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Posts Tagged ‘Tom Cruise’

Revvin’ up your engine
Listen to her howlin’ roar
Metal under tension
Beggin’ you to touch and go

Kenny Loggins, lyrics by Tom Whitlock

Belated sequels are a terrible idea right? Not always, When Martin Scorsese directed The Color Of Money in 1986, it had been 25 years since The Hustler (1961).  The brilliance of the film was that it was totally different to the original.  Paul Newman reprised his role of “Fast” Eddie Felson, but he was a supporting character to Tom Cruise’s Vincent Lauria.  The original film is regarded as the better of the two, but the sequel is still excellent, and of the two the one I have watched more frequently, and enjoy the most. Can Tom Cruise pull it off again?  We will find out June 2020, with the release of Top Gun: Maverick!

This trailer dropped today.  Don’t worry, I will say what you are thinking: this actually looks GOOD!  By the time the film comes out next summer, it will have been 34 years since Top Gun (1986).  If like me you grew up in the 80’s you will have gone through the cycle with Top Gun: “it’s the greatest film ever”, “this is fun, but it’s really dumb”, “I can’t believe I ever watched this shit”, “Oh, yea, I saw Top Gun when I was a kid”, “I’m not interested in Top Gun”, “This is really good fun”, “I actually quite like it!”top gun maverick

Director Joseph Kosinski fits quite nicely into this mix, born in 1974, he would have been eleven or twelve when the original film came out.  He has two other credits as a director; Oblivion (2013), an underrated Tom Cruise vehicle, and TRON: Legacy (2010), another belated sequel, coming out 28 years after TRON (1982).  The cast looks strong, Cruise and Val Kilmer return from the original film, and are joined by Jennifer Connelly,Jon Hamm, Miles Teller and Ed Harris who has a prominent role in the trailer. The trailer is perfect with some great visuals, a voiceover (from Ed Harris) that could easily have come from Tom Skerritt in the original film, some great visuals, and no plot details.  I’m sure this will change in future trailers, for now, I’m looking forward to Top Gun: Maverick. 

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Do you remember Deep Impact and Armageddon in 1998, Dante’s Peak and Volcano in 1997 or Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Robin Hood in 1991? There are countless other examples, last year we had two takes on the Snow White fairytale with Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman. Later in the year we will get to see how White House Down compares to Die Hard in the West Wing Olympus Has Fallen. Before that we have the recently released After Earth to pair up with Oblivion from earlier in the year:

The concept

Oblivion: In the future, one man (Tom Cruise) and his wife (Andrea Riseborough) remain on an abandoned earth to maintain the machines set to mine the planets natural resources.

After Earth: In the future, a man and his teenage son (Will Smith and Jaden Smith) crash land on an abandoned and inhospitable earth.

Oblivion and After Earth posters

The Talent

Oblivion: Despite a few missteps in recent years, Tom Cruise is still one of the biggest stars in the world as he has been since the late 80’s. the supporting cast includes Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones) , but the standout performance comes from Andrea Riseborough who is nothing short of amazing in a limited role.

After Earth: The film is book-ended and contains flashbacks with other characters the film is largely a two character movie. The two are played by superstar Will Smith and his son Jaden who you may remember from The Karate Kid. The girl in the flashbacks is played by Zoë (daughter of Lenny) Kravitz last seen in X-Men: First Class.Oblivion & After Earth The Talent

Whose behind the camera?

Oblivion: With just his second feature Joseph Kosinski again shows the visual flare he showed with TRON: Legacy, but again shows a lack of depth in his character development.

After Earth: Newsflash, the Emperor is but fucking naked. M.

Night Shyamalan is not a good director. The Sixth Sense (1999) is just about the most overrated movie of the last twenty years. The Village (2004) is okay and Unbreakable (2000) is a decent film. The rest of his output is forgettable at best.Joseph Kosinski and M Night Shyamalan

The Good

Oblivion: The movie is set within a believable Sci-Fi world. The film is shot largely on location this is enhanced by visual effects rather than dominated by them, this helps it look amazing. The acting is generally good and as mentioned above sometimes amazing.

After Earth: The film looks good and the action scenes are practically well handled.

The bad

Oblivion: The plot and the characters all feel a little thin and the twists and turns in the plot are telegraphed to the audience.

After Earth: The dialogue is terrible at best. The plot is thin and full of holes.

The Similarities

The two movies are both set on a largely abandoned earth and feature megastar actors with something to prove.

