Ben Pearson: Mission: Impossible II

I was 15 years old when Mission: Impossible II came out. While Brian De Palma’s 1996 film adaptation of the classic spy TV show was aimed at adults, I was the perfect age to appreciate John Woo’s wildly dumb sequel when it blasted into theaters, and Woo’s follow-up raised the stakes in terms of mask work, ridiculously cheesy action, and, naturally, slow motion shots of doves flying around while people try to look cool. And what can I say? This movie is profoundly idiotic, but I still love the damn thing.

I’ve always been into Greek mythology, so I get a kick out of the idea of a virus named Chimera and its cure named Bellerophon. I like Anthony Hopkins’ wry speeches in his 10 minutes of screen time as the chief of the IMF, and I enjoy the buddy dynamic between Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames’ characters – something that’s referenced multiple times throughout this franchise. Dougray Scott gets a lot of crap for having to make this movie instead of playing Wolverine in X-Men, but I think he gives a fun, appropriately over-the-top performance as the baddie, leaning heavily on his accent to sell his villainy. I even think a young Thandie Newton, saddled with the task of playing a cat burglar love interest, acquits herself well under the circumstances.

And come on: this film includes a final fight between Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and Scott’s Sean Ambrose that features what can only be called motorcycle-fu, which results in a laugh-out-loud confrontation in which they leap from their bikes and collide in mid-air as the bikes explode away from them. It’s moronic, it makes no physical sense, and it’s one of the dumbest action fights in modern film history…(whispers) but it’s kind of awesome, isn’t it? Yes. The answer is yes. This movie rules.

Hoai-Tran Bui: Step Up

You can reproach the Step Up sequels for being glorified concert performance videos as much as you want, but the first Step Up is a genuinely good film. Well maybe not good, but it’s fun. And isn’t that the main goal of the movie-going experience, to have fun? For the life of me, I can’t figure out why people deride dance movies as being too formulaic and showy — all style, no substance. Sure, every movie can’t have the crackling chemistry and iconic moments of Dirty Dancing or simmering wistfulness of the 1996 Shall We Dance, but goddammit, I just want to see sexy people with abs have a good time.

And Channing Tatum and future wife Jenna Dewan sure are having a good time in Step Up. Tatum’s awkward stoicism was written off as wooden at the time, and Jenna literally danced and acted circles around him for much of the film, but you can’t deny their slowly warming chemistry and how good they look together. The story is wafer thin and the final dance scene comes off as shoddy compared to the bombastic spectacles that would follow in the sequels, but what Step Up has going for it is its authenticity. Every quiet grin and fumbled catch comes off as genuine in the Step Up, and the movie makes great use of Tatum’s gangly limbs and innate dweebiness. Step Up touches on the class disparity between Tatum’s Tyler Gage and Dewan’s Nora Clark, but never turns it into a preachy plot point — instead it informs the main narrative of ballerina Nora trying to teach b-boyer Tyler classical dance to become her partner. Beauty in simplicity.

And sure, Step Up basically a rehash of Save the Last Dance, except without the benefit of Julia Stiles’ star power — but who can hate that scene of Channing Tatum taking a ballerina class with uppity 7-year-olds? No one. It’s great. And it’s the epitome of what Step Up is: sweet character moments with beautiful, sexy people, and Channing Tatum failing at ballet.

Chris Evangelista: Freddy vs. Jason

Freddy vs. Jason is an absolute blast. But oh heavens, is it stupid. For years, fans of the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street awaited this face-off; a film that had been teased in the pages of Fangoria since seemingly the beginning of time. At the end of Jason Goes to Hell, supposedly the “final Friday,” Jason’s discarded hockey mask is pulled into the netherworld by the familiar bladed glove of Freddy Kreuger. That was 1993. It would be another ten years before Freddy vs. Jason sliced and diced its way across the silver screen.

Was all the waiting worth it? Oh it absolutely was. Was the movie good though? Absolutely not. This is an inherently silly movie; how could it not be? There’s a scene in this movie where Freddy Kreuger, the Bastard Son of 1000 Maniacs, pretends he’s playing a game of pin ball with Jason Voorhees’ body. There’s another scene where a character whines, “Freddy died with fire, Jason died with water – how can we use that?” only to have this brilliant suggestion never mentioned again.

Yet this movie is also so damn fun. There’s a giddy joy at watching two titans of horror finally kick the crap out of each other. There’s also some genuinely good stuff nestled within all this nonsense. Robert Englund, playing Freddy for the very last time, gives his best performance as the dream murderer yet, making the character seem truly repulsive and menacing for the first time in a long time. And Katharine Isabelle nearly steals the entire movie with a few brief scenes as the a sarcastic teen with a drinking problem. Freddy vs. Jason was never going to win awards, and it was probably never going to be good. But all I asked from the film was approximately two hours of entertaining moments where two slashers who I had watched since childhood beat each other up. On that front, Freddy vs. Jason delivered.

Continue Reading Stupid Movies We Love >>

Cool Posts From Around the Web: