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April 23rd, 2016 Movie – 100 Million BC

100 million bc

I tried, I mean I really tried, but I couldn’t help it. There I was, working my way through my movies, and doing my best to not buy a bunch more. But then I find out that The Asylum was having a warehouse sale on a lot of their movies. Folks, that was the equivalent of chumming for sharks for me. So of course I went on the site and wound up buying a bunch of movies that I had been wanting to buy, many of them of the “mockbuster” variety, then waited rather impatiently for the movies to arrive (Amazon has definitely spoiled me on that front). Today’s movie, 100 Million BC, is kind of on the fence as to being one of those type of movies.

The plot: Two archaeologists are rappelling down a cliff face searching for caves when one of the explorer’s harness breaks. She falls but manages to land at a cave entrance a short way down. As her companion joins her, they find the skeletal remains of a T-rex seemingly fused into the mountain, as well as something else that remains unseen. In Los Angeles, a Navy SEAL team arrives at a Naval research center for assignment. During the mission briefing, Dr. Frank Reno tells the team about a top secret project he worked on during WWII, which some people have dubbed The Philadelphia Experiment but Frank calls Project Rainbow. In their attempt to use electromagnetic waves to cloak their ships, they actually caused their test ship to move backwards in time. Suspending more tests until after the war, Dr. Reno was transferred to the facility in Los Angeles and in 1949, he believed he had perfected the device and sent a 19 man team, including his brother Erik, back in time to what he believed was 70 million years into the past. Unfortunately, the device malfunctioned and they had no way of bringing the team back, and there was no proof that the team had survived until cave paintings were discovered that indicated at least some of the team had survived. Frank shows the team the “rainbow machine” and explains the mechanics and mission, and says that he will be going with them so he can be sure to open a portal on the other side to send them home. The SEAL team agrees to go on the mission and the next morning, Frank joins the SEAL team and head into the wormhole to rescue the missing men. Travelling back in time to what will one day become Argentina, the SEAL team experiences it’s first casualty when they discover that one of their team had materialized into a tree. Making their way to higher ground, Frank spots the mountain that the cave paintings were found in and the team begins heading for it. Passing by a stream, one of the SEALs is blinded by a strange plant and as he stumbles in pain into the river, he is eaten by an aquatic creature. Continuing towards the mountain, The Lt. in charge and another SEAL are killed by a pair of raptors and a third member is wounded. Suddenly, three of the survivors from the first team show up and kill one of the raptors while Frank is saved by the fourth member, who he recognizes as Ruth. Reuniting with the main group, Frank is glad to see that his brother Erik had survived, as well as Betty and Bud but is saddened to learn that they are the only ones, and they have been living there for 6 years. Urgently needing to get the wounded man back to their time, they all head back to the entry point but when they catch the attention of a large T-Rex which Erik and his friends call “Big Red”, the injured man sacrifices himself to buy the others time to get away. While resting in the cave for the night, Frank speaks with his old friends, letting Bud know about his family, as well as trying to assuage his own guilt for what happened. The next day they start heading for the entry portal but one of the SEALs is attacked by a pteranodon and killed when it drops him. When the group finally reaches the entry point, Frank activates the beacon but as the surviving SEAL team go through, Erik realizes that the only way for it to close is if someone stays behind. Frank says he knew what he was doing, and was trying to make up for stealing 60 years from his brother and everyone else’s life. Reluctantly, Erik and the others head through the portal, with Ruth being the last as Frank kisses her on the forehead. Once she is safely though, Frank begins shutting down the portal but Big Red suddenly appears and charges towards him. Back in the present, the group is celebrating being back home when the portal suddenly flares up and Big Red appears in the warehouse, killing one of the scientists as well as one of the surviving SEAL team. As Big Red breaks free from the building and begins rampaging across Los Angeles, Erik, Bud, Betty, and Ruth join Lt. Commander Ellis Dorn and Stubbs, the only surviving SEAL member, and try tracking Big Red from the sky. They are joined by the LAPD but Big Red leaps up and knocks their helicopter from the sky. Erik, Betty, Bud, and Ruth leap down from the helicopter and track Big Red on foot and after they find him, the decide to try and trap him in a nearby tunnel The lead him towards the tunnel but Big Red doesn’t enter and goes around it. When Erik and the others decide to catch up to him on the other side, Big Red almost eats them but an APC suddenly appears and soldiers begin firing at Big Red. When the dinosaur leaves, the APC goes to follow and one of the soldiers stays behind, revealing himself to be a young Frank Reno. Frank explains that the older version of himself was badly wounded and had tried to travel back and stop the experiment from happening but he missed and wound up in 1950. He told his youngerself everything that happened and how to fix the Rainbow Device before he died, allowing Frank to show up and save his friends. Planning on sending Big Red back through the postal to his own time, they try to get the dinosaur’s attention and when it keeps going, Erik chases after it and manages to lure it back to the tunnel, where Frank throws the beacon into Big Red’s mouth and uses his device to send Big Red back into the past. He then opens a portal back to 1950, and Bud and Ruth decide to head back with him but Erik and Betty, knowing someone has to stay behind to close the portal, stay behind and face the future together.

I liked a lot of things about this movie, and there were some things I did not like. The acting was ok for the most part but there were some times where it was just bad. The story was interesting, building on the whole urban legend of the Philadelphia Experiment. The movie is sometimes marketed as a mockbuster of 10,000 BC, since they were released the same year and involved the past but honestly, I can’t really call it that. The special effects were definitely bad but that is half the fun with these type of movies. The thing that bothered me the most was the camera editing, primarily in the later part of the film Where Big Rex was in Los Angeles. There were a lot of scenes where the helicopter was supposedly flying around observing the action but you only see various city views and no action. It’s an interesting movie to watch, but I will admit that there are better ones out there.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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April 22nd, 2016 Movie – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

mission impossible rogue nation

My mom would probably have loved to watch all of these movies with me this week because she is a huge Tom Cruise fan. I know I have watched a fair number of his movies with her, at least up through high school. Now me personally, I was never a fan of Tom Cruise but would still go see his movies on occasion because they would look interesting. Today’s movie was one that I was really interested in watching because it is the first time that they really seemed to tie a new movie into the previous one. So let’s see how well they did with today’s movie, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

