Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

This is a fun new installment for the MI franchise, which has been kind of random and erratic from one movie to the next. I've liked them all with the exception of the second, because it never really felt like a Mission Impossible movie at all.

This one is not as clever as the third, which I thought was particularly good, but it's a lot of fun. It is essentially a re-hash of the first film in plot: the team goes on a mission that goes wrong, then turns out to be a setup and they have to go rogue to find out who did it. Ethan also risks selling sensitive military secrets to a supervillain in order to catch him, just like in the first movie. But the action is awesome and so over the top that it keeps you engaged. They go to so many exotic locales and have so many cool action set pieces that it's a James Bond-style action adventure.

This is in some ways a more direct follow-up to MI3, making it the first sequel that's not trying to reboot the franchise with a flashy new director at the helm. Brad Bird is better known for quality animated films than live action, but if you've seen "The Incredibles" you know that he's no stranger to awesome action adventure movies. With JJ Abrams producing this one is kind of a continuation of the vision they had for MI3, but it has its own look and feel.

I like that the emphasis was on a team working together rather than focusing solely on Tom Cruise, although someone should tell Cruise he's getting a little too old to be wearing such tight pants. Other than that he's great in the movie and the action, like I said, is just out of control. I hope this is a setup for more movies with this same team, which it seems to be.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Another Earth

I don't know if you've heard of this one, but it hit my RADAR recently and I had to check it out. The basic premise is that a second identical Earth suddenly pops up near our own (and is apparently on a collision course with ours, judging from the fact that it's getting bigger throughout the movie).

But that is not the actual story. The actual story is about a girl trying to recover and redeem herself after a horrible car accident that robs a man of his family. The story is not about redemption, specifically, but the idea of a world where we may have made different choices and possibly avoided the mistakes we've made in this one.

The idea of the parallel Earth is a beautiful metaphor hanging over the story for the separate roads we might have taken and the possibilities they might offer. It's not just a neat idea, but it's the perfect usage of a science fiction device to progress the theme of the story. There's so little legitimate science fiction now (and the filmmakers would probably argue against that label in this film), but this is what it's supposed to be.

It's beautifully told and very authentic in its performances. I don't gravitate to indies as much these days because they're mostly cynical and depressing, but despite this movie's intense topic I didn't find it to be either of those things. I think this is a story of hope and I came away with that feeling at the end. Definitely one to watch.