28 May 2013

What Could Go Wrong?

When I was younger I asked my Mum how Corned Beef was made to which she replied, “You don't want to know”. I have never eaten it since. Apparently all it is, is beef treated with corns of salt however by leaving it up to my imagination, I created the worst possible scenario. With as little information as possible available, to me, Corned Beef appeared to be the cow’s tits having been fucked off by a randy farmer and left to fester in soupy bucket of bull-spunk and diseased farmyard shit. Interestingly this is kind of like a cinematic technique used in horror movies during which filmmakers cunningly imply violence allowing the audiences imagination to fill in the gaps. For example, in Psycho's famous shower scene, not once do we actually witness the knife penetrate Janet Leigh's body but instead it is simply suggested so heavily that we think we did. Opposing this school of thought however, is Sam Raimi whose entire career has been based on the idea of showing more than we really needed to see. His first film was of course The Evil Dead which was famously made for so little money that, to match the budget now, all you'd need is a few hours on your knees in an alley with a lonely stranger. With that in mind you'd expect Raimi to take the cheaper option of having most of the violence happen off screen as a way of avoiding the cost of effects. In Psycho I only thought I'd witnessed a full on stabbing however with The Evil Dead I very definitely saw a tree get shoved up some screaming girl’s minge.

Since its release in 1981, Raimi's infamous gorefest has gone on to become a cult classic and personally, I fucking love it. I mean perhaps the branch-up-the-vadge was a slight mistake but there's no doubting that The Evil Dead is a masterpiece just brimming with fun, blood, bile and random green gunky shit. However there's also no doubting that over the last thirty years the film has aged pretty badly. The effects are still impressive but they're hardly photorealistic and I'm pretty sure the only people who'll be frightened by it now are those with a life threatening allergy to mushy peas. Though for me, that's not an issue with the clunky stop-motion look only adding to its handmade charm. The actors too where never of the highest quality with the only decent performance coming from a man who is ten-percent human and ninety-percent chin. However if you can only afford one good actor in your entire movie then Bruce Campbell is very definitely the one you'd want.

Starring Mickey Rourke...
In general, the idea of remaking a classic horror film fills me with a  kind of rage that makes blood drip from my ears and hate leak from my soul. The original Amityville Horror was a nun-puking-load-of-bollocks and yet somehow the 2005 remake managed to be even duller. I don't even want to talk about the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake because it's too traumatic for me. I've locked the idea of that crappy movie away in the little box of forgotten memories I keep in my brain along with childhood trauma and explanations to my burn-scars. However in the case of The Evil Dead, I awaited it with a kind of optimistic open-mindedness. I figured that at least Raimi was heavily involved with this new one and he'd already pretty successfully remade the film himself with the equally classic Evil Dead 2. Not only that but his reason for wanting to make it again was because of how badly aged the first one has now become. Like I say, I love the shittiness of the original but there is something interesting about seeing it with modern effects and hopefully better acting. I suppose on top of all that, the reason I didn't approach this remake with arse clenching anxiety was because like all the others it wasn't produced by cinematic mega-cunt Michael Bay.

This new Evil Dead begins with a gang of youths holidaying at a cabin in the woods whilst one of their junkie friends goes cold turkey. Obviously this can be quite a tough experience to go through and so it'd be best to do it in a calm, controlled environment. The stupid retards however instead select the most clichéd horror movie setting possible. I'm assuming that an ancient Indian burial ground, nuclear testing site and Joseph Fritzl's basement had already been booked out that weekend. Also I've never had to try and give up a smack habit before but if I ever do, I think I'd prefer a place that didn't have a basement full of cats hanging from the ceiling. I know animals are meant to be therapeutic but I don't think that's still the case if their eyes are popping out of their strangled blue heads. Just to make life a little more interesting, the gang also decide to read from a book that unleashes a shitload of evil demons. I guess in general if you find a book in which somebody has scrawled “don't read this motherfucking shit”, then perhaps it'd be best to put it down and just wait for its film adaptation instead. I found a blood stained threat identical to that in a book once which is why I'm still yet to read The Da Vinci Code.

