sushi. The indie film 'Tucker & Dale vs. Evil' plays off of that with comedy, bloody horror, and a surprisingly genuine heart. So eight college kids go to an abandoned forest where two mysterious looking hillbillies are currently residing. After one of the college kids gets hurt from a swimming accident, these two guys take her in. Little does she and her friends know, these two guys, named Tucker and Dale, are really the world's sweetest guys and don't want any harm. The other group members however haven't seen what the hurt member, named Ali, has seen, so they assume that they are rampaging killers. As they try to save their friend, they end up killing each other one by one, and Tucker and Dale are held responsible because of the way they look.

To be fair, I had no idea who Tyler Labine is before seeing this movie. I knew who Alan Tudyk was thanks to a little comedy called 'Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story' because he played Steve the Pirate. Their chemistry in this film is irresistible and great. In some ways they are the perfect yings and yangs, despite them both being idiots of sorts. These are very likeable characters whose misfit ways end up getting the majority of these teenagers killed in the most excruciating of ways. Their comedic timing is perfect, and their reactions to the deaths are priceless. That goes to say, these guys make be the most bumbling characters any American would have seen in 2011. Katrina Bowden is great as the only teenager that sees Tucker and Dale for what they are: likeable idiots. She's trying to save her friends but they are so dumb that they won't even listen. Speaking of the college kids, they are all hilarious in how they react to Tucker and Dale. They all die in the most shocking but humorous of ways, and you laugh nearly every time it happens. If any attractive college actor wanted to mock themselves in a sweet horror film, this is the perfect film to do it in.

If you take away the shocking but hilarious gore and just have the eight college kids with Tucker and Dale, you'd see them being afraid of them because of their looks. Everybody in life makes pre judgments to complete strangers just by looking at them. Looking at the poster of this film, would you see the two hillbillies on there as nice guys? Probably not, but that's where the lesson of the film is: looks can be deceiving, so don't judge a book by its cover. This movie works so well because it has over the top horror/gore, great comedic timing, and two fantastic leads that are as sweet as candy and as bad as ass. First time director Eli Craig has crafted a gem of a movie that deserves to get some views now that it's on Netflix Instant. 2011 brought us some great movies, including the British Sci-Fi horror/comedy 'Attack the Block.' If there was a perfect double that symbolizes the creativity of first time filmmakers in 2011, it's this and 'Block.' This is the type of film that anyone who's scared of horror films would get a nice laugh out of, just like 'Block.' If you're not a fan of gore however, then I can't help you out there at all. Overall 'Tucker & Dale vs. Evil' is short, sweet, gory, and lots of fun. Check it out when you can get the chance, because you won't regret it at all.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

REVIEW: Red Tails

MOVIE
Red Tails

CAST
Cuba Gooding Jr.,
Terrence Howard

RATING
PG-13

RELEASE
January 20, 2012

DIRECTOR
Anthony Hemingway

STUDIO(S)
20th Century Fox,
LucasFilm

RUNNING TIME
2 hours 5 minutes



STARS
(1/2 star)










REVIEW:

It's hard to think that George Lucas, the creator of 'Star Wars' and 'Indiana Jones' would ever go onto a career that involved 'Howard the Duck,' 'the Star Wars prequels,' and 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.' In a last ditch effort to put something up on the big screen, Lucas has made his longtime dream project about the Tuskegee Airmen and their courageous battle through war and racism. That movie has turned into 'Red Tails,' which by the looks of it has a solid cast consisting of Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, and Bryan Cranston. It also has some impressive visuals in the trailer. How could this movie have gone so horribly wrong? Well despite every effort made into making a great January movie, 'Red Tails' is a horrendous, clichéd, generic action movie that had me wanting to leave 10 minutes into it. I truly wanted to like this movie, but everything about it just had me squirming in my seat. 'Red Tails' is a very early contender for the worst movie of 2012.

