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Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation | Star Trek

An impossible mission and a trek through the stars.

 

MOVIE REVIEW /// Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

Movie summary: Ethan and his team take on their most impossible mission yet when they have to eradicate an international rogue organization as highly skilled as they are and committed to destroying the IMF. (IMDb)


Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is a really great movie and an example of how continuity should be handled in on-going franchises, doing better than pretty much every other series out there. Watching it again for this review, there's clearly a lot of set-up for Fallout - at least, lots of potential for a future story - and yet none of it takes away from the plot of this film.


It might sound like a simple thing to do, but so many other series out there - including the MCU - can't help but make the set-ups for future tales more concrete, if not flat-out telling you that certain aspects of a character's arc or some plot detail won't be resolved in the movie you're watching. This movie concentrates on being brilliant first, and if there are a few loose strands that don't tie up neatly? That's hand, isn't it?


Credit for this excellence has to go to writer-director Chris McQuarrie, who also wrote and directed Fallout, and is working on the upcoming seventh and eighth entries in the series right now - in addition to doing some work on Ghost Protocol too. Thinking about it, this really is world-building done correctly more than anything, with elements introduced that add depth to the current story, while allowing more room for investigation at a later point if deemed worthy of greater attention.


Switching back to focus on Rogue Nation, there's nothing in this movie that'll leave you wondering about any future movies because they're simply not important in regards to what you're watching and this easily stands alone, proving entirely satisfying as an action-adventure to enjoy from start to finish even if you never watch any other Mission: Impossible movies.


It helps that Tom Cruise is still insanely committed to the role, with the knowledge that he does so many of the stunts himself (such as being attached to the side of a plane - the outside - as it takes off) lending a greater air of believability to the character of Ethan Hunt than there otherwise would be considering the abuse he takes in this movie.


To add to that is Hunt's excellent relationship with Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), a female spy who challenges Hunt physically, intellectually and emotionally, while avoiding the tired trope of the leading man and woman eventually getting together. Ferguson is just as good as Cruise at bringing her character to life, the leading pair having such great chemistry together and McQuarrie recognising this to keep them paired up as much as possible.


As you'd expect for a Mission: Impossible movie, the stunt work and choreography is exceptional, with the entire opera sequence in Vienna standing out as a particular high point - not just for this movie, but the series as a whole. There's also a car chase in Morocco that is right up there with the excellent Paris chase from Fallout, with a few moments that even surpass it for me.


Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames all return and are excellent again, even if there's less action for Renner this time out. They're joined by Alec Baldwin as Hunley, who proves a useful antagonistic presence to keep the team on their toes, seemingly obsessed with his goals but ultimately proving that he deserves his position as one of the top men at the CIA by the end.


I could go on praising Rogue Nation as there are very few flaws to it, with another great score (albeit not as good as Lorne Balfe's truly incredible work on Fallout) and a whole host of different locations to keep you interested in what you're seeing and hearing. McQuarrie definitely knows how to make every part of these movies something to enjoy, which isn't always the case for action movies.


The biggest criticism I'd have is that it never feels like there's a truly dangerous physical obstacle for Hunt and the team. The bad guys tend to prove most threatening thanks to their numbers rather than any of them hinting at being a definite problem to deal with. It's not the biggest problem a movie could have - even an action movie - but it really does feel like an opportunity missed to not have Hunt be truly tested physically by a single opponent, which is thankfully not the case in Fallout.


Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation may have had the tiniest smidge of a sheen removed in retrospect thank to its direct sequel, Fallout, but this remains a fantastic action movie nonetheless. Tom Cruise is as suicidally-brilliant as he always is as Ethan Hunt, this time matched step-for-step by Rebecca Ferguson's Ilsa Faust. Their pairing - and excellent chemistry - will keep you interested even if you're not a huge fan of action films.

[9/10 - Great]

 

MOVIE REVIEW /// Star Trek

Movie summary: The brash James T. Kirk tries to live up to his father's legacy with Mr. Spock keeping him in check as a vengeful Romulan from the future creates black holes to destroy the Federation one planet at a time. (IMDb)


As someone who used to really like Star Trek as a whole (and who still loves Deep Space Nine), it's weird to find myself thinking of this movie as merely 'good' when it contains one of my favourite sequences in the entire franchise: the opening section of the movie with Kirk's father, George (Chris Hemsworth), sacrificing himself to save his family.


The attack by the villains of the story is devastating, with a genuinely chilling moment as a crew member screams for her life before being sucked out of a hole in the ship's hull to die in space, before the elder Kirk realises what he has to do to ensure his wife (Jennifer Morrison) and just-born son are able to escape. It's a brilliant, brilliant sequence that promises so much that the movie fails to deliver.


Star Trek is the franchise as fast food, an enjoyable if unmemorable and not-quite-satisfying experience that makes you appreciate the better material in the other parts of this shared universe (yes, Star Trek was doing a shared universe well before the MCU) all the more. That's not to say it's bad, as it's definitely a fun way to spend a couple of hours, but you'll just be left wishing for more.


For starters, the movie looks great - even with the 'Apple shop' design of the Enterprise bridge and extensive use of lens flares - and sounds just as good too, thanks to Michael Giacchino's excellent score, so there's plenty to enjoy on the audio-visual front. The biggest problems Star Trek has lies with the wafer-thin story and not really knowing what to do with the characters.


The story suffers the most, with the story beginning in the original Star Trek timeline, in a tie-in comic featuring the older Spock and Jean-Luc Picard trying - and failing - to save the Romulan homeworld from destruction. Their failure leads Nero (Eric Bana) to entering this new timeline and seeking revenge on behalf of his people - a decent premise that is ruined thanks to not being in the movie beyond vague hints.


As for the cast, Chris Pine is stuck with a very abrasive and shallow version of Kirk; Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban excel as Spock and McCoy respectively; while the others simply try to be as memorable as possible with the little amount of screen-time they can grab. None of them are bad in their roles, but having to re-introduce so many new versions of the original crew, which are effectively new characters entirely, means some of them do suffer for the spotlight as a result.


I'd still recommend watching Star Trek as it's a fun time, but the lighter, more blockbuster-esque tone means it won't really act as a gateway to any other parts of the franchise that I've seen - note I haven't seen Discovery or Picard - so it might be safer to just keep to this movie, Into Darkness and Beyond. This isn't 'Star Trek in name only', but it doesn't really match what came before either.


Star Trek is a good movie, but doesn't feel much like Star Trek thanks to its more action-oriented and bombastic approach. It looks and sounds good, but there's not a great deal of depth to the story, with a villain who makes no real sense as presented here - his backstory and the set-up for this movie is contained in a tie-in comic. The cast do their best, but some have very limited time to make their mark on proceedings.

[7/10 - Good]

 

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