Archive for January, 2007

Mission Impossible III

JJ Abrams’ jump from the small screen is a big one. His TV roots were formed with the hit series Alias and Felicity and for his cinematic debut, Paramount have given him a huge budget and one of Hollywoods biggest (and loopy) stars, Tom Cruise. Not only that, they’ve given him one of their bigger franchises to tinker with in Mission Impossible III.

Thankfully, Abrams was up to the job and his third entry in the MI franchise brings the series back on course following John Woo’s misfire second outing. Fans of Alias, will find the story structure familiar - the pre-credits sequence see’s our hero in deep trouble, his new wife has a gun pointed at her head and she’s about to die if he doesn’t tell her would-be murderer where the Rabbit’s Foot is; unfortunately Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is as clueless as the rest of us and as the trigger is pulled we jump to the credits sequence. It’s a tense opening and sets the tone for the rest of the film. We then quickly jump back to the beginning of the story and Ethan and Julie (Michelle Monaghan) are throwing their engagement party…

Despite the variation in the styles with the films in the series, we kind-of know what to expect; but the story isn’t too predictable. There are some stunning set pieces, one in particular see’s Cruise and his team get ambushed when returning home from a successful mission to the Vatican. While Abrams’ direction does vere into Michael Bay territory, it remains coherent despite being frenzied.

Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Cruise’ nemesis, Owen Davian, in this installment and while I for one don’t expect him to be in such a role, he aquits himself well and is convincing as a ruthless killer. Fans of Spaced and Shaun of the Dead will recognise Simon Pegg as the quirky IMF tech guy.

The Paramount HD DVD offers a great picture quality with no sign of any artefacting or edge-enhancement. I’d put the transfer almost on a par with that of Serenity and the set pieces in particular show wonderful definition and perfect colour balance. The soundtrack is suitable bombastic and is hugely active with gun shots and explosions making the full use of the available sound stage. There is a second disc of extras but I’ve yet to watch these.

Film: 8/10

HD DVD: 8/10

Posted on 20th January 2007
Under: HD DVD | No Comments »

The Constant Gardener

Another quick review here for a film that has sat on my shelf for over a year!

Ralph Fiennes plays Justin Quayle, a British Diplomat working in Africa until the death of his wife, Tessa (Rachel Weisz), leads him into a conspiracy involving illegal drug trials which both high ranking diplomats and the drug companies themselves will kill to keep their activities secret.

The Constant Gardener is a reasonably good film based on a John le CarrĂ© story, which attempts to cover a serious subject whilst keeping the viewer engaged. The mildly non-linear narrative jars at first but once the main storyline kicks off this becomes unimportant. Fiennes and Weisz both give excellent performances, and the rest of the cast also perform as you’d expect given the praise the film has garnered.

8/10

Posted on 19th January 2007
Under: DVD | No Comments »

Superman Returns (US Combo HD DVD)

supermanreturnshd.jpegA brief update today having just finished watching the US HD DVD release of Superman Returns; something I’ve been putting off due to poor reviews dampening my interest. However, despite the negativity, I thought it was pretty good - and a good sequel to the first two films. All of the main cast have come in for criticism in the reviews I’ve read - each review seems to pick on a different cast member. Again, I wasn’t too disappointed with Routh, Spacey, Marsden or even Bosworth (granted she’s a bit young to play the role, but hey, her performance was good enough for me).

The HD DVD was excellent with a pin sharp picture quality and a wonderfully enveloping soundtrack. I did have a couple of stutters when playing back on 360 HD DVD drive which is the first time I’ve seen a problem on the new format, but it wasn’t a mastering issue and is more likely down to dust or dirt on the disc.

There are loads of extras too. I haven’t watched any of them yet, but there’s a reasonably lengthy making-of and also a big pile of deleted scenes.

Film: 8/10 HD DVD: 8/10

Posted on 14th January 2007
Under: Action, Comic Book, HD DVD | No Comments »

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