Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol (3-Disc Best Buy) (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES B+
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 7.5
(OUT OF 10)
Good lord, Tom Cruise is a nut. In this fourth installment of his enjoyable franchise, he actually dangles from the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai, performing perhaps one of the most insane stunts ever put on film.
That's not trick photography. That's him bouncing off the windows of the world's tallest building.
There's actually a good plot that goes with the film's great stunts, involving a Russian terrorist looking to start a nuclear war. Simon Pegg gets a bigger role this time out (He's a field agent now!), while Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton are nice as new members of Ethan Hunt's team.
Director Brad Bird, known for the animated films The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, makes a most notable live-action debut. There were rumors that Paramount was looking to dump Cruise from this franchise, with Renner dubbed as his replacement. However, Cruise shows that getting rid of him would be a big mistake, no matter how many talk-show couches he jumps on, and no matter how many stupid things he says about Brooke Shields and aliens running the planet.
I used to dislike Tom Cruise movies. I hated Days of Thunder and Cocktail, and I wasn't a big Top Gun fan, either. But he won me over with his dramatic efforts (especially Magnolia) and this franchise. It's a true winner.
There has been recent buzz about a Mission: Impossible 5. How they could even dream of topping the visual wonders in this movie is beyond me, but I am anxious to find out.
SPECIAL FEATURES: You can pick up the Blu-ray as a two-disc set that features about an hour of supplements, as well as a DVD copy of the film. Or you can get the Best Buy exclusive three-disc set that includes an extra hour of features. Those features include about two hours of behind-the-scenes footage, with a detailed look at what went into the filming of the amazing skyscraper sequence. Seeing this behind-the-scenes stuff forever confirms that the footage in the movie is the real thing and not camera trickery. Tom Cruise is out of his mind. You also get features on the creation of the sandstorm, the amazing car chases and the surprisingly complicated parking-garage finale.
SPECIAL FEATURES B
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 6
(OUT OF 10)
This one is a lot better than the negative media buzz it's been getting. As part of the Titanic media blitz on the 100th anniversary of the legendary sinking, ABC was looking to score big.
Aired as a four-part miniseries overseas, and a two-night event on ABC here in the United States, this Titanic comes from writer Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park, Downton Abbey), which means it feels a little boring and stuffy at times. In part because of this fact, the series failed to gather a Titanic-sized audience in America.
The cast is mostly unknown, but there is Toby Jones delivering a touching performance as a nervous husband with bad luck in travel plans. Like James Cameron's Titanic, the film features Bruce Ismay (played by James Wilby) and Thomas Andrews (Stephen Campbell Moore), historic Titanic figures, as supporting characters.
Back when Cameron made his Titanic, he built a full-sized set and used computer effects to the best of his ability. This version of Titanic also features some impressive sets, but the CGI is not even up to par with what Cameron put together 15 years ago. It's not awful, but it's not great.
I'm a Titanic freak, so I'm giving this a mild recommendation, despite its boring stretches and sometimes-subpar special effects. It's not nearly as good as Cameron's classic effort, but it's a worthy addition to films made on the subject.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Six making-of featurettes deal with the sets, costumes and location shooting. (Like Mission: Impossible 4, reviewed above, the film was partially shot in Budapest.) The best feature would be the documentary The Curse of the Titanic Sisters, which tells the story of Titanic and her sister ships, Britannic and Olympic. Titanic wasn't the only maritime disaster the White Star Line endured during the original massive ocean-liner era.
SPECIAL FEATURES B-
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 3.75
(OUT OF 10)
At this point, I prefer Mark Wahlberg in comedies and straight dramas. His action films (The Big Hit, Max Payne) tend to suck—and this is the worst of the bunch.
Wahlberg plays a former smuggler who is forced to get back into crime when a relative gets in trouble. The resulting mess is a ridiculous action pileup that tries to be too many films in one.
Wahlberg has the teddy-bear comedy Ted and a reunion with Will Ferrell on the horizon, so this will hopefully be erased from our memories soon.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes, a making-of feature and a director's commentary.