Tag: Tom Cruise

Movie Roundup – Mainstream 2018 Part 1

Welcome to a Movie Roundup! A movie roundup features a few films that I didn’t feel like making full reviews for, but needed to get basic reviews out there for completionist reasons. It also helps me deal with my backlog. It may have a theme, and today’s theme is Mainstream 2018 (Part 1)! Basically, the popular movies I had missed, and need to really review, or else.

Being on a movie round up doesn’t mean a movie is inherently bad, or good, or meh. I can feature any rating on here! So don’t assume the worst! I will also just post the reviews in alphabetical order.


Mainstream 2018 Part 1

Alpha

In the face of this movie, I expected the worst. I thought this movie had to be a typical January release, something similar to
10,000 BC. But alarmingly, it came out in September, and when I finally got to see the movie it mostly met my expectations. It was surprisingly not amazingly bad, just regularly bad.

Gross CGI landscapes to recreate the before time, and a pretty uninspired storyline about the bringing together a “dog” and a man. The other sad aspect of this movie is that people might watch it and go, “Oh, so that’s how it happened! Domestication!” and take this movie as fact. That would be a shame. And I don’t know if people actually say that, because I barely know people who have seen it, but this straw man stands in my mind. A forgettable film, like most dog films.

1 out of 4.

Alpha
Waiting for Mufasa to show up takes forever.

Crazy Rich Asians

When I first heard this title, I really assumed it was sort of a joke. I didn’t know it was based on a book of the title, or why it was called that, but it just felt off. I thought it would be some sort of exploitative film that was a comedy no one would watch, and hey, it feels good to be wrong. A romance more than anything, this is a film about an outsider being brought into the world of ridiculously rich Asian people in Singapore. So we get all of the wealth, luxury, and snide comments with some back stabbing.

On its whole, it could have been a forgettable romance film. But the lavish sets went all out to display a lifestyle most of us can only dream about, while also bringing in new cultural elements to American cinema. Having the lead be the mom from Fresh Off The Boat was great, and showed she has at least some range. The ending teared me up too. And damn it, it is great in general to see different people on our romance movies. Bring on this wave of Asian-American films, damn it.

3 out of 4.

CRA
Out of the three adjectives in the title, I’d prefer the middle one myself.

Mission Impossible: Fallout

“More Mission Impossible? I thought we were done with those,” said no one really ever. Or at least said people who hadn’t been watching them. I will go on record and say the only one I didn’t get enjoyment out of was the second one, and that one has a lot of stranger things going on. I just didn’t see them until I was already an adult, so it took me awhile to appreciate them. Because lets face it, there isn’t another successful American action franchise that is going into this level of detail and craziness for its stunts. It wants Cruise to do most of the work.

He is never going to be the level of some of our older or past martial artist stars, with the long choreographed fight scenes, but its at least a step in the right direction. This film is still exciting, but overall, it feels uninspired. It just isn’t as good as the last two modern MI movies. The stunts aren’t as sexy, even if they have bigger overall stunts. It doesn’t fill me with as much awe, and the story line just gets excessive as it attempts to continually top itself. The ending also feels really clunky and I never really feel that sense of dread that it is going for. A good attempt at an action movie, I just expect a bit more now from the franchise.

2 out of 4.

MI5
The biggest stunts are helicopters? Eh, I’ve seen helicopters before.

Ocean’s Eight

I am a huge Ocean’s Trilogy fan, and a huge Steven Soderbergh fan, and so even if the director wasn’t really involved, I was hoping to love this one. Heck, the stars are there too, with a lot of big names.

I will say it feels gimmicky, and not equal, to just go the opposite direction and make it an all female cast. It doesn’t feel natural, just like an all male heist would be with the large numbers (which is why technically the two sequels had…one woman in on the heist). In the movie, it does seem to make a lot more sense, given just the nature of the crime and the talents they needed to pull it off, so that is the good news. The biggest issue overall is just that the movie feels forgettable when it finishes. No one person stands out in acting, and the various twists to show how it was pulled off are for the most part guessable, especially thanks to the title.

