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Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol (2011)
Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol (2011)
2011 | Action, Mystery
7.9 (16 Ratings)
Movie Rating
The fourth chapter in the phenomenally popular Mission Impossible series has arrived in theaters and jump starts the franchise with a dynamic ensemble cast and a bold mix of action and adventure with a touch of comedy thrown in.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol opens with a daring escape from a Russian prison followed shortly thereafter by an infiltration of the Kremlin and subsequent explosion on the famed Russian landmark.

Tom Cruise returns as agent Ethan Hunt and is joined by Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, and Paula Patton. Shortly after the explosion at the Kremlin, tensions between the United States and Russia are at an all-time high. As a result, the president initiates Ghost Protocol, which effectively shuts down the Impossible Mission Force and eliminates many of their resources. As a result, Ethan and his team must take on an unsanctioned mission that will take them from Russia to Dubai to Mumbai in a race against time to not only clear the IMF from being blamed for the bombing, but to stop a deranged criminal from using stolen Russian launch codes to unleash a nuclear strike upon America.

Ethan and his team bring all manner of weapons and technology to bear against the enemy and while the action sequences are intense and the best in the series to date, they don’t overshadow the human element of the film as each character has a back story which helped endear them to the audience. Unlike previous films in the series, the plot is not as convoluted and hard to follow and director Brad Bird, making his live-action directing debut, does a fantastic job of pacing the film, never once letting it drag or become boring.

Pegg and Renner are fantastic additions to the series as Renner brings a sense of humanity to his role as analyst Brandt. Pegg gets a share of comedic lines and moments but is not there simply to provide comic relief, convincingly deadly serious when the action becomes hot and heavy. Patton holds her own with the guys and proves she is more than just a pretty face as her fight scene in a high-rise with an assassin is as intense as any action fan could want with a fantastic finale.

Cruise goes all-out in his performance and performs many of the film’s stunts himself, quite a few of them shriek-inducing, judging by the reaction of the ladies in the audience. While Ethan spends a lot of time running in the film, he also spends a lot of time fighting and it was very nice to see him share some of the responsibility for the film’s action scenes with his ensemble cast. I believe that the ensemble works so well that the studio should keep this team together for future installments in the series. The team has a winning formula that reinvigorates the series giving us what I believe is the best film in the series to date.
Blades of Glory (2007)
Blades of Glory (2007)
2007 | Comedy
5.0 (2 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell), and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder), are as opposite as two men can be. Chazz is loud, boisterous, and highly sexual, whereas Jimmy is soft, artistic, and reserved.

In the new comedy Blades of Glory the two rivals are about to become the talk of their sport when both lose their medals and are banned from competitive skating after an on ice incident shortly after they tie for the gold medal.

While both are devastated by the events, Jimmy has an even higher cost to pay as his adoptive father disowns him since he is no longer a star athlete who will bring him fame an attention.

Flash forward 3.5 years and we find that life has not been easy for the former two stars. Jimmy toils away in a sporting good shop, while Chazz is reduced to playing a masked character in a themed ice show.

Fate steps in when a stalker informs Jimmy that he is only banned from singles skating and is able to compete in pairs competitions. With the signup for qualifications two days away, Jimmy heads to a local ice show in hopes of finding a partner for the competition.

Sadly Jimmy has chosen the same show were Chazz works, and the two bitter rivals soon find themselves fighting once again.

When the footage makes the local news, Jimmy’s old coach (Craig T. Nelson), hits upon the idea of having the two men compete as the first male team in skating history.

Naturally the two men hate the idea, but with a deadline looming and no other options, Chazz and Jimmy begin to train.

As shocking as this turn of events is to the sporting world, it draws the ire of the reigning champions the Van Waldenberg’s (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler), who setout to ruin Jimmy and Chazz so they can once again capture the gold.

As they train, one hilarious situation after another arises, as the two men with vastly different lifestyles and outlooks must find a way to work with one another to recapture their former glory.

At first I was worried that the films premise would grow old after a few minutes, but I am happy to say it did not. The film is very silly and filled with juvenile humor, but has an easygoing charm that makes it a fun if forgettable film.

