Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Released: May 5, 2006. Directed by: J.J. Abrams. Starring: Tom Cruise, Michelle Monaghan, Ving Rhames. Runtime: 2h 5 min.

I don’t remember a lot of films I saw in theatres when I was a kid but I remember seeing Mission: Impossible III. It might be because this is the first film I remember seeing that started at the mid-way point in the story, when Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) threatens to kill Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) fiancé Julia (Michelle Monaghan).

The stakes are immediately the highest they’ve felt in the series, as I never felt like they were consistently high in Mission: Impossible or Mission: Impossible II. This was also the first time I saw Philip Seymour Hoffman and the sadism of his character is memorable and threatening.

It’s also just a good film in general and not only because of my nostalgia for it. J.J. Abrams directs the action well and the stunts are great, especially when Ethan leaps off a skyscraper in Shanghai onto another one. Anyway, Davian is the most memorable villain of the series upp to this point. Davian’s a sadistic arms dealer after something called the Rabbit’s Foot.

We don’t really know what it is and that vagueness isn’t great. Though, Davian’s willing to pay $875 million for it, so it’s a pretty big deal. Davian’s just interested in power and tormenting Ethan. In the first film, IMF director Kittredge says to find something that’s personally important to Ethan “and squeeze.” A villain finally takes that advice, as evidenced by the film’s opening scene.

The action scenes are good, and the film’s first big set piece of trying to rescue Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell), after she went to investigate Davian, sets the film’s events up perfectly. At the beginning of the film, Ethan’s settled down with Julia, played well by Michelle Monaghan, and he’s training IMF agents to be ready for the field instead of being in the field himself. But he trained Farris and that’s one of the reasons that Hunt goes back out in the field. This time, the characters are interesting enough that the very personal conflicts feel well-written.

Tom Cruise also runs a lot more in this one. He has such a great chemistry with Monaghan as Julia, as well as his IMF team including franchise mainstay Ving Rhames as Luther and Maggie Q as Zhen. Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays a team member named Declan, but he’s easily the most forgettable of all the IMF agents that have come and gone in the franchise.

Score: 80/100

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X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

X-Men Last StandReleased: May 26, 2006. Directed by: Brett Ratner. Starring: Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Halle Berry. Runtime: 104 min. 

I guess all mutants getting along was nice when it lasted. This time Charles Xavier’s (Patrick Stewart) X-Men face off against Magneto’s (Ian McKellen) Brotherhood. Stewart’s limited screen time helps prove that a presence will still be felt throughout the flick. In this film, a cure is introduced for mutants everywhere. Is mutation something that really needs to be cured? Do mutants really need to conform to what everyone else looks like? Is it cowardice if they choose to take the cure? This time, it touches on the idea that some mutants might benefit from the cure. This is basically in Rogue, who might benefit from it because if she holds onto someone too long, she could kill them. I learn that she is contributes a lot more in the comic books, when she’s felt sidelined to me in the films – at least in terms of battle. I think that’s awesomely touched on more intelligently with Mystique’s characterization in 2011’s X-Men: First Class.

This film just doesn’t feel as smart as the first two films. Heck, it’s still fun – but there are a lot of frustrating occurrences, mainly because some are so unnecessary. Something this film is missing is Bryan Singer’s direction. He just brought such an intelligent style to it, and it just feels like it’s lacking. This time Brett Ratner directs the film, and it’s a bit of an odd choice. Prior to this he directed the Rush Hour franchise and the Hannibal Lecter flick Red Dragon. It was a cool attempt, but it’s only successful to some avail. The fighting for freedom just feels a bit too clichèd this time around under Ratner’s eye. 

Like the Rush Hour flicks show, his style of direction just feels a bit familiar, and not quite a memorable style you could recognize a single director for. Though, he does direct a phenomenal prison escape sequence and kudos to the cinematography department during it. The actors bring humour to the film, per usual, it just isn’t as strong because the story gets dark at times. The film handles heartbreaking aspects of characterization well to some degree, just not perfectly like the last two films. It does handle being a blockbuster pretty well, though, because this is all really fun. 

It’s cool how Jean is a new sort-of character this time around, found in her alter-ego Phoenix, who is much more aggressive and angry than the regular Jean. Professor X wants to contain it in a series of psychological barriers, while Magneto wants to let her out of her cage. What happens with that is an intense sequence. Janssen gives her most interesting performance of the franchise thus far. In Wolverine and her relationship, Hugh Jackman brings some power to his performance. 