The plot: As IMF is being investigated for misconduct, William Brandt, serving as Field Operations Director of IMF, is in contact with Benji Dunn, who is on assignment with Ethan Hunt in Minsk. As Brandt watches via satellite, nerve gas is loaded onto a cargo plane and is about to take off but Benji has Luther Stickell, who is on assignment in Malaysia, hack a Russian satellite to allow Benji access to the plane’s electronics. Unable to shut the plane down, Ethan runs and grabs onto the plane as it takes off, telling Benji to open the door. When Benji does, Ethan is able to make it inside and, after strapping himself to the pallet of nerve gas, he uses a parachute to get himself and the gas out of the plane. Some time later, Ethan arrives at an IMF drop site to receive his next mission but the recording turns out to be a message from the Syndicate, the organization Ethan has been investigating for the past year. As gas starts to fill the listening room, Ethan tries to escape and sees a man kill the agent in charge of the site before he succumbs to the gas. In Washington DC, CIA Director Alan Hunley speaks to the Senate committee and requests that the IMF be dissolved into the CIA. Brandt tries to speak on behalf of the IMF but the panel decides to proceed with Hunley’s recommendation. Back in London, Ethan comes to and finds himself restrained to a pole when a woman walks in. Before she can start questioning him, a group of men enter, led by a man Ethan identifies as Janik Vinter, known as the Bone Doctor. Vinter is preparing to torture Ethan and tells the woman to leave but as she prepares to leave, she shows Ethan that she has the keys to his restraints. Ethan kicks Vinter and knocks him unconscious then the woman throws him the keys while she works on dealing with the guards. When Ethan gets free, he helps her kill the guards then she shows him the way out but closes the gate behind him, telling him she can’t leave. Ethan makes it outside and calls Brandt to tell him what happened but Brandt tells him that the IMF has been shut down and he can’t help Ethan and wishes him luck in finding the man before he hangs up as Hunley approaches him. Hunley asks Brandt where Ethan is and Brandt tells him he doesn’t know and Hunleys says he believes Ethan is making up the Syndicate in order to justify the IMF’s existence and plans on capturing him. 6 months later, the CIA believe they have tracked down Ethan in Cuba but when the assault team enters where they believe he is hiding, there is nobody there but Ethan is watching them remotely from Paris. At CIA headquarters, Benji is brought in for a weekly questioning on if he is helping Ethan but he passes the lie detector test and after he is allowed to leave, he heads back to his desk before grabbing some tickets to the Vienna Opera that he won. Arriving in Vienna, Benji makes his way towards the opera when someone thrusts an envelope into his arms. Opening the envelope, he finds a pair of glasses, which he puts on allowing Ethan to contact him. Ethan tells Benji what he needs, apologizing for involving him and Benji agrees to help but as he enters the opera house, he notices the Austrian Chancellor arriving and realizes that he might be a target. Benji hacks into the computer system and begins searching for the man Ethan is looking for and notices someone sneaking backstage and lets Ethan know. Ethan makes his way backstage and notices the woman walking backstage but forces himself to continue after the man. He catches up to the man and begins fighting with him but the man gets the upper hand and attempts to strangle Ethan. Noticing a guard in the lighting booth aiming a gun at the Chancellor, Ethan manages to free himself and kill the assassin and grab his gun but Ethan notices the woman is also hidden and appears to be aiming for the Chancellor as well. With only one bullet in the gun, Ethan decides to shoot at the Chancellor, wounding him in the arm and preventing the other two from killing him. Benji had seen the guard on his monitor and heads there to stop him and ends up struggling with the guard. The woman notices this and shoots the guard but Benji, thinking she will try to shoot him next, causes the stage lights to shine on her, momentarily blinding her until she shoots them out. When the police arrive and begin searching the theater, the woman tries to make her escape and Ethan catches up to her and helps her. As they are walking away from the theater, they see the Chancellor’s car explode. Benji picks them up and Ethan begins questioning the woman, who says her name is Ilsa Faust and that she is after the same thing Ethan is but he has to let her go. When a car begins following and shooting at them, Ilsa jumps from the car and the pursuers stop to collect her. In DC, Hunley questions Benji’s being in Vienna when the Chancellor died and believe he was working with Ethan and a shoot to kill order is placed on Ethan. Meanwhile, Ethan tries to give Benji new identification so he can get back to Washington but Benji refuses to leave and Ethan explains what he knows and after examining the lipstick he grabbed from Ilsa, they discover a hidden flash drive and finding information for a site in Morocco so they head there. Locating Ilsa, she tells them that the man Ethan is looking for is Solomon Lane, a former MI6 agent that set-up the Syndicate. She tells them that she was sent under deep cover to infiltrate the syndicate and learn all of their members and she is close to doing it/ However, the information is being kept in a electronic safe deposit box that they must break into in order to obtain it. Meanwhile, Brandt contacts Luther and gets him to help locate Ethan and Benji before the CIA does. Luther manages to track Ilsa based off of Ethan’s sketch of her, where they learn that she has been disavowed by MI6 and head to Morocco to warn Ethan. In Morocco, Benji heads into the facility while Ethan and Ilsa sneak in and Ethan prepares to switch the profiles to allow Benji to enter the vault. Ethan jumps into the liquid cooling tank and Ilsa shuts down the current so that Ethan can swim to the appropriate slot without exerting too much oxygen. However, before he can switch the cards, he is struck by one of the robotic arms and drops the cards. When the technicians restore the current to the cooling tank, Ethan fights against the current to grab the cards but is unsure which one is the correct one and when the current rips one from his hand, he places the remaining one in the slot, which luckily is the card containing Benji’s profile. Ethan makes his way to the service hatch but passes out from lack of oxygen before he can open it but Ilsa dives into the tank and manages to save him. Ilsa uses a defibrillator to revive Ethan just as Benji arrives with the data he downloaded. Ilsa stuns Benji, grabs the flash drive and tries to escape but she is approached by other Syndicate and forced to accompany them but as they all get on their motorcycles, Ilsa knocks down the other bikes before taking off. Ethan and Benji recover and get to their car, where they catch up to Ilsa and as they chase after her, they see Luther and Brandt, who were looking for them. When the Syndicate members try to kill Ilsa, Ethan kills one of them then manages to lure some of the others away from her. Ethan takes out two of his pursuers but wrecks his car trying to evade the third one and as the agent approaches to finish him off, he is struck by the car driven by Brandt and Luther. After they free Ethan and work on freeing Benji, Ethan notices Ilsa still being chased by two agents and he grabs the dead agent’s bike and goes after them. During the high speed chase, Ethan manages to kill the two agents and tries to catch up to Ilsa but wrecks the bike to avoid hitting Ilsa when she walks out in front of him and as he recovers, she gets back on her bike and drives away. Benji, Luther, and Brandt meet up with Ethan and after Benji reveals that he copied the data, They head for London. In London, Ilsa meets with her handler, Atlee, and gives him the drive and wants out but Atlee refuses and blackmails her into continuing to stay under cover inside the Syndicate. Meanwhile, Luther tells Ethan that the disk is actually a Red Box, used to keep state secrets and unable to be opened by anyone except the Prime Minister, Brandt wants to warn the British that there might be an attempt on the Prime Minister but Ethan doesn’t want to just yet. Meanwhile, Ilsa takes the disk to Lane, but when he discovers it is empty, he has her take a message to Ethan. Ilsa meets Ethan and his team and Ethan reveals that Atlee was the one that deleted her disk. When Ilsa hands Ethan a phone for Lane to contact him, their radio signals are jammed and Benji is kidnapped by Vinter and Ilsa disappears. Lane then calls Ethan and tells him to bring him the unlocked disk in exchange for Benji’s life and Ethan agrees but Brandt believes this is the wrong thing to do and contacts Hunley to tell them where they are. When Hunley arrives in London, Brandt meets him and they head to a charity auction, where Atlee and the Prime Minister are in attendance. After entering an empty dining room, Hunley warns the Prime Minister about Ethan and Brandt tells him the information they have but the Prime Minister admits that there was a Syndicate, meant as a black ops team designed by Atlee to deal with England’s enemies without accountability, but the project was supposedly terminated. As the Prime Minister goes to leave, Atlee shoots him with a tranquilizer dart then pulls off the mask to reveal he is really Ethan. They get the biometric readings and pass-phrase from the Prime Minister and when the real Atlee shows up, Ethan shoots him and gets Atlee to admit to creating the Syndicate and Ethan tells a scenario for Hunley about how to explain it and Hunley agrees and lets Ethan go. Ethan contacts Lane and finds out where to meet and heads there, only to find Benji wearing a suicide vest sitting next to Ilsa, who is supposed to shoot Ethan after giving them the disk. Ethan informs Lane, who is speaking through Benji, that he memorized the disk and the only way he will get the information is to release Benji. Lane does and Ethan tells Benji to go meet with Brandt and Luther and when Vinter and the other members of the Syndicate try to grab Ethan, he manages to fight them off with Ilsa’s help. Ethan and Ilsa head to the rendezvous point but end up getting separated and Ilsa is forced into a knife fight with Vinter and kills him. Meanwhile, Ethan is wounded by Lane, who follows him into a maintenance tunnel but as he prepares to grab him, he finds himself trapped in a bulletproof box and rendered unconscious by knock out gas. As they load the box with Lane inside into the back of a police truck, Ilsa thanks Ethan and gives him a hug goodbye before driving off. In Washington, Hunley and Brandt are speaking to a Senate committee about getting the IMF reinstated, which the committee agrees to, with Hunley now serving as IMF Secretary.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation met with high acclaim from the critics, earning a certified fresh rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation continues the franchise’s thrilling resurgence — and proves that Tom Cruise remains an action star without equal.” As part of the marketing for the Blu-Ray/DVD release, a comic book was released detailing the events of Ethan’s time as a rogue agent and was written by Christopher McQuarrie, the writer and director of the movie. The movie was a box office hit, earning over $682 million worldwide, falling just short of beating it’s predecessor. The studio and Cruise have both confirmed that a 6th movie is scheduled for production.

