July 27, 2023

What We’re Watching: July 28, 2023


Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part 1 is overstuffed, overlong, too many scenes where four people are telling the exposition that one could do, has too much manipulative bombastic atonal music, and is completely overly obvious they are setting up Hayley Atwell to take over the franchise. And even still — I had a blast. Mission: Impossible and Tom Cruise still deliver in the action and stunt departments, and such a great overall idea for a worthy villain for Ethan, and a nefarious worldwide MacGuffin/plot. Looking forward to Part II and what other surprises they have in store.


Michael Bay is my “Cinnabon director.” You know eating Cinnabon is rarely if ever a good idea. You know it is not healthy for you, but every now and then you partake anyway and find some enjoyment in it, then followed by some upset stomach and self-loathing. The premise of Ambulence (2022) is, well, stupid, and all of Michael Bay’s proclivities are on full display: unnecessary swooping camera movements, numerous slow-motion shots, too much coverage of basic-looking car stunts, too many edits, too many two-dimensional characters, ham-fisted cornball dialogue, and multiple logic-defying situations to keep this all moving. And perhaps I am not up on my recent Michael Bay as I should be – is it normal for him to blatently quote and reference one of his own movies in his current movie?

Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Eiza González give strong performances, working well off one other to make it all gel as well as it can. Despite all of the nonsense – my neck still hurts from my constant head-shaking – I admit I got engaged and enjoyed parts of this; just like when eating a Cinnabon.


Director Steven Soderbergh announced his retirement 10 years ago, and yet he continues putting out all kinds of content at a breakneck pace. Not even the pandemic he predicted with Contagion has slowed him down – producing everything from the 2021 Oscars ceremony to a reality show spin-off of his stripper franchise Magic Mike. I’ll be binging his latest thriller Full Circle (2023) as the last few episodes premiere on Max this weekend. Intricate heists are Soderbergh’s specialty, and the six-part miniseries promises to link the kidnapping of Claire Danes’ and Timothy Olyphant’s teenage son to a larger plot that implicates Zazie Beetz, Dennis Quaid, and CCH Pounder.


In preparing for the new movie coming out in a few weeks, I decided to return to a franchise I hadn’t revisited since my childhood–the turtles in a half-shell. So I watched the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) for the first time in decades. And I couldn’t believe how well it held up. The puppetry and practical effects were iconic. The mouth movements, the fighting, the aesthetics, all of it felt in step with what I remember from the TMNT cartoons and video games. It’s a nostalgic time capsule for me, to be sure, but if you have any fondness for the early nineties and these adolescent tortoises, then be sure to revisit this original movie.

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