There are some good other mutants. It seems that the Beast, a political representative for mutants, is replacing the blue good guy (Nightcrawler in the last film) this time around. I love Ben Foster as the Angel, even though I would have loved to see more from the character. Callisto (Dania Ramirez) on the villains side is a really cool villain, because she’s like a walking, talking Cerebro. She can sense when mutants are near, and also know their power level. There’s a sort-of porcupine blowfish villain named Kid Omega who’s kind-of fun. He’s portrayed by Ken Leung, and I think I subconsciously assumed he was a villain when I saw him on TV’s Lost because I recognized him from this villainous role. As a villain, Pyro (Aaron Stanford) is a bit of a bland idiot. I thought he was a lot more fun as an antagonizing hero. 

I think the title indicates that there might be a few losses from all ends. I think there’s a minor problem when the opening simulation fighting sequence is the same amount of fun as the finale, but that might be because it’s lacking a few fun characters who would be helpful. The finale should just stand out in memory more, as far as I’m concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I like the finale and I like the film, but it’s just disappointingly not as character-driven as the previous two films.

Score: 65/100

Click (2006)

ClickReleased: June 29, 2006. Director: Frank Coraci. Starring: Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale, Christopher Walken. Runtime: 107 min.

Finding a post-2000 Adam Sandler feature that isn’t middling is a rarity. That’s why “Click” is an emotionally engaging breath of fresh air.

The story follows Michael Newman (Adam Sandler), a workaholic architect who is so busy with work he can’t even find the time to finish the treehouse in the backyard. You see, he’s in line for a promotion from his boss, a character that doesn’t pass the Name Test, but is played by David Hasselhoff. Michael wants things in his life to be easier, and out-do his neighbours the O’Doyle’s in the process. What he gets to fix his problems will certainly put the O’Doyles to shame; after a late night drive in search of a universal remote, he lands at Bed, Bath and Beyond where Morty (Christopher Walken) gives him an extremely advanced universal remote. The remote enables Michael to fast-forward, skip scenes, fast-forward, pause, etc., his life; everything an ordinary remote can do. He can skip through the most boring parts of his life (I’d use it for the dentist), and initially the remote makes his life easier, but then it begins to overpower his decisions and affect his relationships with others.

The premise is a decent one, and its execution does it justice, for the most part. The film is only plagued by gimmicks and clichés that have been existent since the beginning of time. But it’s a funny film and a good time helped out by likable characters. There’s a lot of laughs and heart at play. The life lessons Michael learns (family, dedication) are important. This is one of the only Sandler comedies that can make me cry every time. The story is helped out by the attractive cast, especially a scene-stealing Christopher Walken. This is the type of movie that makes you want to go home, hug your family, make better choices and be thankful for your life. That’s profound for an Adam Sandler film, I’d say.

Score: 75/100

Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (2006)

Tenacious DRelease Date: November 22, 2006Director: Liam LynchStars: Jack Black, Kyle Gass, JR ReedRuntime: 93 min.

I believe in building a so-called ‘stupid comedy’ tolerance. But that’s not why I seeked out “Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny” after so many years. I remember watching it a lot in my young teens. Revisiting it now, it’s still pretty damn funny.

In Venice Beach, naive Midwesterner JB bonds with slacker KG and they form the rock band Tenacious D. Setting out to become the world’s greatest band is no easy feat, so they set out to steal what could be the answer to their prayers — a magical guitar pick housed in a Rock and Roll museum some 300 miles away.

This film is just as silly as it sounds. If that sounds like your idea of a decent time; seek this one out. If it doesn’t, don’t seek it out – because this immature ride begins with flatulence and throws immature gags and smart and funny songs at the audience at a rapid rate. The characterization is weak because there’s no focus on it – they’re essentially slackers where the actors essentially play versions of themselves. The movie feels improvised at times, but it never takes itself seriously – and you shouldn’t take it seriously, either. There are memorable rock-offs, and this film is probably most enjoyable to those who love Tenacious D and their antics. It’s also suited for Jack Black fans.

It just isn’t suited for those who can’t find it in their hearts to appreciate a little stoner comedy like this. Critics that have to watch this might be amused by a bit-sized role from Tim Robbins. This film is predictable but it leads up to one heck of a rock-off, and songs that, even after years of not watching this, you’ll remember every lyric. And that’s saying something about this film. The music is great, the laughs big, but the story mediocre. But the story isn’t is what is important, because it never leaves you bored, even if it feels familiar. This movie’s just a lot of fun. And that’s what always brings me back to this movie.

Score75/100

Fast and Furious Franchise Recap (2001-2013)

As you may have noticed, I’ve reviewed the entire Fast and Furious franchise so far in the past week and a bit. I thought I’d make a post for all the reviews, and only take my best one or two thoughts on each movie, in case you don’t have time to read every review. Here we go!

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

“The care is implemented on the cool physical appearance of the cars, and there’s not as much care implemented on the intellectual level of the movie; but who really cares?  It gets the adrenaline going, and that’s the movie’s intention.” 74/100.