This series definitely got better with age because the last two movies were great and so was this one. Tom Cruise turned in another great performance, as did Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, and Jeremy Renner and the dynamic between them all was a lot of fun to watch. Newcomers Alec Baldwin (Hunley) and Rebecca Ferguson (Ilsa) were also goodSean Harris was great as Solomon Lane, kind of playing the character as a Blofeld type villian, which I thought was the best way to play the head of an evil organization. The plot was good and pretty straight forward, not really needing to go into a bunch of unnecessary tangents to take away from a good movie. The action scenes were very well done and aside from the opening sequence, weren’t too over the top. A great movie that is well worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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April 21st, 2016 Movie – Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

mission impossible ghost protocol

I miss the days when I could go to a movie on a whim. I mean, I technically still could but movies are so freaking expensive now that a lot of the time it doesn’t seem worth it. Nowadays, I generally go to see movies with a group of friends, as I get the enjoyment of watching the movie as well as the company of some good friends. But every now and then, a movie will come out and I will go to the theaters to see it, with or without my friends. I will admit that today’s movie, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, was not one of those movies but looking back, it really should have been.

The plot: In Budapest, IMF Agent Trevor Hanaway has managed to steal some Russian launch codes and after killing the guards, he makes his escape down an alleyway. As a woman walks towards him in the alley, his phone buzzes and the agent checks his phone before he looks up and the woman shoots him repeatedly then steals the codes. In Moscow, new IMF field agent Benji Dunn hacks into a Russian prison and begins releasing the prisoners. When team leader Jane Carter gets into position in the sewers, Benji opens another cell door, freeing Ethan Hunt. Benji opens a door so Ethan can escape but instead, Ethan heads towards the rest of the cells, motioning for Benji to open the doors. When Benji refuses, Ethan waits by the doors until Benji finally relents and opens the door. Fighting his way through the riot, Ethan motions for Benji to open a cell, and he goes in and grabs another prisoner named Bogdan. As the riot guards begin to show up, Ethan and Bogdan manage to get out of the cell block and make there way to the basement, where Jane shatters a portion of the floor so they can escape through the sewers. As they are parked in the getaway vehicle, Ethan explains that he rescued Bogdan because he was his informant and he would have been killed if he left him in prison. He then shoots Bogdan with a tranquilizer dart before passing him off to another IMF team, then asks why he was busted out of prison. Jane tells him about the mission in Budapest and shows Ethan the picture of the assassin that killed. Ethan recognizes the assassin as Sabine Moreau and then mentions that man code-named Cobalt had been wanting to start a nuclear war and would most likely try to acquire the codes. Reaching an IMF checkpoint, Ethan goes to a payphone to receive his mission while Jane and Benji wonder why he was in prison. After confirming his identity, Ethan is told to break into the Kremlin, where he would be able to find information on Cobalt’s real identity, but is warned that Cobalt is on his way there to erase the information. Ethan and Benji sneak into the Kremlin and break into the archive room but the files are empty. Suddenly, they hear someone struggling over the comms, before someone hijacks their signal and confirms a detonation. Ethan orders an abort and he and Benji split up but as Ethan is leaving, he notices a man walking away and starts to follow before an explosion destroys part of the Kremlin and he is knocked unconscious by the blast. When he comes too, he finds himself handcuffed to a hospital bed and questioned by SVR Agent Anatoly Sidorov. Ethan manages to escape the hospital and steals a phone in order to call in IMF to arrange an extraction. Meanwhile, a man named Leonid Lisenkar watches the broadcast of the attack on the Kremlin and tells his wife to pack so they can leave town with their son but when she doesn’t answer, he sees a man holding them at gunpoint while Cobalt is sitting at his table. Ethan is picked up and surprised to see the IMF Secretary in the car, along with his analyst, William Brandt. Hunt describes the man he saw leaving the Kremlin and Brandt identifies him as Kurt Hendricks, a former Russian nuclear strategist and Ethan realizes that Hendricks is Cobalt. He tells the Secretary that Hendricks had stolen a launch device and used the bomb to cover the theft but the Secretary says that the Russians won’t listen to them and that the President has issued a Ghost Protocol, meaning that the entire IMF has been disavowed. The Secretary is supposed to be bringing Ethan back to face charges in the US but he tells Ethan to leave and make his way to a supply drop to rendezvous with his team and stop Hendricks form starting a nuclear war. Suddenly, the car comes under fire and the Secretary and his driver are killed before the car crashes off a bridge and into a river. Ethan and Brandt survive and as people begins shooting into the water at the car, Ethan attaches a flare to the Secretary’s body and pushes it away, luring the gunfire towards it while he and Brandt make their escape in the other direction. On the surface, Sidorov orders his men to stop firing and later, as the car is being towed from the river, he is informed of the prison break and asks about information on Bogdan. Ethan and Brandt make there way to a train yard, where they find the car containing the supply depot and join Jane and Benji, who were inside. After loading up the file, which contains a speech given by Hendricks, Ethan makes a phone call and tells the person on the other line to get someone to Dubai. Ethan then explains to the team that Hendricks has stolen to launch device and plans to buy the codes from Moreau in Dubai. Telling them that the Secretary is dead and the President has initiated Ghost Protocol, he offers them the chance to leave but when none of them speak out, he informs them of the plan to infiltrate the meeting between Moreau and Marius Wistrom, Hendricks’ right hand man and use Wistrom to find Hendricks. Arriving at the Burj Khalifa, they learn that Moreau is already there and set out to change the numbers on the floor above to mirror those of the floor she is on. Benji is unable to hack into the security system from the hotel room and Ethan is forced to use special gloves to scale the outside of the building and make it into the control room. Benji gains control of the elevators and security cameras and notices that Wistrom is there early, along with another man, who Brandt recognizes as Lisenkar and they realize that Lisenkar is there to authenticate the codes. Unable to alter the copies, they are forced to let Wistrom obtain the real codes and set out to the meetings, with Jane posing as Moreau and Ethan and Brandt posing as Wistrom and Lisenkar. The meetings go as planned, and Wistrom leaves the room but as Moreau is about to leave, she notices the lens camera in Brandt’s eye and orders her men to kill them while she escapes. Ethan and Brandt deal with Moreau’s men and Ethan goes after Wistrom while he tells Brandt to find Lisenkar. Jane catches up to Moreau and manages to capture her and takes her back to their room but when Moreau attacks Benji and tries to escape, Jane fights with her again and ends up kicking her out the window. Meanwhile, Ethan catches up to Wistrom but before he can grab him, he is surprised by Sidorov and one of his men. Ethan deals with the two Russian agents then chases after Wistrom into a sand storm but Wistrom is able to get away, pulling off a mask to reveal that he was really Hendricks. In a safehouse, Ethan receives a phone call then goes and confronts Brandt, who reveals that he is a highly trained agent but doesn’t say why he is now an analyst. Ethan leaves and meets with Bogdan and his cousin, and while he is gone, Brandt tells Jane and Benji that he was assigned to watch over Ethan and Julia on their honeymoon and while he was watching Ethan, a Serbian hit squad knocked out his men and killed Julia. Meanwhile, Ethan works out a deal with Bogdan’s cousin, an arm’s dealer known as the Fog, and learns that a Russian satellite capable of was sold to an Indian telecom mogul Brij Nath. Obtaining some equipment from the Fog, Ethan has the team meet him and the head to India. Ethan and Jane head to the party, where Jane works on getting the codes from Nath while Brandt breaks into the server with Benji’s help. They  hack into the computer but discover that Hendricks is already attempting to launch the missiles. Ethan leaves the party, motioning to Sidorov, who was informed of where Ethan would be by the Fog. Reaching the area that Hendricks launched the missile from, they are too late to stop the missile from being launched so Ethan goes after Hendricks, figuring there is an abort code in the launch device. Meanwhile, Jane goes after Wistrom, who manages to destroy the computer relay before wounding her. Brandt and Benji arrive and while Benji works on repairing the relay, Brandt goes after Wistrom, who had cut the power. Meanwhile, Ethan catches up to Hendricks in an automated car park and fights with him but when it appears that Ethan is going to win, Hendricks grabs the briefcase containing the launch device and drops to the ground below. Ethan gets into a car and drives it off it’s slot, crashing it to the ground below so he can reach the device. He hits the abort code to shut down the missile, but when it doesn’t work so he keeps pressing it until Benji, Brandt, and Jane manage to get the power back on to the relay for the abort to work. Weeks later, Ethan is talking with Luther in Seattle when they are joined by Jane, Benji, and Brandt. After Luther leaves, Ethan talks with the others and offers them phones in order to continue working together. Benji and Jane accept the phones and walk away but Brandt refuses, telling Ethan that he was responsible for Julia’s death. Ethan tells Brandt that he didn’t fail, as Julia is still alive and her death was used as a cover for Ethan to infiltrate the prison while giving her a new identity. Brandt accepts the phone and walks away and Ethan looks at some people entering a nearby bar when one of them turns and spots him, and Julia smiles and waves to Ethan before joining her friends. Ethan walks away, listening to his next mission briefing concerning an organization called the Syndicate.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was met with high praise from the critics, earning a certified fresh rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is,”Stylish, fast-paced, and loaded with gripping set pieces, the fourth Mission: Impossible is big-budget popcorn entertainment that really works.” The movie was a box office hit, earning over $694 million worldwide making it the highest grossing movie in the franchise, as well as being the highest grossing movie starring Tom Cruise. Due to the success of the movie, a 5th movie was planned, with Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg both interested in returning for it.