So having now seen it I guess the biggest question is, is it good enough to justify its existence? Well if I was being generous, I guess I'd say it probably just about is. As I mentioned, Raimi's goal was to remake the film with modern day effects so that he could make something as scary as the original originally was. Well on the first point, the film is very definitely a success as the gore is fucking mental. Blood is casually sprayed everywhere and people puke shit up like they're having a pressure competition at a bulimics convention. There's also a few scenes in which people quickly rip off their own arms as though we're watching a Danny Boyle movie in fast-forward and on crack. However, for me at least this Evil Dead just wasn't scary in the slightest. Stephen King famously described the original as being, “the ultimate experience in gruelling terror”, which this very much wasn't. Nor does this film fix the main issue of the tree rape scene which is simply redone but to a point where the branch goes all the way up the new girl’s vagina and confusingly never comes out or is mentioned again.

"Hey kids!"
But despite all that I genuinely found the film to be really good fun. Once it gets going, the pace of the thing is absolutely relentless and I think the violence is genuinely inventive. I also liked that because the main character was going cold turkey, everybody assumed her first demon attack was either bullshit or just the fevered delusions of a desperate smack-head. Unlike the first film there was no one person here to root for but to be honest I was quite happy to watch all the new characters get chopped up. I'd much prefer a new cast of faceless meat puppets than see anybody new attempt to play the original’s Ash. There's only one man groovy enough to play him and sadly he's at an age where it'd end up being the creepiest thing in the film if he was hanging out with a group of teenagers. In fact by having completely new characters, this new film almost plays out as a kind of sequel in which a fresh group of morons stay in the same cabin with their fates playing out in a slightly different way. I mean they still end up as the main ingredients to cheap supermarket burgers but it's nice that there was some variation from what was expected.

If the new film lets itself down slightly it's that it goes on for about ten minutes too many and accidentally descends dangerously close to the formula of Michael Bay's crappy remakes. It also works too hard at saving the life of a character that I pretty much had nothing invested in anyway. There's a bit where the junkie actually dies but is brought back to life by being stabbed in the heart with a syringe attached to a car battery. I mean if resurrection is that fucking easy then I can't help but think that the NHS is being severely over-funded. Like I say though, I did enjoy the film and I'd like to think it might encourage at least some people to go back and discover the originals. I guess you could argue that this film is a little clichéd but then the The Evil Dead invented the clichés so that really can't be helped. The only way to avoid that issue would be to be subvert it instead but then that wouldn't be an Evil Dead remake but a Cabin In The Woods remake and it's certainly too soon to be rehashing that.

Like I've said, I personally did enjoy it but as a fan of the original- if you go in hoping to be disappointed then you more than likely will be. If it wasn't for the title, I'm sure this film would be forgotten in time but for the ninety minutes it was on I certainly enjoyed myself. Perhaps it was directed by some bloke called Fede Alvarez but Raimi's influence definitely shines through. I've no idea where they're going to go in the sequel, but for now let’s just appreciate that unlike other horror remakes, this was not a complete mess. It won't swallow your soul but if you've got an old student card to fraudulently claim the discount, it's certainly worth at least five quid.

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20 May 2013

John's Got The Hump

Despite ranking a toxically high 9.7 on the geek-o-meter, I've never gotten into the original Star Trek from the 60's. From what I've heard though, the biggest difference between the main series and the new films is the level of action on display. Apparently the show was less about kicking people in the throat and more about philosophising and exploring humanity’s big ideas. Having said that however, there is a clip on YouTube of Shatner's Kirk on all fours pretending to be a horse whilst a dwarf rides on his back. I'm not sure what idea they were exploring here as I'm not sure of the context. Perhaps this is a deep metaphorical investigation into the works of Bertrand Russell or Rene Descartes, however when I see Kirk galloping about all I can think is what a stupid Kant. Having said that there's a part of me that would now like to watch the original show if only for the sake of irony. As though he's a cosmic Roger Moore, the idea of watching Kirk explore a 60's vision of the future and fucking anything with a pair of tits sounds like fun to me.

