“I Love You 3,000.”

For a while now, I’ve been trying to maximize my time and minimize my excessive word counts with my Triple Scoop Reviews; today, however, we’re going back to the old standard because Avengers: Endgame is kinda the end of an era here, and I feel like it deserves its own space.

Or, in other words, I’ve got a few things to say, and while some of it’s really positive, some of it’s really not.

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MEGA REWATCH – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

We’re closing in now: only two films left to discuss in this Mission: Impossible Mega Re-Watch! (Well, until 2021, anyway, which is when M:I – 7 is currently scheduled to release.) First up is Rogue Nation, a movie notable for many fine qualities, but none more important than its introduction of Ilsa Faust.

Year: 2015
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
First Watch or Re-Watch: Re-Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Other: Personal Collection DVD
Spoilers: Not really

It’s been roughly four years since I first saw this movie, and–much like with Ghost Protocol–my feelings about it are largely unchanged, except that I like it even more than I did on first blush. Which isn’t to say that I don’t have one or two minor grievances: Luther and Brandt tracking down Ethan by concentrating their search on Ilsa, who they know Ethan implicitly trusts because of the way he sketched her, continues to be bullshit, like, this is just ridiculously, ludicrously dumb. The fact that Ethan and Benji survive this one car accident is equally ludicrous, although admittedly, it’s also pretty standard action movie fare. And it’s true that Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) is essentially just a gussied up Moriarty, but I’m mostly okay with it because his clear agenda and mildly creepy line deliveries still make him easily one of the best villains this franchise has ever had. Obviously, that’s not exactly a high bar to clear, but still, Lane works for me–at least in this particular movie.

Pretty much everything else I have to say is overwhelmingly positive: the action scenes–from the great fight sequences to the various heists and car chases–are all spectacular. I’m definitely a sucker for everything during the Sydney Opera House Mission. The humor continues to work well: Rogue Nation nails that comedy and team camaraderie from the very first scene and only builds on it throughout the film. I especially love the scene where Benji tells Ethan he won’t be left behind. In general, I continue to adore Benji, considering he essentially plays the damsel in distress here, right down to being menaced by some unnecessary, up-close villain leering.

Still, it’s really Ilsa Faust who makes this movie for me. She’s just such a great, complex heroine: badass, funny, has her own agenda. It certainly doesn’t hurt that she saves Ethan’s ass no less than three time in this movie. And I love that while there’s a certain amount of romantic/sexual tension between the two, Rogue Nation never wastes time getting them together or dropping the L bomb–not because I hate romance, but because you know it would’ve been rushed as hell and deeply unconvincing in this tightly plotted film. By delaying said romance until later installments, Rogue Nation actually provides a much better foundation for Ilsa and Ethan’s love story.

As great as Ilsa is, though, the best, most ridiculous line in this whole movie still goes to Alec Baldwin, who calls Ethan Hunt “the living manifestation of destiny,” a description I’m still very seriously considering putting on my business cards. People. It is sublime. There will never be a funnier, more perfect moment in this franchise than this.

Of course, considering that Ilsa repeatedly saves Ethan’s life in Rogue Nation, perhaps Alec Baldwin is actually describing the wrong spy here.

The Current Ranking

1. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
2. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
3. Mission: Impossible
4. Mission: Impossible III
5. Mission: Impossible II

MEGA REWATCH – Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Hm. It seems we’ve officially hit the point in this Mega Rewatch where I review movies I’ve actually already reviewed, albeit seven years ago. I first saw Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol in theater, mostly on a whim; it also happens to be the movie that got me back into the M:I franchise.

It’s been some time since I’ve watched this one all the way through, but having just reread my original review of the film, I can tell you that, nearly a decade later, my opinions about Ghost Protocol are largely unchanged.

Year: 2011
Director: Brad Bird
First Watch or Re-Watch: Re-Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Other: Personal Collection DVD
Spoilers: Yeah. Though, honestly, I’m not sure how much there is to really spoil.

While John Woo and Mission: Impossible II are technically responsible for turning an espionage thriller into an action fest franchise, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is the first film in the series that’s actually a good action movie. There are things I’d change here, of course: our bad guy, Hendricks, is such an underdeveloped villain that he actually makes Philip Seymour Hoffman in Mission: Impossible III look faintly interesting by comparison. None of this is the late Michael Nyqvist’s fault, BTW; he’s given so little dialogue and screen time to work with that he never really had a chance of developing the character. I see a faint glimmer of Old School Bond Villain, maybe–certain line deliveries, the whole white suit–but it’s barely more than a vague impression. I’ve given Marvel a lot of shit over the years for their lackluster villains, but I think Mission: Impossible might be the franchise to beat for utterly lame bad guys.