I still hope they can do more. Go for it. Just lets raise the stakes.

2 out of 4.

O8
Yep, eight people, like most of the advertising, spoiling a twist.

Tag

Finally, a film people maybe thought initially was a joke. A high budgeted comedy (and slightly action?) movie, about people playing tag, that has gone on with very specific rules for decades, and one person who never, ever gets tagged. So many stars, so little time, and such a ridiculous concept (based loosely on a real story). I wanted to enjoy it and was intrigued by the trailer. But like a lot of modern comedies, I think it really just needs a group of people or slight inebriation to really fully enjoy.

I’d prefer a comedy I can find historical alone, and this is clearly one meant for you to enjoy with your own group of friends, which is fine, but limited. Again, with a large cast, no one really feels like a standout, and some people seem to be doing the same sorts of character they are always type casted into. The ending also went a really strange place. Unexpected, sure, but something that feels almost like a complete genre switch.

1 out of 4.

Tag

Mainstream movies may be a broad title, especially when you compare them to the other quick themes I put together, but hey, its my themes suck it. I originally would have done genre, but too many films are multi-genre that I didn’t want to deal with that hassle.

The Mummy

Holy shit, it is finally here, the Universal Monsters Movie Franchise! Or Dark Universe, as it is going to be called. And this is for real!

Yeah yeah, you heard it was going to start so long ago, but with less buzz, with The Wolfman, But nope. And you were super seriously sure it was starting with Dracula Untold (because they said so), but apparently they changed their mind. They changed their mind DESPITE the ending taking place in modern day, clearly being ready for the Dark Universe.

So this time it is real. They have a name for the franchise. They have photos with actors in it. They have bigger names.

And you thought my intro to The Mummy would just be talking about the last Mummy Franchise? Well, you’re also right. I really enjoyed The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. The third one sucked, besides some yetis. The Scorpion King was fine, its sequels are bad. And I expect this movie to be NOTHING like the previous iteration, so I won’t really compare them.

Mummy
The main difference is wanting to make this Mummy sexier.

Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) is in the military, or some subset of their intelligence. But he is a bit of a rebel. He has taken his underling, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), to a completely different area of Iraq where he believes there is some sweet buried treasure that they can sell on the black market. They are supposed to be 100 miles away on a basic scouting mission, so they kind of are really big jerks here.

And sure enough, there is a goddamn hidden pit/tomb thing here, Egyptian made, despite Iraq being decently far away from Egypt. Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), an Egyptian Archaeologist, believes that there was a Pharaoh princess written out of the records due to shenanigans and this might be her resting place.

Speaking of this princess, Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) lived a long time ago. She was going to be the new Pharaoh when her dad died, and then despite her older, ready age, he went and had another child, a boy. And there went her hopes and dreams. So she made a deal with Set, got all demonic, killed them all and was about to bring Set into the world when she was mummified while alive (kind of BS) and you know, imprisoned far away and for ever.

Ah yes, the plot of the movie. This sounds like a lot, but honestly, this is all the beginning of the movie. What follows including death, destruction, magic shit, mummy curses, the dead rising, jokes, and a whole lot of other mysterious allusions to monsters. All in two hours!

Starring Courtney B. Vance as a general, Marwan Kenzari as a bodyguard, and Russell Crowe as a mysterious doctor dude and sometimes narrator.

Plane
This may look like a romantic moment, but that bitch is about to get sucked out of a plane OMG

I have FAR MORE to talk about with this movie than I had possibly imagined before viewing. There is a lot going on, possibly to its own detriment, certainly that is a negative a lot of people are pointing out. Because it is the first film in this universe (Of which Dark Universe was given its own big logo right after Universal) it has to give a complete film and tease out the future. All without an after credit scene to help them either.

A lot of the film can be described as messy. It jumps across genres in a bad way, it decides to describe the entire mummy backstory through exposition out of nowhere. A poor decision. We also get a bit TOO much teasing of the future. Another character that is relevant to the films appears and does a bit more appearing than I wanted. I wished they teased him more out and didn’t go full on monster so early in this franchise.

