Tom Cruise

June 6, 2014

Edge Of Tomorrow

THROWBACK

Say what you will about Tom Cruise, but he knows how to make entertaining films.  Yeah, yeah.  There are some Knight & Day and Rock Of Ages anomalies in there.  However, you would be hard pressed to go through his filmography and find a film of his that you didn’t at least think was fun.  From the grossly underrated Oblivion, to the pulpy Jack Reacher, to the exhilarating Ghost Protocol.  Tom Cruise STILL can make films that are exciting and fun.  Edge Of Tomorrow is no different.  It is a THROWBACK to some of the balls to the wall sci-fi action films I grew up watching as a kid.  Aliens, Total Recall, Terminator, etc.  It takes a sci-fi concept and blends it with great action set pieces and smart dialogue, hello Christopher McQuarrie, to create a film that gets you munching popcorn in the theater like a rabid woodchuck.

Edge of Tomorrow, based on the way better titled book All You Need Is Kill, tells the story of a cowardly soldier forced onto the front lines of a war against an alien invasion.  Through a miraculous set of circumstances, he gains the power to reset the day every time he gets killed.  With every reset, the soldier learns the skill and the courage he will need to defeat the aliens and save humanity.  And yes, I’ll be the one millionth person to use the analogy…IT’S GROUNDHOG’S DAY WITH ALIENS AND MACHINE GUNS!  Although, I see Edge Of Tomorrow as a little less complex than that.  In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character becomes a better person on the inside through use of the recycling days.  Edge Of Tomorrow uses it’s time traveling concept mainly for the goal of defeating the enemy.  Some personal growth is there, but most of it takes a back seat to the mission at hand.  You might think that I’m saying that this is a bad thing, but I honestly think it works here.  The movie never slows down and the repeated timeline gimmick never becomes tedious or, ironically, predictable. 

Tom Cruise’s performance in this is…well…very Tom Cruise.  He doesn’t break ground on any particularly new territory here.  But this is a film where he doesn’t really have to be anything other than Tom Cruise.  The biggest range of acting we get from Cruise is seeing him actually portray a coward.  Despite his long history as a leading man, this is something we rarely get to see him play and he does it quite well. 

The biggest weak spot for me in Tom Cruise’s other recent sci-fi film Oblivion was that the connection he has with actress Olga Kurylenko didn’t feel that strong to me.  Their chemistry just wasn’t right.  On the other hand, Emily Blunt is literally chemistry personified.  By that I mean she seems to just have amazing chemistry with every leading man they put her up against.  Whether it’s the chemistry she has with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper, or the insane amount of chemistry she has with Matt Damon in The Adjustment Bureau.  Seriously, watch that film again.  The bathroom scene between her and Damon is a textbook example of what onscreen chemistry looks like.  Blunts powers once again come into play because every scene with her and Cruise is great.  Surprisingly, some of the scenes where they are just talking are as entertaining as the scenes where they are blowing things away.  Maybe it would have been better if Blunt was in Oblivion and Olga was in Edge, seeing as Oblivion is more dependent on the chemistry between the two leads than Edge Of Tomorrow is.  But I digress.

The rest of the supporting cast fill in their roles well.  Bill Paxton is just as humerus as he needs to be, and the members of Cruise’s J Squad are memorable and entertaining enough in their limited screen time to stick with you.  I was so hoping for Paxton to appear later in the film during an airdrop into alien territory so as to assuage my Aliens similarities fetish, but alas.

For as competent of an action director Doug Liman is, he really flies under the radar. This is likely due to him focusing more on producing than directing as of late.  However, this is still the man who brought Jason Bourne to the silver screen.  Hell, his romantic action comedy Mr. and Mrs. Smith is the reason that there is such a thing as Brangelina.  Liman can do action, and he does it well here.  There is nothing as eye jarringly exhausting as Neill Blomkamp’s other exosuit extravaganza Elysium.  Just solid set pieces with thrilling, coherent action beats.  This saddens me because Edge Of Tomorrow will probably be the last action film I’ll see before Michael Bay’s new Transformers movie maces my eyeballs.

