Tom Cruise

Marvel Movie News

Tom Cruise Again Rumored For The MCU

Rumors again surround Tom Cruise coming to the MCU, but this time not as Iron Man, possibly as another Marvel character. The rumors again come from YouTuber Grace Randolph who previously said Tom Cruise is going to play Iron Man in Doctor Strange 2, as it is claimed Feige’s plan is to use actors that

Mission: Impossible - Fallout Review
Movie News Reviews

Mission: Impossible – Fallout Review

Respect for What It Is A Film Review of Mission: Impossible – Fallout   There’s something to be said of a film production that knows exactly what it is without trying to shoehorn half measures of nuanced complexity that only succeed in distracting from the good rather than building upon it.  The professional collaboration among

Movie News Reviews

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Review


Cruis’n USA

A Film review of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

I am not a Tom Cruise guy.  I haven’t been since that really odd display of possibly manufactured emotion on Oprah back in 2005 regarding now ex Mrs. Cruise.  I continue to be turned off to this actor when more stories regarding Scientology’s handling of its highest ranking member break through to the normal news cycle.  Despite whatever personal distaste I may have for him, I cannot deny his ability to flex the full muscle of an undeniable Hollywood star and its ability to propel any film into the upper atmosphere.  Granted, Cruise hasn’t exactly been setting box offices on fire recently with nice successes that seemed to have had much more potential: Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Oblivion (2013), Jack Reacher (2012) and Rock of Ages (2012).  Still, Mission: Impossible is Cruise’s franchise, and he knows how to make Ethan Hunt wow audiences with irrational stunts, epic set pieces and strenuous physical excursion for the screen.  No one in Hollywood runs better on film than Tom Cruise. 

Rogue Nation is another fine addition to the Mission: Impossible saga that makes no attempt to bite off more than it can chew in the action genre.  There may be a slight bit of commentary regarding the state of global security in there, but for the most part, it’s (still) all about Ethan Hunt saving the world by kicking butt (with some help from his friends).  This being the fifth film in the franchise and seeing more familiar faces doing the same things they’ve done before makes the story feel all too familiar.  Paramount certainly hopes familiarity breeds reliability (at least in terms of ticket sales), which certainly seems to be the case so far as Rogue Nation is poised for a strong global run after an impressive opening weekend at the domestic box office.  As entertained as I was by the constant onslaught of visual stimuli, I feel that Ethan has come to full fruition as a character and has no more “story” in him beyond mentorship.  Come to think of it, I wonder why we haven’t seen Hunt step into that role by now even if the powers that be haven’t deemed the very worthy (but often passed over) Jeremy Renner as next focal point for the franchise.  MI still has some fuel left in the tank so long as the next installment takes a long, hard look at going to new places plot-wise; perhaps even the possibility of Ethan actually losing for once.

Action Style

I honestly don’t care what percentage of the stunt work, driving, combat, etc. may or may not have been actually done by Tom himself because it all looked terrific!


Action Frame

The shear variety of the types of camera angles at work, underwater sequences, dynamic tracking for car chases and of course the intro plane sequence ensures the audience only brief breathers to catch up on some exposition.


Lead Performance

Tom Cruise is Ethan Hunt in every way.  He brings the intensity and he brings the enthusiasm.  But he also needs more to do than always beating the bad guy.


Supporting Performance

Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames are reliable sidekicks.  Jeremy Renner is woefully underused.  Alec Baldwin has some slick cameos.  Watch for Rebecca Ferguson to become a major player in Hollywood films to come!  Oh my, Sean Harris.  Did they ask you to be another bland, uninteresting villain with zero passion and expression?



The reliable remixes of the classic MI theme are always welcome if not a bit repetitive.  Unfortunately, Hans Zimmer isn’t walking through that door.


Sound F/X

Everything seems to sound as if it should, but nothing spectacular is occurring here.


                                                                                                                        “Moving” = 26/33

Digital F/X

Some of the more fantastic stunts like “the plunge” underwater sequence and multiple car cartwheels were brought to you by some very fine CG work.


Special F/X

The focus on practical effects in this film is ever apparent.  The best examples of these were car chases, collisions and crashes.  Explosions weren’t particularly impressive.



I understand that spies need to blend in with the crowd, but that also means designers can’t get crazy with characters’ looks.  Everyone’s look fit their characters well enough.


Hair & Makeup

Ethan Hunt certainly takes a beating in this film.  I only wished that it looked like everyone else was afforded that same opportunity.



London and Vienna were presented with prototypical European lavishness while Morocco gives the audience a nice dusty contrast.