And the ending? Well, it puts the film and the universe in an interesting place. But at that point it didn’t go strong enough and didn’t seem to match really what was being built.

But despite all this, I still had a lot of fun. It had a real adventurous feel throughout it. The Mummy was straight up scary at points, raising her own undead army to get some shit done. It wasn’t campy throughout, but there was still some camp. Some of the stunts from Cruise were of course amazing, and just, I am excited for more. I really am.

Oh, less Jake Johnson would have been nice. They really don’t need him in future films. Alas.

3 out of 4.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

When Jack Reacher came out, I was able to avoid the controversy involving casting choices, because I of course never read the books and didn’t care. I just wanted a good action thriller.

And Jack Reacher was a good action thriller. I enjoyed how small and personal it felt. It felt unique. It had an amazing opening.

I was totally pumped for a Jack Reacher sequel. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a dumb title, but hey, if it was anything like the first one, fuck it, who cares.

Stare
This one promises to feature at one visually appealing location.

This film starts off already way less exciting than the first film. Just Jack (Tom Cruise) helping catch a human trafficking cop, without much detail on how he did it or why it was done in any special way. Then we get to see him calling Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), someone he has worked with. But he talks to her a lot, he probably has the hots for her.

Anyway, according to some Colonel (Holt McCallany), Turner has been arrested for espionage. And also she maybe killed two people in Afghanistan. People she wasn’t supposed to kill. That is odd. Also, Jack might have a daughter (Danika Yarosh) that he has no knowledge of, from a prostitute. Look at all these shenanigans!

Somehow all of this gets connected. Jack gets framed for the murder of his lawyer, everyone gets in the same jail so they can break out and figure out all this shit.

Also featuring Aldis Hodge and Patrick Heusinger.

Run
And after all of this, I fucking ran away from the movie.

You might be really interested in why the low rating? That is because I did the unthinkable during this movie. No, I didn’t sleep through it. But sleeping usually gives an automatic 0 as well. I turned the piece of shit off.

I realized my time was far too valuable instead of wasting it on another hour of the shit in front of me. This is not the Jack Reacher I remember from just a few years prior. This is some global conspiracy military film, without a strong focus. This is a complete mess.

Technically, from the first scene it was worse, but the first scene of Jack Reacher was legendary. This felt like a sequel that was made from a different cheaper studio, like a lot of the Disney straight-to-video sequels. Whatever was on the screen couldn’t have possibly been done by the same people. It just seemed so goddamn different.

I obviously don’t have a lot of unique things to say, seeing just under half of the movie. And hey, maybe the ending made it a bit better. But whatever it is I watched just felt so wrong, so non-Jack Reacher, that I figured I had already seen enough. This is not a worthy successor. They should have Never Gone Back to this franchise, apparently.

Do better in your next film Cruise. I trust you.

0 out of 4.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

There isn’t much new to say about the Mission: Impossible series that I didn’t already say in my Ghost Protocol review weeks ago. I watched the other four movies in the series, some were good, some were bad. More importantly, the last one was good, so the series is on an upswing and I can be excited!

Tom Cruise puts out exciting movies. He can be a bit crazy, but by damn does the man know how to entertain an audience.

Part of me secretly hopes that this time, in Rogue Nation, the mission actually ends up being impossible and they lose. That would be a nice plot twist and a fantastic way to end the franchise. A bit of a downer, but man, what IDGAF attitude they would have!

EXPLSOSIMS
Your mission should you choose to accept it: Die in the movie and NOT return for a sequel.

Remember the Syndicate? Of course you don’t! They were mentioned at the end of the last movie but vaguely and that they were bad people. Turns out they are very, very bad people. So bad that Ethan Hunt (Cruise) got captured by them relatively early on in the movie, with innocent people being killed. He doesn’t know a lot about them, they are a very secret organization, led by some guy (Sean Harris) that he of course knows next to nothing about.