Edge Of Tomorrow fully embraces the summer popcorn flick philosophy while still delivering enough smart dialogue and concepts to keep you guessing.  It isn’t interested with hitting you over the head with social commentary or a heavy handed message.  It just wants to entertain you over and over again.  Grab an extra mag…an extra battery…don’t get injured anywhere near Emily Blunt…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

March 26, 2014

Simplistic Sneak Peek Ep. 1

Behold the inaugural episode of Simplistic Sneak Peek!  What is that you ask?  Simplistic Sneak Peek is a new ongoing series that allows you to hear Matt, Justin and DJ’s first impressions and discussions on trailers for upcoming films.  It’s kinda like a podcast shortened to a mini-sode mixed with vlog serving as a tri-editorial.  Yeah, I don’t know either.

The trailers the boys discuss on this episode include Bryan Singer’s 2nd trailer for X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Tom Cruise’s action epic Edge Of Tomorrow, and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s attempt at Hercules.  You can click the links to the those films trailers below to watch them without commentary then come back and listen to what Matt, Justin, and DJ had to say about them in real time.

X-Men Days Of Future Past

Edge Of Tomorrow

Hercules

April 20, 2013

OBLIVION

OBLIVION: Predictable

126mins/Action/2013

Story: Without getting into spoilers, do to the fact I could easy ruin the film for you, I’m just gonna say it’s pretty predictable. Way too predictable in the sense before every corner in the story, you will predict everything. Which of course hurts the film. The story is okay, really its just okay, sure it’s better then most in this genre and has a bit of originality to it, but we seen stuff like this before. The ending has issues and at times the story feels weak. The best parts for me is the music and the look of this film. The story does have twist and turns but when it happens you most likely figured it out for yourself. For me I kept saying, “Well okay that’s what I thought”. Is it good? Yes it is with all the issues its diffidently one of the better films this year.

Olga Kurylenko (Julia) – Weak. The character and not the actress. The character feels like the writers just didn’t give the effort when writing her as like the others (mostly like Victoria who is awesome sauce).
Morgan Freeman (Malcolm Beech) – Well yep he’s pretty damn awesome like every time we watch him. 
Music (M83) – My favorite part. Listen I’ve been a BIG fan for years now and always wanted to see the band do a score for a film. And at times during the film,  I would  just fall back into my chair listening to the score.
Tom Cruise (Jack Harper) – He’s Tom Cruise in this film…again. I kinda would like to have seen some one else but he did good, even at 50.

Joseph Kosinski (Director, Producer, Screenplay, Story) – The guy knows his stuff. When Tron Legacy came out, it brought a smile to my face. He took us to a world that I just haven’t seen or felt in awhile. The guy did that on his first film, his FIRST! This is only his second film, and I feel the guy just knows his stuff more then most, who have been at it far longer. Visually and musically the guy kills it.

Side-note: Apparently all the sky images you see in the film, according to the director, he photographed them himself and is not CGI! That’s what I like to see and hear!

December 28, 2012

Happy Holidays: Jack Reacher

GRITTY

All my cards on the table.  Christopher McQuarrie is my favorite writer in the business.  He is responsible for creating Keyser Soze and all the other Usual Suspects.  He is responsible for writing and directing my favorite film of all time, The Way Of The Gun.  He is responsible for uncredited rewrites of films that range from the first two X-Men films to The Aviator.  He wrote the new Wolverine film for James Mangold and Hugh Jackman, assisted on Jack The Giant Killer for Bryan Singer, probably gonna do Mission: Impossible 5 for Tom Cruise, and all of this for good reason.  McQuarrie’s dialogue, his storytelling technique, his characters all just sing to me.  He makes modern atypical stories feel GRITTY, pulpy and classic.  So, I was very excited when I heard he was adapting Lee Childs’s best selling novel One Shot.  A story about an Ex Military Investigator trying to solve a brutal mass murder.  After watching, I felt completely satisfied.  However, my biases are clearly noted and I knew what I was getting into.  I can see where someone not on the McQuarrie bandwagon and unaware of the actual plot of the film going in could complain.  However, love or hate Jack Reacher, its GRITTINESS is without question.