This is a great movie to watch and probably my favorite of the entire series. Tom Cruise did a great job reprising his role of Ethan Hunt. I also liked Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner, as they seemed to work well together and both added some deliberate, and sometimes not deliberate, humor throughout the movie. The plot was really good and actually tried to work in a lot more of the espionage aspects to the movie that have been lacking in some of the previous films. I also liked how this showed the difficult decisions Ethan is forced to make for the job, including the decision revealed at the end to fake his wife’s death in order to keep her safe with a new identity. The action scenes were really good, although I will admit that some of them were a bit over dramatic, such as the Kremlin being destroyed. All in all, this is a great movie and worth watching even if you haven’t seen any of the other movies.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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April 20th, 2016 Movie -Mission: Impossible 3

mission impossible 3

For those of you that celebrate it, Happy 4/20 day. For everyone else, it is just another Wednesday. So when this movie was in theaters, I decided not to see it, not so much because I wasn’t interested, but because at the time, Tom Cruise just seemed completely nuts. This actually caused a slight argument with my wife at the time, which looking back is a little odd because action movies were not always something she wanted to see in theaters. Anyways, some bad memories kept me from watching this movie for a while but when I finally did, it definitely showed that the studios were trying to make a better movie this time around. So here is today’s movie, Mission Impossible 3.

The plot: Ethan Hunt wakes up to find himself bound to a chair as Owen Davian, an arms dealer that Ethan had recently crossed paths with, tells him that he has an explosive device planted in his head. Davian then asks Ethan to tell him where the “Rabbit’s Foot” is, threatening to kill the woman that is bound in the chair facing Ethan. When Ethan doesn’t tell him by the count of 5, he shoots the woman in the leg. Ethan pleads with Davian not to do this but Davian ends up shooting her in the head. Some time earlier, Ethan is hosting an engagement party for himself and his fiance, Julia, when he receives a coded telephone call from IMF. Making an excuse to leave the party for a few minutes, Ethan heads to a nearby convenience store, where he meets up with fellow agent John Musgrave. Musgrave tells Ethan that Agent Lindsey Farris was gathering information on Owen Davian when she went missing and they believe she was captured by Davian and being held in an abandoned factory. Figuring the information Lindsey had was worth the risk of rescuing her, Musgrave has assembled a team and wants Ethan to lead it but Ethan says he has retired and teaches recruits now. Musgrave indicates a disposable camera and says if Ethan changes his mind, to meet them at the plane at sunrise. Ethan takes the camera and after watching the video, decides to lead the rescue, making an excuse to Julia for leaving as she has no idea what he really does for a living. Joining the team, which consists of Luther Stickell, Declan Gromley, and Zhen Lei, Ethan makes his way into factory and rescues Lindsey. As Luther uses remote control guns to help cover their escape, Zhen Lei makes her way in and goes to grab two laptops but one of the dying technicians releases a grenade and she is forced to run from the room, going back after the explosion to retrieve the damaged laptops. Meanwhile, Lindsey asks Lindsey to turn off his communicator as she has something to tell him in private but before he can do so, they come under fire and are forced to fight their way clear of the building. As the group is meeting Declan for helicopter extraction, Lindsey suddenly starts clutching her head in agony, just as an assault helicopter shows up to kill them. As Declan tries to evade their pursuer, eventually causing it to crash into a turbine at a wind farm, Ethan discovers a micro explosive inside Lindsey’s head and tries to destroy it with a defibrillator but before the paddles can charge, the explosive goes off, killing Lindsey. The next day, Ethan and Musgrave are reprimanded by Theodore Brassel, the new director of IMF, as he vocalizes his displeasure in what he felt was a poorly conceived plan. Ethan goes to Lindsey’s funeral, where he receives a call saying that some mail that Lindsey had sent him has just arrived. Ethan picks up the mail, which consists of a postcard that Lindsey had used to send him a black microdot hidden beneath the stamp. As Ethan and Luther wonder why Lindsey sent him the microdot, the receive word from IMF technician Benjamin “Benji” Dunn, who uncovered some information off the damaged laptops. Ethan go to see Benji, who tells them that Davian is going to be in Vatican City, where he is buying something called the Rabbit’s Foot, and Ethan decides to lead an unauthorized mission to capture Davian. Ethan tells Julia that he has to leave for a while, and they end up having an impromptu wedding at the chapel of the hospital where she works. Ethan and his team sneak into the Vatican City and capture Davian, faking his death in an explosion to cover his escape. On the plane back to the states, Ethan questions Davian about the Rabbit’s Foot but Davian taunts Ethan about what he will do to his loved ones. When Davian mentions what he did to Lindsey, Ethan grabs him and opens a cargo door, threatening to throw Davian outside if he doesn’t answer but Davian refuses to talk. After landing, they are transporting Davian back to IMF when Luther tells Ethan he figured out what the microdot was. The microdot contained a video of Lindsey, who tells Ethan that while she was tracking Davian, he received a call and she traced the call back to Director Brassel. Suddenly, the convoy comes under attack from a drone aircraft as armed men manage to free Davian and escape. Fearing for Julia’s safety, Ethan tries calling her, then heads to the hospital when her brother said someone had stopped by the house looking for him. At the hospital, Julia is approached by a man disguised as a police officer and knocked unconscious. Ethan arrives at the hospital, just passing the man carrying Julia from the building, but after Ethan searches the hospital, he suddenly gets a call from Julia’s cell. Davian is on the other line and tells Ethan that he has 48 hours to find the Rabbit’s Foot or he will kill Julia. After Davian hangs up the phone, Ethan finds himself surrounded by IMF agents and though he tries to run, he is hit by a taser and taken captive. At IMF headquarters, Ethan is gagged and bound to a table, where Brassel says he will keep him there. After Brassel leaves, Musgrave speaks with Ethan but in between talking, he mouths that he intercepted Davian’s call and tells Ethan to go to Shanghai, before secretly giving Ethan the means to escape. Ethan manages to break free and escape from IMF headquarters, then goes to Shanghai, where he is surprised to be joined by his team. Learning where the Rabbit’s Foot is being held, Ethan comes up with an insane plan to break in, using a nearby building to help him swing onto the roof of the lab where the Rabbit’s Foot is being kept. Ethan makes it inside but is forced to jump out of the building lower than planned and he is picked up by Declan and Zhen. While getting away from the lab’s security, Zhen is shot in the shoulder but Ethan manages to take out the security team’s car. Ethan calls Davian, who tells him where to bring the Rabbit’s Foot. Ethan heads to the meeting place alone, where a limo picks him up and the driver tells him to drink the liquor provided for him. Ethan does so and falls unconscious, reviving just as the micro explosive is placed in his head. Back to the present, Luther, Declan, and Zhen arrive back in the states, where they are met by a IMF team, led by Brassel. Meanwhile, Davian shoots Julia and leaves Ethan with her corpse. Ethan begins telling Julia’s corpse what he wished he told her when she was alive when Musgrave shows up and reveals that the body isn’t really Julia, but Davian’s head of security, who he killed for failing him. Musgrave reveals that he is the mole and that Julia is still alive. Musgrave tells Ethan that he wanted Davian to acquire and sell the Rabbit’s Foot, as it would be a bigger blow against terrorism. Musgrave uses his phone to let Ethan speak with Julia and once he knows that she is alive, he knocks out Musgrave and frees himself. Ethan calls Benji and has him trace the call to Julia’s location and Benji guides him to where she is being held. Reaching the building, Ethan goes to rescue Julia when Davian activates the charge in Ethan’s head, telling him he has about 4 minutes to live, before he begins to pummel Ethan. Ethan manages to fight back and their struggle takes them into the street, where Davian ends up getting hit by a truck. Ethan frees Julia, then teaches her how to use his gun before he makes a makeshift defibrillator and has Julia use it to destroy the charge. When someone tries to shoot at her, Julia manages to shoot the assailant, as well as Musgrave, before she begins performing CPR on Ethan and revives him. As they are walking away, Ethan begins explaining everything to Julia about his job with the IMF. Back in the states, Brassel congratulates Ethan on a job well done and asks if Ethan is planning on leaving but Ethan says he is planning on going on his honeymoon, and he and Julia leave the IMF, with Luther and the rest of the team offering their congratulations.

