Posts Tagged ‘Simon Pegg’

Ezra’s Top 10 Favorite Movies Of 2015

Posted 27 Feb 2016 — by Ezra Stead
Category Animation, Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

This is always a difficult thing to do, and this year, just like every other year, I left out plenty of movies I really like, even from the Honorable Mentions. This is a particularly interesting year in that I actually really like all the Oscar nominees that I’ve seen, which is relatively rare for me. Anyway, of the 107 new movies from 2015 I managed to see in time for this list, these are my (completely subjective) favorites.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a movie in the glorious pulp tradition of Robert E. Howard and Heavy Metal magazine, but it never feels derivative, even of its own source material1. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – it’s always a treat to have really high expectations for a movie and then to see them exceeded. George Miller’s return to the wasteland of his career-defining trilogy is a perfect example of this phenomenon. The first time I saw it, though, Fury Road appeared to only meet my expectations, a rare enough feat in its own right. It was the second viewing that made me realize that this was not only my favorite movie of the year, but also my favorite Mad Max movie, and quite possibly my favorite movie of the last two decades. Then I saw it three more times in the space of about two weeks, and I noticed something new about it every single time. The rich, detailed world-building not only rewards but demands multiple viewings, and it’s a testament to Miller’s craft that the movie doesn’t rely on a lot of expository dialogue and other hand-holding devices to make sure the audience can keep up. Max Rockatansky’s world of “fire and blood” has its own language that is every bit as evocative and original as its eye-popping visuals: War Boys, Blood Bags, Bullet Farms, etc. This is a movie in the glorious pulp tradition of Robert E. Howard and Heavy Metal magazine, but it never feels derivative, even of its own source material (The Road Warrior being the original Mad Max movie it most closely resembles). What seems to be overlooked in all the talk about its incredible visual effects and stuntwork (which makes a better case than any movie I can think of for an Oscar category devoted to the people who risk their lives to make movies awesome) is the quality of the writing and performances. Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult are especially great, but there is also a surprising tenderness and depth to Tom Hardy’s performance as Max, a man of few words and great stoicism, and Melissa Jaffer managed to break my heart with just a few minutes of screen time as the Keeper of the Seeds. Critics and skeptics say this movie is just one long chase scene, which is reductive, but even if that were strictly true, complaining about that misses the point of how amazing it is that a movie this compelling could be made from a single long chase. Others might say it doesn’t belong in the Best Picture Oscar race because it’s not serious and important enough, but its themes of feminism and environmentalism are extremely relevant; they’re just not belabored to the point of didacticism. Fury Road’s vision of the destruction of the Old World, in which water was plentiful and “everyone had a show,” seems all too plausible, despite its over-the-top visual antics, and there’s a funny/scary comparison to be made between the film’s main villain, Immortan Joe, and a certain current Presidential candidate. I have no doubt this movie will ride eternal in Valhalla, shiny and chrome. It is perfect in every way.  Read More

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Posted 02 Jul 2012 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, USA / United Arab Emirates, 2011

Directed by Brad Bird

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol stands well enough on its own, and as part of the series. It’s worth noting that Tom Cruise performed all of his stunts in this film, as well as the other three Mission: Impossible films. Sure, there are bits of CGI, though seamless, and I’m sure a large team of medics and nets and other things were around to make sure he was alive at the end of the day, but that’s really the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, it really is the tallest building in the world, and that really is Tom Cruise dangling off its side, thousands of feet in the air. And that’s not even the most impressive set piece in the film.

You don’t necessarily have to see the first three M:I films to get this one and enjoy it, but it can’t hurt. Here’s a brief recap just in case you missed them:

Mission: Impossible – they make the hero from the TV show the bad guy in the film.

Mission: Impossible 2 – they do some stuff with motorcycles and Thandie Newton.

Mission: Impossible 3 – There’s an actual story involving Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his now late wife, involving her death, and a couple other intricate missions. Probably the only important story of the three, even if it’s not the best film at that point. Up until now, the first adventure remained the most startlingly well-made of the series, but, with the inclusion of Ghost Protocol into the canon, those three seem a mite irrelevant in the world of filmmaking.  Read More


Posted 21 Mar 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Paul, Spain / France / UK / USA, 2011

Directed by Greg Mottola

Paul is the new feature from director Greg Mottola.

Paul is the simple story of an alien with an attitude and a heart of gold. In fact, the entire point of the film is so sweet that it seems almost impossible to believe that most of the film itself is crude, and partly cruel. Unlike Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007), which were helmed by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have brought us an eager “who said it” film filled with countless references and … political poignancy. All this, from Superbad (2007) and Adventureland (2009) director Greg Mottola. Mottola’s filmography is small, but consistent – he’s a comedian’s director with a lot of his own to say. That’s a form of direction I’ve always appreciated; the ability to let others shine while imbuing your own specific messages into the forefront. But here, Paul has mismatched its intent with its delivery. And that, in retrospect, hinders a positive remembrance of the film.

When I saw this film about a couple of weeks ago, I remember that I laughed throughout. It’s a funny, sharp, and deliriously rich comedy. With the talents of Pegg, Frost, and Mottola, we also get Bill Hader, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Sigourney Weaver, David Koechner, and Seth Rogen’s voice as the alien Paul. Outside of Pegg, Frost, Rogen, and Wiig, all of the other actors have borderline cameo roles, but are given enough material to stretch their legs and get the ball rolling. Read More