The differences

Oblivion is largely plot driven and plays out with a combination action adventure and mystery thriller. After Earth is more like a computer game where one character has to achieve a task within a timescale.Oblivion & After Earth

The Verdict

After Earth isn’t a terrible film and doesn’t deserve the critical pounding it has received. That isn’t to say it is a great film, it is deeply flawed and gets away with a lot thanks to its short running time and well choreographed action. Oblivion is surprisingly good, the end is either perfectly executed or a contrived cop-out depending on your point of view.

The best abandoned Earth movie from 2103 is:oblivion-movie-poster

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The trailer for Oblivion makes it look like a routine Sci-Fi movie set on an sparsely populated earth in a post war dystopian future. This in itself is largely true, but the movie is far better than expected. Even allowing for this I didn’t intend to write about the movie but felt compelled to by the sniffy reviews and mixed word of mouth.

Approximately sixty years in the future Jack (Tom Cruise) and his wife Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are the last two humans on earth. The rest of humanity has relocated to Titan after the world was devastated in war with an alien race. The pair have been left behind to maintain the equipment used to harvesting the planet’s natural resources. After five years, they only have two weeks left, while Victoria is keen move to Titan, Jack can’t help feeling something is wrong.oblivion-tom-cruise-olga-kurylenko

The first thing that stands out about the movie is the way it looks. Just like director Joseph Kosinski’s other movie TRON: Legacy, Oblivion looks stunning. Unlike TRON: Legacy that is set in a computerised world, this movie utilises desolate real world sets in America and Iceland sublimated by CGI. The technology we see is very clean looking and very white and reminiscent of Ipods. The are also countless nods to other Sci-Fi movies, most notably 2001: A Space Odyssey. The plot however owes more to WALL·E, Silent Running, Moon and Saturn 3. Although Morgan Freeman is given second billing behind Tom Cruise, a lot of the film features just Cruise and Andrea Riseborough supported by Melissa Leo who appears only as a disembodied voice and an image on a video screen. They are later joined by Olga Kurylenko whose previous performances range from flat and misjudged in Quantum of Solace to mute but breathtaking and brilliant in Centurion. The whole cast is strong but the standout is Andrea Riseborough.oblivion-andrea-riseborough

Co-written, by the director Joseph Kosinski based on his own (unpublished) graphic novel of the same name, the movie isn’t a remake, reboot or sequel (and it isn’t in 3D) and it is all the better for it. The plot is a little thin and has the odd hole, but the overall it works and more than satisfies the conventions of storytelling and the genre. There are no holes so big or points so ponderous to alienate the viewer and take them away from the narrative. The characters are easy to empathise with helping the viewer be immersed in the story. There are numerous twists and turns in the plot, some you will see coming, others you won’t but none that you be confused by. Its this combination complexity and simplicity that makes the movie work so effortlessly. The end is either perfectly executed or a contrived cop-out depending on your point of view.Oblivion

How much you like the movie may depend on how much you like the genre but ultimately there is enough going on to keep all but the most jaded entertained. The bar has been set higher than expected for Will Smith and M. Night Shyamalan’s seemingly similarly themed After Earth due out in the summer.

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The simple if flippant answer to why Tom Cruise was the right choice to play Jack Reacher, is that no one can play Jack Reacher, so he is good as anyone. People have been giving reasons why Tom Cruise is the wrong person to play Jack Reacher since before I knew who Jack Reacher was, it actually turns out he was a pretty good choice. As previously mentioned back in June I had only read one Jack Reacher novel back in June when the trailer hit. I have now read another eight and am halfway through a ninth including One Shot, the book the novel is based on. As is widely reported Reacher’s vital statistics include:JACK REACHER

Height: 6′ 5″, 1.95metres
Weight: 220-250 lbs/100-113 kg
Size: 50-inch/127cm chest, 3XLT Coat, 37-inch/95cm Inside leg

The problem with casting a character by height is that you could be blinded by one aspect of the character forgetting all the other characteristics. Tom Cruise is a charismatic and talented actor with a track record in playing action heroes. Had the character been around and the movie been made in the late 80’s early 90’s it is conceivable that Arnold Schwarzenegger would have been cast because of size and reputation when Mel Gibson or Bruce Willis would have been a better choice. The success of the movie could open the door for Jack Reacher becoming a franchise like James Bond, and like Bond it could be reinvented with lose continuity and new actors taking the character in new directions.jack-reacher

As for the movie itself: The plot is simplified and a few characters have been removed to be replaced by a car chase but the basic idea of the original novel is still there and the car chase isn’t bad. There is device within the books whereby the twists and turns of the plots are signposted so the readers are always one step ahead of the characters. This and a lot of the twists and turns of the plot have been removed, depending on your point of view it is to the credit or the detriment of the movie. As an adaptation, it does a good job, avoiding the pitfalls of either throwing the original text out, or even worse being a slave to it. Instead it takes the core structure and essence of the book, the cliff notes for what of a better term, and finds its own way from A to B. Tom Cruise may not be that recognisable as Jack Reacher to die hard fans of the books but the essence of the character and his actions are there.

