Mission: Impossible (1996)

Released: May 22, 1996. Directed by: Brian de Palma. Starring: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Béart. Runtime: 1h 50 min.

Based on the hit TV show from the 1960s, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) tries to clear his name when he’s suspected for disloyalty to the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) after a mission goes wrong and he’s left as the only survivor.

The script’s mediocre as Ethan must deliver the second half of a non-official cover (NOC) list, a list of covert agents in Eastern Europe, to an arms dealer named “Max” to discover the identity of the actual spy. I watched this three days ago and I barely remembered the NOC list. Out of the first three films, Brian de Palma’s direction and style are easily the least forgettable, as well.

The script does have some surprises and the cast helps keep it interesting, especially Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. He’s charming and great here and “Mission: Impossible” serves as a solid introduction to Ethan.

For the rest of the cast, I’m sure it was surprising when the film came out in 1996 that Emilio Estevez gets killed off in the first 25 minutes. For me, watching this for the first time in 2018, I was just surprised seeing him in this. Jon Voight’s also good as Jim Phelps – the only character from the original TV series.

It’s interesting seeing who Ethan aligns with to try to clear his name, since he can’t exactly get help from the agency. Claire (Emmanuelle Béart) has a decent chemistry with Ethan, but she’s the most forgettable out of the female leads of the first three films. Luther (Ving Rhames) is great and so is Jean Reno as Krieger.

The film itself though only has a few great action scenes, especially the dangling wire scene – which is so tense and the whole sequence is so entertaining – and the train finale is also great.

Throughout the film, Ethan is trying to evade director of the IMF Eugene Kittredge (Henry Czerny). Kittredge wants Ethan to come to them, saying “You find something that’s personally important to him and you squeeze.” The thing is, he doesn’t execute on this line because it doesn’t feel like Ethan has anything to lose. The stakes for this film simply don’t feel high enough, making the non-action scenes dull.

Score: 65/100

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Happy Gilmore (1996)

Happy GilmoreReleased: February 16, 1996. Directed by: Dennis Dugan. Starring: Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald, Julie Bowen. Runtime: 92 min.

“Happy Gilmore” is a silly sports comedy, which is its purpose; but God is it funny. Sandler plays the titular Happy Gilmore, a hockey-player-turned-golf-player because he has a wicked slap shot, but he can’t exactly skate so well. He takes his hockey skills and places them on the golf course, even if he has a hard time tapping the ball in sometimes. To help him with that is a love interest, Virginia Venet (Julie Bowen), and a former golf pro, Chubbs (Carl Weathers) to teach him how to improve on his game.

Happy’s motivation to join the golf tour is his grandmother, who hasn’t paid her taxes in years. Due to that, she loses her home – and in order to get it back, he’ll need some money.

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Fights with Bob Barker and other golfing patrons, distracting patrons yelling “Jackass!”, the villain, Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald), and endless product placement for Subway certainly makes this a satisfying and memorable Sandler movie. Oh, and then there is Ben Stiller’s turn as a crazed worker at the retirement home Gilmore’s grandmother stays at.

“Happy Gilmore” is a sweet, if entirely predictable sports comedy, and one of my favourite golf movies, even if it’s not in the same league as “Caddyshack.” It is still both Adam Sandler’s and director Dennis Dugan’s strongest comedies. I find myself laughing at this every time, no matter how many times I watch it.

There are solid chuckles throughout, and truly hilarious scenes. People will, of course, like it a lot more if they enjoy Sandler’s brand of comedy. This character gets very angry, which makes the title ironic. He’s a nice guy who means well, even if he’s generic to a fault. He is one of Sandler’s best characters. Wouldn’t it have been awesome if Sandler’s “Anger Management” movie was a sequel to this?

Score83/100

Scream (1996)

Release Date: December 20, 1996. Director: Wes Craven. Stars: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette. Runtime: 1hr, 51 min. Tagline: Someone’s Taken Their Love Of Scary Movies One Step Too Far!

Did you knowOriginally titled “Scary Movie” which was later used for a parody of the Scream and other pop culture horror films like it: Scary Movie (According to IMDb). [No wonder those two titles are sometimes confused by people!]

Scream is a fresh spin on the horror genre, and it oozes with sheer brilliance. It follows Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), an average teen whose mother was killed last year, living in the town of Woodsboro. To add stress to the dreadful upcoming anniversary, a killer called Ghostface surfaces and begins to kill local teens one by one. As the body count begins to rise, Sidney and her friends find themselves contemplating the “Rules” of horror films as they find themselves living in a real-life one.

That premise is really one of the most original and best to ever hit the horror genre. The real treat about Scream is that it’s both a great satire and a great horror movie. It embraces the horror genre while simultaneously mocking it, in such a refreshing way. It also turns psychotic killings into something hilarious, and satirical  Assuming one can find the humour in stabbings, and it is satirical because it’s all really ironic, such as the time where Tatum says “You’re starting to sound like a Wes Carpenter flick or something,” or when Jamie Kennedy is watching Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween, shouting “Come on, Jamie… Behind you!” at a time where he should look behind him. In this way, it feels like a self-aware film, even when the characters themselves are not aware they are in a movie. The characters discuss the “Rules” of horror films, while they themselves are trying to survive what is actually a horror movie.