Heder and Ferrell work well with one another, and their skating sequences have some truly funny and inspired moments. I do not think I will soon forget the look on Chazz’s face when he has to lift Jimmy one handed while balancing him in a sensitive area.

The film will not be confused anytime soon for a comedic work of genius, but if you want some laughs and are not expecting a deep plot or characters, then this film may be what you are looking for.
The Wedding Date (2005)
The Wedding Date (2005)
2005 | Comedy, Drama, Romance
4.0 (3 Ratings)
Movie Rating
The first romantic comedy of the year has arrived and sadly, it is likely to do about as much for romantics as the Black Plaque did for European Travel. The film stars Debra Messing stars as Kat Ellis, a successful career woman who is about to travel to England for the wedding of her younger sister.

Sadly for Kat, her ex is the best man at the wedding, and since he left Kat high and dry with only an engagement ring and no explanation. Desperate to get back at her ex, Kat hires a male escort named Nick (Dermot Mulrony), to pose as her boyfriend.

One would think that with a premise such as this, there would be amble opportunity for laughter, romance, and drama; sadly there is precious little of any of this in the film. Messing tries her best but there is nothing in the material for her to work with. The characters are so weak and one dimensional, that you never really connect with them nor care for their plight.

Mulrony is wasted in the film as he generally seems bored and generates zero chemistry with his co star. He is forced to drift from one scene to another without the benefit of well placed transitions or build up, making the film come across as desperately in search of a direction.

Further complicating the film was an apparent overabundance of editing as scenes concluded only to be followed by scenes that took place much later without the benefit of any transition. As if this matter was not bad enough, references to the past scene and events that were not shown to the audience are constant throughout the film.

While all this could be excused, what can’t be excused is the bizarre lack of humor and romance in the film. It does not take a rocket scientist to see where the film is going, but we never get to see the how and why the characters came to this decision. Nick is a professional escort, and as such, it would stand to reason that he would have hard and fast rules about becoming involved with his clients on a serious basis. Yet, for reasons unknown, he is ready to pledge his undying love in just a couple of days to a person he has spent precious little time with, and seems to have next to zero chemistry with.

Some viewers may also take issue with the notion that a career woman feels the need to parade a man around to show her worth and value, and the fact that she had to hire one as she is seemingly incapable of getting and keeping one on her own.

Somewhere along the way, a good concept for a film went horribly wrong, as The Wedding Date is a clich filled effort that is lacking heart and warmth leaving you wanting more.
Four Christmases (2008)
Four Christmases (2008)
2008 | Comedy
6.0 (3 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Christmas, for most of the population who celebrate it, is about gathering with family, taking the opportunity to reunite with loved ones and share in the spirit of the holiday. Most of us do this with great anticipation. But not Brad and Kate, an intensely committed couple, played by Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, who would rather be anywhere but near their respective families at Christmas. So much so, they invent elaborate excuses every year that keep them away.And because it’s always for a good cause, they’re granted a pass by their relatives. This year, they’ll be busy volunteering to inoculate children in some remote third-world country. In actuality, they’ll be vacationing on some tropical island. But the San Francisco fog works against them this Christmas, and they’re captured on camera by a news crew at the airport dealing with the cancelation of their flight, and, of course, there’s no getting away now.

So, why don’t Brad and Kate want to spend Christmas with their families? Well, mainly it’s because they’re products of broken marriages and each of them have two homes to visit. Hence, the title. Brad’s family consists of a bitter old man, played by Robert Duvall and two brothers (Jon Favreau and Tim McGraw) who are amateur cage fighters who take great delight in torturing their attorney brother. His uncoventional mother, a quirky Sissy Spacek, is remarried and Brad has yet to come to terms with a stepfather he knows all too well. Kate’s mother, played by Mary Steenburgen, has found religion and a not-so-angelic devotion to the pastor of her church, while her sister, an earnest Kristin Chenoweth, just can’t say enough about the joys of childbearing.