Released in 2009, the film Star Trek took the series out of the nerds’ bedrooms and made it cool enough for the rest of the world to enjoy. For some reason though, a lot of them seemed to hate it because, “it changed too much from the originals”. But the way I see it, they should be happy because the franchise was successfully rebooted in a way that didn't erase everything that they'd loved from the current cannon. Also by being set in an alternate timeline, these new films also avoided the main prequel problem of there being no real threat because it's obvious the characters will survive into the original films. Maybe I'm not a Trekkie/Trekker but I am a fan of Star Wars and until your franchise is rebooted with a massive fucking racist Jamaican Gungan thing, I've really got no sympathy.

"I knew I shouldn't have studied rocket science..."
Anywho, so Star Trek Into Darkness is all about the story of John Harrison who despite sounding like a fifth member of The Beatles is actually an intergalactic terrorist. Because John is running around blowing shit up like a massive space-twat Kirk is recruited to track him down and kill him. Like Raoul Silva and Loki however, Harrison instead finds himself captured and locked up in one of those giant villain sized fishtanks. The great thing about this film is in just how much of it is an ensemble with almost everybody getting something interesting to do. Kirk and Spock continue their blossoming bromance which involves about the same amount of bickering and sex as a ten year marriage. Scotty gets to run around whilst cracking jokes with his slightly dodgy accent and Uhura continues to prove that the franchise isn't racist. Alice Eve also shows up as Carol Marcus but from what I could gather her only purpose is to flash her pubes for the movie’s trailer and to look pretty. There's also a bit near the end where Carol is put in danger when it looked to me as though someone had just stamped on her vagina.

So before we go any further, I guess I should say that I really loved this film. From the moment it begins to the moment it ends it is just non-stop action. It's as though it was conceived in the racing mind of Oscar Pistorius whilst he enjoys a domestic shoot-out with the missus. However this relentless spectacle, as enjoyable as it is, is possibly one of the movies bigger problems. After watching Iron Man 3 last week I was reminded of just how big a fan of Shane Black I was and so began revisiting his older films. I also slightly lowered my mandatory four hours a day criteria of porn browsing in exchange for finding old interviews with him in which he talks about screenwriting. When asked about the state of the modern action movie he claimed that they were all a bit crap because there's no downtime. Instead, blockbusters these days try to simply deafen the audience by shouting at them for two hours. This is definitely the case with Star Trek Into Darkness which really cuts out the character moments and emotion of its predecessor in exchange for making things go bang a lot of the time. Having said that, there is a slightly hammy but enjoyable little speech by Cumberbatch in which he seems to accidentally morph into Alan Rickman.

In fact, the comparisons to Rickman don't end there with this film also suffering from the same minor problem as Die Hard. Like Hans Gruber, John Harrison is so charismatic and cool that despite the general dickishness, you can't help but find yourself occasionally rooting for them. I know I just criticised the movie for having too much action but the scene in which Harrison shits all over a gang of Klingons is still pretty cool. I also thought that one of the final fights between Harrison and Spock was pretty funny considering the size of their body frame. Back in the 80's action movies were dominated by giant hulk-men whose brains where the size of their steroids-shrunk cocks. Cut to only a few decades later and the beeftards have been replaced by two lanky nerds kicking the shit out of each other. Not only that but the film also features Peter Weller and Karl Urban meaning that director J.J Abrams decided to have his scrawny man-slap instead of a much more epic fight between Robocop and Judge Dredd.

Anyway so we're heading into spoilery territory now so it's about time those who are yet to see the film went for a wander. For the rest of us I'm sure it was a huge surprise to discover that Harrison was actually the series’ main villain of Khan all along. Of course though, by ‘huge surprise’ I mean completely fucking obvious thanks to IMDb thoughtlessly listing the name on their bloody cast list. I'm putting it out there that, that may be the most annoying thing since I asked my Dad if Se7en was any good and his response was, (spoiler alert), “Is that the one that ends with Gwyneth Paltrow's decapitated head in a box”. It took me years to get my revenge on him for that but eventually I seized my moment and locked him in our attic without food and only an angry wasp for company. True story.