All he knows is that he only is able to escape thanks to the help of a woman (Rebecca Ferguson). But just like previous films, due to all of the chaos of events going around the IMF, they officially get disbanded. The head of the CIA (Alec Baldwin) has brought all usable resources into his division, including Benji (Simon Pegg) and Brandt (Jeremy Renner). Luther (Ving Rhames) figured he’d rather retire than work for the CIA.

And now Ethan is on his own, being hunted by the CIA and the Syndicate, the latter of which no organization actually believes exists. A typical Tuesday for him I’d imagine.

Also featuring Jens Hultén as henchman who speaks and Saif Al-Warith as henchman who doesn’t speak, but has a nice beard.

Action
If you look closely, you will notice reversed gender roles!

M:I 5, if I can call it that, was an action movie done right. We don’t have lamely on a mission killing an entire island worth of henchmen, or people running around just yelling shitty puns. No, the action scenes in this film have depth. It helps that a lot of the stunts are done by Cruise himself, which just adds to his action star credibility. The plane scene is the famous stunt scene, which is funny in context of the film based on how little it matters. The underwater scene was one of the best scenes, as well as the motorcycle/car chase.

For the plot, it has the normal twists and turns that the franchise tends to offer, but I think it falls apart a bit near the end. Things get almost too convoluted. Thankfully it doesn’t completely ruin the film which spends the rest of the time before it building up your good graces with cool scene after cool scene.

Ferguson plays the best Mission: Impossible lady star of the five films. She is a kick ass, bad ass woman, who has her own motives for doing everything. She isn’t just a lame plot device for Hunt, like a Bond girl.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is definitely one of the best action movies of the year at this point, and probably one of the better non Superhero action movies from the last few years. Go and see and be entertained.

3 out of 4.

Buy It! – This movie is available now on {Blu-Ray} and {DVD}.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Movie confession: I was born in 1989, and it took until the summer of 2015 for me to watch the first four Mission: Impossible films. I have definitely never seen the TV show (and don’t plan on it). I really wanted to review Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation when it was in theaters though, so I had to gain copies of the first three films.

Oh, I had Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol on Blu-Ray already though. Bought it three years ago for about $3 and put it on my “eventually” shelf.

Well the time is now! And as a way of catching up, I thought the first one was good, the second one was really really terrible and took me five days to finish it (watching a little bit each day), and the third one was decent, thanks a lot to Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Good, we are caught up. On with the recent film!

Girl
I have learned to not get attached to the female lead. She totally won’t make the next film.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is now locked away in a Russian prison. He has been there for years! Some say he killed a bunch of Serbians, some say it was due to the death of his wife. Some say he is there on a secret mission. All they know is that they have to break him out right away. So a team featuring Jane (Paula Patton) and Benji (Simon Pegg), who has his field badge finally break him out. They also help break out some dude named Bogdan (Miraj Grbic), because he helped Ethan out, despite not knowing he was secretly an American.

It turns out they really really needed Ethan to break into the The Kremlin to find out the identity of a man named Cobalt. The IMF was close to figuring it out, but one of their agents (Josh Holloway) was killed by an assassin (Léa Seydoux) before they could get too close.

But then shit even goes wrong at the Kremlin. Turns out Cobalt (Michael Nyqvist) was there first and frames the IMF/USA into doing some bad naughty things in the Kremlin. In response to that, the president has disbanded the entire organization, as a way of appeasing the Russians. However, our three crew members were still ordered, on their own, to stop Cobalt and get the USA out of the bad position it is in. But hey, they also an Analyst (Jeremy Renner) on their team, so that is cool! And you know, having to also escape the special agent Russian forces looking to track them down, led by Sidorov (Vladimir Mashkov). Man, there is a lot of hard shit going on.

Oh yeah, and if they fail, probably a nuclear war will happen. Jolly good, righto. Also featuring Samuli Edelmann and Ivan Shvedoff.

Climb
Camera angles intentional to show how crazy the stunts are in this tower scene.

Comparing Ghost Protocol to the other three films, it is far better than 2, better than 3, and I would say on par or even better than the first film. Ghost Protocol came out 15 years after the first film, and I am generally skeptical of 90’s movies getting sequels way later. You know, like Jurassic World. Sure, there were other films, but there was still a large gap between films 3 and 4 of those series. I assume they are making a movie not because of having a great idea (just late), but instead hope to ride the nostalgia of movie goers instead of making a new property. Remakes remake money, after all.