Lee Child’s cameo in the new Jack Reacher movie

Lee Child’s cameo in the new Jack Reacher movie

If you are still not happy, who else could play Reacher? Here are my top ten more height suitable actors ( in order of height):

Kevin Durand 6′ 6″
Adam Baldwin 6′ 4″
Liam Neeson 6′ 4″ (too old)
Alexander Skarsgård 6′ 4″
Chris Hemsworth 6′ 3″ (too young but give him ten years)
Idris Elba 6′ 2¾”
Hugh Jackman 6′ 2½” (was considered for the part)
Will Smith 6′ 2″ (was considered for the part)
Nathan Fillion 6′ 1½”
Denzel Washington 6′ 0½” (too old)

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In 1997 Mike Myers gave us Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, a movie that made a mockery of James Bond. How could Bond continue after this?The simple answer, in the Pierce Brosnan era Bond became as silly as the spoof. Then in 2002 around the time Brosnan was making his last appearance as Bond in Die Another Day the game really changed with The Bourne Identity. Bond took a four year break and returned as a younger rougher Bond in Casino Royale played by Daniel Craig. Despite the reboot, there is still a sense that Bond belongs in the 50’s and 60’s and not in the present day.

Powers Bond Bourne Reacher

As good as the Jason Bourne trilogy was, it was always just that a trilogy. The critical, financial and artistic failure of the Bourne Legacy proved that. Largely plot driven it couldn’t adapt and evolve the way Bond has, but then no other film series has. Bruce Willis is John McClane, and there couldn’t be a Die Hard movie without him. The same goes for Riggs and Murtaugh/Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon and Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. Next year, Chris Pine will be the fourth actor in five films to play Jack Ryan but they have always felt like separate films and not a coherent series. Mission: Impossible has the scope to be rebooted and is set up in such a way that other characters can be introduced without the need to recast existing ones. There has been a suggestion that William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) introduced in the latest film Ghost Protocol has been suggested as a replacement for Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) but is it the new Bond? Probably not but it does lead on nicely to Jack Reacher, a film franchise that could be the James Bond for a new generation. I am not talking about a replacement for Bond.

Dirty Harry Jack Ryan John McClane Riggs and Murtaugh

Bond as a character is showing no sign of going anywhere but that doesn’t mean there isn’t space for a new action hero franchise. The screen incarnation of Bond has been with us for fifty years, longer than most people who read this article have been alive. It has always updated itself in an effort to stay relevant but is at its best when it has one foot in the past as M said in Golden eye “I think you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War”. This is why there is room for a new hero one who, one conceived in a world after Vietnam, the cold war and 9/11. I’m not totally convinced that that character is Jack Reacher but it stands a chance. The controversy over the casting of Tom Cruise who is too old and too short (by ten inches) and worst of all too famous to play Reacher may just work in its favour. If cruise can establish the character over three or four movies it will have the chance to be recast and reinvented in future the way Bond has been.

Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher

Who is Jack Reacher? Starting with Killing Floor in 1997 Lee Child has already written more novels than Ian Fleming. Unlike Bond, Reacher isn’t a spy with the backup of the British movement and the “Q” branch. Reacher is a former military policeman who has taken to drifting around America. Along the way he gets into various scrapes and ultimately ends up helping people in a sort of Kwai Chang Caine way. Totally lacking any sense of remorse but with a strong sense of morality and a compulsion to help people the character is very clichéd, this isn’t a criticism.

Lee Child’s cameo in the new Jack Reacher movie

So will Reacher be the new Bond? No, and if the filmmakers try to turn him into the new Bond it will be a missed opportunity for a new franchise. Since its reboot a few years ago Bond took a step towards Bourne but always kept its own identity and that’s that Jack Reacher needs to do, forge its own identity in a crowded movie schedule.