For those who don't know, Khan is one of the big baddies of the original Star Trek world and was unsurprisingly the villain in the supposedly brilliant Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan. Personally I've not seen that film but I hear good things about it. From what I do know though, things are the reverse to Into Darkness with the original killing off of Spock instead of Kirk. This of course results in Shatner calling on all of his acting powers to famously scream, “Khaaaaaaaaaaan” with all the anger of man who’s being forced to hold in a particularly rebellious ands jagged shit.  From what I do understand though, the original at least had the balls to kill off Spock and keep him dead until the crappy sequel. In this film sadly, I don't think that anybody is under any illusion that Kirk’s death will be any more permanent than his earlier demotion. Near the start of the film, Kirk is fired, demoted and then promoted back to Captain with so much speed that that if you popped out for a piss you'd have missed it. On the brightside though it's good to know that thanks to Kirks pogo up and down the career ladder that by the year 2259 we'll have finally solved this recession. With all the warring alien races, that's at least something to look forward to.

I heard the supermarket is hiring...
So considering Khan was pretty much new to me, I think, as mentioned earlier that he's probably the best thing in the film. However what did annoy me was that it was his blood that was used to bring Kirk back from the dead. By doing that, there's pretty much no threat now in any future films ever. As soon as anybody dies, all the crew have to do is pop to the fridge, crack open a bottle of Khan juice and generously, drizzle it all over their favourite corpse. In fact the only person who is now in any danger is Bones who I'm assuming will quickly find himself out of a job. It's kind of like how in the original Superman he flies up into space and then backwards around the world to reverse time. From this point on, we've got nothing to worry about at all. Having said that, now people can come back from the dead it's nice to know that the future will be a time in which we can stop banging on about how special Jesus is.

I guess that's pretty much everything I've got to say on Star Trek Into Darkness. I've been writing for too long now and I'm kind of feeling ill after eating an out of date tube of Pringles. Obviously this film gives me even more faith that Star Wars Episode 7 will be great, with Abram’s main skill being to dish out nostalgia for things you're seeing for the first time. Actually if you want a tip, you should go to the bookies and bet money on Benicio Del Toro being the next Star Wars villain. Considering he almost played Khan here and Darth Maul in Episode 1, I reckon he's a dead cert. You heard it here first! Anyway I think I'm going to go and be sick now. Although in case you didn't believe me earlier about Shatner being ridden by a midget then here it is for your viewing pleasure... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avTfiRccYIA

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12 May 2013

He Handled It

I know it makes me a horrible person and for a change I honestly mean no offense, but meaty limb-stumps are something that I just can't cope with. In fact I was recently watching the British daytime show This Morning when they featured a man on it who had actually had a hand transplant. Now don't get me wrong, this does show how miraculous science can be, but fuck me it was horrible. I mean, the poor bloke had somehow lost his original hand, doctors had stuck on some dead guys in its place and I can see how amazing it was that he could slightly control it. But firstly, it was the wrong skin colour, secondly, it was too big, and thirdly, it was stitched on in such a crude horror-movie type way that you'd assume the surgeon had trained by watching bloopers from Frankenstein. I wouldn't touch a dead body if I found one so I certainly wouldn't want bits of it sewn onto me. Given the choice, I would much rather go for having a hook over some random corpses wanking claw. Not only that but the feature was obliviously summed up by the host who couldn't have chosen a poorer choice of words if she'd tried. In conclusion to a story about a man who now owns a dead guys hand, Holly Willoughby genuinely described the issue as “gripping”.

Thankfully though, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come up with a better solution than turning amputees into Boris Karloff. The plot for Iron Man 3 centres around an experiment which can completely regrow missing limbs with only the smallest of catches... If it goes wrong there's a chance you'll heat up by thousands of degrees and explode like a massive burning cunt. Obviously this becomes an issue for Tony Stark who suspects these fleshy blood-bombs might be a result of a new super-terrorist known as the Mandarin. Quickly things escalate for Stark who discovers asking a tooled up nutter to come and attack him might not be the most sensible of moves. Like a menstrual interior designer, the Mandarin calmly responds to this threat and bombs Tony's house into oblivion leaving him homeless, lost and stuck with a broken suit. Too make things even more tricky, Stark is also suffering from some degree of trauma having under gone a minor case of death when previously pissing about with The Avengers and a nuclear bomb.