Mission Impossible 3 was met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, earning a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. the critical consensus on the site is that it is, “Fast-paced, with eye-popping stunts and special effects, the latest Mission: Impossible installment delivers everything an action fan could ask for. A thrilling summer popcorn flick.” There was some controversy surrounding the press tour for the movie, as Viacom (parent company of Paramount and Comedy Central) had pulled the rebroadcast of the South Park Episode “Trapped In The Closet” over threats of Tom Cruise not participating in the publicity tour for the movie but Cruise denied making those threats and Viacom put the episode back in rotation after a threatened boycott of the movie. While the movie was box office success, it performed less than the studio’s hoped for, earning over $397 million off of a $150 million budget, earning much less than it’s predecessor.

They say third time is the charm and this time it definitely worked. The acting was top notch in this one, with both Tom Cruise and Phillip Seymour Hoffman doing fantastic jobs in their roles. I also like the introduction of Simon Pegg to the cast, adding a bit of humor into some otherwise tense situations, as well as making Laurence Fishburne Director Brassel, who definitely had the presence to fill a commanding role. The story was pretty good and actually didn’t involve a bunch of different plot twists to make things overly confusing. I did like how they started the movie with Davian threatening to shoot Julia, then going back to show how they got to that situation as it helped add a lot more character to Ethan Hunt. The action sequences were about as crisp and well timed as you could ever hope for in an action movie without the need for a lot of extra flash to “add to the excitement”. While I have given up hope that the Mission: Impossible movies would be more of a spy/espionage type movie, as far as action movies go, they definitely got better as time got on and this is a good example.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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April 19th, 2016 Movie – Mission: Impossible 2

mission impossible 2

You know, it is a little comforting to know that you can sometimes watch a movie and immediately know who directed it. I mean, several people just have a tell when it comes to their movies. For instance, take John Woo, the director for today’s movie. You can watch one of his movies and almost tell it is one of his because he has several signature tells, such as the doves. What is his fascinations with doves? Anyways, when I heard that John Woo was set to direct the next Mission Impossible movie, I knew that it would be a flashy, but entertaining movie so without further ado, let’s get right into today’s movie, Mission: Impossible 2.

The plot: Dr. Vladimir Nekhovich, a bio-chemical expert working at Biocyte Pharmaceuticals in Sydney, Australia, injects himself with a bio-weapon called Chimera, and sends word to his friend Dimitri to accompany him to Atlanta, where he plans on delivering Chimera and the cure, Bellerophon. On board a plane, Vladimir is talking with Ethan Hunt, who he refers to as Dimitri, about Chimera and tells him that after being infected with Chimera for 20 hours, nothing can save you, not even Bellerophon. When the plane loses cabin pressure, everyone starts putting on the oxygen masks while Ethan goes to see what is going on. However, the oxygen masks actually deliver knock out gas and when Vladimir notices the other passengers all falling asleep, he tells Ethan there is a problem, only for Ethan to inform him that he is not Dimitri. Ethan kills Vladimir, takes the bag containing the samples of Chimera and Bellerophon, then rips off the mask he is wearing, revealing himself to be Sean Ambrose, a former IMF Agent. The plane’s pilot, working for Ambrose, sets the plane on a collision course with some nearby mountains and then he joins Ambrose and 2 other men as they jump out of the plane before it crashes. The real Ethan Hunt is free climbing in the American southwest and after a close call, makes it to the top of the butte he was climbing, only to be approached by a helicopter, which fires a projectile at him. The projectile contains a pair of sunglasses, which he dons and is given a message from IMF. He is ordered to retrieve Chimera and to assemble two other team members but the third member is to be a civilian thief named Nyah Nordoff-Hall, who is currently in Seville, Spain. He must recruit her in the next 48 hours before contacting IMF for further details of the mission. Ethan goes to Spain and catches sight of Nyah at a fancy party, where he watches as she breaks into a safe and steals an expensive necklace. When the alarm goes off, Ethan, who is under cover as the owner’s security engineer, covers for Nyah by saying she was his assistant and helping to test the security, then has her give back the necklace. As they are leaving, Ethan tells her he wants to recruit her for a job and admits that he triggered the alarm remotely, but Nyah drives off in a rage. Ethan catches up to her and continues trying to talk to her but she tries to run him off the road. When she loses control of her car and almost falls off a cliff, Ethan manages to rescue Nyah and the two end up making love. Later that night, Ethan meets with the new director of IMF, who apologizes for interrupting Ethan’s vacation, then plays a video message from Vladimir. After Ethan sees the message, the director informs Ethan that he had sent Ambrose, who had doubled for Ethan in the past, in order to accompany Vladimir but Ambrose had double crossed them. The director informs Ethan that the reason that he had Ethan recruit Nyah is because she used to date Ambrose and the director feels that she would be the surest way to get to Ambrose. Ethan goes back to his hotel and informs Nyah of the mission. Nyah is upset and feels hurt that Ethan wants to use her like this but Ethan tells her that he doesn’t want to but he can’t think of a better way. Nyah agrees and they decide the best way to get Nyah in touch with Ambrose is for her to be arrested and let Ambrose, who is sure to be monitoring all of the law enforcement channels after the plane crash, get her out and bring her to him. As Nyah is brought to Sydney to see Ambrose, Ethan recruits his friend Luther Stickell and a pilot named Billy Baird to join him in Sydney and as they keep tabs on Nyah with a micro-tracker, Ethan theorizes that Vladimir had created a super virus and a cure, which are now in Ambrose’s possession. The next day, Ambrose is receiving offers for the virus but his second in command, Hugh Stamp, is skeptical of Nyah’s reason for being there and tells Ambrose. Ambrose says he is aware of Nyah possibly being a spy for IMF but that he is willing to take the risk, and uses a cigar cutter to cut off the tip of his finger. Nyah and Ambrose go to the horse races and when Ambrose heads to a meeting, a disguised Billy manages to give Nyah a communication devise. Ethan talks to Nyah to find out what she knows so far. Billy sees Ambrose meeting with someone and Luther identifies him as John C. McCloy, the head of Biocyte Pharmaceuticals. Seeing Ambrose show him something on a digital camera, then place the memory card in his left jacket pocket, Ethan asks Nyah to get the memory card so that they can copy it and has Billy distract Hugh so that she would be alone. As Nyah is in line to place her bet, Ethan joins her and gets the memory card, where he sees what happens when Chimera is exposed to someone longer than 20 hours. As Hugh approaches them, Ethan tells Nyah that he wants her to get out of Ambroses house that night. After placing her bet, Nyah rejoins Ambrose and places the envelope with the memory card in his pocket, but the right pocket instead of his left, which Ambrose notices. That night, McCloy leaves the office but he ends up being gased inside his car. Meanwhile, Nyah finds the house empty so she tries to make her escape when she is grabbed behind and she starts to struggle until she sees it is Ethan. Meanwhile, McCloy awakens inside an isolation tent and sees Vladimir standing just outside. Vladimir speaks with McCloy, who admits that he exposed Vladimir’s colleague to Chimera because he wanted to see what it did in real life in order to show a need for the cure. After McCloy is put back to sleep, Vladimir leaves the room and removes the facial mask to reveal it was Ethan Hunt in disguise. Meanwhile, the Ethan that is with Nyah convinces her that she needs to stay with Ambrose a while longer, then pulls off his mask to reveal that it was Ambrose. Ethan decides that the best way to handle the mission is to destroy the remaining Chimera vials, rendering the Bellerophon cure useless. Ethan sneaks in through the atrium and makes his way to the lab, where he starts destroying the Chimera in the incubation chamber. However, Ambrose anticipates Ethan’s strategy and method of infiltration and heads to the lab himself, killing the guards along the way. Luther, who is keeping tabs on Ethan, notices that Nyah is moving towards Ethan’s location and tells Billy. They realize that if Nyah is there, she won’t be alone but they are unable to contact Ethan for another 5 minutes. Ethan destroys the samples in the incubation room, then heads to destroy the three samples in injector guns, but after destroying the first two samples, Ambrose’s men attack him before he can destroy the third. Meanwhile, someone plants a bomb on the van Luther is in but he sees the bomb on his monitors and manages to grab the tracking computer for Nyah and get out before it explodes. Inside, Ethan manages to kill some of Ambrose’s men and keep them from getting the injection gun. Ambrose orders his men to stop shooting, then has Nyah go to retrieve the injection gun but when she grabs it, she injects herself with the virus. Ethan manages to grab her and set off the security alarms but with Ambrose and his men fighting the guards, he can’t get both of them out of there. Nyah tells Ethan to just kill her but Ethan says that they have time to get Bellerophon into her system so he will save her, then makes his escape. The next day, Ambrose has Nyah taken into the middle of Sydney, while he goes to a secluded facility to meet with McCloy, where he blackmails McCloy into giving him controlling share of Biocyte in exchange for the disease and the cure. . Ethan sneaks into the facility, taking out guards along the way and blows the door to the meeting. Ambrose has Hugh and his men deal with Hunt while he continues dealing with Ambrose. Hugh manages to catch up with Ethan but Ethan lets the grenade he had in his hand loose and the explosion knocks them both to the ground. Hugh tells Ambrose that he has Ethan and brings his bound body back into the room, where Ambrose taunts him for a few minutes before shooting him. As he gloats over the body, Ambrose notices the injured finger and pulls off the mask to reveal that he shot a gagged Hugh by mistake. Meanwhile, Ethan, disguised as Hugh, had grabbed the two vials and tries to escape but is unable to make it into the helicopter. Dealing with the guards, he manages to grab a motorcycle and make his way off the island, with Luther covering him from the helicopter. Luther manages to locate Nyah and Ethan tells him to pick her up and bring her to him so he can give her the cure. Ethan deals with the guards following him, but ends up fighting with Ambrose on the beach and after a fierce battle, Ethan beats Ambrose. Billy and Luther arrive with Nyah and Luther goes to get the Bellerophon from Ethan when he stops short as Ambrose pulls his gun on Ethan. Noticing his gun on the sand in front of him, Ethan throws the cure to Luther, then kicks his gun up and shoots Ambrose while Luther cures Nyah. Some time later, Ethan meets with the director, who says that Ethan’s mission was to retrieve Chimera but understands his reasoning for destroying it and says that Nyah’s criminal record has been cleared. Ethan leaves the meeting and joins Nyah in a nearby park, where the two decide to go on a vacation.