Advertising can make or break a film.  Done right and you can break opening day records with a film that has Sam Jackson yelling at snakes while on a commercial flight.  Done wrong and you can alienate and mislead your audience with unfulfilled expectations of what they think your film will be.  I personally think the advertising for this film was done wrong.  Watching the trailer for Jack Reacher  makes you think that it is a balls to the wall action film.  It isn’t.  Jack Reacher is a mystery thriller with some very GRITTY action scenes seasoned in.  A crappier version of this concept was attempted a few months back with the abismal Alex Cross.  A who-done-it missing the who part and boring us with the done it.  The slightly false advertising is a tough thing to criticize because how do you exactly promote subtlety?  How do you draw in audiences with the promise of fleshed out characters and a gripping story as opposed to fantastic visuals and explosions?  It is kind of the conundrum of the film industry in how to properly bring attention to films like Drive or The American or Jack Reacher.   Needless to say, Jack Reacher has a pretty tight mystery, a believably creepy adversary, a quick pace, and an awesome hero.

The character of Jack Reacher is built up in such a way throughout this film, he begins to supersede even the story itself.  You just want to see what he’ll do next.  He’s clever, he’s uncompromising, he’s cold.  He is a ‘shortest distance between two points’ type of guy like Bourne but comfortable in his own skin like Bond.  The purists of the books point to the casting of Tom Cruise as a huge problem they have with the film before even seeing it.  In the novels, Reacher is supposed to be this hulkingly huge, intimidating guy.  In other words, the opposite physical build of a Tom Cruise.  As a guy who witnessed Michael Bay torch my nostalgic preconceptions in Transformers, I understand a One Shot fan’s hesitance at Cruise.  However, if you’re worried if Cruise delivers the intimidation, rest easy.  Cruise can play a scary badass.  Or have you not seen Collateral?  His performance is solid and his intensity makes up for any height inadequacies he may have.  Sure the casting of a Thomas Jane or a Jeffrey Dean Morgan might have been better visually for the character.  However, the film would probably not have been made with them attached.  I’m just grateful Tom Cruise is still interested in getting films like these made and still giving it his all in these roles.  Along with Cruise, there are some polished performances from Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike, and Richard Jenkins.  Werner Herzog, for his tiny amount of screen time, will make your skin crawl.

The action that is in Jack Reacher, is painful to watch.  Not because it is bad, but because McQuarrie makes you feel every punch, kick, crash, and bullet.  McQuarrie has ties to the Navy Seals and has shot probably the most realistic gun fight in cinema history already.  So, he knows his way around an action scene.  The great thing about his action scenes, however, is that there seems to always be a story in them.  It isn’t just mindless violence.  Each blow or shot has a reason behind it and an arc to get there.  And in light of recent events in Connecticut, the opening scene provides perhaps the most gasp worthy suspenseful moment in the film.

Jack Reacher will probably get lost in the holiday shuffle with Hobbits and Djangos roaming about.  However, if you want some suspense and GRIT to top off your egg nog…hop on a bus…pack light…real light…Get Jack Reacher…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

July 28, 2012

Another Earth

ORIGINAL

This review will be shorter than some of my others.  Not because Another Earth is not a good film.  It and Inception are probably the two most ORIGINAL films I’ve seen in a decade.  Its because Another Earth is a film that is reliant on its reveals.  Where that can be bad in some instances, it is totally rewarding here.

All I’ll say about the plot of Another Earth is that it revolves around a post adolescent girl and a fateful night that changed her life and the life of everyone on the planet forever.  Well, two planets to be precise.  Cryptic enough?  Good.  Its worth the reveal.  Another Earth is a moral dilemma picture in the same vein as Doubt or Gone Baby Gone with a very interesting twist thrown in.

The casual and simplistic way first time director Mike Cahill shoots each scene adds to the film’s charm.  He gets a great performance from his cowriter and star Brit Marling and a stand out performance by William Mapother.  Does the last name Mapother sound familiar?  No?  It should, because its the real last name of William’s slightly more famous older cousin Tom Cruise.

Another Earth is certainly another film that’ll have you thinking and talking about it way after you’ve finished seeing it.  It deserves more awareness than it has gotten.  See it…be surprised that its one of “those” films…then be more surprised its actually more than that….then tell me I’m wrong.

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