The movie warns that, in most cases, if you have sex, drink or do drugs, among other things, you’re pretty much screwed. The movie dissects the genre and gets silly, scary and all-around intense. The concept is incredibly scary, because if one gets a prank call and the prank caller becomes increasingly violent, and the victim doesn’t have a good knowledge of horror movies, they’re basically screwed. Even when the scenes are incredibly long (the 42-minute party scene near the end, the crew made t-shirts that read “I SURVIVED SCENE 118”, and the Drew Barrymore scene at the very beginning lasts 12 minutes), it’s never boring. There are so many aspects of this film that could make this one of someone’s favourite horror flicks.

The primary characters are easy to care about (but when most are killed off, it really isn’t the end of the world) and it’s always suspenseful because the killer could be literally anyone. It could be you, the one reading this right now. Probably not. Ghostface is also hilarious because he’s so clever and witty and just downright psychopathic. He’s having so much fun, that, it’s really hard not to laugh along with this film.

Everyone is also incredibly well typecast and embrace their stereotypes. Sidney’s the virgin, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) is the number one suspect in the film, Tatum (Rose McGowan) is really just the slut, Stu (Matthew Lillard) is Tatum’s boyfriend, and Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) is the horror movie (and general movie) buff, who’s kinda secretly head-over-heels for Sidney. And what cinephile cannot love a movie with a funny movie buff in it? We can’t forget Dewey (David Arquette), the Deputy of the town, and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), the selfish news reporter trying to keep the apparently innocent man, Cotton Weary, who was incarcerated for the murder of Sidney’s mother, off death row. We also grow to love her for her backbone and fine badassery. Is that a word?

This movie is practically just the perfect treat to watch on a Friday night with a few friends and a bucket of poppin’ corn. It’s hilarious, edgy, intense, mysterious, scary, it always keeps its viewer guessing, and it’s overall brilliant. It also has an amazing premise that it executes extremely well, and that’s easy to admire. Scream is one of those movies that one can watch over and over because of its iconic characters, its pure entertainment value, and its tremendous amount of originality. And there’s lots of blood and horror references. It also always should inspire a Scream-athon (I think I’ll watch them all in the summer, when I have them all on Blu-Ray) because the sequels are fairly entertaining. This is truly a bit of a wet dream for horror fans. Only one thing is left to be said: What’s your favourite scary movie?

100/100

Fear (1996)

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Release Date: April 12, 1996

Director: James Foley

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon, William Petersen

Runtime: 97 min

Tagline: Together forever. Or else.

As far as stalker flicks go, they can be great experiments in cinema or they can ultimately fail. Some good ones include Fatal Attraction, Disturbia or Cape Fear. They can be awful like The Roommate or; they can be missed opportunities like Obsessed or; and they can just be mediocre, like this one.

Nicole Walker (Reese Witherspoon) is an innocent, pretty little 16-year-old gal who dreams of making love to the sound of “Wild Horses” by The Sundays. All of this happens when she meets a polite and charming boy, David (Mark Wahlberg). They soon fall in love, and everything’s a picture perfect relationship, until David shows his psychopathic side. As David sees it, the only thing standing in the way of their love is Nicole’s overbearing father, Steve (William Petersen).

Fear is a formulaic stalker feature that goes through the motions, but it is slightly fresh. This apparently is considered a horror flick, but the only scary thing about it is the realistic concept of all creepy stalker features. The performances are solid and the thriller kept me on the edge of my seat for the most part.

It is fresh because Nicole has a tight-knit relationship with her soon-to-be-stalker, and it starts out as an innocent romance. One of the creepiest things of a stalker feature like this, is that it can really happen to anyone. As a young person, many are just looking for the one, or a way to have fun. No one can know the person well enough within a week, and their charming side might just be a cover. That’s one of the only fresh things that it has going for it, however; it is also a piece of the recipe in all other creepy stalker movies. There’s always one dreamer of a gal who’d fall for a guy like that, the charmer with a thoroughly dark side. And screw up her family life by, oh I don’t know, give the boyfriend the alarm code to the house… (Seriously, you dumb, gullible pretty little thing, why didn’t you tell your parents sooner?!) The ending sequence feels reminiscent of Straw Dogs, but it gives it a modern thriller edge. With more silly characters, especially Alyssa Milano’s Margo Masse.

Screaming your damn head off really defeats the purpose of turning off all the lights in the house. You don’t want the baddies to detect where you are in the home, and a high-pitched scream is a pretty big give-away. You silly woman, Margo! There’s also one silly cliché where a character walks into the forest, as if saying “Oh David, I welcome you to kill me.” How ever silly some protagonist characters may be, the antagonist is made challenging and psychopathic. He isn’t brilliant because he does do dumb things, but Wahlberg does a fine job of making him chilling. He challenges the father mostly, because he sees him as a main thing that stands in his way of happiness with Nicole. He doesn’t comprehend that Nicole merely sees him as bat-shit-crazy. I didn’t think Wahlberg could be this insane, and it’s worth the watch for his performance as a fairly brutal psychopath… Especially in his post-Marky Mark days, serenading a twenty-year-old Witherspoon with a naughty good time, perhaps on a car or on a rollercoaster.

The thing with stalker features is we know exactly where they’re going. This did often keep me on the edge of my seat, especially in scenes of suspense or when David was displaying his dark side. Sometimes I couldn’t take the feature seriously, because it’s just unintentionally funny to me when “Wild Horses” is playing on the soundtrack while they’re getting it on…

In a nutshell: Fear is a traditional stalker feature with silly characters, some unintentionally funny moments, and a fairly chilling turn from Walhberg.

Did you know? The rollercoaster featured is called “The Coaster,” one of the biggest attractions at Playland, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

60/100