Brad and Kate, who airily dismiss the idea of marriage and the notion of children, are content to just focus on each other, spicing up their relationship with some sexy role-playing, dance lessons and exotic vacations. But on one Christmas day, traveling from one parent’s home to another, they face their fears four times and discover more and more about each other with each visit. She didn’t know his name wasn’t really Brad. He didn’t know she went to fat camp. She doesn’t know how to give good clues in Taboo. He is inflexible in changing the rules of their relationship. Suddenly, the happily unmarried couple doesn’t feel so happily unmarried.

The movie is good for a few laughs, mainly at the expense of Vince Vaughn’s Brad. I’ve always been a big fan of Vince Vaughn’s rapid-fire stream of consciousness delivery and he certainly has his moments. While it seems like he carries the movie for the most part, Reese isn’t without her chances to shine. Unfortunately, the opportunities are few and far between. Even with it’s stellar cast, the phrase “lighthearted comedy” feels a little generous. It is definitely light, but doesn’t have much heart.
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
Stephen King | 2016 | Fiction & Poetry, Horror
8.1 (9 Ratings)
Book Rating
Author commentary (2 more)
Plenty of dark humor
The handful of good stories were really great
Much of the collection simply fell flat (1 more)
Mix of genres was sometimes disjointing
An underwhelming collection from the King
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is a large collection of novellas and short stories that include a wide variety of genres. Each time I turned the page to the next story it would be kind of a wild card and I never knew what to expect which was both good and bad. While it was nice that the variety keeps things fresh, it also made the collection feel disorganized. The stories in the anthology don’t fit any particular theme, instead they just seemed like odds and ends thrown into a master volume. This will probably not be a big deal to many, but for me it just broke the flow.

On a more positive note, one of my favorite aspects of King’s writing is the incredibly dark humor that is present in much of his work. I think the addition of comedy helps to break some of the tension from the otherwise horrific stories and I found myself chuckling several times while reading. The anecdotes before each story were fun to read and gave some interesting insight into King’s writing processes and the things that inspire him. These personal little notes were one of the major highlights of the collection since it serves as a way of connecting the reader to the writer. King to me just has a likable voice and I enjoy reading or listening to his talks.

My favorite story out of the entire collection was no contest, there was one story that stood out to me more than the others: Under the Weather. The short is just so well paced and filled me with so much dread from start to finish that I was in awe. It really showcased King’s mastery of the technical aspects of writing and how to build tension and suspense. Other notable stories were Mile 81, Batman and Robin Have an Altercation, The Dune, Under the Weather, The Little Green God of Agony, and Summer Thunder.

Despite all of my praise, it was difficult for me to decide how I wanted to rate this collection. The stories are decent, there are even a few really good ones in the collection, but overall it was nowhere near King’s best. When I closed the book I felt relieved to finally be done, which is not the best feeling to have after finishing a book. Many of the stories seemed to be either love or hate to me and so it was really a mixed bag. Even after I’d finish a story I enjoyed and put the book down for the night, I’d find that I had no motivation to pick the book back up again the next day. Because of this I ended up taking a full month to read this collection which is slower than my average. I had actually been thinking of rating this book lower but the strong final stories drove me to push my rating up a little higher.
Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)
Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)
1983 | Action, Drama
3.0 (1 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Classic 80s cheesy action flick (0 more)
The plot, the dialogue, the suspension of disbelief one has to maintain while watching (0 more)
L is for Lethal
Contains spoilers, click to show
Lone Wolf McQuade (P. 2/9/08)

As my ex-husband and his co-workers once discussed, this 1983 Chuck Norris classic contains an inexhaustible list of “man movie” elements. I shall enumerate just a few of the highlights here (spoiler warning):

