Sunday, May 21, 2006

Next to MI:3, this one looks to be my favorite of the summer. I am a big Superman fan and have really gotten into the comics and the TV show "Smallville" in the past year and am really looking forward to this film.

For those not in the know, Superman Returns takes place somewhere after the events of Superman 2 (although they won't be referencing that film in this version). Think of this as a psuedo-sequel/re-imagining of the Superman films.

Bryan Singer, who directed the first two X-Men outings is the director of this one and it looks like he has remained very true to the Superman mythos, not really deviating from anything or changing anything too crazy.

The Superman franchise has gone through a tailspin of attempted incarnations over the past twenty years, none of them getting off the ground (the closest being Tim Burton's crazy vision with a black costumed Superman portrayed by Nicolas Cage).

While the producers struggled to find the right creative team (with a laundry list of directors coming and going from the project) they settled on Singer, confident in his vision, follow through, enthusiasm, and reputation for doing justice to comic book material (a la X-Men)

Anyways, check out this trailer (the third and final one, I'm guessing). It's worth watching just for the last five seconds. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

World Trade Center trailer

Following in the footsteps of United 93 is "World Trade Center" which stars Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, and Maria Bello, which is about Port Authority officers trapped in the wreckage of the WTC while trying to rescue people.

I think it looks quite good and the promotional department has obviously decided not to inform the public that it's directed by Oliver Stone, who is known for brewing controvery out of just about anything.

However, this looks relatively controversy free. We'll see, but it certainly looks like it will be good.

Check it out at:

Never too soon to remember the past

United 93
Directed by: Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy)
Starring: A bunch of people you won’t recognize

It’s too soon! It’s too soon! It’s too soon!

Oh, shut up. There will never be a “right” time that would please the masses as no two people have the same mourning process. For me in particular, September 11th will always remain a deep wound to my soul and psyche, a day which catapulted me into the real world and out of the self indulgent fantasy I was living.

I’m not saying that we need to go into production the day after a major event transpires, but then again…why not? In the preservation of history the one thing that always blurs the lines is time. We wait so long that details are forgotten, memories faded, and suddenly we’ve got people fighting over what really happened.

I think five years is a good wait and it’s time to start putting these films out. When I think of how I felt on September 11th and, most importantly, how I felt when watching people’s reactions to it, I think that we all need a good reminder of what that event has meant to this country and the world at large.

While the nation is deeply emblazoned in war due to the flaming turmoil in the middle east and so many crying for peace when they don’t even understand what war is, it’s time to give them a wake up call they’ll understand…unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) this wake up call will come in the form of movies.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the OEF/OIF war movies, and hopefully we’ll get a filmmaking team with balls and integrity to tackle it (and if we don’t, then yours truly will do everything he can to make sure those that served get a just portrait onscreen). Why do we always try to bury the past and forget the lessons we have learned? Because it’s SO hard? Come on.

I have spoken to a lot of people about war and politics and continuously find that the majority are completely misinformed and have never researched the events they claim to know so much about. Unfortunately, most people’s opinions and viewpoints are dictated to them from CNN and MSNBC headlines…They’ve never taken the steps to learn more about the world in which they live in beyond the fruitless headlines.

What United 93 represents is a call to detail, a call to attention, and a call of rememberence.

United 93 is an important film.

The only way to describe the film is INTENSE. My heart was beating fast throughout, even though I knew the outcome, I knew the ending, it didn’t matter. The old feelings came back and it reminded me of why I joined the military and why it’s worth the fight.
The film begins with the terrorists of Flight 93 preparing, praying, and shaving the night before and then just kicks the day off, like any other day. People make small talk and go about their business. There’s no grandstanding or scene stealing. It’s as if the director, Paul Greengrass, put a camera crew on that plane on September 11th.

What surprised me was the scenes of the air traffic controllers and every other agency that monitors the skies, working together and figuring out what the hell was going on. I wasn’t there, obviously, so I can only say that it felt absolutely true to how it was. From what I understand, Greengrass pieced the film together through all the facts that we have of that day, which, surprisingly, can nearly be accounted for minute-by-minute due to the varied pieces of equipment that captured it: photos, surveillance cams, flight recorders, cell phone calls, air traffic control, etc.