There’s some very good set design going on from court rooms, to concert halls as well as secret bunkers and tech centers.


“Picture” = 25/33


The Impossible Mission Force faces off against its version of James Bond’s “Spectre” called “The Syndicate.”  Meh.



Spies figuring out what they are fighting for and why it’s worth it after they seem to get burned by their allies is an interesting internal conflict.  Fighting each other seems slightly less so in this film.



Neither surprising, nor satisfying.  Anyone who has seen a Tom Cruise film (let alone a Mission: Impossible film) can project the ending.



Every character plays off of Ethan’s charisma quite well, while Benji grows an unexpected pair.  Solomon Lane is too cryptic to be menacing though.



So Ethan has to save the world from what?  Bad people doing bad things with a ton of money?  And why is this syndicate so bad ass?  It’s all bit too muddled.  Or is it too boring?


Character uniqueness

Ethan is a super cool super spy.  Ilsa is a super hot, undetermined ally or enemy.  Solomon is a garden variety villain.


Character relatability

I can sympathize with the frustration that comes with a seemingly no-win situation.  I can also get with not wanting to expose one’s friends to unnecessary risk.  I don’t understand wanting to turn someone to your side only by showing them up with no attempt at bribery and not directly threatening their lives at any point.


“Story” = 19/34

Overall MPS Rating: 70/100

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is a very entertaining, action heavy, cinematic adventure that’s equally compelling to Tom Cruise fans as well as casual action film fans.  If you’re looking for some solid popcorn outside of the super-hero game, check this out at your local cinema.  Don’t even think about springing for IMAX or REAL 3D tickets, though.  

Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: Oblivion (2013)

Obligatory Obliviousness

A Film Review of Oblivion

By: Lawrence Napoli


I appreciated this film as a slightly above average sci-fi adventure.  Initially, I was very excited to see this because I was under the impression that it wasn’t a comic book retrofit or an adaptation of any kind, but the title sequence somewhat dashed those hopes as Oblivion was co-written, produced and directed by Joseph Kosinski based on his (unpublished) graphic novel of the same name.  The movie trailer peaked my interest due to the sleek look of high technology being juxtaposed with nature, and when you add Tom Cruise to the equation (this being his 2nd sci-fi film role) Oblivion seemed like a fresh, new spin on sci-fi that audiences would drool over.  Then the reality of the film set in.  Again, I’m not suggesting that the ultimate execution of this film made the whole experience a wash, but it was a disappointment because the fact remains that it is about as original as your average “zombie apocalypse film.”  As a matter of fact, Oblivion = Independence Day’s general idea + Vanilla Sky’s spoon-fed exposition+ Minority Report’s set design+ Armageddon’s culmination + The Matrix’s mind games.  Wow, this must mean that Oblivion is the greatest movie ever made right?  Let’s just say this film falls well short of that particular designation.


Just waiting around (for a truly inspired film).

The writing effort behind Oblivion is very inconsistent.  The outline of the story’s plot coupled with the main character’s expository narration lays out an intriguing set up for the first half of this film.  The idea of two solitary humans maintaining what’s left of planet Earth (for whatever reason) is made personal by the constant inflection of every line of dialogue/narration by Jack (Tom Cruise).  The scenario is basic, easy to identify with and the audience cares about Jack because he’s very unassuming; which is a bit of a stretch for an actor like Cruise who has a history of playing more intense characters.  Where the writing falters is in the plot details and regular dialogue amongst the rest of the cast.  At about the midpoint of this movie, the story takes a turn towards convolution and without properly established exposition and character development, the audience is less inclined to make the leaps of faith that this film demands.


All work and no explosions make Jack a dull boy.

From that point on the plot gaps take over and become more and more pronounced with every passing minute.  Characters are suddenly making decisions and doing things that are completely out of sync.  People and places that seemed important suddenly aren’t (and vice-versa); which leads me to the rest of the dialogue.  Personal connections between Jack and the rest of the cast were meant to occur, but 50% of everything that is said is filled with brand new plot details that need some kind of explanation which dilutes the impact of the emotive words between anyone that’s meant to be significant to the main character.  Writers Joseph Kosinski, Karl Gadjusek and Michael Arndt must have had ideas for a much longer film (think Lord of the Rings), but time and budget restraints must have forced a hasty evolution of the story that is extremely awkward to witness.  I would point to those limitations before outright, literary incompetence because the first half of the film was very well established.  Tougher writing choices in the beginning to alter the plot directly would have yielded a more seamless, cinematic experience along with an ending that was equally surprising AND satisfying.