For this third entry in the franchise, Shane Black has been brought on to co-write and direct and for me, it's really him that makes this film what it is. Black made his name in the late eighties when he managed to sell his Lethal Weapon script whilst only just into his twenties. However, despite his youthful success making me want to puke down my tits, I actually think he may be my favourite screenwriter working in Hollywood. Although there had been films that featured friends in the past, he was really the first to successfully stick that relationship into an action movie and have the chums bicker for two hours. This was a concept that was clearly aided by Black’s genius sense of humour and ear for really sharp and witty dialogue. Although I could just copy and paste his scripts because every line is so good, I suppose one example from a previous Black film might be after a character named Gay Perry is asked  if he's still gay, “Me? No. I'm knee-deep in pussy. I just like the name so much, I can't get rid of it”.

In fact for me, Iron Man 3 feels like two movies brilliantly crunched together. On the one hand it is very clearly a comic book movie and on the other it is very obviously a Shane Black film. The comic-books stuff would be all the exploding robot battles and the Black stuff would be Tony Stark bickering with his mate Rhodey and occasionally smack-talking a parentless child; “Dads leave. No need to be such a pussy about it”. I think if I was ten years old, watching this film would have been like getting stabbed in the brain with a syringe of excitement. Luckily I have a mental age of about ten and so that's still exactly what this was. However instead of being overcome by joy at the sight of human tin cans blowing up it was actually Blacks script that made me giggle like some deranged Arkham inmate. I genuinely loved all the action but I'd have quite happily sacrificed it for a little more fast paced dialogue with a permanent undercurrent of shittiness to it.

There's a scene about half way through involving the Mandarin that couldn't be more Shane Black if it tried. I'm about to spoil a major twist in the film so if you've not seen it yet then I suggest you stop reading now and fuck off to the cinema to make up for lost time. For those left reading, I am of course talking about the reveal that Ben Kingsley is actually a decoy villain being played by some grotty actor called Trevor from near Croydon. I mean, reservations aside, this has got to be one of the funniest scenes in any action film ever with The Mandarin's bullshit reveal consisting of him swaggering out of the toilet and announcing, “I'd give it twenty minutes!”.

"Who a you calling a lacist?!"
At the time though, I was kind of conflicted. Although I was very definitely laughing at Trevor's sheer rattiness, I was a bit disappointed to discover that what had so far been a genuinely cool villain was actually a load of bollocks. Considering how big of a bad guy The Mandarin is in the Iron Man comics, this was a bit like having a Batman film where the Joker is comically revealed to be a manly tart who’s just overdone it with the lip-stick. However the more I've thought about it since, the less it's really bothered me. I guess my overall feeling is that Trevor becomes such a funny character that the humour he brings allows them to just about get away with it. Also by having Aldrich Killian revealed as the real Mandarin, I suppose the movie conveniently sidesteps the slightly racist Fu Manchu version from the original comic books. Although I suppose had they gone with the Chinese caricature, they could have given Mickey Rooney his most prolific acting role in about ninety years.

The only other real thing I guess that irritated me very slightly was maybe just how many of the twists had already been done in Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. Rebecca Hall's character is a little bit like Miranda Tate in that, despite lady-parts leaking all over Stark, she's actually a bit of a baddie. Sir Ben's fake Mandarin not only dresses similarly to the fake Ra's Al Ghul but is also a decoy for the real villain of the same name. Oh and both Iron Man 3 and The Dark Knight Rises conclude with the use of something known as “the clean slate”. However there is a difference as in Iron Man 3, this device causes Stark's suits to explode whereas in the other, Batman just uses it to jib of his job in favour of travelling the world and fucking Catwoman.