You feel the frustration and intensity as planes are suddenly not responding to their controllers, confusion is rabid as each agency shares information and tries to piece together just what the hell is going on. Because I am ignorant of how all things FAA and agencies of the sky work, I can only assume, based on seeing this, that they did everything they could have done at that time.

If it were post 9/11, those fucking planes would have been shot down, no doubt. But, what people must understand about that day was that America had NEVER seen an event transpire like it. EVER. Even though they later go authorization to hammer down and shoot the planes out of the sky it was too late.

Frustration is something I think many people will feel throughout this film, but you must take into account where this country was on that day and not where it is now. Most likely every person acted to the best of their ability given the time and the scenario.

While the air agencies bounce back and forth on the first two planes hijacked, Flight 93 carries on like normal. However, the terrorists (all sitting in first class) are edgy and wide-eyed, nervous, and anxious, ready to pounce. You feel that anxiety throughout every second before they make their move. You know what’s coming, you just wish that there was something that could’ve been done.

And then it happens. The first plane hits the WTC and the scramble begins. What the fuck is going on? Was it an accident? Was it intentional? Watching the different agencies try to figure out what’s happening feels so true to how things work. We have all encountered these things in our lives. We look back on big events and nit pick on how we could’ve done it better. These guys never had that chance.

When the terrorists finally make their move on Flight 93 it is pure and unrelenting intensity. My heart was on fire. You feel these people’s pain and fear and terror. Never have any of these people thought about or prepared for such an event.

As a soldier, I could easily tell you what I’d do right now if that happened on my flight. But if I were on that flight at that time, I couldn’t tell you exactly what I’d do. I know I’d fight, but I sure wouldn’t have a plan of action like I would now. And why? Because I have the benefit of both what these people went through and military training. And I wouldn’t have had military training if these people hadn’t gone through what they did on that day.

They have very little time. They start calling home and you fear for each and every one of them. They are young, old, male, female, black, white, all races, religions, etc. They are people in a serious fucking situation. When they discover what has happened at the WTC they put it together. They know what’s coming.

One by one, they begin to form a small group of men, band together and prepare to take the fight to the cockpit. They find a man onboard that has flown small engine planes before and prepare him to jump in and take over the controls.

Then, with great courage and ferocity, they attack, taking out one of the terrorists who was holding a fake bomb and then chasing down the others to the cockpit. The terrorists inside the cockpit, seeing that they are about to be overrun, begin to turn the plane (all of this can be read on the flight recorder transcripts, which you can find online) making it difficult for the passengers to get in.

They are so close and I have no doubt that the passengers truly made it that far as in the film, especially after reading the transcripts. They struggle all the way to the ground, when the terrorists realize that they’ll never make their target and simply crash the plane.

To me, this was a film about a country losing its innocence and waking up from a nightmare to a whole new world. The emotions, the reactions, the fear, the sadness, and the tragedy, and ultimately, the courage of those that sought to begin the fight against terrorism on the very day that it decided to declare war is beyond admirable.

This film conveys every emotion you most likely felt on September 11th 2001. It reaches a level of intensity that I don’t think I’ve ever felt before when watching a movie.

This isn’t a movie that you’re going to pop into the DVD player to enjoy on a Friday night, any more so than say, Schindler’s List. This is something so much more. It’s a testament, it’s a historical document to an extent, and it glamorizes nothing. It tells the story as best as it can with the information we have and it takes you back to that day as if it were this morning.

It’s a shame that more people don’t flock to the theaters to see a film of this magnitude and importance but will go in droves to be lectured and lied to by the bloated moron Michael Moore, with his deranged, uninformed, pieces of heresay garbage on celluloid.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Jumping on the Couch with Tom Cruise

Mission:Impossible 3
Directed by: J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias, Felicity)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Michelle Monaghan, Laurence Fishburne, Billy Crudup, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Maggie Q, Keri Russell

It's been ten years since Tom Cruise graced the screen with the reimagining of sorts of the Mission:Impossible TV show (thus beginning a tirade of mostly tragically bad TV-to-movie translations) and reigned supreme in box office gold. Then came the more action-themed sequel which seemed to be more of a catering job to the directing style of action auteur John Woo.

