Flick Check: Gettin' Some Action: Quick hits on three action films I recently got access to by one means or another.
Skyfall.Trying to remember the first James Bond film I ever saw...and I think it was You Only Live Twice, in the theatre when I was very young -- maybe 7 or 8. It may not have been first run at the time, but it was pretty close. I'm sure I saw a few of the Connerys when they hit one of the three networks as big events back in the late 60s, but the next one I remember seeing first run was Live and Let Die, Roger Moore's first effort. I would have been in high school. Hmm. I have no idea what that symbolizes other than that I am old. Skyfall is a high end Bond flick. The plot and dialogue are run-of-the-mill dumb, but not over-the-top shameful like the worst of them. The action is OK, although no match for the parkour sequence in Casino Royale. What this one has going for it is that it is absolutely beautiful. Every shot looks like a framed painting. And then there is the acting horsepower-- Dench, Bardem, Craig -- that make the inane story seem reasonable. Better Bond than most, but not particularly fun.
The Amazing Spiderman. Rebooted so soon? Is that too a sign of my age -- my relatively long take on the passage of time? The first Spiderman movie came out in 2002. For a 22-year-old that's half a life ago. For me it was just yesterday. Top notch action, as my fear of heights will testify. Absolute perfection in casting. Dead on in the Marvel-Comics-irony tone. There's no point in going into it too deeply except to say it is just what you expect, very skillfully done. It breaks no new ground in story, just minor variations on the Spidey mythology. This whole business of "rebooting" makes me wonder whether future generations are going to play with these stories and characters the way we play with Greek Mythology. Superman, Batman, Spiderman -- all have been altered and retold (rebooted) for differing effects just in our lifetimes. Star Trek has also. And I'm guessing Star Wars will. Hell, there have been like nine Hulk movies in the past decade. On the other hand, future generations might just wonder what all this childish nonsense was. Maybe no one will remember we existed. Maybe all three.
MI: Ghost Protocol. Tom Cruise has a redeeming characteristic (perhaps he has more than one, I wouldn't know) and that is that in the face of all the ridicule for his batsh*t insanity, he can laugh at himself. He either doesn't take himself that seriously or he knows how to act like he doesn't take himself that seriously. This is an approach he brings to MI:Ghost Protocol. It's all fun and games, lip service is paid to plot and character, but it's really just a carnival ride that get's your blood pumping without any pretense toward real harm. A minor attempt at a redemption backstory and a touch of geopolitical positioning are happily, and correctly, unobtrusive. Stunts, pacing, and good natured camaraderie are the end itself. That's meant as praise, in case you missed it. Cruise is one of the best at this (ah-ha, another good quality), which can easily be demonstrated by comparison with recent efforts from Stallone or Schwarzenegger. Another compliment: this is a such a quality action film that it doesn't need the big screen. I watched the whole thing on my Kindle 8.9 and still enjoyed it.