When I was doing reviews for the radio station, I was contractually obligated to see 2 new releases per week. I had to see everything that came through our little town. So I had to take the good with the bad. From True Grit to Twilight. Quentin Tarantino to Tyler Perry. Now that I no longer have to do so, I can be choosy with my film watching. See the films that I want to see. Since there were no new films I really wanted to check out (The Lorax will probably be a DVD viewing) this weekend, I caught up on films I hadn’t seen yet.
Starring Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan
The indie, off-brand superhero films have increasingly come into prominence, staking a claim in the genre that is not as dominated by the marquee names. Chronicle, from writer Max Landis (John’s son) and director Josh Trank (not John’s son), is another wonderful entry that follows in the grand tradition of Kick-Ass, Super and Defendor.
What struck me most about Chronicle is that it feels like the movie Spider-Man 3 wanted to be. The moral implications raised by the Andy, Matt and Steve as they explore their new-found superpowers seems more real than in prior films. It perfectly captures the uncertainty of the teenage years and matches it with these unknown powers.
While the three leads only have a handful of credits between them (Jordan being the most prolific with stints on “The Wire,” “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood”), and this certainly won’t launch them into stardom, it’ll definitely cement them as “Ones To Watch.”
Lead Dane DeHaan is particularly engaging as the torn Andy Detmer. While dealing with an abusive father, an ailing mother, and bullying at school, he struggles to come to terms with his power. The transformation from quiet, shy introvert, to popular kid, to super villain is brilliantly realized by DeHaan.
Josh Trank makes few stumbles in his feature film directorial debut. The film could have been bogged down with extraneous info and superfluous scenes, but he keeps it tight and straight to the point. Kudos to him.
Definitely worth heading to the cinemas for a viewing.
Starring Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner and Michael Nyqvist
What I like most about the Mission: Impossible franchise is that it’s successfully hung on for 15 years, and has yet to wear its welcome.
Each film always feels like its own stand-alone that gets by on its own merits. And despite John Woo’s mishandling of the 2nd one, M:I has been able to consistently deliver. The films have been able to stay fresh with a revolving door of talented directors who put their own unique spin on it, and constantly reinventing itself to stay with the trends of the genre.
Cruise shows absolutely no signs of slowing down at the ripe old age of 49. He’s still just as engaging as ever, and proves he can sprint with the best of them. It was a treat to see Simon Pegg return as Benji, formally tech support, now with full field credentials. The addition of both Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner add some new, youthful blood to the film. Tragically, Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist was tragically under utilized as the primary villain. If M:I 2 got one thing right, it was the great back & forth between Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and Dougray Scott’s villainous Sean Ambrose.
Director Brad Bird deserves the most credit for keeping the film engaging all the way through to the end, nice and tight. Quite impressive for his first live action outing. Bird helmed two of Pixar’s finest films (The Incredibles and Ratatouille as well as one of the best animated films ever made, Iron Giant. He brings a different look and feel to the franchise, making it one of the more kinetic and exciting installments.
What producer J.J. Abrams was able to do as director on the third, find the right balance between spy thriller and big action (the first 2 emphasized one or the other), Bird continued. It wasn’t too over the heads of the general audience to confound them, but didn’t dumb it down in favour of action sequences.
It’s a great spy action film, definitely worth checking out.