I couldn’t be happier to be wrong on my assumption about this film though!

I was on edge of my seat throughout the film, and not just because I also had to deal with a crying baby while I watched it. The plot was intricate, but easy to follow. And there is a ton of action to entertain. The skyscraper climbing scene was better than advertised and one of the highlights of the movie. Both the climb and the descent. Despite knowing that our hero wouldn’t die obviously, it was tense enough to scare me both times. But it wasn’t the only tense moment! The final fight scene in the strange parking garage was colorful and had such well done cinematography.

Despite his real life personality, Tom Cruise makes excellent action movies. His last seven movies, including the Tropic Thunder cameo I have given good or better reviews to. We shouldn’t care about what an actor does in real life (unless it is killing babies?) or if he has a short person complex if he can consistently entertain and put out wonderful characters and work. Needless to say, I am appropriately pumped for the next Mission Impossible and whatever future films he wants to partake in.

3 out of 4.

Buy It! – This movie is available now on {Blu-Ray} and {DVD}.

Edge Of Tomorrow

Live. Die. Repeat. That is the slogan of Edge of Tomorrow, which people were quickly to point out that it looks like Groundhog Day, but more sci-fi/action and a lot less Bill Murray.

The title is kind of strange, but way better than its original title of All You Need Is Kill, the title of the story that the film is based on. I mean. Just seriously, what the hell does that mean? The time traveling element allows Edge of Tomorrow to make some sense. But All You Need Is Kill? I can’t even begin to unawkwardize it.

Face
Tomorrow? Tom, you might first have to worry about the edge of your face, first.

In Future Earth, Aliens have invaded, landing in the middle of Europe, and kind of just fucking up everything. Things are going bad. These “mimics”, as they seem to adapt to military strategy pretty well, are just destroying and taking out battalions, always knowing what is going to go down. Until we design awesome battle suits, and they seem to crush the mimics. Special Forces soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) is able to kill 100 mimics by herself in a battle, helping turn the tide of war. So now they are going to organize a massive attack from different flanks, thousands of soldiers in battle suits, to help turn the tide of war!

And Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is being asked to join them. Storm the beach with a media crew, to show the good tidings and have them give hope to the world. Cage isn’t a real soldier, he is just in media, doesn’t even know how to fight. So of course he refuses, but well, higher ups demanded it and now he found himself waking up a day before the invasion at an airforce base, with papers saying he is a private and a deserter. Oh, poor Major.

Needless to say, the invasion fails, and after getting covered in alien blood goop, the Major dies and wakes up…back at the airforce base! This can’t be! But you know this part of the plot. It appears the Major is now stuck in some sort of time loop causing him to relive this day over and over. That could drive a man mad. But maybe it can help them save the day?

Bill Paxton plays Master Sergeant Farrell Bartolome, Brendan Gleeson as General Brigham, and Noah Taylor as a alien biology scientist. Of course he also got soldier friends in his unit, but I don’t remember them individually enough to type out character names (Tony Way, Kick Gurry, Franz Drameh, Charlotte Riley, Jonas Armstrong, Dragomir Mrsic).

No Battle Suits
In a world of do-overs, there is rarely a need for emergency kits.

As an additional note about this movie, I got to see this one in IMAX 3D, my first time watching a film this way, and oh boy were the fight scenes something else. Spectacular, pretty, explosion heavy. So much going on. Without sounding cliche, I was often near the edge of my seat because it was so exciting to watch it all.

Exciting and amusing. They didn’t drown us in the same scene over and over, just a few minor ones to get the point. On his first repeat day, we didn’t have to see Cage freaking out the entire length of his first travel time. They knew how to keep it short when needed. When it was short, we often got blasted with different ways he died as he tried new things to make it further during the war. Sometimes it was hilarious, but when it was frustrating, they knew how to play that card as well.