Also lame: the twist that Hendricks is posing as his own right-hand man because seriously. Why? The Kremlin blowing up remains something of a CGI eyesore in what is otherwise a fantastically shot film. And while Paula Patton is fine in the role, Agent Jane Carter is very much the One Girl on the Team. She’s not terrible, but she does make me yearn for Ilsa Faust. That being said, I’d love to see all the Left Behind Ladies of the M:I Franchise make cameos in future films. I mean, I know that won’t happen, but it’d be cool to watch, like, Paula Patton and Maggie Q heading off for some mission at the beginning of M:I – 7. Or for Thandie Newton to show up and steal something and otherwise be a badass who doesn’t die.

Shifting gears to talk about what does work: well, quite a lot, actually. The action scenes in this movie are on point, especially everything that happens in Dubai. Watching Ethan step out of the billionth story window with nothing but his (soon-to-be malfunctioning) Grippy Gloves still makes me tense, which I think is impressive. I enjoy the fight scenes, too, particularly between a) Avenging Jane vs Lady Assassin, and b) Beat Up Ethan vs Beat Up Hendricks. More than anything, though, I really appreciate the easy humor that’s prevalent throughout this whole film: Sidorov’s face when he finds Ethan stranded outside on the hospital ledge. Ethan being taunted by the Malfunctioning Grippy Glove. Brandt’s total anxiety about jumping into a computer array. Luther mocking Ethan for actually saying “mission accomplished” out loud. And, of course, almost every thing Benji says or does.

A boring villain is always disappointing, sure, but to me, the combination of standout action scenes and laugh-out-loud humor more than make up for any lame bad guy.

Finally, a few asides:

1. Yay! The flash-forward opening credits are back!

2. Holy shit, I totally forgot how Ghost Protocol just brushes past Benji getting prison guards murdered. Like, I know we don’t technically see this one dude get killed, but . . . for real, dude gets killed.

3. Speaking of people who should be dead: Ethan goes legs first through a glass window, gets full on hit by a car, AND nosedives a car into, like, a 100-foot drop. Hendricks, too, should’ve died a good 30-minutes before he actually does; instead, he just walks off a car crash that would’ve broken his body into a billion pieces.

4. Now that I’ve seen Mission: Impossible – III, I’m even happier that Julia didn’t get killed in between movies, because while she only had one awesome sauce scene in that film, I absolutely hate that goddamn “axe the woman while no one’s looking” plot device. This will come up again in my eventual Fallout review, but I’m pleasantly surprised by how this franchise handles Julia and Ethan’s relationship over the space of four movies.

5. Ghost Protocol is obviously a hilarious title, but a more accurate one would still be Mission: Impossible – TECH FAIL. Or maybe Mission: Impossible – Fuck! Even In the Future, Nothing Works. (It could be the near-future. You don’t know.)

6. Up till now, it’s been incredibly easy to rank the M:I movies . . . but here I have a decision to make between this film and the original Mission: Impossible. Both are pretty solid movies in their own right, but they’re also going for wildly different tones, making it harder to pit them against one another, Ghost Protocol is definitely the movie I’m more likely to rewatch, but Mission: Impossible is almost certainly the more ambitious of the two. Both have their standout moments and amazing characters, just like both have their disappointing characters and obvious weaknesses.

I’m still not 100% about this, but for now, at least, I’ve made a decision.

The Current Ranking

1. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
2. Mission: Impossible
3. Mission: Impossible III
4. Mission: Impossible II

“Now, That’s A Proper Introduction.”

I’ve been excited about Arrival for months and had hoped to see the movie shortly after it premiered, but plans, being plans, naturally fell through. So Mekaela and I decided to watch it on Thanksgiving instead because, you know. First contact, and all that jazz.

I liked Arrival–it’s well-crafted and interesting–but, being the disappointment to the SF/F community that I so often am, I can’t quite say that I loved it like everyone else seems to.

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Coming Soon-Ish: Aliens, Mathematicians, and Luke Cage

Arrival

So, this one’s based off a Ted Chiang story that I have not yet read (obviously, I need to), and I’m pretty interested. I find linguistics in SF pretty fascinating, and I’m excited about a movie that’s primarily focused on the communication aspect of First Contact. Also, it’s nice to find a movie with such an all-star, Academy Awards-type cast (Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, etc.) that I’m actually curious about.