Turbo-charged truck that hasn’t been washed in 20 years…check.
Multiple cut-away scenes containing only foul language…check.
Good guy silhouetted on cliff…check.
Too-tight pants…check.
Too-hairy chest…check.
Good guy lives in filthy, ramshackle bachelor pad…check.
Good guy assigned a partner that he doesn’t want…check.
Feds interfering with good guy’s investigation…check.
Evil, maniacally laughing, midget villain in a wheelchair…check.
Bad guys attempting to kill good guy’s daughter…check.
Same daughter later gets abducted by bad guys…check.
Good guy has disproportionately hot girlfriend…check.
Same girlfriend wears nothing but good-guy’s shirt, post coital…check.
Good guy hanging off hood of moving vehicle…check.
Good guys outnumbered by bad guys in every fight scene…check.
Single, long-range gunshot or arrow from crossbow causing car explosion…check.
Bad guy using a contrived mechanism to kill good guy, instead of simply shooting him in the head…check.
Beer, beer, and more beer, which magically revitalizes the good guy…check.
Strategically placed blood…check.
Flaming barrels…check.
Women totally incapable of defending themselves…check.
Good guy and bad guy putting down their weapons and facing off in physical fight…check.
Hot girlfriend dying in good guy’s arms, while professing her guilt and undying love…check.
More flaming barrels…check.

I could go on and on.

Among many other cheesy elements in this movie, I especially enjoyed the moments of obvious symbolism. The opening shot contains a psychedelic-looking, lone wolf accompanied by nothing but whistling. Later, when the bad guys attempt to kill Lone Wolf McQuade, they first assassinate his pet wolf. Foreshadowing, anyone? Another blatant symbol appears when Captain Tyler lectures McQuade about the public image of a ranger. The Captain holds a ruler in his hand, presumably because McQuade doesn’t “measure up” to his expectations. Ha!

In the most entertaining scene of the movie, Lone Wolf has been buried alive in his truck by the bad guy. Beaten and broken, he opens a can of beer found on the front seat, pours it over his effusively sweaty self, takes a sip, and then finds the strength to go on. With his eyes closed, and his head thrown back, he alternately opens and clenches his jaw while emitting a prolonged man-grunt. He then steps dramatically on the accelerator of his super-charged vehicle and is able to drive out of his own grave.
With the ridiculous costuming, cliché dialogue, subpar acting, and utterly horrible score, this film would have worked far better as a comedy. If you plan to watch it, expect to be incredulous, and try to avoid staring directly at Chuck’s hairy chest.

Dana (22 KP) rated The Tempest in Books

Mar 23, 2018  
The Tempest
8.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
I had to read this play for my Shakespeare class in college and it was the first time I had ever read it.

This was an interesting play, and I'm not sure where it will fit on my scale for my favorite Shakespearean plays. While the plot was pretty straightforward, I do not know how I necessarily felt about the characters themselves. This being Shakespeare's final play, I feel like he wanted to pull in some aspects from his previous plays to draw the crowds in one last time.

I definitely see Shakespeare in Prospero. Both men are known for their art, Prospero's being magic and Shakespeare's being his writings, and in the end, both will give up those arts to be with their families. While it cannot be proved, Shakespeare did die fairly soon after his career ended, making yet another connection where possibly his "every third thought would be of the grave" just as Prospero foretold. And of course, Prospero's final soliloquy is said to be Shakespeare's swan song, his final curtain call.

Miranda can be seen as a voice for the audience a lot throughout the play. She is the reason we get the backstory about why Prospero is doing what he is doing, she voices concerns that the audiences may all be thinking. I think this was intentional because in most of the Shakespearean plays, there is at least one character who stands in for the audience.

Ariel, not going to lie, I thought he was a female character, though I found out by reading more, and watching a filmed production of it, that he is often portrayed as a male. I do, however, want to see what a female could do with this character. Especially since he is such a pivotal character to the plot line being in most, if not all, scenes in some way or another. Without Ariel, the story would not have been able to happen.

Caliban is weird. I understand why he hates Prospero and Miranda so much, but that doesn't excuse his actions both in the actual play and before it in the history sections.

I do not quite know what to classify this play as. It is definitely not one of the tragedies (mainly because it doesn't have a character name in the title) but it also isn't really a comedy. Would it be a mystical play? I don't really know. If you do, please, message me or comment on the post, because I am curious.

This play is often referenced in literature and in pop culture, but I never fully understood what they meant, so it was fun to be able to finally get what people were talking about. That being said, I do not think this is one of his most popular plays. Yes, it was his last, but I have not seen it come up as much in my studies as, let's say, Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet.