So these are good first steps! Good action, good comedy, a nice sci-fi element. But how about the plot? That surprisingly was well done too. How the alien armies worked, the secret to taking them down, why Cage was stuck in a loop, all of it was given a nice rationale and well thought out to make it believable in that universe.

Literally, I don’t know how they could have made the movie better either. You get to see so much and it is a thrill ride, but it doesn’t feel like a 4 out of 4 film to me, which is sometimes all it takes to lower the rating I guess. A very exciting movie, despite what I went in thinking, and a nice notch to add to a list of recent well done sci-fi movies. I think it is going to bomb financially this weekend too, as audiences apparently don’t like Tom Cruise anymore, which is a shame, because it is strong showing still pretty early in this summer.

3 out of 4.

Oblivion

Not going to lie. I was not at all interested in seeing Oblivion this week. Unfortunately I have taken to following other reviewers, although I hate knowing what other people think of a movie before I see it. But they all hated it. I disliked the preview. Everything looked pretty darn obvious to me from them. I also disliked just how many previews I had to see of it, without ever changing. I also disliked that the main characters name was Jack, but I will get into that later. But finally the title. When I first heard about it, I assumed it was some movie about the video game. Nope. Future and aliens.

That’s a lot of bad things to go against movie. You unfortunately have a biased, uphill battle to climb!

Cruzzy
Thankfully they put quite a bit of money into the graphics department. Oooh, my eyes are happy.

It is about 60 years in the future. An alien race called scavengers came down and fucked up all of our shit. Turns out humans are stubborn and won’t just let our stuff get messed up, even if they took out our moon (causing earthquakes and tidal waves), so we nuked the fuck out of them. Hooray! We won! Small packs of scavengers roam the landscape, but they totally lost overall. Too bad the Earth is basically a barren wasteland at this point. Areas of high radiation, lot of dead. So the humans evacuated, and GTFO first to a big space station in the sky, then on ships en route to Titan, a moon of Saturn.

Only two people are left on the world, Jack (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough). Jack is a tech guy, repairing drones that cover their perimeter and protect them from scavengers. Once the plants suck up the last of the sea water (which can be used for energy later?), they can return to the space station, and head off to Titan in two weeks! Woo!

Too bad those fucking scavengers keep messing up their shit and make their last two weeks hell. Not to mention an old space ship crash lands on Earth, with the drones attacking the human survivors, including a woman (Olga Kurylenko) who has been haunting his dreams! What in the hell is going on!?

Also featuring Morgan Freeman and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as mysterious humans, and Melissa Leo as their space communications rep.

Freeman Is So in this movie
The internet is making wild claims that Morgan is barely in this movie, only 15 minutes max. Psha, I clocked him in at about 19.

Well, fuck me. I found Oblivion entertaining.

Yep, despite the negativity and the huge climb, I walked out happy, nay, excited. I had to quickly talk about it with others who saw it, about the ending, the twists and turns.

You see, it is pretty dang obvious from the trailer that certain things will happen. They are obvious twists in the movie that won’t come to be a surprise at all. That is what I thought the film would give me, and I was ready to be bored. But you know what Oblivion did? Sure, it might have had those “twists”. But the twists came in unexpected ways and then layered on more turns that I was not expecting after that.

Too many twists can ruin a movie, because then you just get tired of it all, and refuse to pay attention until the end. Like Trespass. The barren Earth they created is also hauntingly gorgeous, just like the CGI as well. I generally don’t like Tom Cruise as much when he is in his serious action roles, like this, but I didn’t mind this one.

The acting was okay, the plot overall could have been better, and I might have disliked the last scene in the end, but overall, pretty interesting.

If I actually went in with an open mind, it might have been a 2, but this is what exceeding expectations does to ratings!

3 out of 4.

Jack Reacher

I found myself disappointed again, going to the theaters to see another movie based off of a literary character I had never heard of before. The first teaser trailer for Jack Reacher I actually enjoyed, despite the silly title. But hey, some author gave him that crappy name, so that is what they are stuck with. But once I got the full trailer for Jack Reacher, I really didn’t care if I saw the movie or not. Seemed like your standard action movie, potentially also spoiling the most amusing parts in it.