I could potentially drag myself to the theater to see this one. You know, depending on life and whatnot.

Hidden Figures

Normally, inspirational, real life, biopic crap is totally not my thing. This, however, might be the exception.

When the trailer says that Hidden Figures is a true, untold story, my immediate reaction isn’t to roll my eyes and yawn like normal; it’s to think, “Holy shit, you’re right, I don’t know anything about these awesome black lady mathematicians getting their crazy calculus shit on at NASA.” (No, I don’t have any idea what branch of mathematics it actually is.) It is, for once, a true story I’m actually interested in learning.

Plus, holy shit, this cast. I’m just going to keep typing names off the IMDb page until I finally come across one I don’t know: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, and Aldis Hodge. I mean, damn.

Same Kind of Different As Me

Just to be clear? This is exactly the kind of trailer I was talking about before, only instead of merely rolling my eyes and yawning, I also gagged a bit, and then tried to guess what number it would land on in a Top 10 Movies The Devil Will Subject Me to in Hell list.

Zoom

Er. I have no idea what the hell is going on in this movie, but I’m interested.

I like Alison Pill a lot, and this looks totally nuts. Funny, possibly confusing, with a healthy side of total WTF. At any rate, it’s a great antidote to that schmaltzy “I’m white, and I’m helping this strange yet profound homeless black man, and did I mention that he’s homeless, wow, I’m great for being such a thoughtful, considerate person” trailer. (Was that grammatically accurate? I have a sneaking suspicion that wasn’t grammatically accurate. I care not.)

Atlanta

This looks . . . interesting. It’s hard to get a good sense of the show, obviously; all I’m really going off of is a single interview I read, and this minute-long teaser trailer. Still, I’m just curious enough to (probably) check it out.

I can’t pretend the actual synopsis does anything for me (I’m struggling to think of a movie or TV show centered around the life of an up-and-coming musician that I even remotely cared about), but this show seems like it’s going to go tonally weird, darkly comic, and uncomfortable places. And I like Donald Glover a whole hell of a lot, so it’s at least worth checking out the first episode.

Finally . . . Luke Cage

Okay, I know this trailer has been out for a week now, but I forgot that it was up, so I actually just saw it. I was already pretty pumped from the teaser trailer alone; now, I can’t wait until September 30th. I liked Luke Cage well enough in Jessica Jones, but I’m way more interested in him starring in his own show, and hey, it’s Mahershala Ali again! AND ROSARIO.

Count me in, folks. I’m ready.

“Sir, Ethan Hunt is the Living Manifestation of Destiny.”

About four years ago, my sister, my buddy, and I all went to the movie theater to see Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. I had almost zero expectations at the time, having not been invested in the series since, oh, 1996, and surprised myself by really enjoying it. So, of course, we had to go see Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. (Although, according to some annoying blogger and his wife, Shirtless Tom Cruise is the only reason we REALLY went.)

I’m not sure if I liked it more than Ghost Protocol or not, but one way or the other, I had a pretty great time.

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“There Are No Strings On Me.”

It’s 10:00 p.m. Thursday night. I’m sitting in an aisle seat at the Roxy Theater and the Marvel credits have just started to play. My little hands are clasped loosely together. I can actually feel the childish hope written all over my face.

Ignore Spider-Man. Spider-Man is a lie.

Overall, Avengers: Age of Ultron is fast-paced, funny, and pretty enjoyable, especially for a movie that’s 2 1/2 hours long. Despite that, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with the finished product.

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Coming Soon-Ish: ZOMG Avengers: Age of Ultron

Okay, I just watched this trailer, like, three times in a row. I have no clinical analysis here, just squee, like all the squee. Could James Spader finally provide Marvel with a villain other than Loki who’s actually interesting? Could I love this movie even more than I love The Avengers? Can I buy this creepy ass Pinocchio song now, please?

I sincerely hope that the answer to all of these questions is yes.

“Once Upon a Time, in a Shitty Little Town . . .”

In Casa Verde — otherwise known as the St. George household — we only have a few rules.

1. Bring chocolate.
2. Mock as if there will be no tomorrow.
3. Watch any Jeremy Renner movie that has absolutely no chance of being nominated for an Academy Award.

Case in point?

hg

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is silly and campy and hugely dumb sometimes. But I must say, it’s still not nearly as bad as I was expecting.

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