Quote of the Day

"We're only here briefly, and while I'm here I want to allow myself joy. So fuck it."
- Amy, Her.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Sunday Supdate: 29/01/12 (TV Special)

These are more or less becoming monthly now, aren't they?

After a month of intense school exams and all that jazz, I've finally decided to do a Supdate. Tonight's agenda includes a lot of TV... pretty much all of it is, in fact.

After listening to more and more of The Nerdist Writers Panel podcasts, I've had a strange epiphany; why the hell am I not watching some of the most acclaimed shows that have ever been on TV? If I ever want to write for television myself, I think it's time I delved into some more TV (as if I don't watch enough already), especially those nitty-gritty, deep drama programmes. So, here's my list of shows to watch (because I'm struggling for talking points here):

The Wire (I've started watching via Sky Go)
Mad Men (been drooling over it ever since I saw this clip. Just looks awesome)
Game Of Thrones (I know, it's a crime I haven't watched it)
Breaking Bad
Arrested Development
Lost (embarrassing, and I hate myself for not seeing it)
Dexter (maybe)
Warehouse 13
Dollhouse (I loves me some Whedon)
Peep Show (maybe)
American Horror Story (darned that I missed it)

And then I'm looking forward to catching some of these when they hit UK screens:

Once Upon A Time

 I know, I know... I'm not going to see the light of day am I? Especially once I get Netflix up and running, which'll save me a ton in boxsets. Just waiting until they get a more comprehensive library, and then it's all systems go for the internet-streaming service. Goodbye life...

At the moment, (in the pre-Netflix stage), I'm enjoying The Flight of The Conchords boxset, which is rip-roaring hilarious fun, check it out:

And while we're on the subject and to say goodbye, here's the "alternate", family-sitcom style intro theme for The Walking Dead (which returns on FX, 17th February). SQUEEEEEEEEEE!

Not too sure why no women are credited, but it's still awesome.

Oh and 2000 hits in a single month; good going guys.

And yes, I lied: there really wasn't anything that special about this "TV Special". Just a bog-standard list of shows. Meh.


Saturday, 21 January 2012

RE:View: War Horse

First a children's novel in 1982, then a hit stage adaptation in 2007, and now a massive motion picture helmed by the generation's most iconic director, War Horse's rising commercial success is almost an exact parallel of the story it tells within its self. After being thrust into unfamiliar territory, far from its humbling roots, both the evolution of this tale's adaptations and its very own hero, Joey (a born and bred British horse) rise to their respective occasions and thrive throughout their new-found paths: both on a road lined with shining gold, if this year's award nominations are to go by. Because War Horse, in true Spielbergian style, is as classically retold as the day it was written - albeit with an even larger focus on tradition, emotion and all around heart.

   Young farm lad, Albert (newcomer, Jeremy Irvine, who proves to be quite the up-and-comer) is in a state of crisis when his home and family come into some serious financial problems, worsened further when his father buys a particularly strapping young horse, Joey. But the Albert and Joey phenomenally, and when Joey is sold on to serve the country in the Great War, Albert swiftly signs up to find him, leading them both into the terrifying scenarios of the First World War.

As Joey goes along his journey, his reigns are frequently swapped among the movie's supporting cast. Beginning with British cavalry men, played by rising British stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki in Thor/Avengers), onto two German brothers, a sick French girl and her Grandfather, and ending up in No-Man's land, where two rival nation's morals are tested in a touching, humorous encounter worthy of applause.

   Throughout Joey's adventure, his faithful owner Albert pursues him, and the two's situations are mirrored in each others. With this narrative device in play, things could have become over done - the parallels between our protagonists made too obvious - but luckily, it maintains its beauty by becoming a subtle addition to the story arc, one that may not even be noticed until after leaving the cinema. This now subconscious link between them lets us in on more of a connection that eventually aids in the eye watering finale, which comes in a such a full-circle way that it's an actual challenge to keep that lump in your throat down.

Spielberg really hones in on the raw emotion of the dramatic scenes, giving each character stage a different flair in terms of tone and heart. When matched with John Williams' thriving score of wartime brass and some astounding woodwind, you've got a living, breathing beast of a film, packed to the brim with compelling moments that tug at the heart strings, even after the credits have rolled.

   Coupled with his regular cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, Spielberg presents trench warfare and the battlefields of WWI with a sincere level of accuracy. While these scenes remain action-focused, they steer clear of intense blood and gore (Private Ryan, this is not) and instead linger on something more profound, with the actual genuine scare factor of these heightened with the urgency of the battle. And when the fighting is off screen, the time period still shows not just in terms of the story, but in the way a classic, 1940s war film would have been shot.