Now, a decade later, has the franchise been reinvigorated or has it been flattened like most other movie franchises?

Not surprisingly to me, knowing the thought, care, and meticulousness of Mr. Cruise's career choices, the franchise is now beaming with new life thanks to the third entry in this "American James Bond" series of films.

I say "not surprisingly" because whether you are a Tom Cruise fan or Tom Cruise hater, there's no denying that the guy has chosen some of the best roles/films/creative teams in his long-standing career, creating a body of work that represents a staple in both American pop culture and some outstanding entries in the world of film.

Now, yes, I am a Tom Cruise fan. I don't care if he's crazy, if he jumps on Oprah's couch, calls Matt Lauer "glib," or buys a baby scanner to check out his kid. It's none of my business what Mr. Cruise does with his life. If the media wants to latch onto his antics and blow them into epic proportions and take money from the drones that have no life but that of living through US Weekly or IN Touch, then that's on them.

I pay $10 bucks to see Mr. Cruise onscreen, not in his personal life. So what if he believes aliens are his God(s)? I don't give a shit. Now, if he molested children or had massive plastic surgery to become a black man or did something truly OUT THERE, then yeah, maybe I'd have trouble watching the guy onscreen, but seriously...he jumped on Oprah's couch...Oh my! What a crackhead! I've seen guys do way more crazy shit when under the influence of new pussy...We all lose our fucking minds when we're in love.

The reason I'm going into my "defense of Tom Cruise" rant is because I've heard so many people reluctant to see the movie because he jumped on a couch. And yet they flock to see Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, two people that are way more weird to me than any Tom Cruise tale of craziness. I just don't understand it.

Quick story: I'm at Barnes and Noble and I'm buying the new copy of Empire magazine, which is a British movie magazine, which coincidentally, has Tom Cruise on the cover for MI:3. The checkout girl asks me if I like Tom Cruise. I say, Yeah, I like his movies, he always does good ones. She's like, shocked.

She asks me "don't you think he's crazy?" and I say, "maybe, but I don't care. I just want to see his movies." Again, she's shocked. She tells me she's definately not going to see the movie because of Tom and his craziness. Now, I'm shocked. She's gonna bypass this movie because she THINKS he's crazy?

I tell her that J.J. Abrams is writing/directing it and go further to explain that he created Lost and Alias, two critically acclaimed shows with huge fan bases. She says, "Oh, hmmm....well, maybe it might be good..." Yeah, damn straight. My wife stood idly by and later told me she thought the girl was flirting with me, but I don't buy it. Plus, being ignorant is not the way into my pants. You have to have a crisp ten dollar bill and a box of doughnuts for that.

Short history: Originally, MI:3 was to be directed by David Fincher(Fight Club), but because the shooting and release schedule were so tight he felt it would be rushed and would rather do it right or not at all. Fair enough. Then Joe Carnahan (Narc) came onboard and later left due to creative differences, which seemed largely in part to his script, which apparently was extremely dark and not in the vein of the franchise.

Why the history lesson? Again, in defense of the project and to get the facts straight to those that don't care to research the filmmaking process and instead listen to bullshit rumors from magazines with no clout that distribute heresay like condoms at an abortion clinic.

All right. We're clear on my feelings on the whole "Tom is Crazy" shit and the general timeline of the franchise. Good. On to the movie.

There are many ways to describe this film. I'll only go into two. ONE) It's a unique blend of the first and second films with a touch of energy that is lacking in both TWO) The perfect summer action movie.