Do you know where this story’s going?

Production designer Darren Gilford certainly used his experience with Tron: Legacy well with his efforts in Oblivion.  The elegant, yet simplistic living quarters belonging to Jack and Victoria are deliciously post-modern and tech savvy.  Jack’s jet/helicopter/hover hybrid vehicle is just as sleek and streamlined as his apartment and those aesthetic looks also translate to some practical combat applications.  I also enjoyed the “hominess” of Jack’s lakeside hideaway on the planet’s surface.  Though not as sophisticated, Jack’s earthly retreat has all the amenities, yet provides an interesting contrast to the sterile white, glass and metal elements of his decadent living quarters in the sky.  The look and feel of Oblivion screams high production value in every moment.  Those familiar with Tron: Legacy will notice several aesthetic set, prop and vehicular similarities (if not direct copies) with this film and while critics may frown at this filmmaker’s low-jacking of his own material (thank you Michael Bay), the design choices in Oblivion worked well in this fictional world.


Home solutions inspired by The Jetsons

I would not qualify Oblivion as an “intense action film,” but it has two distinctly satisfying action sequences that put this film’s CG and special effects departments in the spotlight.  The first is an aerial chase sequence that involves a healthy amount shooting, explosions and maneuvers that seemed eerily similar to the Millennium Falcon’s escape from Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.  The second is an extended ground assault where Jack’s acumen with small arms is put on display (p.s. there’s plenty of pyro at work here as well).  There is a very small element of hand-to-hand combat, but this isn’t a kung-fu flick.  All in all, the action is not what drives this film forward, but it helps a great deal in keeping the audience in the driver’s seat.


Action, engaged.

Oblivion is not a film that boasts an ensemble of marquee performances.  Tom Cruise does what Tom Cruise does; which is to say he does his best to make a big budget, Hollywood film look as good as it can from his end.  He looks great, his physicality is in top form, but his chemistry with the rest of the cast is weak and despite diminished opportunities to develop said chemistry in scenes meant to do exactly that, he could have made a better effort.  He’s done so in the past.  Morgan Freeman is the other big name in this cast, but his impact is minimal as his character is basically a Macguffin for the entire film.  Six and a half minutes of total screen time seems beneath an actor of Freeman’s caliber, but then he probably isn’t approached with too many sci-fi roles nowadays.  How far has Melissa Leo fallen since her Academy Award role in The Fighter?  Her very small part in Olympus Has Fallen is followed up with a throw-away as Sally (someone who is only seen via video screen) in this film.  Love interests Victoria and Julia played by Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko respectively do the best they can at providing polar opposite alternatives for Jack (disciplined soldier vs. loving rebel).  Unfortunately, these women (along with the rest of the cast) don’t have the chance to really make their characters their own.  There’s simply not enough time when considering Tom Cruise must apparently be in every scene.


Is this where we start acting?

Oblivion, like Avatar before it, is a sci-fi adventure that borrows heavily from many stories, films and fictional scenarios made popular in the past.  The main difference that separates the greatness of Avatar from the monotony of Oblivion is the dedication to character and placing the importance of character relations over the immensity of plot and exposition.  Good characters can cover up many shortcomings in a film production because they are the most direct connection between the moving image and the audience.  As likeable as Jack is, his archetype is as common as his name and with no other dynamic personalities to bounce off of; any perceived potential for his character dissipates.  This film is the first real sci-fi installment of 2013 which is entertaining, but not all that thought provoking (i.e. the essence of the Summer Blockbuster).  This film is worth seeing at some point, but don’t rush out to the theatres for it and certainly don’t even consider seeing it in IMAX or 3D.  Having said that let me explain to the reader what ultimately soured me on this film.


Oh dear, Giuseppe’s about to get on his soap box.  

There is a scene that is essentially ripped from the rooftop scene in Vanilla Sky where an important potion of Oblivion’s mysterious plot is revealed, explained and resolved in a way that is patronizing to the characters and to the audience for having invested in the story thus far.  This moment instantly invalidated any positive interest I had and insulted me as a viewer for having to be lectured on a left-field, curveball of a plot twist when this movie should have showed me through well planned and executed action.  What highlights this eye-rolling low point is the fact that everything that is said in that instant, actually gets shown not moments later in the film at which point I threw up my arms in frustration.  The first half of Oblivion seemed like a movie that was going to go somewhere interesting, but it really takes you down an avenue of broken dreams that we’ve all seen and heard before in X number of cinematic adventures before it.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser.