Weekend Viewing Roundup: People Like Us, Mission: Impossible 1996 + Hansel & Gretel Guest Review

Well, it’s another Wintry weekend here in MN with snow and plummeting temps. But I’m looking forward to 30 degrees above zero this week, ahah.

Well, it’s relatively unproductive as I only saw two movies this weekend as I spent some time working on my ARGO write-up for The Lamb Devour The Oscars series.

ThiArgo_UKposters is part of a 32-part series dissecting the 85th Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Every day leading up to the Oscars, a new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category of the Oscars.

Click on the poster to see my full post.

Do check out the other entries of the LAMB Oscar series.
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Here are mini reviews of the two films I saw over the weekend:

People Like Us

While settling his recently deceased father’s estate, a salesman discovers he has a sister whom he never knew about, leading both siblings to re-examine their perceptions about family and life choices.

PeopleLikeUs_posterBoth my hubby and I wanted to see this when we saw the trailer. The two lead actors, Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks are both likable and charismatic, and I’m glad this wasn’t another silly rom-com or a Nicholas Sparks lovey-dovey romance. Instead, the film follows the journey of two incredibly flawed characters whose paths crossed after a famous record producer died after a long battle with cancer. Sam, a brash salesman, has been estranged from his dad for some time, in fact, he despised him so much he tried to weasel his way out of going to his funeral! But when his father left him a large sum of money and left a note for him to give him to someone named Josh Davis, it led to a journey that would change his life forever.

The film is quite predictable and at times perhaps seems rather formulaic, but what I do like is the emotional resonance. One can’t help but deeply sympathize for Sam, Frankie (Banks) and her son Josh (Michael Hall D’Addario). There’s also a brief but effective performance from Michelle Pfeiffer as Pine’s mother. There are a lot of honest, heart-rending dialog between the two, and all the actors believably played their roles. At times I was frustrated by Sam’s decisions in keeping the ‘secret’ from Frankie about who he really is. In fact there’s one tense moment where Frankie’s rage was justified. I kept thinking what I would do if I were in her situation.

PeopleLikeUs_stills

It’s interesting to note that this was Alex Kurtzman’s directorial debut. He and Roberto Orci are the writers of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek and the sequel Star Trek Into Darkness you just saw the trailer last night. This is quite a different role for Pine though, there’s the cool confidence he projected as Sam, but there’s also some vulnerable moments that he was able to capture as well.

Despite some slow moments, I think People Like Us is a decent drama that manages to move me. There are some great music here and interesting camera work that adds to the level of enjoyment. I’d say give this movie a shot if you’re looking for something to rent. Not a bad first effort from Kurtzman, curious to see what he’d tackle on next.

..

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


Mission: Impossible (1996) – rewatch

An American agent, under false suspicion of disloyalty, must discover and expose the real spy without the help of his organization.

MissionImpossible1PosterThanks to Ted for lending me the Blu-ray. It’s been ages since I saw this movie and I must admit I didn’t really care for it. It was just way too convoluted for its own good, and not nearly as entertaining as the latest movie. Upon second viewing though, I think I appreciate it a bit more, and it’s not as impossible to follow as I thought previously. Still, I think Tom Cruise and this franchise gets better with age.

Speaking of age, this film certainly feels dated, especially when Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) was on the plane watching the tape, ahah. It just looked so primitive! I didn’t remember how great the cast was though, especially Kristin Scott Thomas and Vanessa Redgrave, both are sadly underutilized and not on screen long enough for my liking. The star of the show, as always, is Cruise as Ethan Hunt. The special features said he apparently loved the TV series, and certainly his um, mission to bring it to the big screen has paid off given how profitable this franchise has been.

The first part of the film has quite a different tone than the finale, it even felt like it’s a whole different film. Brian De Palma framed the whole failed mission and the chase through the streets of Prague like a Hitchcockian conspiracy noir, but by the end it was on a full-throttle Michael Bay style action flick with a chopper flying inside a tunnel and exploding, of course with the main hero unscathed.

MI1_stills

Overall it was entertaining enough, the most memorable sequence when Hunt & co. tried to hack into the CIA mainframe through the roof still holds up. Jean Reno was especially hilarious in that sequence, but the rest of Hunt’s team wasn’t really given much to do. I don’t mind that there isn’t as much action set pieces here as in the other MI films, but at the same time De Palma seems to take this film way too seriously whilst the twist is actually pretty predictable. Thankfully, the franchise only gets better and the fourth film was excellent as Brad Bird could deliver a fast-paced and thrilling ride from start to finish.

Interesting that as I watched the Special Features, Cruise barely aged from movie to movie! He looked practically 17 in this movie, he’s just so boyish looking. So I guess that’s a good thing as even now that he’s 50, he actually looks about 40 which is what I’d expect Ethan Hunt to be.

..

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


Hansel & Gretel : Witch Hunters

– thanks to my friend Ashley S. for her review!

HanselGretel3DposterVan Helsing meets Kill Bill in this original retelling of the classic fairytale, Hansel and Gretel.  Say goodbye to cliché fairytale nursery rhymes and hello to a badass duo, who set the record straight on being “victims” and take action into their own hands. This isn’t your average bombs and explosions action packed movie, but a blend of brutal yet simplistic medieval weaponry with sleek and highly functional modern technology. The fight scenes take place across murky waters, gorgeous forests, pious villages, and, oh yes, a candy covered house.

The makeup, wardrobe and props were spectacular! Each witch’s makeup was unique to her own evil attributes, but gave a nod to traditional folklore, without having to throw on a crooked nose and warts (burn her!).

The actors weren’t afraid to get down and dirty, either. When one is a witch hunter, one is bound to end up covered in their work—literally. There were several close up shots of the lovely Gemma Arterton covered in goop (almost as if she were being slimed), but even covered in blood, guts and dirt, she still manages to look beautiful, sigh. But what good would a period film be if we didn’t catch the main actor in only his pantaloons? Don’t worry! Jeremy Renner doesn’t disappoint and bares his chest (or more) to ease his aches and pains.

HanselGretel3Dstills

The short, snappy and dry dialogue is similar to other popular romacolypes (romantic apocalypse) movies like Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead. Be on the lookout for subtle and not so subtle hints of modern day culture amidst medieval inconvenience, which fits perfectly into the growing popularity of the “fairytale” genre. The movie isn’t just fantasy or action, but simply takes a classic bedtime story and turns it into something fun for every child-at-heart, adult. All in all, if you’re looking to be pleasantly surprised, have a few laughs and quite possibly be a little disturbed, this is the movie for you. It’s fun, unexpected and will leave you hoping for more movies like it to come.


Thoughts on these movies, folks? Do share your own weekend viewings in the comments.

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40 thoughts on “Weekend Viewing Roundup: People Like Us, Mission: Impossible 1996 + Hansel & Gretel Guest Review

  1. Yup another snowy and cold weekend so I didn’t get out much either. Rented Seven Psychopaths, it’s a weird and very good film about screen writing and action movies. Then I watched Iron Man before the Superbowl, haven’t seen it in a while. Let’s hope Shane Black inject some new energy into the third film.

    Hansel & Gretel : Witch Hunters and People Like Us aren’t something I’d want to see anytime soon. But yeah Mission: Impossible didn’t age well when it comes to the technology in the film, I still laugh every time I see that giant Nokia cell phone on the screen because I used to own one just like it. LOL. Those phones were like the iPhone back in those days. I don’t agree that the film improved with the sequels, the second and third film were pretty bad but the last one was great. The first film is still my favorite though.

    • We can agree to disagree on this one then Ted. I’m not really fond of De Palma’s direction for this, way too dour for this type of franchise and despite having two excellent British thespians (Redgrave & Scott Thomas) he didn’t really make the most of them. I think the 2nd & 3rd movies had flaws but still they’re a bit more entertaining to me. I guess the 2nd one has a weak villain but Philip Seymour Hoffman was pretty menacing in the 3rd one.

      • You probably remember my on set bickering article I wrote a while back that included Cruise and De Palma. He wanted to make the film into this suspense/spy/thriller but the studio and Cruise demanded he add an action scene into the film. The studio actually hired the creator of the TV show to be a consultant but when the guy showed up on the set, De Palma told him that the film won’t be anything like the TV show and the consultant never show up on the set again. LOL.

        I didn’t hate the 2 & 3 film, I just felt that the first film felt truer to the TV series, which I’m a huge fan of. Which is why I really like the 4th film, Brad Bird decided that he can make it into a action/adventure but also pay homage to the TV series.

        • Well that’s the thing, the film seems like a mishmash of suspense thriller and popcorn action flick. I guess I can’t blame De Palma but it’s a bummer when the studio meddles w/ the direction.

          Ah well, at least they finally make a really good and entertaining MI movie w/ Brad Bird. I don’t know if he’d be back or not but whoever takes over from him, hopefully he’d retain that sensibility.

          • I was actually surprised they hired De Palma to direct it in the first place, I think Cruise just wanted to work with him since he likes working with big named directors. I was super excited to finally see Mission: Impossible come to the big screen. A lot of fans of the TV show were pissed when they saw the film though, they didn’t like it that Phelps ended up being the main villain, for me I thought it’s a great twist. In the TV show, he’s always been the leader and sort of a father figure to the IMF team.

            Bird probably won’t return for M:I-5, Cruise’s moto is to hire a different director for each new film in the series. I think Christopher McQuarrie is line for the next film since both he and Cruise got along well on Jack Reacher. I think he’s a good choice because I thought he did a very good job with Jack Reacher.

            • I didn’t mind Phelps becoming the main villain, though I thought Jon Voight was rather lame, nowhere near as intriguing as say, Hans Gruber!

              Hmm, I didn’t know that Cruise wanted a different director for each film, that’s odd. Well, hope McQuarrie delivers.

  2. You know I thought it was going to be a review of the BBC mockumentary People Like Us. Really liked season 1 but season 2 kinda wore on. Bill Nighy was in one episode. Very dry stuff. Very dry.

    Frankly I don’t really have any interest in the other movies and you know how I feel about Cruise.

    Been snowy and cold here in Pittsburgh. Started watching David Fincher’s new series on Netflix, House of Cards. Kevin Spacey is good as always. I’m hooked.

    • Ahah, I didn’t even know about this mockumentary, but w/ Bill Nighy, it’s gotta be a hoot.

      Hey, would you be willing to give me a review of House of Cards, Dave? I’d be so honored. I’ve been wanting to catch up on that since I have Netflix Instant.

    • Oooh, those are two excellent movies indeed. Glad you finally caught Silver Linings, I was impressed with it too, I even liked it more than O. Russell’s The Fighter which also dealt with quirky family dynamics.

  3. I’m curious about People Like Us, but it hasn’t had a UK release, in fact I don’t thnik it was released anywhere outside The States. As a Pfeiffer completist I’m sure I’ll watch it as a rent.

    • That’s a bummer Paul, I hope you get to see it. I think it’s a pretty well-done drama. Michelle is so beautiful even in the scenes where she had no make up on!

  4. I really like Elizabeth banks and Michelle so I may check People Like Us. Hansel and Gretel looks like another Hollywood simplification of the witches and just making them into monsters. Shame Gemma Arterton isn’t getting better roles.

    • Oh if you like both actresses, then you should see it. Both are wonderful here, and I like that there’s some depth and pathos about their characters.

      I think Gemma is talented, but this Hansel & Gretel certainly is not an ‘acting’ movie for anyone involved, ahah.

  5. That’s a lot of movie viewing over the weekend, Ruth! Good stuff…glad to see you giving the first MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE another chance. It’s my favorite of the series, though I enjoyed all of them to varying degrees. You’re right about the ageless Tom Cruise. I watched his latest film, JACK REACHERlast Friday (just premiered here in Japan, where Cruise is a big draw) and he’s still in terrific shape. I thoroughly enjoyed JACK REACHER and think it’s an excellent action/mystery thriller, and fairly faithful to the spirit of the Lee Child novel. Pity it didn’t do so well at the box office, as I would have liked to see a sequel.

    • Oh I haven’t seen Jack Reacher yet, it wasn’t all that appealing at first glance but I’ll rent it now as my friend Ted likes it and now you. I quite like Cruise in an action movie.

    • Nice to see another fan of Jack Reacher! I think had the film came out say in the late 90s or early 2000s when Cruise was still a box office king, the film would’ve been a big hit. But after his couch jumping antics and other nonsense, people just hate him.

      @Ruth, you don’t need to rent it, you know I’ll buy it and lend it to you.

  6. Really don’t fancy Hansel and Gretal or People Like Us Ruth but I love me some Mission Impossible. The first is still the best in my eyes but admittedly, I haven’t seen the fourth one yet. It’s a good franchise though. Consistently decent actioners.

    • Yeah same here Mark, the first one is still my favorite but you should check out the fourth one. Brad Bird basically brought in all of the elements of the previous three films and also throw in some homages to the TV show. It’s a great fun action thriller. Bird even tried to get Venessa Redgrave to reprise her role as Max but they couldn’t get a deal done on time. There’s a scene in the fourth film where Ethan had to put on a shroud over his head just like the first one.

      • I’m not interested in Hansel and Gretel much either Mark, but the first M:I is a good one to revisit. Despite the flaws I enjoyed it more than I initially did. Oh man I’d love to see Redgrave reprise her role as Max, she’s one of the best things in the film!

  7. Don’t know if I’ll bother with Hansel & Gretel, but I do want to see People Like Us at some point. Mission: Impossible is a lot of fun. Need to rewatch it.

    I watched mostly classics over the weekend, like Five Graves to Cairo (Billy Wilder), The Time of Your Life (starring James Cagney), and Auntie Mame.

    • People Like Us is well worth seeing Josh, it was a nice surprise!

      I’m hoping to catch some classics this weekend, All About Eve and hopefully The Sting also!

    • If u’re a fan of Pine or Banks, it’s worth seeing Castor. Both have proven to be more than a pretty face. Pfeiffer is good as well in a small role.

      • No, you did not miss it. It’ll be up tomorrow :)

        Changing the Game is, according to IMDb, “an epic tale about a supremely intelligent young African-American male who rises from the ferocious and oppressive streets of North Philadelphia to being a shining star in the lucrative world of high finance at Wall Street’s most prestigious firm. However, he soon finds that the white-collar world is filled with crime and death just like the drug-filled hood he left behind. His only chance of survival is to fully integrate a mysterious gift from a slain childhood friend fully into the fabric of his character”.

        • Ok, looking forward to it!

          Changing The Game sounds interesting. Kind of heartbreaking as well. I have to give that a look. Thanks Fernando!

          • Thanks. Hope you check it out.

            And about the film, it’s not very good, to be honest. It was made last year but for some reason it looks like it was made in the 80’s and the writing is not very good.

  8. Man, I haven’t seen Mission Impossible in years either. Been thinking about going through the series since the only other one I watched was Ghost Protocol. From the sounds of it, that’s the best one though.

    Kind of funny that you mention MI being so dated now. I felt the same way about GoldenEye, which just does not hold up well at all.

    • Yeah I think Ghost Protocol is the best and most entertaining, but I didn’t mind the 2nd and 3rd, I mean Philip Seymour Hoffman played the villain in the 3rd one and he’s very good.

      Haven’t seen Goldeneye in ages, but I’m just not fond of Brosnan. Btw, when are you gonna watch Dalton’s Bonds? Do I need to send you my Blu-rays? ;)

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