The gold brazened fields of Devon stand bright among the creative angles Kaminski takes with his photography, lending some of his most beautiful work to date with the tasteful scene transitions (ploughing fields into knit wear=genius) and the occasional clever cover up for death (a windmill craftily conceals an execution). It's this innovation in its storytelling that gives War Horse an edge over other companion based tear jerkers, because all the while our heroes are galivanting about in the forefront, these slight insinuations of a wider world where the reality is as grim as it gets, reminds us of how high the stakes are, and how this is very much rooted in history in an almost mythological way.

  With such a deep and moving tale, Spielberg shines, bringing the very same - if not higher - emotional notes that made his career what it is. It's epic, bold and emotive, yet doesn't shy away from some typical British humour, furthering the pure potential of enjoyment. Without over stepping the mark in melodrama, we're treated to an uplifting tale of charm, ultimately boiling down to a true study of the human spirit and all its vulnerabilities. Friendship has never been more poignant.

See it for Spielberg, see it for the History, see it for the magnificent visuals, and above all, see it for the beauty. This is an emotionally charged, highly driven piece of cinema, which gives as good as it gets. Spielberg delivers on a stunningly moving movie, with enough warmth to get you through the 146 minute runtime without the slightest regret. Blistering powerful: you will need tissues.

5/5 Stars

Monday, 16 January 2012

The Giveaway Winner: Announced!

Well here we are, one week later to officially reveal who has one their desired Boxset, with the DMb One Year Anniversary Giveaway. First off, a massive thanks to everyone that entered, whether it be via Facebook or Blogger - Yep, all 28 of you! So without further a do, watch this here video I recorded (just so you know there was no foul play) and find out whether you were the lucky winner!

So congratulations to you, and commiserations to the rest. But don't fret, this (relatively small, but huge in context) level of buzz that was created by the giveaway has convinced me to most definitely do it again in the future. So if you didn't get lucky this time, stick around for more great chances at more great prizes. And why not stick around just for my humbling foray of words for you to read on all manner of awesome stuff? C'mon, you know you want to.

Thanks again, all.


And yes, I am aware of the slips in the video. Voted = Entered...

Monday, 9 January 2012

The One Year Anniversary Giveaway!

Yes indeed my friends, after successfully completing a whole year with Dude Meister Blogs, I'm celebrating with a giveaway. And the best part? You get to choose which one out of these 4 incredible DVD boxsets you'd like if you win:

Spaced: Definitive Collector's Edition
Firefly: The Complete Series
Sherlock: Series 1
Community: Season 1

To enter, simply post a comment on this post stating:

  1.  Which ONE of these 4 you'd like to win.
  2. Plus your email address.
or, if you're unable to do that or want to increase your chances with a second entry, you can:
  1. Go here, to the Dude Meister Blogs Facebook Page.
  2.  Like the page.
  3. Then just post a comment on the status containing this post with which Boxset you'd like to win.
 And you'll be entered into the prize draw next week. Competition closes 5pm (UK Time) on the 16th January, only one comment per person please, and this is for UK residents only. Sorry, rest of the world! The winner will be notified by email (or Facebook) shortly after the competition closes and asked to provide an address to receive the prize through.

So get those comments in quick for your chance to win, and feel free to follow me on Twitter (@DMeisterTweets) for all the latest here and for more future giveaways.

EDIT: Just to clarify, this will be a brand new boxset the winner receives, not one taken from my own collection and passed on. Hope that prevents any confusion.

Don't forget to check out the special DMb Birthday post too!


Supported by the Blog Giveaway Directory

Happy Birthday Dude Meister Blogs!

Exactly one year ago I had the crazy idea to start up a blog to help with my career aspirations of writing. "Dude Meister Blogs, I'll call it!" I said to myself, and went straight onto it with an embarrassingly dumb first post that would make any social media regular think "This kid ain't gonna last a mointh!" (because of course, they all sound like Italian-Americans).

    So after 11,000 hits and 144 posts here we are, with not just a blog, but a brand that I am so delightedly happy with. I found a niche of the Pop-Culture, with my regular reviews of TV, Books and Films, and of course the many, many trailers I've slaved over analysing (believe me when I say I can recite them). So thanks for all the support  you've been rolling out to me, and I hope the next year brings even greater things for DMb (as the cool cats call it). I've got a number of things in the pipeline that I cannot wait to start up and share with you all; that is of course, if you stick with me until then.