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

“To truly enjoy the hell out of this, you will have to turn the logical part of your brain right off. To a point where it might actually cause brain damage; and frankly, this movie just isn’t worth that. I remember this being much better; so suffice to say, this is 2 big of a disappointment.” 40/100.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

 

 

 

“The star cameo is one of the only things worthwhile about this bland endeavour. It’s a formulaic plot; but the drifting feels fresh and fun. The cinematography looks the most pristine out of the first three. It also has Han and fast cars.That’s almost all this has going for it.” 52/100.

Fast & Furious (2009)

Fast & Furious (2009)

“The racing scenes are lots of fun, and it’s an adequate revenge story. The title is really the only lazy thing about the movie. However, for a racing movie, there’s a lack of non-stop kinetic energy.” 65/100.

Fast Five (2011)

Fast Five (2011)

“Fast Five fills up its gas tank and the cast and crew bring it all to this fast-paced, energetic, compelling ride. It’s not only fun, but a good movie, as well.”  82/100.

You can just click here and read my review of Fast & Furious 6.

And so far in the franchise, the average score is 67.167.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Tokyo DriftRelease Date: June 16, 2006

Director: Justin Lin

Stars: Lucas Black, Sung Kang, Bow Wow

Runtime: 104 min

Alabama teenager Sean Boswell becomes a major competitor in the world of drift racing after moving in with his father in Tokyo to avoid a jail sentence in America.

The plot isn’t very strong. It’s a new kid in town formula, with a lot of car racing and drifting. This makes me want to play a video game. The movie manages to feel fresh and somewhat intriguing, and that’s refreshing to see after a poor first sequel. Lucas Black is very bland in this. He has an equally bad chemistry with his love interest, Neela (Nathalie Keeley), the girlfriend of D.K. (Brian Tee), the Drift King. He is the main antagonist, and the son of a high figure within the Tokyo Mafia. Brian Tee isn’t such a good actor, he just goes around looking angry. Hopefully he will be good in this year’s The Wolverine. Sung Kang and Bow Wow are decent. Brian Goodman isn’t good as Sean’s father. Anyway, Black has a better chemistry with his car than he does with Keeley. By going after her, he’s really just asking for trouble.

Paul Walker’s slightly better than Black, and viewers will miss his presence. This is out of place in the Fast and Furious narrative. The only connecting factors are the name, the cars, Han, and a star cameo. The star cameo is one of the only things worthwhile about this bland endeavour. The drifting feels fresh and fun. The cinematography looks the most pristine out of the first three. The setting is great and the Asian pop soundtrack is pretty fun. This works as a below average new-kid-in-town action drama, and there are a lot of fun racing sequences. However, when having a Fast and Furious marathon, either skip this or watch it after Fast Five.

52/100

The Hills Have Eyes

the hills have eyesThe Hills Have Eyes

Release Date: March 10, 2006

Director: Alexandre Aja

Stars: Ted Levine, Kathleen Quinlan, Dan Byrd

Runtime: 107 min

Tagline: The lucky ones die first

A suburban American family is being stalked by a group of psychotic people who live in the desert, far away from civilization.

The Hills Have Eyes should get some props for actually being a horror flick that isn’t totally mindless. Wait a second… It is. It’s also just nasty. But… It is slightly easy to care for a select few of the characters, instead of rooting the baddies to just kill them off one by one, like most slasher flicks. Though, the villains are despicable, unsettling and nasty mutated freaks and not in a way one would want their horror villains to be. They’re some of the ugliest things I’ve ever witnessed, they’re certainly not the cool type of mutants to hang out with Charles Xavier, and they’re actually too eerie to be a highlight of a freak show attraction.

Some of the movie is creepy, but when the middle comes, it’s just downhill from there. Horror movies are universally known for characters to do some of the most idiotic things ever, but some characters’ actions are incredibly irresponsible (Hint: If you see your dog laying dead with some of his body taken off… Tell someone), and by the time some of them get picked off at the scene where the action heats up and a weird mutant guy actually takes the head off a bird and drinks from it, it’s hard to care that they get killed. They’re just so idiotic.

This is one of the nastiest and worst horror flicks I’ve ever seen, and it’s not even a fun gore-fest. Since many believe this outdoes the original, the original must be one of the worst movies ever made. The only redeeming qualities this has is it’s sometimes creepy (but it soon gets irritating) and Aaron Stanford’s character goes through a kind-of David Sumner-esque transformation to stand up for himself. Other than that, it’s poorly constructed, the acting is hardly top-tier (Stanford is okay), it’s nasty, you’ll need a strong stomach to stand it, it’s stupid, unrewarding, and just way too long. Only a few films make me angry to think back to, and this is one of them.

20/100