[*Read Part I: Chick Flicks here, Part II: Art House Flicks here, and Part III: Dramas here.]
Action films are usually not known for their oscar-worthy screenplays and seminal performances. We go see action films on the big screen because that’s where they belong. Big fat movie screens with huge speakers pumping the THX and creating a permanent mold of your body in the seat cushions. Every so often we get an Inception or The Dark Knight that manages to have give us quality story telling and intense action. So until Christopher Nolan gives us another Batman film we have to make do with the best of the rest. (One note – in case you don’t read the Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol segment : Go see this film in a TRUE IMAX theater. I beg you! Learn about impostor LIEMAX screens and where to find real IMAX screens near you. )
Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol – IMAXimum Movie Adreneline
(Aaron’s “Doesn’t Self Destruct” full review here)
As I mentioned just above, please see this film in a real IMAX theater. Director Brad Bird (Pixar director of The Incredible, Ratatouille and the non-Pixar classic Iron Giant) makes his first live-action film his big-boy calling card by using 70mm IMAX cameras and having roughly 30 minutes of full screen IMAX eye candy to give audiences. This is how we are supposed to watch action films. Not in 3D with uncomfortable, germ infested, head-ache inducing plastic glasses. When Tom Cruise starts to scale the worlds tallest skyscraper my stomach literally dropped and I think I shit myself. This film is beautiful and like a classic Bond film (not the crap that is called Quantum of Solace) the action travels all over the world. Europe, the Middle East, Russia and so on. And unlike the recent James Bond film the gadgets are awesome, the cars are kickin’, the girls are smoking-hot and Simon Pegg is the right amount of cheesy funny. But I’m telling you, the action… Until you experience a car spinning in the air toward you in a giant sand storm in 70mm on a 70+ foot IMAX screen you haven’t seen an action film. Oh, the story? I have no idea. Something about a terrorist wanting to start WWIII between the U.S. and Russia by launching a nuclear warhead at San Francisco. You know, the same story in every international spy movie.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Caesar is home
I had zero interest in seeing this. Why? I love the original film. It’s one of the best role reversal films ever made. The production value is unmatched in a vintage 60’s style way. Which is why I hated the Tim Burton remake 10 years ago. It was too polished, too perfect looking. They also unnecessarily fucked with a great story and switched things around and made a mess. Really, Ape Lincoln at the end? Back to not wanting to see this new version – I also don’t like James Franco. He’s boring unless he’s genuinely stoned while playing a bored stoner. So why the hell did I go see this? Word of mouth was strong and so were the praises for the great Andy Serkis. He’s the motion capture actor who will end up receiving an honorary Oscar when he’s 70 for the revolutionary work he’s been doing. After stealing the Lord of the Rings films as Gollum, he knocks it out of the park as super-intellegent ape Caesar in Rise. Make no mistake Andy Serkis is the best actor in this film and one of the best overall performances of the year. Not just because I get to compare him next to James Franco, but in spite of it. Serkis also gets to claim the most goose-bump inducing film moment of 2011 that I won’t spoil here. As far as the story goes, the filmmakers do for the Apes originals the same thing 2009’s Star Trek did for that franchise. It smartly begins the story anew but with deep respect for the original. The homages to the original weren’t simple throw-away moments meant to appease the old fan base, although there were a few. It felt they took the material seriously and professionally and then had tons of fun with it. This film should classify as Sci-Fi on my best of 2011, but because the film arrives at an awesome finale that is as action packed and thrilling as anything else this year, it belongs here.
Fast Five – Fueled by Diesel
If you brought a dead guy with into the theater to see this movie he will be alive by the end and begging to drive you all home – the long way.
*Be sure to leave your favorites below in the comments.
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