And go here to find out how you can win a DVD boxset with my 1 year giveaway!


Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Sunday Supdate: 08/01/12

Like a newsletter, but with less effort.

Happy New Year everybody, and welcome to the first Supdate of 2012, where I'll be implanting mostly useless knowledge into your heads. First on this weeks agenda is concerning a certain promise I made a while back:

Short Film Sadness...
In the last Supdate I mentioned the Short Film I'd been working on at school, entitled Facehook. While I can confirm that post-production on the epic mini has indeed wrapped, something else has unfortunately come to light. Due to certain "Plagiarism" rules in the exam board, the film can't be posted online until after it's been officially marked. So despite my best wishes, you're just going to have to wait until this June to witness what critics are already hailing as "a masterpiece". At least this way it'll have a "Summer Blockbuster" vibe going for it...

Expanding The Empire
In a desperate attempt to stay current, I finally gave in and created a Facebook Page for the blog. Complete with a tacky, Microsoft Paint-created profile picture, the page now enables you to "Like" me (because liking in the real world counts for nothing these days) and be treated with all the latest posts and whatnot via that feed. Here it is here if you failed to take the other link hints. That's right, just click here. I won't bite. Promise.
 Likes are very much appreciated, thank you!

     I've also been thinking about a couple more feature-type things to get started, especially after the amount of fun I had with the beat-boxing, vocal thingy I did. A couple of helpful "How To" articles too, perhaps? And maybe some more Single Epsiode reviews of shows, like last week's Sherlock episode that I looked at. The Podcast project has also taken another step toward actually, maybe, kind of, hopefully happening, especially after all the research I've done by listening to the awesome podcasts over at the Nerdist Network. Template: found. And maybe once all these blasted exams I'm having to work for this month, I'll be able to do some more networking.

Nearly 1 Year Old
Tomorrow (9th January 2012) marks the first birthday for the blog. I'll be celebrating in numerous ways, such as:
  • Doing a post about it (obviously).
  • Revising for exams.
  • Giving away a free DVD boxset in the anniversary giveaway I'm going to set up.
  • Drinking a lot. Mostly tea. I am British (and 15) after all.
  • Sleeping.
  • Making a blanket-fort.

Hey, can't blame a guy for wanting to party, am I right? Especially if Magnitude turns up:

Catch ya later.


Saturday, 7 January 2012

Playing With Rhythm: My Own "Music"!?

So I got my Blue Yeti USB microphone for Christmas, and once I'd figured it all out, I had a little play around. I've always liked that kind of overlaying thing people do in music, where different parts will drop in and out, making it all one big, onion skinned piece of craziness. Hence, this happened:
(Just click on play)

Pretty rad, eh? That, ladies and gentlemen, is my vocal range. I'm available for weddings, bar-mitzvahs and funerals.


Wednesday, 4 January 2012

RE:View: Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia

Sherlock's back, and better than ever.

!Major Spoilers in This Review!

After finally returning to the beeb after its tour of reruns in response to the terrific BAFTA run it had, and the delays of re-scheduling for the show's stars to appear in next year's The Hobbit, Sherlock's second season had a LOT to live up to. But all that apprehension diminishes within moments of the first of another three outings, A Scandal in Belgravia.

    With the show's trademark modern spin placed on Doyle's classic A Scandal in Bohemia, which introduced Holmes' one and only love interest, Irene Adler, we see Sherlock from some all new (entirely mesmerising) angles. And I'm not just talking about the stylistic camera angles deployed by director Paul McGuigan, although they were very much a spectacle in their own rights. Varying things up with the dizzying "Coaster" shots and spins, faded with the suave swipes of character to character as Sherlock passes along on each potential case in the comic, yet ultimately vital, re-introduction of our two heroes.

     Writer and creator, Steven Moffat (Doctor Who), starts things off slowly and doesn't rush us into the character of Adler, instead opting for a little exposition (despite the anti-climatic teaser). Sherlock is back to his stubborn ways, not even bothering to leave the house for a case and refusing to get dressed; even if it was for the Queen. Mycroft Holmes is given a meatier part to play than in the first season, setting up the meeting of Sherlock and Irene, and eventually giving us the bigger picture towards the end of the episode.

