Thursday, May 18, 2006

Movie Round-Up

[Now Experiencing] [Film]

A couple of movies viewed recently - a new one and an old one.

* Mission Impossible 3 [2006]
Caught this last week. I'm happy to report it's significantly better than its two predecessors, reaching dizzying heights that can best be described by the words "average" and "inoffensive". Directed and (partially) written by J.J. Abrams (creator of Lost and Alias), it boasts a plot which both makes sense and was NOT stolen wholesale from a Hitchcock film, which is more than the last two can say. That said, it's still not a particularly engaging story, moving from genre convention to cliche and back again with a stolid regularity. Tom Cruise is like screen cardboard - tasteless and bland - and other than the title theme there's nothing to write home about in the soundtrack. Many elements of the film have occasional moments of excellence - the CGI sparks nicely during a helicopter chase, there's some nice stunt action on a rooftop sequence, some moments towards the end are genuinely suspenseful - but it never seems to come together into a working whole. Probably the best elements of the film are the fantastic supporting roles of Philip Seymour Hoffman (Truman) as the implacably calm and menacing villain, and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) as the computer support technician. Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix) also does well in an admittedly tiny part as Cruise's boss. All in all, there'd normally be no particular reason to need to see this on the big screen - but arrayed next to the other tripe infesting the cinema at the moment, it comes depressingly close to being near the top of the pile.

* A Nightmare on Elm Street [1984]
I re-watched this B-horror classic with my girlfriend earlier in the week. My memory had not altogether served me faithfully on this film; the directing by Wes Craven (Scream, Wishmaster) was actually better than I remembered, and the acting was significantly worse. Heather Langenkamp plays Nancy, a girl whose friends are being killed off in their dreams by the menacing Freddy Krueger (veteran actor Robert Englund). With the aid of boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp in his first ever big screen appearance) she sets out to defeat Freddy, on the way overcoming the almost psychotic unhelpfulness of her alcoholic mother and the pathological cynicism of her father, the town sherriff. Hideous acting, some atrocious dialogue, and a spotty plot come together in a magical synthesis to very effectively render a dreamlike sense of unreality that actually enhances the film and makes it so memorable. This film almost defines the phrase "so bad it's good". A must-have for any afficionado of the slasher flick.

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