I believe Lucas, who surprisingly only has "Executive Producer" credit on the film, secretly directed and wrote it himself. If you've seen the 'Star Wars' prequels and then you see this movie, you can probably see why I make this assumption. The dialogue is terrible in this movie. It just sounds like "We may be black, but we can fly in this war" or "That looks like my grandfather's Buick." Every line in this film sounded like a terrible 1940s catchphrase that only the idiots of the 21st century could think of. Another reason why I believe George Lucas directed this film is because of some of the set-pieces. There is a scene in this movie where the Airmen are invited into a bar for a few drinks and I could swear to you it's the same exact set as the Mos Eisley Cantina in the original 'Star Wars' movie. Come to think of it, this entire movie is a rip-off of the 'Star Wars' movies. The only difference is that this is based on actual events! What a shame. I wish the filmmakers even considered casting solid actors rather than complete unknowns.

The cast of the African American pilots include Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Ne-Yo, and Method Man. Notice how two of the four of those actors is a music star. All of the actors in this movie alone are all a big cliché. The captain is the guy who always listens to himself and is always pissed at himself in the outcome. The lieutenant is the reckless hero who knows better than the captain and falls in love with a woman. The other airmen are jokers and the source of terrible one liners. I can admit that Oyelowo (the lieutenant) is the best of the characters, but there was no point of his character having a typical love story with a woman he waves to from his plane within the first 10 minutes of the film.

Other than the lieutenant, none of the characters were interesting or cool. Instead they were one dimensional and corny as hell. Even Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard (in supporting roles btw) could save this movie. All Cuba Gooding did in the movie was hold a pipe, put it in his mouth, and then take it out. That's really all he does in this movie. Terrence Howard is okay I guess, but he's just a character who says motivational speeches and talks back to Bryan Cranston's character, whose duration lasts less than 2 minutes. The cast is pretty bad, other than the lieutenant. That doesn't help the movie's case at all.

Call me critical, but the biggest problem I had with the movie was the editing. Every time you'd go to a new location, the previous scene would fade into the next one, rather than just the quick cut transition. The transition became so irrelevant and redundant that I squinted every time it happened. Imagine a scene involving a gun battle with epic music, then it fades into a new location with romantic music and the sappy lieutenant love story comes on. That is exactly what happens in this movie, and it happens all too frequently. Whoever was the editor of this film should seriously go to a school for proper editing rather than get hints from George Lucas' school of making a film. At least there he or she could learn some proper techniques on how to edit up a movie. I also want to say that the flight battle scenes, despite being cool, look fake and are very dumb. People call the visual effects in this movie revolutionary. To that I say, how exactly are these effects "incredible and "revolutionary?" They look like generic CGI effects from the early 2000s for crying out loud. They're good I guess, but not good enough to help the movie out at all.

It's a shame that George Lucas is known for defining the Sci-Fi genre, then ruining it 20 years later with the 'Star Wars' re-releases and the prequels. I wish he can set his mind to better projects, or just let better writers, editors, and directors make these type of movies where he is only the executive producer. I can honestly say that I HATE this film. My opinion has nothing to do with racism or anything, because I most certainly am not a racist person. I just want to go into a movie and enjoy it. I found every single thing in this movie (except for the lieutenant guy) to be stupid, corny, and just plain bad. The acting was bad, the script was dreadful, and the post production process ruined any intention on seeing a fun historical action film. Actually, this movie has nothing to do with the actual story of the Airmen. If you want to see a good movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, watch the HBO documentary on them, and learn something new and fascinating. George Lucas fans will defend this movie with their lives, but I just couldn't enjoy this film at all. I've only seen three films from the year 2012 so far, and this by far is the worst of them all. 'Red Tails' is horrendous, stupid, boring, and an early contender for the worst movie of 2012.