Overall, I enjoyed the play, but it definitely isn't my favorite. That spot still goes to Macbeth.
London Has Fallen (2016)
London Has Fallen (2016)
2016 | Action
5.6 (10 Ratings)
Movie Rating
A disgusting attempt at film making
Executives down at Millennium Films must have been rubbing their hands together after the surprise success of their 2013 blockbuster, Olympus Has Fallen. After amassing a respectable $160million against a relatively small budget, a sequel was greenlit as soon as it rolled out of cinemas.

Fast-forward three years and its successor, London Has Fallen, starts off a busy Spring for the film industry. With much of the original cast reprising their roles, can lightning strike again? Or is this a shameless cash in?

Gerard Butler returns as secret agent Mike Banning, with Butler also in a producing role, assigned to protect President Benjamin Asher, Aaron Eckhart also reprising his role, in London as the pair attend the funeral of the British Prime Minister. Naturally, things taken a turn for the worse and both President Asher and Banning are caught in a deadly terrorist attack on the city.

The plot is downright ridiculous with Butler looking almost Terminator-like as he dispatches hundreds of vicious terrorists on the streets of London. Even the President gets in on the action, instead of you know, fleeing for safety like the leader of one of the biggest nations on Earth would do.

With the current climate, London Has Fallen is downright woeful, playing on our fears of urban terrorism like no film before it and after the shocking attacks in Paris last year, and for those still haunted by the memories of 7/7, it is in incredibly poor taste.

The dialogue and numerous plot holes only add salt to the wounds. If this was a serious drama, looking at the appalling ripples terrorism has across the world, then the central premise could be forgiven somewhat, but it isn’t and the uses of comedy throughout are truly dreadful, not once hitting the mark.

Elsewhere, the special effects are some of the worst ever put to film. A helicopter escape across London is laughable and the use of grainy stock footage is far too obvious. It’s clear that director Babak Najafi couldn’t film certain scenes on his tiny budget, instead deciding that dated archive footage was a reasonable substitute – it isn’t.

But by far the worst part of London Has Fallen is how it wastes its talented cast. Morgan Freeman, who stars as Vice President Allan Trumble, is leagues above the standard of this atrocity, and somehow manages to provide a sense of class throughout.

The cinematography is awful, especially towards the film’s sickly sweet finale, and many in the unsuspecting audience said it looked like a third-person video game as Gerard Butler somersaults his way around a poorly-lit construction site.

Overall, London Has Fallen is an appalling excuse for a film. As well as wasting a great cast, it continuously wields one of the world’s greatest fears like a child who’s found his dad’s gun, and for me, that is unforgivable. It may cram a lot of things into 99 minutes, but not a single one is done with any passion.
Sausage Party (2016)
Sausage Party (2016)
2016 | Animation, Comedy
5.9 (30 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Utterly Ridiculous
Just when Sharknado: the 4th Awakens made you think film-making couldn’t get any more ridiculous, a movie like Sausage Party comes along to remind you that Hollywood can always go that one step further to mind-boggling peculiarity.

Of course, that’s not always a bad thing, there have been countless weird and wacky films over the years that have gone on to become cult classics – look at Kick-Ass or even Pulp Fiction for examples of that. But for every Pulp Fiction there’s a Sharknado. So is Sausage Party good weird or as stale as a month-old bagel?

From the mind of Seth Rogen, Sausage Party is a strictly adults only animation that combines hugely offensive language and racial stereotypes with surprisingly meaningful religious undertones. And do you know what? It’s a breath of fresh air.

Life is good for all the food items that occupy the shelves at the local supermarket. Frank (Seth Rogen) the sausage, Brenda (Kristen Wiig) the hot dog bun, Teresa Taco and Sammy Bagel Jr. (Edward Norton) can’t wait to go home with a happy customer. Soon, their world comes crashing down as poor Frank learns the horrifying truth that he will eventually become a meal. After warning his pals about their similar fate, the panicked perishables devise a plan to escape from their human enemies.

Directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan take Rogen’s intriguing premise and inject a warmly familiar animation style, distancing itself just enough to make any comparisons simply inconceivable. Sausage Party is like nothing you will have ever seen.