Mission: Impossible 2 received mixed reviews from the critics, earning a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Your cranium may crave more substance, but your eyes will feast on the amazing action sequences.” The movie was nominated for two Razzies, one for Worst Remake or Sequel, and one for Worst Supporting Actress. In spite of the negative press, the movie was a financial hit, earning over $546 million off a $125 budget, making it the most profitable film that John Woo made.

Mission Impossible 2 was definitely a visually stunning action movie…and that’s about it. Tom Cruise did a good job reprising his role of Ethan Hunt, as did Ving Rhames reprising Luther, but I was kind of indifferent towards Thandie Newton (Nyah) and felt like Dougray Scott (Ambrose) was too inconsistent as the main villain. I will say that Richard Roxburgh (Hugh) did make an excellent henchman/second in command. The plot was ok but honestly lacked much in the way of being a spy movie. The only part that really made the movie feel like Mission Impossible was when Ethan was breaking into Biocyte. The action scenes were exactly what you expect from a John Woo film, very stylish with several different camera angles and several instances of slow motion to heighten the experience. And of course, where would we be without some birds flapping about somewhere during one of the major scenes. Now I can understand some birds being in the abandoned facility but having them be doves is a bit much. It’s a good action movie but I agree that you don’t need to think much while watching it.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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April 18th, 2016 Movie – Mission: Impossible

mission impossible

I know most people tend to complain about how TV shows are getting made into movies in recent years but in 1996, a couple of movies came out and no one really complained about them. Today’s movie is one of those movies and I remember all the buzz surrounding this movie. It’s weird thinking that this movie is almost 20 years old and that it was back in a time when people’s first thoughts about Tom Cruise weren’t about how crazy he was or his insane following of Scientology. So let’s all look back at some fond memories of Tom Cruise’s acting career with today’s movie, Mission: Impossible.