Damn it trailers, why must you exist at 2-3 minute lengths? You give far too much away!

SUZY
“I’m hear to kick ass and fuck bitches, and I’m all out of fucks to give.”

The movie begins with a cold open in Pittsburgh, where a man open fires from a sniping position and kills five random citizens before making his get away. However, with the large number of clues left behind, Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo) and District Attorney Rodin (Richard Jenkins) are able to find the culprit and make the arrest within 16 hours after the incident. Despite the facts, the sniper, James Barr (Joseph Sikora) refuses to admit guilt, and asks for one thing. Jack Reacher.

Reacher (Tom Cruise) is a ghost, having been living off the grid in the US for the last two years, without a smudge on his record. Formerly a member of the military police, he has had a past with Barr in Iraq, and makes his way on Pittsburgh on his own to find out just what happened. Helen (Rosamund Pike), Barr’s attorney, daughter of the DA, wants to use Jack as her lead investigator to help her side of the case. She doesn’t want to get him off or anything, but maybe just avoid the death penalty. Oh, and Barr is now in a coma. Hard to help out your own case when you can’t talk!

What will Jack conclude? Did Barr finally snap and take out a few civilians? Or is something else at play here? You know, since he is being followed by random thugs and gang people (Jai Courtney, Werner Herzog). Robert Duvall is also around eventually, as your everyday friendly gun shop owner. Yay small businesses!

Bus stop
Look familiar? This scene literally takes place on a different day as the other picture.

The first words spoken in the movie don’t happen until 8 minutes in. It wasn’t just eight minutes of opening credits either! No, we got to see the shooter set up, take his shots, and leave. We saw all the clues gathered and the shooter arrested and taken to jail, all before anyone said a word. The only way to describe the snipe scene is creepy. You get to see through the cross hairs, hear the breathing, and watch as the sniper figures out his victims and shoots, all in one long scene.

And boy did it really set the tone for the rest of the movie.

Jack Reacher is not a CGI-driven action movie full of explosions with a one man super hero who spits bullets and is amazing at everything. No, there is actually a bit of thought involved and he has weaknesses. The story takes its time to develop, going at the best pace to make sure the plot actually makes sense. The actual reason for the shootings I found to be disappointing, but I appreciated the build up to the reveal, even if it involved talk of conspiracies and corrupt government agents.

This is also a non comedic role for Tom Cruise. I usually find his more serious stuff to be lacking and a bit dull, yet I think he really carried this picture in a calm and confident way. Don’t worry, there are some amusing scenes, but it isn’t the main focus of the film.

I’d recommend this movie if you are looking for an action movie that isn’t completely mindless and what looks like a faithful interpretation of the book.

3 out of 4.

Rock Of Ages

Rock Of Ages is probably going to be another biased review. I’ve had the soundtrack for the musical for probably a couple years now. Wanted to see it since I first heard about it and love the soundtrack. Lots of mixes between songs, and interesting ways to do them. So when I heard about the movie version, I knew I had to see it as well.

So finally, months later, I got a chance to, hooray! Time to rawwwk!

Solemn
I said rawk, damn it. Not stand their and look solemn.

This story is mainly about a small town girl and a city boy. Drew Boley (Diego Boneta) is working as a bar aid at the famous The Bourbon, a concert hall / bar in LA. A city some may say was built on rock and roll. Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) had just arrived from Oklahoma and looking to be a famous singer! She of course gets mugged right away, and Drew kind of saves her. But not really. They immediately hit it off, and Drew gets her a job as a waitress at the Bourbon, despite the owner, Dennis Dupree’s (Alec Baldwin), negative reaction to it. But thankfully Lonny (Russel Brand), the second in command and MC seems pretty cool with it all.

A new mayor is getting elected in LA, Mike Whitmore (Bryan Cranston) who’s wife, Patricia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is going to help clean up the streets. Using good christian values, and the best way to do that is to get rid of rock and roll! The center of it all, The Bourbon. Who also happen to be having tax problems.

