Defying the logic of diminishing returns on franchises, the Mission Impossible team is currently working on the sixth film for next year. That will put movie six out 22 years after movie one with largely the same cast intact. It was a franchise that didn’t really explode until JJ Abrams and Brad Bird delivered movies three and four, and they stand as two of the best action movies in recent memory. Christopher McQuarrie’s Rogue Nation wasn’t quite up to par with those two, but delivered a tremendously good time starting from this: the very first scene in the film. You have Simon Pegg freaking out in a ghillie suit while everyone on the team is screaming at him, which is a nice bit of reminding everyone of the current IMF team. All in pursuit of getting poor Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) from OUTSIDE the giant plane he’s currently dangling off like a wind sock to INSIDE the giant plane before he becomes meat paste. It’s Mission Impossible at its finest.
In two days, the DCEU looks like it’s finally going to get the blockbuster, critical success it desperately needed. That success won’t come from Batman or Superman, but Wonder Woman, which at time of writing is holding at a stunning 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film that began DC’s shared super hero universe, Man of Steel, remains divisive (though not as much as Batman vs. Superman). Man of Steel is the only film I’ve ever reviewed twice on this site. I really loved Superman Returns so this was a radical departure, but I gave it another chance, and I’m glad I did. It’s flawed, but nowhere near so the next two DC films, and it has truly great moments in it. My favorite scene in the film comes after discovering his suit and talking with Jor-El: his first flight. Henry Cavill is so likable in this role (one of BvS’ greatest sins is painting him as the villain and taking that likability away). I love how it’s not effortless for him. He has to keep trying. But when he gets it down, the pure joy on his face is priceless. It’s human. After all, how would you feel if you could fly?
There was a time, oh so very long ago, when Johnny Depp just made indie movies. His casting in a movie about a ride at Disneyland was odd. This was during barrel scraping days when they were making movies about their rides (Eddie Murphy’s Haunted Mansion ring a bell?). Pirates of the Caribbean was getting rave reviews though. I know the sequels have dulled the magic of the first film, and likely the fifth (which comes six years after the fourth and no one seems to be excited over it) won’t help. However, remember back to 2003 when you first beheld Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow: the worst/best pirate to grace the screen. His character’s entrance is rivaled only by Wilder’s Wonka as the best of all-time. One of my favorite shots period is the slow descent of his boat to perfectly time his lurch on to the dock. The Curse of the Black Pearl is one of the best action/adventure films of the 21st Century. Nothing that followed can change that, and that this film inadvertently sent Depp on a career plunging spiral of self-indulgent nonsense, doesn’t take away from this performance and this moment. I could watch it a thousand times. Never fails to make me smile.
First of all, shame on YouTube for not having one of the greatest fights in film history in one clip, and yes, the annoying intro for each part ruins the flow, but believe it or not, this is the best take I could find on the infamous climax in the second film in the Alien Franchise. While Alien was a horror movie, James Cameron (remember when he wasn’t just the Avatar guy?) came in and made Aliens a war film. It’s a total toss-up as to which is the better film. They’re both perfect at what they were trying to achieve. Back when sequels that matched the original really only had Godfather Part II and Empire Strikes Back as peers, Aliens completely matched its predecessor. Instead of just one xenomorph, now there was an entire hive, which leads to the reveal at the end of the film of one of film’s greatest monsters: The Alien Queen. Whereas in the first film, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is really just a survivor and a victim, in Aliens she becomes a warrior. Weaver broke ground on what a woman could do as the star as an action movie, and remains the standard (she even managed to shake an Oscar nomination out of the Academy for something cool, which still blows me away). From the discovery of the Queen and her nest to the loader battle in the dock, this titanic battle of two mothers over their “children” still remains one of science fiction’s greatest moments.
Yes, as you may have surmised from the above still, if you don’t know anything about Alien…..there’s a dinner surprise that gets a bit gory. We’re under two weeks from Alien 6 (counting Prometheus), and Alien: Covenant is getting fairly positive reviews so far, but nothing like the groundbreaking science fiction that were the first two films in the series. Alien came along two years after Star Wars, and it couldn’t be more different and be in the same genre. This crew of essentially space truckers stumbles across one of the greatest, most ingeniously horrific, monsters in cinema history. The horror of the Alien isn’t just that’s it’s a pretty perfectly designed killing machine. It’s the life cycle of the creature itself. From the freaky eggs, to the “face huggers” that implant the victims in a manner that would seem to be the most disturbing part of the process until you get to the ….hatching. When the alien grows to a certain size and no longer needs its host, it simply leaves in the most direct way possible. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to sit in a theater in 1979, having no idea what this thing was, and watch this dinner scene from hell unfold. People must have been clinging to the ceiling. It’s one of the most horrifying, most shocking scenes ever filmed. And it’s not like things get better, because the next time you tend to see the buggers, they look like this:
and that tends to be the last thing you ever see.