The plot:In Kiev, Jack Harmon is watching surveillance as a Russian man is explaining to a man in a black trench coat how a woman wound up dead in his apartment. After the man informs the man trench coat about a contact he has, the man is given a drugged drink and collapses to the floor and the trench coat man goes into the room Jack is in, ripping off his disguise to reveal the face of Ethan Hunt. Jack gives Ethan a shot, which he administers to the “dead” woman, Claire, who comes too and asks if they got the information. Meanwhile, Jim Phelps is flying on a plane when he is given a secret tape by the stewardess. Viewing the tape, Jim is told of an attache to the US embassy in Prague, who has stolen part of the CIA’s NOC (non-official cover) list and plans to steal the other half from the embassy in order to sell the identities of all the CIA’s deep cover agents. He is told that his team has been assembled and will meet him at the safe house before the tape self destructs. Jim meets with his team at the safe house in Prague and gives them their assignments. That night, Ethan, disguised as a US Senator, attends a party at the embassy, where Sarah Davies shows him around. Seeing the attache arriving at the party, Sarah marks him with a spray, allowing Hannah, to keep tabs on him. Sarah and Ethan head towards the secure area and attempt to access the elevator, but Jack, who got stuck behind an elevator, has not yet uploaded Sarah’s information into the security computer. After a guard comes out to check on them and re-run Sarah’s identification, Jack, having climbed on top of the elevator, finally uploads the information and they are allowed through. Inside the secure room, Ethan and Sarah arrange the computer so that they can catch video of the attache stealing the list through Ethan’s glasses but when they try to leave, the elevator has already been called up by the attache. Deciding to sneak out through the elevator shaft, Ethan and Sarah head outside and keep watch on the entrance as well as watch the attache download the list. As the attache goes to leave, the elevator suddenly begins going up and , unable to stop it, Jack is impaled by some metal at the top of the shaft. Ethan and Sarah see the attache as he exits through the shaft and wait by the entrance while he smokes a cigarette. Jim heads towards the embassy but as he is crossing a bridge, he notices he is being followed and calls for an abort. Ethan tells Sarah to keep tabs on the attache while he goes to help Jim, spotting Claire waiting in the car as he passes. Suddenly, Ethan hears a shot go out over the comms and sees Jim clutching his blood stained chest. Jim falls off the bridge into the river just as Ethan arrives on the bridge. Ethan tries to tell Sarah to abort but her comm is turned off after Jim had ordered radio silence. Racing to find her, Ethan sees the car blow up just as Hannah gets inside. Meanwhile, Sarah had followed the attache and is shocked to discover somebody stabbing him. When Ethan gets to where Sarah is, he finds her dead, with the knife still in her, and that the disk has been stolen from the attache. Using a payphone, Ethan makes a call to IMF Director Eugene Kittridge, who tells Ethan to meet him at a restaurant in Prague, which raises Ethan’s suspicions. When Ethan meets Kittridge, he asks Kittridge about the second team that was at the embassy, which happens to now be at the restaurant with them. Kittridge explains that there is a mole in the IMF, who had maid a deal with an arms dealer known as Max to steal the NOC list, which Max referred to as Job 314. The attache was an IMF agent and the list he “stole” was a decoy to trap Max and expose the mole and since Ethan is the only man left, Kittridge suspects him of being the mole, especially since Ethan’s family’s bank account got a sudden influx of cash. Ethan uses some explosive gum to get away from Kittridge, and makes his way back to the safe house. Deciding that the only way to find out the truth is to get in touch with Max, Ethan tries to figure out a way to send her a message before he notices a bible and realizes that the job actually meant the bible verse Job 3:14. Sending messages out to Max, Ethan dozes off at the computer, having a dream about Jim returning, when he is woken up by Claire. Wondering how she is alive, Ethan questions her and she swears that she heeded the abort call and came back at the designated time. Ethan explains what happened and she says that she will explain what happened to Kittridge but Ethan says that Kittridge will just believe that she is working with him. Ethan receives a message from Max arranging a meeting and he goes to it, where he is surprised to find out that Max is a woman. Telling Max that the list she has is a trap, Ethan tells her that he will get the real list in exchange for her arranging a meeting for him with Job. Testing Ethan’s claims, Max uploads the disk and monitors it, leaving before Kittridge arrives with an IMF team. Ethan arranges a deal with Max and returns to the safe house, where he finds Claire arranging all of their supplies. Deciding they need help, Ethan goes on the Disavowed list and recruits two former agents, a computer expert and hacker named Luther Stickell, and a pilot named Franz Krieger. Meeting with the two former agents, Ethan explains what the plan is and they seem shocked at what he is attempting but agree to help. Using the cover of a fire alarm, Ethan, Claire, and Krieger break into CIA headquarters in Langley, and while Claire puts a tracer on the agent in charge of the secure file room and uses a drug to make him sick, Ethan and Krieger use the air conditioner shafts to make their way to the room. Circumventing the security devices, Ethan repels down into the room and begins downloading the NOC list but when he goes to leave the room, Krieger grabs the disk from him but drops his knife into the room. When the agent returns to the room, he notices the knife and discovers that a file has been downloaded, just as Ethan releases a smoke bomb in the air shafts, which helps cover their escape. Ethan and his group head to London, where Ethan is working on arranging a meeting with Max when Krieger, holding the disk, demands to be involved in the meet. Ethan pulls out another disk, claiming it is the real disk, and shows his skill in sleight of hand to show Krieger how he was able to switch disks in the vault. Krieger gets disgusted and tosses the disk in the trash as he leaves and Ethan starts picking up the books he scattered about when he notices that the bible he grabbed has a stamp from the Drake Hotel in Chicago, where Jim last was before Prague. Ethan then grabs the disk out of the trash, revealing that it was the real disk to Luther and then asks him to make sure that the list doesn’t get out in the open. Claire has Ethan look at a news broadcast, showing his parents have been arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking. Ethan heads to a bus terminal and calls Kittridge, staying on the phone long enough for Kittridge to trace him to London but not pinpoint his exact locations, then is shocked to discover Jim in the booth next to him. Ethan speaks with Jim, who says that Kittridge is the mole, but Ethan suspects that Jim is really the mole and killed his team, and that Krieger helped him but Ethan doesn’t know if Claire is involved. Ethan tells Jim his plan about arranging a meet with Max on the TGV train to France at noon and Jim says he will act as backup. The next day, Kittridge arrives in London, where he receives tickets to the train as well as a viewscreen watch. On the train, Max receives a call from Ethan, telling her where the disk is. After she verifies that the NOC list is on it, she tells Ethan where the money is and says that Job will find him. Max tries to transmit the NOC list but is unable to due to Luther’s jamming device. When Luther sees Kittridge entering the car, he gets up to leave, leaving the disguised device behind but an attendant brings it to him, thinking it was his cell phone, attracting the attention of one of Max’s men when all of the nearby phones begin acting up. Claire sees Kittridge and tells Ethan, who says he will meet her in the baggage car. When claire arrives at the baggage car, she sees Jim sitting there and she tells him Ethan is right behind her so they should grab the money and leave since Kittridge is on the train. Jim suddenly removes the mask, revealing himself to be Ethan, and as Claire looks on shocked, the real Jim shows up, pointing a gun at Ethan. When Claire asks Ethan about the deception, Jim explains that Ethan did it to find out if Claire was involved. Claire grabs the money from Etan but Ethan puts on a pair of the camera glasses, transmitting the image of Jim to the watch Kittridge is wearing. Realizing his fake death has been exposed, Jim plans on shooting Ethan but when Claire begs him not too, Jim shoots her, then knocks down Ethan before making his escape to the roof of the train. Ethan follows him to find Krieger piloting a helicopter attempting to pick up Jim. Ethan manages to knock Jim aside and hooks the helicopter to the train, just as the enter a tunnel. Jim and Ethan continue to struggle before Jim jumps onto one of the helicopters landing struts. Ethan follows and uses the explosive gum to destroy the helicopter. On the train, Luther retrieves the disk from Max and gives it to Kittridge, who talks about working out a deal with Max. Later, Ethan and Luther are meeting at a bar, where Ethan says his family was released with an apology from the Justice Department and Luther is no longer on the disavowed list. Luther asks Ethan to come back with him but Ethan says he doesn’t know why he would be doing it and leaves but on his flight, the flight attendant asks if he would like to watch a particular video, and Ethan realizes it is a coded message from the IMF.

Mission: Impossible met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Full of special effects, Brian DePalma’s update of Mission: Impossible has a lot of sweeping spectacle, but the plot is sometimes convoluted.” Several members of the original TV cast were not happy with the script for the movie, primarily making Phelps turn traitor, or the fact that they wanted to kill off the team. The movie was a blockbuster success, earning over $457 million off an $80 million budget.

This was an entertaining movie but I was kind of let down that it was more action than suspense. The acting was good, with Tom Cruise (Ethan) and Ving Rhames (Luther) doing great jobs in their roles. Jon Voight (Jim), Emmanuelle Beart (Claire), Henry Czerny (Kittridge), and Jean Reno (Krieger) were also good, but not to the same level as the others. The story was good, but honestly lacked some of the suspense from the TV show. I think part of this was that the writers made the plot into a massive who-dun-it and kept trying to add twists to it which wound up making things overly complicated. The action sequences were definitely good and showed some creativity, such as Ethan’s suspending into the secure room and trying not to touch the floor while staying quiet. It’s a good movie to watch but the Bond series is still a better spy movie.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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April 17th, 2016 Movie – The Mighty Peking Man

the mighty peking man

I am curious as to why the 70’s remake of King Kong prompted so many imitations. There were three movies that I can think of off the top of my head but I wonder why nobody thought about this before the remake. I mean, there was a good 40 years between the original and the remake. Did it just hit people on the head when the remake was announced that they could make a spoof or rip-off and cash in. King Kong is a relatively marketable commodity so you could have spoofed it at any point and gotten some interest. Anyways, it’s the weekend and weekends are always a good time to watch a giant monster movie so I am going to sit back and enjoy today’s movie, The Mighty Peking Man.