PREVIEWS YOU MAY SEE:


Star Wars Episode I:
The Phantom Menace 3D


Tyler Perry's Good Deeds


Think Like A Man


The Three Stooges


Battleship



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

REVIEW: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

MOVIE
Extremely Loud &
Incredibly Close

CAST
Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock,
Thomas Horn

RATING
PG-13

RELEASE
January 20, 2012 (WIDE)

DIRECTOR
Stephen Daldry

STUDIO
Warner Bros. Pictures

RUNNING TIME
2 hours 9 minutes





STARS
****







REVIEW:

Just like 'The Tree of Life' before it, 'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close' has sparked up much controversy. In fact, many people only know about this movie because of its painful background: 9/11. I understand that many are still mourning the loss of their loved ones on as the movie's protagonist Oskar Shell says "that terrible day." However audiences should put aside their harsh feelings for two hours and experience a story unlike anything we've seen in 2011. (This movie came out in limited on Christmas; it's just coming out everywhere else on January 20) Stephen Daldry is back after a three/four year absence from the Oscar winning drama 'The Reader' and he has Oscar winners Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock in great supporting (yes, they're not THE stars of the movie) roles. I can see where people would call this quote on quote "schmaltzy, manipulative Oscar bait," because that in some ways is exactly what it is. However 'War Horse' too was "schmaltzy manipulative Oscar bait," and look how much praise that's getting. 'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close' is an emotional train ride with some smiles and some flinches throughout. It is a fantastic movie that deserves to be seen by anyone who isn't prejudice over people who try to make movies with 9/11 in the context. Even though this was released late last year, this is the first great movie of 2012!

Like I said before, this movie is not a Tom Hanks/Sandra Bullock film. The star of this film is newcomer Thomas Horn, who actually got the role of Oskar thanks to a lucky game of Jeopardy during Kid's Week. If you're at all concerned if this kid will annoy you at all, let me just tell you that he probably will. Horn's Oskar is a kid who even before his father died had problems. There's a part in the movie where Horn says that he was tested for Aspergers, though the tests were inconclusive. As a teenager with Aspergers, I can see the pain in this kid. The only friend Oskar ever had was his father, and I am not over exaggerating. The entire purpose of his journey is because he wants to spend more time with his father, and I don't blame him.

Because of his life problems, Oskar now (SPOILER) picks at himself all over his body (some of the acts actually seen), isolates himself from his everyday life, and screams/rants because of the tragedy. (END SPOILER) A couple of friends of mine didn't like the movie because of how irritating Horn is. I don't blame them for that, but some of the best characters in films really get into your skin and irritate you. I was both irritated and frightened by Oskar, while at the same time pitying his loss. If you can't handle two hours with this kid, then this movie is not for you. However if you can handle seeing a young boy let his anger out like any mentally disabled child would in a situation like this, then this is the performance of a lifetime.

Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock together are in about 1/3 of the movie. Hanks is the type of father that would just go up to his kid and say "let's go do something" which I thought was really cool. There is even a situation with Hanks and Horn involving facing a fear, which would seem to be out of place until the last 5 minutes of the film, which actually warmed my heart a bit. He may not be in the movie that much, but Hanks is great in this movie. Bullock is the exact opposite of Hanks and she can't understand why her son can't connect with her at all. Bullock's performance felt very real and authentic to me, because I've seen parents like her act out to their children in ways like how they're shown in this film. I can't see Bullock getting any Oscar consideration like she did with 'The Blind Side,' but she is great in this film. Other cast members include Max von Sydow and Viola Davis are great in their supporting roles, with Jeffery Wright and John Goodman good for the three scenes they are in the movie all together. The entire cast in this movie is great, but you have to withstand Horn in order to get to everyone else.

To be fair, this is my first time seeing a Stephen Daldry film, and that's only because I haven't gotten around to 'Billy Elliot' yet. However I'm glad to have this movie be my first experience with his talent, because it's a film unlike anything you've seen before. Daldry and everyone involved made a bold move making this film, and the end result is a reflection on the problems in our lives and how this mentally dysfunctional kid can somehow relate to our daily lives. Eric Roth, who has written the screenplays for 'Forrest Gump' and 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' wrote the adaptation for this film, and does it in such a way that it makes you feel like you just woke up from a visceral but life changing nightmare. An aspect I love about this film is that in some of the scenes things get much louder than you'd think and really in your face, putting you into the perspective of Oskar. While it's not the easiest thing to cope with at first, you soon see exactly why the movie was made like that: because it's the movie's title!