  • Skyfall is released on 26th October 2012 in the UK and two weeks later in North America.
  • Jack Reacher is released on 21st December 2012 in the USA and on Boxing Day in the UK

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Name: Jack Reacher (no middle name)

Born: 29th October

Height: 6 foot5 inches, 1.95metres

Weight: 220-250 lbs/100-113 kg

Size: 50-inch/127cm chest, 3XLT Coat, 37-inch/95cm Inside leg

Eyes: Blue

Distinguishing Marks: Scar on Corner of left eye, scar on upper lip

Education: US Army base schools in Europe and the Far East; West Point Military Academy

Service: US Military Police, thirteen years: first CO of the 110th Division: demoted from Major to Captain after six years, mustered out with rank of Major after seven

Service Awards: Top Row; Silver Star, Defence Superior Service Medal, Legion Of Merit. Middle Row: Soldier’s Medal, Bronze Star, Purple Heart Bottom Row: ‘Junk Awards’

Last Known Address: Unknown

Family: Mother Josephine Moutier Reacher, deceased, French national; Farther, Career US Marine, deceased, served in Korea and Vietnam; Brother, Joe, deceased, five years in US Military Intelligence, Treasury Dept.

Special Skills: Small arms expert, outstanding on all man-portable weaponry and hand-to-hand combat

Languages: Fluent in English and French, and Passable in Spanish

What he doesn’t have: Drivers Licence: Credit Cards: Federal benefits: tax returns: dependents

So says the preface to the Jack Reacher novels.

I don’t claim to be an expert on Lee Child’s creation Jack Reacher. In fact I have only read one of the many (16 with a 17th later this year I believe) novels, and that was only a few weeks ago. I was only vaguely aware of the character when I was given a copy of book Worth Dying For (2010) and that was mainly because of the chatter about the film version. I actually enjoyed the book, in a disposable pulp way and will probably read a few more of them in time.

The knives have been out for Tom Cruise ever since it was announced last July that would play Reacher. Most of the issues surround Cruise’s height. Is it a problem with Cruise personally or just his height, I remember similar complaints when it was announced that he would play Lestat in Interview with the Vampire but not a word was said when the 6′ 2½” Hugh Jackman was cast as 5’2″ Wolverine. I suggest people give the guy a break and wait and see how the movie turns out.

Its worth remembering that movies and books are two different mediums and stories that work on paper don’t always translate well to the screen. This is why many movies differ greatly from their source novel. Take the Bourne trilogy, one of the best action movie series ever made. The movies are hugely different from the original Robert Ludlum novels and as such Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne is very different from the one in the books. Another interesting example is James Bond. The early bond films starring Sean Connery where relatively faithful to the original Ian Fleming novels but with a very different Bond in the shape of Sean Connery. Then quarter of a century later Timothy Dalton took over and gave us a character more like the one intended by Fleming, unfortunately all the good source material was used up. We then had to wait another twenty years for the Daniel Craig reboot before we saw it again. 

Lets not forget Tom Cruise is a credible action star, just look at Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. If the movie works, go with it, ultimately it will probably be rebooted within a decade! I’m certainly prepared to give it a go.

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“She stepped off the bus out into the city streets

Just a small town girl with her whole life packed

In a suitcase by her feet”

I tend to hate musicals but must admit I have a certain curiosity, all be it morbid, with Rock of Ages due out next month. It is clearly intentionally clichéd and cheesy, Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand look like they are having a lot of fun. The main reason for my interest, however is the music. There was a certain style of music, a sort of Pop Rock sometimes know as Glam Metal or Hair Metal that was very much of its time in the 1980s. As a child of the 70’s my musical taste was very much formed from in the mid 80’s. Although I have a wide and varied taste, I often dip into my old 80s rock. So here is my Rock of Ages inspired top ten hair metal tracks from the 80’s*.

Back In Black by AC/DC from Back in Black (1980)

Don’t Stop Believin by Journey from Escape (1981)

Runaway by Bon Jovi from Bon Jovi (1984)

Here I Go Again by Whitesnake from 1987 aka Whitesnake (1987)

Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses from Appetite for Destruction (1987)

Never Tear Us Apart by INXS from Kick (1987)

I Cry Myself to Sleep at Night by Romeo’s Daughter from Romeo’s Daughter (1988)

Fallen Angel by Poison from Open Up & Say… Ahh! (1988)

Janie’s Got A Gun by Aerosmith from Pump (1989)

Dr. Feelgood by Mötley Crüe from Dr. Feelgood (1989)

*this isn’t a list of my top ten 80’s records, but one that fit’s the genre, however I must admit I love them all! It is however worth mentioning that I have throw it together from memory with no research so have probably missed lots of great records.

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