But no worries, Arsenal, the kickest ass band ever, who played their first gig at The Bourbon is coming the next night to play their final gig, before frontman Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) starts his solo career. Big money time! And Drew is going to get to open for them! Oh man! Everything is going wonderful!

Until it doesn’t. Sexy stuff happens, miss-communications, Stacee is a crazy ass person, and love dies. The dream dies. The Christians win? With Malin Akerman as Rolling Stones reporter trying to find the real Stacee Jaxx, Mary J. Blige as a strip club owner, Paul Giamatti as scumbag manager, and Will Forte as local news reporter, will they eventually be able to save The Bourbon from being demolished? Will they ever stop believing?

dance dance
Will they actually hit them with their best shot?

It should be noted that this musical, although the characters don’t know they are in a musical (like some of them do in Broadway) definitely makes fun of itself, and isn’t going for a serious thing. They just want nothing but a good time. And I belive they definitely deliver. The music is fun and catchy, lots of great songs and mash ups, and yet it is incredibly different from the broadway version.

I’m not negatively comparing, just noting, they have entirely different plots, and only the same main main characters. This lead to awesome moments, like the church dance scene for Hit Me With Your Best shot. Unfortuantely that was my second favorite song on the original soundtrack, as it had a german guy singing it, and it sounded amazing. Similarly, my favorite song was a mash up of Heaven / More Than Words / To Be With You, but in the movie they took out the Mr. Big parts, so no mash ups were ever 3+ songs.

They also in general had to cut out a lot of songs, and added new one ins, but kept some of the jokes. I mean, making the girl named Sherrie still, but cutting out Oh Sherrie? That’s just cruel.

But besides that, the movie felt pretty awesome. Some problems include Sherrie doing pretty much the same thing in every song it felt like (walking down the street belting lyrics. every damn time) and once they introduce Mary J. Blige she was also pretty much a part of every song after that, despite barely making sense.

But hey. The REO Speedwagon duet between Baldwin and Brand is reason alone to see this musical.

3 out of 4.

Valkyrie

Honestly, when I first heard about Valkyrie, I just assumed it was another fictional plot movie about people killing Hitler. But this time, the accents don’t exist, and Tom Cruise wears an eye patch!

AN EYE PATCH GUYS! What! Pirates up in this place, killing Hitler and the Nazis. Sounds wundebar.

Oh, it was a real thing and failed attempt to kill Hitler? Oh okay. My bad, history.

My b
I hope you will accept this crooked hat as a proper assurance of my badness.

Let me tell you know. They don’t succeed in killing Hitler. But you knew that. Hitler killed himself near the end of the war. Not via a plot of some German soldiers!

Movie begins with Tom Cruise looking normal. But thanks to an air strike, he loses an eye and his right hand.

Operation Valkyrie is a plan set in place involving using the reserve army to maintain order during a national emergency. They realize that if they can activate it, it might be a way to pull off a coop and get rid of the Nazi regime in Germany. But the only guy who can pull the button, won’t do a thing with Hitler still alive.

Alright, simple enough, kill Hitler, pull off the operation, end the war from the inside out. Boom!

Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, and Tom Wilkinson are some of the officers involved in doing this stuff. Character names are hard, because they are all german and stuff. Except for Tom Cruise. He is supposed to be German, but talks like Tom Cruise.

A lot of the film is planning and setting up. Because a lot of time was spent in real life too. They do succeed in pulling off Operation Valkyrie, but did they successfully kill off Hitler? Nope. Of course not. So their plan probably won’t work. And it might mean pretty bad things.

Valkyrie
Like giving up their rare trading cards!

Movie was a lot better than I imagined. Actually bought this thing about a year ago but just…continued to never watch it. Gotta love that.

I wasn’t bugged by accents of course, but that was a big complaint people had years ago. The attempt was interesting, but not as straightforward as I would have liked. Or as action-y. Not sure why they devoted a whole movie to an act of failure. Successes must be running low, eh?

It was slow at times too, so I think they could have probably cut a lot of the movie out and still told the story correctly. It would have made it a better experience overall for me, at least.

2 out of 4.