Listen, you probably won't see a better action film this summer. Yeah, Superman will probably be the tits, but it's not really an action movie. X-Men 3? Seriously, I'm very worried for that one, because being able to see the shit before you smell it still lets you know that it's shit. I mean, you want guns, gadgets and kick ass stunts, MI:3 is your absolute best bet and it will deliver in spades.

We pick up with Ethan Hunt (Cruise) who is now a trainer at IMF (Impossible Mission Force) and is no longer a field agent. He is engaged and living a fairly simple life, even though his job is still secret to anyone not in his line of work, including his new fiance (Monaghan).

When one of the agents that Hunt trained is captured, he's enlisted by the new IMF point man (Crudup) to go in to get her. Hunt agrees and goes to rescue the agent (Russell) and thus kicks off the movie's energy and draws us in and never lets us go.

Naturally, many, many things go wrong and Hunt finds himself on the lamb again, working "black" as they call it and enlisting the help of loyal teammates. Kidnappings, double crosses, cool gadgets, and a kick ass cast round out the speeding bullet that is this film.

A lot of people have raved about the film's chief villain played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman and I agree to an extent. Although he's a vile and relentless villain he doesn't get enough screen time to put him on the all-time best bad guy list. He's good, but not that good.

Ving Rhames is fine as the only returning character from the franchise, Luther Stickel, the computer hacker, and the remaining supporting IMF team, comprised of Maggie Q, Jonathan Rhys-Myers, and Billy Crudup are a colorful and fun bunch. We don't learn too much about them and that's fine. Their actions and playfulness make for good screen time.

And then there's Mr. Cruise. Look, love him or not, the guy can act and he brings an emotional intensity to the role of Ethan Hunt that was nearly vacant in the prior outings. This story is truly about Hunt, both professionally and personally, and the stakes are beyond high for him here. Cruise pulls it off, as usual, and with an even greater feel for the role. He is the American James Bond. He may not be Jack Bauer level bad ass, but it would be one helluva fight.

Special attention must go to J.J. Abrams. He has crafted an action/spy thriller that plays on the Mission: Impossible mythos in pure modern day perfection. Abrams's work on Alias and Lost has proven that he has the chops to deliver thrills with a deep core and he once again demonstrates that here. The plot may be simple, but the characters and their interaction is the strong suit here. They always say to play to your strenghts and Abrams does just that here.

The action sequences are numerous and most definately live up to the impossible part of the film's title. Sure, most of it wouldn't, couldn't, or shouldn't happen. But, the movie is called mission: impossible, not mission: probably not possible.

There were many times where my eyebrows raised and I felt a slight tug in my pants as the action sequences got going. I started to get the old feelings back...back when Hollywood made good action movies...movies with lots of intensity and action and more than anything, CHARACTERS. Not vacant muscle-bound stoic morons with one-liners, but multi-dimensional heroes that fuck up and do their best to pull out of their peril on top. This is the kind of action movie I'd like to see more of.

Another great thing of note: The rating. It's PG-13 and I honestly have no complaint. I'm an R-rated movie kind of guy. Usually, an R-rating guarantees that you get the material straight as oppossed to censored, but I never once felt that what I was getting was watered down by the MPAA. I felt that they delivered exactly what they wanted us to see and I was very happy with what I saw.

In the end, I seriously doubt I'll see a better movie this summer and in all honesty, I'm surprised that I feel that way. I am stoked for a few summer entries on the way, but now it's got competition. Serious competition.

So, if you're shying away from this one because Tom Cruise jumped on a couch on daytime TV or because he wants his wife to be called "Kate" instead of "Katie" well, you're missing out on a great film. I don't want to hear any bitching and moaning about how there are no good summer movies from you, especially if you're avoiding them because of a movie star's personal life...if that were always the case, then you'd be doing a lot of reading, because, guess what, just like the average joes of the world, celebrities are just as fucked up as the rest of us.

Stop your judgmental, ignorant whining about celebrities and their personal lives and go see the movie for a damn good summer ride. Or go sacrifice yourself and pretend that seeing Lindsay Lohan in "Just My Luck" is a better choice...because she is SO much more normal than Tom Cruise.

Movie Grade: A+