Star Wars: Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi

Mark Hamill

Carrie Fisher

reviewed by Tom-Tom

starstarstarhalf star

How does one even begin to review this movie? It’s like reviewing the ABC’s or the Green Lantern oath or the Konami up up down down etc code. Star Wars is an integral part of our culture, language, idioms, and even philosophy, whatever apocryphal horrors inflicted on the franchise by its very maker, which sounds like an oxymoron and it is. I will endeavor to view it as a first-comer. Who knows what I’ll find?

The film captures you from the beginning with the 20 Century Fox fanfare and then explodes into the inimitable John Williams Star Wars theme from which the cool font heads into the distance and the written prologue scrolls up serial style from bottom to top. This alone convinces the viewer that this film is large scale and not to be taken lightly. There aren’t even credits at the beginning aside from 20th Century Fox. This is serious stuff.

The final film of the Original Star Wars Trilogy doesn’t have much to offer in the way of originality.After a brief glimpse of a second Death Star and Darth Vader intoning in James Earl Jones’ beautifully deep and rich voice about the coming of the Emperor,  it begins on Tatooine with two droids wandering in the desert, just like in A New Hope. They have a purpose this time, however. They’ve come to deliver a message (sound famiilar?) to the nefarious gangster Jabba the Hutt. Continue reading

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Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Mark Hamill

Harrison Ford

reviewed by Tom-Tom

starstarstarstar

How does one even begin to review this movie? It’s like reviewing the ABC’s or the Green Lantern oath or the Konami up up down down etc code. Star Wars is an integral part of our culture, language, idioms, and even philosophy, whatever apocryphal horrors inflicted on the franchise by its very maker, which sounds like an oxymoron and it is. I will endeavor to view it as a first-comer. Who knows what I’ll find?

The film captures you from the beginning with the 20 Century Fox fanfare and then explodes into the inimitable John Williams Star Wars theme from which the cool font heads into the distance and the written prologue scrolls up serial style from bottom to top. This alone convinces the viewer that this film is large scale and not to be taken lightly. There aren’t even credits at the beginning aside from 20th Century Fox. This is serious stuff.

Our adventure continues 3 years later after the destruction of the planet annihilating Death Star and the first major victory of the Rebellion against the Galactic Empire at Yavin-4. The Rebels are now laying their heads on the Ice Planet of Hoth. Apparently systems (planets) in the galaxy far, far away generally limit themselves to one environment per customer. Luke Skywalker (Commander Skywalker if you please) is riding a tauntaun, a two legged mix between llama, kangaroo, and goat in the freezing cold. He’s in radio communication with fellow pilot Han Solo, the ex-smuggler who fired the helpful shot that save Luke at the last second on his Attack Run in the Death Star Trenches allowing the burgeoning Jedi to be to fire the thousand to one shot that blew the darn thing up. Now, they’re relegated to searching for lifeforms in a frozen tundra.

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Ant-Man

Paul Rudd

Michael Douglas

reviewed by Tom-Tom

starstarstarhalf star

 

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has brought us much. We’ve gotten gods, super soldiers, green giants, iron men, blue frost giants, iron men, spies, ex-mercenaries, smugglers, bounty hunters, and aliens. The shortest hero so far has been Rocket, the genetically spliced raccoon like creature with a knack for building weapons of hilariously disproportionate size which can “destroy moons.” Now we get Ant-Man.  And what a treat it is. Aided from its early stages by genius writer/director Edgar Wright, this film was destined for greatness from the very beginning. I was quite disappointed to hear that Wright left the project for creative differences and I was worried that the new director Peyton Reed, (an unknown to me at the time) would ruin everything that was Wright about the movie the way Peter Jackson laid waste to the Hobbit Trilogy after Guillermo del Toro’s excellent preparation and hard work had set up everything perfectly. My fears were allayed almost immediately. All the joy and fun you’ve ever experienced in an Edgar Wright film is alive and well from the random humor, geeky references (“I know what you’re thinking, ‘Tastes of Astonishment’, right?”) to frenetic action sequences complete with silly yet exciting situations which amuse and exhilarate in fair measure making everything feel all Wright even if it isn’t exactly all right.

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Quatermass and the Pit

Quatermass and the Pit is one of a handful of Hammer films (The Devil Rides Out, The Vampire Lovers, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth) so giddily inventive, consummately written and thoroughly enjoyable that it has not only withstood the test of time, it has risen up to become a pinnacle of the genre. Sort of. Certainly, the film is underappreciated. It is also difficult to assign to a single genre, being that it marries bizzaro science fiction to Lovecraftian horror and mixes in a dash of the supernatural.

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Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol

Tom Cruise

Paula Patton

reviewed by Tom-Tom

starstarstarstar

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0LQnQSrC-g 

The Mission Impossible film series is unique in that each film has been shaped by a different director. Brad Bird is the fourth director to tackle the franchise. He brings with him his considerable talents for stylized silence, humor, gadgetry, action and dramatic cinematography in a cool spy film which is fun, shocking, and satisfying.

The film opens unusually for a Mission Impossible after a rather exciting opener from two people we don’t know stealing from and killing one another. The scene changes and we get what looks like security camera footage of a Russian prison in which the doors are electronically locked with clear red lights for closed and green for open. Suddenly one door opens and a giant tattooed thug walks free into the hall not believing his luck. It’s got a bit of teatre d’absurtite feel to it. We soon realize the doors were opened by Benji (Simon Pegg) who only had two rather funny yet memorable cameos in the third film. Pegg is such a natural comic actor with a very expressive face demonstrating shock, annoyance, confusion in a series of rather funny faces as he plays around opening cell block after cell block and looks on using his many faces as things take a turn he wasn’t expecting. Ethan Hunt IMF (Impossible Mission Force) Agent is also in the prison for reasons we know not. As Benji takes the hacker’s high road, an unknown female agent (the kickass and beautiful Jane Carter played by Paula Patton) takes the subterranean low road while keeping in constant contact with him. Ethan defers from the easiest path of escape and seeks to help another unknown character Bogdan, a string-haired bearded man who calls Hunt Sergei, escape.

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Mission: Impossible

Tom Cruise

Jon Voight

reviewed by Tom-Tom

starstarstarhalf star

The Mission Impossible film series is unique in that each film has been shaped by a different director. Brian De Palma is the first director to tackle the franchise. He brings with him his considerable talents for stylized silence, action and dramatic cinematography in a cool spy film which is complex, shocking, and suspenseful.

The film opens in Kiev with Emilio Estevez watching a lurid scene through via his computer. Two Russian men are conversing in their native tongue concerning a woman lying dead in a bed covered with blood. The older, well dressed man is attempting to needle out a name from the distressed younger one. He gets it, feeds him drugged vodka which knocks him out almost immediately. The walls are slid back and agents from the Impossible Mission Force (IMF) come forth to revive the “dead” woman, incarcerate the unconscious unlikely informant, and clean up the scene. The older Russian is revealed to be Tom Cruise  playing Agent Ethan Hunt after removing his high end rubber mask.

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