The other thing that makes Iron Man 3 interesting is that it's the final film in which Robert Downey Jr is contracted to play Tony Stark. Like the rest of the world, I can't imagine anybody else doing the role as well as him but honestly this does feel like the perfect time to recast. There's a finality to the scenes here with the character arc that Stark set out on in movie one finally being fulfilled. They're going to have to recast eventually, so why not now? There's a sort of conclusion to the character with this and Downey Jr is only going to start demanding a shit load of money to come back anyway. I'm not saying that if the films make enough money to fund a small genocide that he shouldn't be entitled to some of it too. But seriously how much cash does one human really need to lead an enjoyable life? Especially one who has already given up drugs and alcohol and probably doesn't need to pay for whores. If it requires a lot of money to coax him back then maybe Marvel should just cut their losses and find someone else.

"So you need a new rocket man?"
Nobody could imagine a James Bond without Sean Connery and yet fifty years after Dr No, the franchise is still as strong as ever. Not only that but producers panicked about the loss of Connery and so threw so much money at him that despite his better judgement he returned for a few more films. Although the suave, lady-beating Scotsman could now afford all the toupee's he'd ever need, it resulted in several performances in which Bond just seemed kind of bored. Not only that but our half arsed 007 received so much money that the stunts and set pieces had to be cut down on, too. Considering that Downey Jr allegedly received over $50 million for his appearance in The Avengers alone, you've got to wonder how much he'll want in order to return and ultimately if it's worth it. Like I say, they're definitely going to have to recast at some point and this just seems like the perfect timing both financially and in terms of the story. Although we all have our differing opinions as to the future of Tony Stark, I personally think that Marvel should play it safe and completely copy the Bond franchise following their successful replacement of Sean Connery. For a proven guarantee of longevity, they should simply let Robert Downy Jr go and replace him with the presumably much cheaper Roger Moore for the next twenty-two years. As can be seen with 007, the results of this strategy already speak for itself.

Anyway, ignoring all that in-the-future crap, Iron Man Three is a really fun movie and more than makes up for the slightly crappy second instalment. I'm sure some comic book purists will be overly pissy about the cinematic depiction of one of their main villains but for those of us who have lost our virginity, what remains is simply two hours of joyous fun. It's nice too that I can also now add this to a list of my favourite Christmas films along with Die Hard, In Bruges, OHMSS and every other Shane Black film ever made. So I guess to conclude, I'll leave you with a just-about-relevant line from Black’s debut movie Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, “I don't know if you want to see it now, but here's the fucking robot stuff for your viewing pleasure. Can I say "fuck" more?” It's a tenuous link, but sod it I'll take almost any opportunity to re-read that dialogue. 

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7 May 2013

Towering Above The Others

The Cold War for anyone unaware, was a prolonged state of political and military tension between the Eastern and Western Bloc which thankfully ended in 1991. I say that because for anybody who doesn't know, The Cold War just sounds like the on going mystical bitch fight between the Asgardians and the Frost Giants. I know I shouldn't have to specify the difference between a fictional battle in Thor and that time humanity was almost nuked off the planet but you know... some people are thick.

I mention this only because Mission: Impossible was one of the first successful spy franchises to be launched after Mother Russia and Uncle Sam stopped their apocalyptic pissy fit. When the Nukes where put back in the box, spy films were left a little bit confused as to where they should now be playing. The first film in this series however got around the problem by making the enemy one of IMF's own spies. In fact, the second and third film also did this proving that for a gang of secret agents, they're all seriously shit judges of character. Three fucking films we've gotten through to get here and each one of them has revealed one of their own to be the main baddie. If we just shut the organisation down then the world would be a much safer place.

Russia called my mum a 'fat tart'?!
Well for the first time in the franchise, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol does not feature an IMF agent as the main villain. In fact the bad guy this time around is just some random old bloke who for whatever reason wants to destroy the world. I don't remember his motive but to be fair thanks to my ingrained sense of misanthropy, I'm not completely against him. However, what is interesting, considering what we just talked about, is how his plan simply involves attempting to kick start a war between America and Russia. So he's really just like the kind of shit-starting slab of dick-dirt that spreads rumours about a couple down the pub to cause an argument… having said that, it's nice to feel nostalgic for that warm blanket of nuclear fear that I was born into. I was only two years old when the Cold War ended but in many ways I think the worry that my flesh could be burnt off at any second has really influenced my outlook on life.