'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close' may be a ridiculous name, but it all makes sense once you start to think about it. Imagine yourself in Oskar's situation right now. What would you do? How would you cope with it? Wouldn't you long for one last minute with your loved one if you had the chance? Every cast member plays their parts beautifully, Thomas Horn and Max von Sydow especially. Eric Roth delivers a great script that is worthy of a nomination if people actually pay attention to it. Daldry knows how to tug on your hearts strings and make you care for these characters, even if the feelings are manipulative. However as I said at the beginning of this review, 'War Horse' was a manipulative movie, so why should this be put on the fence? Think of a better reason better than 9/11. Go see this movie as it was made to be seen as: an emotional roller coaster about a boy trying to extend his quote on quote "final 8 minutes with his dad." This movie is just as controversial as Terrence Malik’s ‘The Tree of Life,’ though this is less vague and confusing. Still, it’s just as moving and provocative as the Palm D’Or winner. Overall, If you can handle two hours with lots of drama and one hell of a messed up kid, as well as a couple of days of pondering exactly what you saw, take this wonderful journey and get 'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.'




Sunday, January 8, 2012

REVIEW: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

MOVIE
Mission Impossible:
Ghost Protocol

CAST
Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner,
Paula Patton, Simon Pegg

RATING
PG-13

RELEASE
December 21, 2011

DIRECTOR
Brad Bird

STUDIO
Paramount Pictures

RUNNING TIME
2 hours 13 minutes






STARS
***1/2












REVIEW:

In South Jersey on New Year’s Day 2012, the weather was so warm that I could wear shorts if I wanted to. I swear to you it felt like summertime had come on the first day of January, when it should be freezing out. In some ways, I'd say that "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol' is the cause for this. 'Ghost Protocol' is one of those rare examples when a movie takes all the fun of a summer blockbuster and throws it into a winter release. Back in late April, a little known movie called 'Fast Five' came out and surprisingly enough it turned out to be the best 'Fast and Furious' movie in the entire series. While I have not seen all of the 'Mission Impossible' movies, I have seen the first one and was confused immediately when the credits started. 'Ghost Protocol' however is fast, fun, and really big in scope. If there is one movie where you want to turn off your brain at some parts and have it engaged in others, then this is the perfect movie to do that with. Anyone who goes to see this movie will have a lot of fun with it, some more than others. For me, this is a really good action spy movie that had me intrigued for all of its 133 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: (Courtesy of Moviefone.com)
Academy Award-winning director Brad Bird (Ratatouille) makes his live action feature directorial debut with the fourth installment of the massively successful Mission Impossible series. The Kremlin has been bombed, and the blame has fallen on the IMF. As a result, the president initiates Ghost Protocol, and accuses Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team of placing the bomb in an attempt to incite a global nuclear war. Now in order to clear the IMF of terrorism charges, Ethan assembles a new team to uncover the truth by using every high-tech trick in the book. But this time they're on their own, and should they be caught, the entire world could be plunged into a nightmare from which there is no waking up. Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, and Simon Pegg co-star.

Tom Cruise is a very good actor when he makes the right choices. Recently, he hasn't been so successful in any type of movie he makes, despite his most recent film 'Knight and Day' being surprisingly enjoyable. He returns to his Ethan Hunt roots in this movie, and my gosh is he great. Cruise throughout the movie looks like a complete badass, especially during some of the spectacular action scenes. His portrayal of Hunt in this film has a sort of charisma and charm that engulfs you, while at the same time giving some convincing drama with Hunt's personal life that ties in with 'Mission Impossible III.' (I know this from the original trailers of the J.J. Abrams directed film) If this movie isn't considered to be the comeback for Cruise, then I can't see what Hollywood's problem with him is. I didn't find this out until after the movie came out, but it turns out that Cruise himself did all of his stunts in the film. If he is brave enough to climb the outside of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, then I don't know what else he can do to get the attention of audiences worldwide. Maybe he needs a great cast behind him, or at least alongside him for the entire ride. Luckily the makers of this film are already one step ahead of the plan.

