Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015)

Introduction:

Back in 1996 when Tom Cruise starred the first Mission: Impossible film, I didn’t think we’d be seeing a five film franchise coming out of it. I figured it was good for maybe one or two sequels. But here we are, nearly 20 years later and Cruise is still running around with his MI team. But will this be one adventure worth taking?

Summary:

Top agent for the Impossible Mission force, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is convinced that a diabolical agency is working against the IMF to create chaos and terror. While on the trail of this entity known as the Syndicate, he runs into the lovely Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), who helps him out of a jam, but seems to be working for the Syndicate.

Meanwhile William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) runs into opposition from the head of the CIA Alan Hunley (played with verve by Alec Baldwin). The CIA feels the IMF is more destructive than effective and shuts them down. Hunley also sets his sights on Hunt as the main issue and issues a warrant for him (again). Meanwhile, Hunt marshals his forces including Benji (Simon Pegg) and Luther (Ving Rhames) to track down the Syndicate. This results in some crazy acrobatics on the outside of a plane as it takes off, a intense motorcycle chase, infiltrating a secured location – under water, and stopping a sniper or three from killing dignitaries during an opera. But is there any hope against the dangerous Rogue Nation?

Good Points:

  • The plot balances thrills and action very well
  • Action scenes and stunt work are really impressive for this outing.
  • We finally have an intriguing villain for this series!

Bad Points:

  • Story line is a bit convoluted for anyone looking for pure action
  • Wait, didn’t Ethan go rogue in the last four movies also?
  • A little less humor than the previous entry 

Overall:

I enjoyed Ghost Protocol well enough, but I wasn’t clamoring for another adventure in the franchise. But I have to say the additions of Ferguson and Harris made for a more intriguing film. The humor is toned down a bit for some straight up tension, but it works great. McQuarrie does an excellent job crafting a fun film and the score by Joe Kraemer may be the best of the series. Well worth checking out.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals:  5
Sound:  5
Acting: 4
Script:  4
Music: 4
Direction: 4
Entertainment: 4
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.

Mission: Impossible Reviews

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Score Sample: Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015)

Five films. Did anyone expect us to get five Mission: Impossible films? I didn't. But hey, I guess Tom Cruise enjoys putting himself in danger for our amusement. While the films vary a bit in quality, they are all entertaining. That goes for the scores associated with them too.

I hoped that Michael Giacchino would be brought back on board for this film, and craft a Mission: Impossible trilogy to enjoy. But it wasn't in the cards. Instead director Christopher McQuarrie brought his pal from the first Jack Reacher film to score this one. Joe Kraemer doesn't shy away from the task. He uses the famous Mission: Impossible theme as well as the less known The Plot theme and weaves them all over the place. He crafts a sneaky theme for the villain and adapts a lovely opera piece for the leading lady (which plays into the assassination scheme at the opera). Its a really excellent score, maybe the best of the whole series so far (and I love Giacchino's work). Here is  the impressive opening sequence followed by the opening titles. What a way to start this movie!


Monday, November 28, 2016

And Then This Happened... Horrors of Spider Island

What is scarier than a turkey hangover or black Friday at the mall? The Horrors of Spider Island of course. Well scary might be a strong word. More likely you'll just be amused and confused by the wandering models, the "spider-man" creature and most of all the buxom and burly Babs as she hulks around the film. She's all woman all the time, to quote Crow.

There are also a couple of doofy guys in this movie who are supposed to be the heroes, but honestly I wanted Babs to be the amazon warrior who saves the day. But at least the twin doofuses give us this moment for you to caption.

And then this happened...


Friday, November 25, 2016

And Then This Happened... Speech: Platform Posture and Appearance

Are you concerned about how you look and how tall you stand? Sure we all are. Then you need to check out the short film Speech: Platform Posture and Appearance. Or maybe you just want to watch the MST3K episode featuring this short film and Red Zone Cuba and just marvel at all the ineptitude on display.

In any case this little moment from the posture themed short is perfect riffing fuel. Once again, I won't describe what is going on here. Provide your own caption!

And then this happened...


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

And Then This Happened... Sidehackers

Well it is getting close to Turkey day and that means heaping helpings of Mystery Science Theater 3000. If you aren't planning on watching any of this hilarious show this year, then maybe I can provide you with some bit sized tidbits to enjoy and riff on yourself.

First up is the biker/sports film Sidehackers. Yeah this movie is a mess, and has plenty of "did I just see that?" moments and characters. But this guy is one of the most annoying of the bunch. I'd describe what is actually happening here... but you know what, I think it might be more fun if you just caption it.

And then this happened...


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Score Sample: Legend (1985)

After making Blade Runner Ridley Scott wanted to get in on the action making a fantasy adventure film. He concocted a script that was based on classic fairy tales, but keeping the dark and disturbing edge they originally had. The movie had a really troubled production and that even came down to the music.

Originally Jerry Goldsmith crafted a very interesting orchestral score that used some synthesizer elements to it. It is a score that is dense with themes that each interweave and interact with each other in surprising ways. It may be one of Goldsmith's most complex scores, and is one that you appreciate more and more each time you listen to it. This may be the reason why Goldsmith was so disappointed when his score was thrown out after the movie was heavily re-edited. This caused Goldsmith's score to be unusable, and also gave the producers a chance to pull in popular electronic group Tangerine Dream to score the film.

Tangerine Dream has simpler more obvious themes but they are catchy and work really well in the shorter cut of the film. This is version I grew up with, so I actually enjoy this version of the score quite a bit. Still Goldsmith is my favorite film composer and what he crafted for this movie was really impressive.

So I figure I'll give you two pieces for the same scene and you can enjoy them. First up is Goldsmith's score for the Dress Waltz, a creepy scene where Mia Sara dances with a dark dress that absorbs her.


And then the Tangerine Dream version of the same scene called The Dance in this case. Enjoy!



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Score Sample: Red Sonja (1985)

Originally we were supposed to get a trilogy of Conan movies back in the 1980s. But the poor reception of Conan the Destroyer and the fact that Arnold wanted to move beyond muscle bound sword swinging antics meant that a true sequel was out of the picture. But Arnold had a contract to make three films with Dino De Laurentis. So Arnold said he'd be a supporting character in the movie and they went ahead.

Thus Red Sonja was born. Brigitte Nielsen in the title role as an avenging warrior with red hair and a big sword. Arnold plays Kalidor who is pretty much a Conan stand in. The result is a movie that is pretty infamous for being really bad.

One aspect that is rarely criticized is the outstanding music provided by Ennio Morricone. Morricone is best known for his work on spaghetti westerns like The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly as well as a few Hollywood flicks in the 80s and 90s like The Untouchables and Once Upon a Time in America. Morricone has written a score for pretty much every type of genre, and we get a full blown fantasy adventure score here. It has a bit more of a classical feel to it, as opposed to the more medieval feel of Poledouris' work on the two Conan movies. But it works great as a solo listen.

One of my favorite tracks is Fighting the Soldiers which actually has the chorus chanting Sonja's name. Its kind of cheesy and yet so awesome all at the same time. So enjoy that track at the 2:23 mark in this suite from Red Sonja by Ennio Morricone.