Anywho, so the old bloke manages to blow up the Moscow Kremlin whilst simultaneously framing IMF. Because of this, their new boss informs them that the agency has thankfully been closed down and that they must work completely alone to unofficially finish the mission. So although this time they aren't against one of their own they have been out smarted by some mental ageing duffer with a death wish. Seriously this agency isn't just a waste of tax payers’ money but actually a threat to the survival of the fucking planet. Also, I say new boss because they don't half go through them. There was Angelina Jolie's Dad, Hannibal Lector, Morpheus and now Tom Wilkinson in what I assume is the espionage equivalent of The Defence against the Dark Arts job.

Welcome to the Crazy Face!
But despite all that Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is still amazing. After three films, I think we know now that this series works best at its silliest and when shoving stupidly crazy set pieces in our face. This time around the ridiculous death defying stunt of choice involves Tom Cruise scaling the side of the worlds tallest building like an ageing Peter Parker suffering a midlife crisis. In 2005 director Werner Herzog released the documentary Grizzly Man which showed video footage of a deranged animal lover who liked to tit about on his own in the wild. Sadly his love wasn't completely reciprocated by the cuddly bears there showed their gratitude for his presence by promptly biting his head off and eating him and his girlfriend. In their review of the film, Empire Magazine described it as, “the longest suicide note ever composed”, which is in my opinion something that could easily be applied to Cruise in the Mission: Impossible series. My theory is that it's the subconscious part of his mind trying to free itself from the pain caused by all that brainwashing that's been done back on the mothership of Scientology.

Presumably in an attempt to plan for his inevitable death however, we finally here have a Mission: Impossible film that focuses completely on the efforts of an IMF team. Not only that but we're introduced to a potential future lead with the presence of Jeremy Renner who I actually really liked. Since his career exploded with The Hurt Locker, he's been looking for a series to headline by appearing in pretty much every blockbuster he could get his freaky drumstick fingers on. Like a deranged chimp, he's consistently throwing shit like The Bourne Legacy and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters at a wall in the hope that something might stick. However after collecting so many franchises like a movie pimp, I think that the Mission: Impossibles might be the whore that finally pays out for him. If Cruise does either die or return to his home planet then I'd really like Renner to take over as the lead which would avoid the recasting issues faced by the Bond Franchise. As I've said before, I do prefer the adventures of 007 but even I have to admit that in Die Another Day, Bond was looking bloody good for a man who must have been well into his 70's.

Whilst we're talking about new people here, it's also worth noting the presence of director Brad Bird. Previously he'd only worked in animation, having helmed The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille and so this was his first venture into live action. For anyone who’s not seen Ratatouille by the way, it's basically a French-set story about some dirty, unlikeable, vermin who are taught to cook by a bunch of rats. Despite this being his first foray into the world of the flesh however, Bird does a great job by racking up the humour, tension, silliness and action. The film goes on a bit longer than maybe it should have done but it's forgivable just for the ridiculousness of the final battle. Without giving too much away it basically involves the bad guy fighting Cruise around around the steel bonnets of an unbelievably tall car factory. With an old man battling a sprightly midget in this metallic setting I couldn't help but reminded of Palpatine versus Yoda in Revenge of the Sith. 

Having now watched the entire Mission: Impossible franchise, I have to say that I love that each film has a different director. Not only that but each one of them brings a distinct style from De Palma's love of Hitchcock to John Woo's inability to make anything less than shit in English. This always brings a certain freshness to each new addition and will hopefully continue to allow the series to live on in the future. Directors I'd like to one day see have a go at one of these are Steven Soderbergh, Bryan Singer and just because every mainstream franchise needs a backwards speaking midget, maybe David Lynch.

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