IMF Agent Ethan Hunt is sent to Sydney, to find and destroy a genetically modified disease called “Chimera”. (IMDb)
Dripping with dumb late 90s/early 2000s action movie machismo (see the nearly lethal sports car joyride, helpless female eye candy, ridiculous climactic motorcycle joust), and there isn’t much to mask it (though there are like a billion uses of masking technology *eyeroll*): the plot is average action movie fare (the added cheesy romance just makes it worse, so does the repeated slow motion) and the villain’s annoying. The chemistry and spy-work of the central trio keep this watchable.
An American agent, under false suspicion of disloyalty, must discover and expose the real spy without the help of his organization. (IMDb)
The bounty of slick dialogue (delivered well by the solid cast) and the brooding, twist-filled espionage plot make it a little hard to follow at points (see the double mole-reveal near the end) but give the film a certain class and timelessness that mask its dated effects and on-screen technology, and elevate it above other 90s action flicks (though the action of the CIA heist was certainly a highlight). Tasteful underlying humour (“Relax Luther, it’s much worse than you think”) rounds it out.
7.5/10 (Really Good)
When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune. (IMDb)
The OASIS is fun (maybe more for others, but I’m glad to say I thoroughly enjoyed The Shining visitation), but it’s the back-and-forth dynamic between it and reality that’s really well done and makes for lots of entertaining action hi-jinks (see the fooling of Sorrento). In the end though, it wastes the potential of its characters (there should be a whole movie made about the tragic Halliday) as well as the deeper reality vs. entertainment theme underlying the sadly neglected dystopian setting.
Orbiting a planet on the brink of war, scientists test a device to solve an energy crisis, and end up face-to-face with a dark alternate reality. (IMDb)
Cheesy expository dialogue and a chemistry-less cast of characters get things off to a rough start, but it sort of morphed into an enjoyably campy sci-fi romp with an appreciably eclectic cast when there was just a bunch of super weird/gross things happening (“What are you talking about, arm?”). But before long, uber-serious and unintelligible science-y plot-speak, bland character drama, and a distant-in-every-way side plot on earth take over and ruin the film’s chances of being decent.
In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing. (IMDb)
Excellent camerawork, soundscapes (the mournful recurring theme is a nice addition), and acting (see brilliant Blunt’s brutal birthing escapade), with effective family drama underlying the tense horror (see the shocking pre-title climax). Normally that’d be plenty to distract me from any plot/concept holes, but in this case they’re too frequent and glaring (like, you literally just showed me a newspaper clipping saying the monsters are indestructable and now they just killed one with a gun).
A rag doll that awakens in a postapocalyptic future holds the key to humanity’s salvation. (IMDb)
The initial lack of story and character backgrounds is appropriate for the film’s shocking post-apocalyptic world (the “machine” is a compelling threat), as we’re dropped into the desolate setting as naive as our protagonist; the exposition to follow is mostly tasteful (save for the scientist’s heavy-handed yet still insufficient final explanation) and the characters that develop feel shallow but natural. Most significantly though, the animation and action set pieces are consistently fantastic.
7.5/10 (Really Good)
In a city rife with injustice, ex-cop Billy Taggart seeks redemption and revenge after being double-crossed and then framed by its most powerful figure: Mayor Nicholas Hostetler. (IMDb)
Two things stood out to me after the completion of this film, and they were both bad: One was a camera that wouldn’t stop moving around during a simple scene of dialogue; the other was an atrocious slow-motion look-back/wave to end the film. Besides a decent investigative first act, everything else was just average and forgettable-disappointing considering the delicious corruption drama at hand. Extended tangents certainly didn’t help (see Natalie’s film and after-party; the televised debate).