The plot: A businessman, Lu Tien, is telling some of his subordinates about a news story from the Himalayas, where a village was supposedly destroyed by a giant creature, dubbed the Peking Man. Lu Tien wants to capture the giant creature and one of his subordinates recommends a hunter named Johnny to lead the expedition. Johnny agrees to lead the expedition and they head out towards the Indian side of the Himalayas where the attack occurred. The expedition reaches an abandoned village but as they look to see if anyone is there, they are attacked by a stampeding herd of elephants. After the attack, the group work on fixing the wagons and decide to make camp for the night. As they are eating, two men notice Johnny sitting alone and ask what is bothering him. Johnny tells them that the reason he came on the trip was to get away from his ex-girlfriend, who he caught in bed with his brother Charlie, and one of the guys says if they find and capture the monster, he will be able to get any girl he wants. The next day, the group continues through the jungle when they are attacked by a tiger. Some of the men, including one of Lu Tien’s subordinates, wind up in quicksand and though Johnny tries to save them, they sink to their deaths. Another man is mauled by the tiger and after the tiger is chased off, Lu Tien shoots the man to end his suffering. Continuing their journey, the group scales a cliff but when some of the men fall to their deaths, including his other subordinate, Lu Tien wants to cancel the expedition and leave. Johnny says that they should continue going on and capture the Peking Man but as he turns to leave, he notices a figure dropping from the trees and running into the distant jungle. Later that day, the group discovers the footprints of the Peking Man but as they camp for the night, Lu Tien and the rest of the group decide to sneak off in the night, leaving Johnny alone. The next day, Johnny is attacked by the Peking Man and knocked unconscious but before the giant ape can kill him, a young woman swings down and yells for the creature to stop, and instead has the creature take Johnny and herself to her cave. When Johnny comes too, he looks around the cave for a minute before the woman returns, giving him some water. Unable to understand what she is saying, Johnny tries asking about her parents and she takes him to a crashed plane, where the skeletons of her parents are. Searching the wreckage, Johnny finds a picture of her parents and shows it to the woman, whose name he learns is Samantha,  and she describes how a storm cause her parents’ plane to crash and she was rescued by the Peking Man. Johnny tries to read some more from her parent’s journal when Samantha motions about getting food and drags Johnny away. Making their way through the forest, Johnny discovers that Samantha is friendly towards a tiger and leopard, treating them as friends and pets. After Samantha climbs a tree to gather some fruit, they begin to eat but a cobra bites Samantha in her thigh. As Johnny tries to suck the venom from her wound, the leopard attacks and kills the snake. When an elephant approaches them and kneels down, Johnny carries Samantha towards it and has it carry them back to her cave. As Samantha writhes in pain, Johnny notices leaves falling at the entrance of the cave and discovers the Peking Man dropping them. Realizing that he is trying to help her, Johnny gathers the leaves and mashes them into a paste to place on her wound. Samantha recovers and she and Johnny end up falling in love. After watching the two have sex in the cave, the Peking Man, who Samantha calls Utam, grows upset and begins thrashing about outside but Samantha goes outside and calms him down. Johnny tells Samantha he wants to take them to the outside world and Samantha agrees but the jungle animals are sad to see her leave, especially the leopard, who pulls on her skirt to get her to stay. Carried by Utam to the city, where he shows Lu Tien Utam and Lu Tien hires a freighter to ship them back to Hong Kong. On board the ship, Samantha is saddened to see Utam in chains and tries to get Lu Tien to free Utam but Lu Tien refuses, saying that the chains are to ensure that Utam doesn’t sink the boat. Samantha goes crying back to her room and Johnny tries to comfort her by saying that the chains will be removed as soon as they reach Hong Kong, and shows her a new dress to wear when they reach Hong Kong. Lu Tien enters their cabin as she is changing and after Johnny has her enter the bathroom to change, Lu Tien speaks with Johnny about the money they will make. Johnny seems to be having reservations about using Utam and Samantha but Lu Tiem convinces him that things will be ok. When they leave to go celebrate, Samantha exits the bathroom in the dress but finds it uncomfortable so she takes it off and throws it out the porthole. The captain receives news of a typhoon and wants to wait it out in Singapore but Lu Tien refuses to wait and has the captain continue towards Hong Kong. As the storm hits, the ship finds itself stuck on some rocks but Samantha and Johnny go on deck to free Utam and convince him to free the ship. Arriving in Hong Kong, Johnny takes Samantha to see Charlie at the TV studio but while they are watching a show being taped, Johnny receives a note from his ex-girlfriend asking to see him. Leaving Samantha in the studio, Johnny goes to speak with his ex, who wants to get back together with Johnny. When Johnny says they can try and get back together, she kisses him and they are caught by Samantha, who runs from the room. Johnny races after her but is unable to find her as she makes her way through the city. Meanwhile, Utam is chained in the arena and forced to perform tricks for the audience, with handlers beating his feet with poles to get him to perform. Samantha sees Utam on the TV and convinces a couple to take her to the theater. Arriving there, Samantha sees the handlers beating Utam while he is in a cage and tries to get them to stop but when they shove her, Utam roars out in agner and frightens them away. Samantha enters Utam’s cage and consoles him, telling him that they will run away back to the jungle, when Lu Tiem shows up and convinces Samantha to come with him. In his room, Lu Tiem tries to get Samantha drunk and force himself on her but she pushes him away. When he rips off her top, Samantha accidentally opens the curtains and Utam sees Lu Tiem smack her around before attempting to rape her. Utam breaks free from his cage and goes after Lu Tiem, who drags Samantha with him as he makes his escape from the enraged beast. Utam goes on a rampage through the city while chasing after Lu Tiem and when he finally catches up to him, despite Samantha’s protest, Utam grabs Lu Tiem and throws him to the ground where he proceeds to squash him underfoot. The military is called in to deal with Utam but Johnny goes to the police and tells them to help him locate Samantha and they would be able to safely get Utam out of the city. Samantha is spotted clinging to the top of a street light but she runs off, being pursued by a crowd. As Johnny and the police search for Samantha, the military continues trying to kill Utam, causing him to go on an even more destructive rampage due to the injuries he sustained. Utam eventually climbs up a skyscraper and the military commander has the water towers on the roof filled with gasoline and detonated in order to kill him. Samantha sees Utam on the skyscraper and races towards the building, where Johnny finds her, and they manage to convince the commander not to attack Utam and let them try to get him out of the city. The commander orders a cease fire and Samantha and Johnny head up to the roof of the building to try and talk with Utam. Weakened by his injuries, Utam smashes a hole in the roof, which Samantha and Johnny use to call out to him and Samantha tells Utam that they are going to go back to the jungle where he will be safe. However, the commander decides that Utam needs to be killed and orders the helicopters to begin firing again. The helicopters begin firing at Utam and some of the bullets hit Samantha, who was in Utam’s hand, enraging the beast even more. Meanwhile, the commander orders his men to set the bombs to blow up the tanks and Johnny tries to stop them but is knocked unconscious. Utam sees this and kills some of the soldiers but the rest manage to escape, leaving Johnny on the floor. As the bombs are about to explode, Johnny comes too and heads to the roof and finds Samantha where Utam had set her down. He tries to get her to escape with him but she runs to Utam and begs his forgiveness. Johnny is shot in the leg but manages to get Samantha off the roof, just as the bombs explode and Utam is set on fire. The explosion separates Johnny and Samantha and as Utam collapses dead ontop of what’s left of the roof, Johnny finds Samantha, seemingly dead, and carries her body towards an opening, where he looks out at the city.

The Mighty Peking Man met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the majority of critics commented about the goofiness of the film, with some enjoying it and others hating it. Roger Ebert enjoyed the film, giving it 3 stars out of 4 and actually had to revise a review from another of the director’s movies, Infra-Man, which he reviewed earlier. Feeling he could not give The Mighty Peking Man a higher score, and because he did enjoy Infra-Man, he changed his review of Infra-Man to a 3 star as well.

This is a really funny movie to watch because of how bad it is. The acting was pretty decent, with Evelyne Kraft doing a good job as Samantha, essentially playing a Raquel Welch type character. The story was decent, seeming to borrow equal parts from King Kong as well as from Mighty Joe Young in regards to the relationship with Samantha and Utam. There were some plot elements that definitely didn’t seem to make much sense. For instance, how much time passed while Johnny and Samantha were in the jungle where Johnny was able to teach his language. Also, why did Johnny call his brother when he was the one his girlfriend cheated on him with. And of course, the big question on if Samantha really died at the end. The special effects were not the best, with the gorilla suit looking fairly cheap and the blue screen not syncing right with the action up front but that actually added to the humor. There are better produced giant ape movies out there but this is still worth watching.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5