'The Hurt Locker's' Jeremy Renner, the undeniably sexy Paula Patton, and the funny Brit Simon Pegg make up the new team, and they are all brilliant. Renner is great because he knows how to play it cool and be an awesome action-tier when the time is called. Simon Pegg is the funnybone of the film, though the comedy isn't used to the extreme, which helps the audience remember that this is an action spy film with moments of comedic relief. Paula Patton is the best of the three because A.) she is incredibly gorgeous and B.) she is a part of some of the coolest fight scenes in the movie, one involving a Russian villain. In the 2010 film 'The A-Team,' the four guys who make up the team all work together to each shine in their own way. Tom Cruise may be the biggest name on the poster, but this movie wouldn't have been so fun without the talents of the three other team members.

If there is one flaw I can distinctly remember from this film, it's the villains of the film. Since the IMF team has gone rogue, there are two sides of villains who are after them: the typical villains who want to take over who knows what, and the guys who think they are helping the problem but are really delaying what the good guys are trying to accomplish. One of the guys in the latter category says some line to Tom Cruise involving the name "rogue leader" multiple times throughout. By the time the guy said "rogue leader" a second time around, I whispered to my friend that it was only just getting dumb and annoying. As for the typical devious villains, I see no purpose why they want to take over the free world. Sure it's explained thoroughly by the villains themselves, but why exactly do they want to succeed with their plan? Did the world somehow tick them off so much that they want to take over the world? Anyways, those are my problems. I've heard people kind of just go with the villains and their over the top plot. Let's just get back to the good stuff.

The director of this film, in case you haven't read anything about this film, is Brad Bird. Mr. Bird is a first time live action director with this film, with his previous work being 'The Iron Giant,' 'The Incredibles,' and 'Ratatouille.' If you just so happen to see this movie without seeing his animated films first, you would believe that he is a natural behind the camera. The action sequences are so well orchestrated that they immerse you into all of the fun that's going on. Bird chose to shoot some of the film's sequences with IMAX cameras, and even just seeing it in a regular movie theater makes you feel involved in something huge. With Brad being successful at his first live action directing attempt, I now have even more faith in 'Finding Nemo' director Andrew Stanton, who's directing the March Disney release 'John Carter.' I tip my hat to you, Mr. Bird, and I hope that your next attempts into non animated filmmaking are all as successful as this one. However next time, please don't show clips from the entire movie during the opening credits sequence.

'Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol' is as much fun as you'll have at the movies in early 2012. There's no sentimental heart, hilarious comedic scenes, or over the top gore. It's just an action packed, thought provoking movie that is non-stop fun throughout. Sure things may get a bit over the top at parts, but isn't that what movies like this are for? We, the people go to these movies to have loads of fun, and we get that here. The cast is surprisingly great, Tom Cruise especially. Brad Bird seems to know what he's doing on live action filmmaking, which is always an awesome sign. Many people thought that this movie wasn't going to be so good and become forgotten in a matter of weeks. Look at it now, a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and a film on many of You Tube critics' top 10 lists. I'm not in love with this movie as many others are, but surely enough this is a sleek and cool action spy thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat for the entire time. All you need now is some hot weather and a big pool to swim in, and we can call this time of the year "Summertime in the Winter." Either that or global warming, you choose.




PREVIEWS YOU MAY SEE:

The Grey


Safe House


Ghost Rider:
Spirit of Vengeance


Titanic 3D


The Avengers


Rock of Ages


G.I. Joe:
Retaliation