The voice-acting is great too. Rogen plays his usual film staple – in sausage form – with the spicy Salma Hayek outdoing everyone else as a lustful taco. Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Michael Cera and Jonah Hill also lend their familiar voices to a hot-dog bun, a bottle of spirit and two other frankfurters respectively.

Elsewhere, the comedy, for the most part, hits the spot. As dreadful as it sounds, the racial stereotyping works incredibly well in food form. British tea, Mexican taco shells and German sauerkraut will have you rolling about the aisles with their outrageous vulgarity, but everyone needs to release their inner teenager once in a while.

Unfortunately, the films standout sequence has already been shown in the trailer – a side-splitting food-eye view of a normal kitchen, before every edible item is butchered; that poor Irish potato didn’t stand a chance. This is a real shame as the rest of the film doesn’t quite match up to the standard of that scene.

Nevertheless, there’ll be chuckles throughout as numerous celebrities are parodied in food form. One in particular, immortalised in chewing gum, is incredibly well thought out.

And that’s where Sausage Party succeeds the most. Underneath the polished animation and crude humour, this film is actually kind of clever. It tackles religion, war, race, sexuality and food waste very well indeed and that’s something the genre doesn’t ask for. It’s just unfortunate that it’s not quite as funny as the trailer would have you believe.
The Brothers Grimsby (2016)
The Brothers Grimsby (2016)
2016 | Comedy
5.0 (1 Ratings)
Movie Rating
It's grim in England (apparently)
It’s probably accurate to say that Sacha Baron Cohen’s sense of humour is a little like marmite, it’s a love or hate kind of affair. Offering up characters like Borat and Bruno to the unsuspecting public has proved beneficial to him over the years; with the outlandish antics of those personalities drawing in massive audiences.

His latest offering, English football hooligan Nobby Butcher, promises to be one of his most controversial roles to date, but does the corresponding film, simply titled Grimsby, push the boundaries a little too far?

Cohen’s beer-drinking, benefit-swindling character stars alongside his long-lost brother Sebastian, played by an incredibly wasted Mark Strong. It just so happens that Seb is a secret agent, on the run after an incident at a global health event. What ensues is a formulaic Cohen comedy that utilises every orifice known to the human body – this is definitely low-brow humour.

After getting over the truly horrific portrayal of life up north, and the appalling representation of a town that is no-where near as bad as is reflected, Grimsby is actually a reasonably funny spy caper – not in the league of last year’s Spy – but certainly better than say Johnny English: Reborn or to some extent, Get Smart.

A talented cast bolsters Cohen and Strong with Nobby’s girlfriend Dawn, played by Rebel Wilson, providing some of the film’s funniest moments, despite her lack of screen time.

Elsewhere, Penelope Cruz’s role is a wasted opportunity and she suffers the same fate here as she did in Zoolander 2. Isla Fisher, Ricky Tomlinson and Johnny Vegas are unfortunately all underused as Clash of the Titans director Louis Leterrier focuses on the main pair.

Leterrier’s work on big blockbusters also helps move Grimsby through its ridiculously swift run time. At less than 90 minutes, the story is stretched to the brink, though there are some clever scenes, including a brilliantly choreographed chase through tight urban streets at the beginning.

Unfortunately, the gags miss their targets more than they hit. Your individual views on toilet humour will ultimately decide whether or not Grimsby is funny and some of the comedic elements intermittently cross the line, an ill-timed HIV joke being one of them.

It’s fair to say you’ll be cringing one minute, and roaring with embarrassed laughter the next.

Nevertheless, Cohen has promised time and time again that he has no time for personal opinions on his films and with each new character; he continues to deliver on that promise. Whether or not his target audience is getting tired is another story completely.

Overall, Grimsby is a movie that is unapologetic with what it is trying to achieve. From homophobic comments, casual racism and a grim depiction of life in Northern England, it’s everything we should despise in modern film-making. However, there’s just something about Cohen’s brazen attitude that keeps us coming back for more.

If you’re reading this Sacha, don’t visit Grimsby for a while, there’s a bounty on your head.