Ooh, Kinky!
   And it is with the introduction of Irene Adler, (played by Lara Pulver, who recently starred in Spooks) that Moffat's writing really takes off. When Irene walks in naked, it is clear she is not to be trifled with, as Sherlock finds out in a brilliantly scripted battle of wits between the two, literally running through the entire episode. His bafflement and frustration is something new that we haven't yet seen from Sherlock himself, and it's really intriguing to see what happens when things aren't going his way. But, like all good geniuses, Sherlock becomes almost infatuated with "The Woman" who almost got the better of him.

 Here we begin to learn more about Sherlock's character and his reaction to a female's advances. Like a stroppy teenager he becomes secretive about her, his childish tendencies coming forward to disrupt the cool, collected detective usually at hand. The accusations of "Virgin" flung at him by various characters seem to bounce off, ignored and uninterested by the man. Is he embarrassed? Or does he simply not care? It's just one of those ever present questions that looms over his rich, complex character.

It is clear that Sherlock does have strong feelings about women in general, making no hesitation in throwing a man out of a window countless times for disrespecting dear old Mrs Hudson.  That a self kept character such as he still has the same morals as any good hero stands to prove the mileage Sherlock still has in him. In fact, I believe we're just scratching the surface of his potential depth, because we even see him going all vigilante in this episode, taking out goons much in the style of our favourite Bat-flavoured superhero.

   Which reinforces Moffat's intelligent scripting, as this kind of pure character development shines through, while still leaving time for tons of action, humour and intricate plot weaving that leaves the viewer flabbergasted with such entertainment. Despite this being her first appearance, Irene Adler is still given a wealth of characterisation herself, and we begin to understand her personality and motives, regardless of the 90 minutes we spend with her.

Spot-on editing: not a slip. Classy stuff.
 From her racy profession of the independent dominatrix, it doesn't take long to realise Irene Adler is not your ordinary female adversary. Powerful, unpredictable and mysterious, Addler doesn't beat around the bush with matters -- in fact she gets, quite literally, straight to the bush.  Yes, our first impression of this highly intellectual woman is that of a naked variety. Wonderfully edited, this scene acts as the staring point to show where this character comes from and what lengths she's prepared to go to (as we find out by the end). While complaints flood into the BBC about "the atrocities of showing such a scandalous scene before the watershed", this still stands as one of the most poignant of Sherlock's scenes to date, strengthening the uniqueness and vitality of the show without ever staling in themes, image or even controversy, despite being reworks of well known and celebrated material. We're talking boundary-pushing stuff here.

   Irene works in the background from then onward, and the tension between her and Sherlock inevitably rises, even more so when she's not even present on screen. This brings us up perfectly to the reveal of the true conspiracy at work, including that sweet allusion to the Coventry cover-up of WWII. The subtleties at which it drops in is both a shock and yet completely "Of course"-like in nature. Again, Moffat's writing lends itself ingeniously to that kind of mystery; the kind where the ending is there all along, almost subliminal, yet still viewed as a twist while the pieces still click together in the back of the viewer's mind. The eerie "Flight of the Dead" operation is suitably grim while Adler reveals her true intentions and Sherlock stands the fool, played and failed, whilst the hushed tones of Moriarty's devious dealings can be heard faintly in the background. That is until the ambitious turn around, with Sherlock figuring the code to Irene's little phone of secrets and coming off not so scathed. In other's hands this may seem cheap, but Moffat and Cumberbatch nail the execution, still showing us that Sherlock knows he hasn't entirely won.

   This is all complimented hugely by the the rest of the episode, which on the outside seems like mere filler, but all cleverly works itself into the grand scheme of things. The comments about the morgue, the clients at the beginning, Moriarty's phone call in the teaser: it all adds up. Not to mention the wondrous winks, nods and tongue-in-cheek puns that litter the snappy dialogue and contexts. Watson's write ups on the blogs contain a few of the littler known adventures of Holmes and Watson from Doyle's extensive bibliography (The Geek Interpreter = The Greek Interpreter), while the inclusion of the Deerstalker and Pipe had me literally squeaking in delight. And who can forget that Watson line of "Mycroft's bloody stupid power complex" which was immediately cut to the Battersea Power Station. Wit at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.
Still close, still awesome.

     While the focus may remain on Sherlock and Irene's relationship more predominantly, the Holmes and Watson mutual love doesn't suffer for it, as the two still share some adorably compassionate moments, fuelled by the actors extraordinary acting abilities. I tell you, it was damn joke that Cumberbatch didn't get the Best Lead Male BAFTA last year, because this is British performance at its peak.

 The cute "twist of the twist" at the very, very end raps things up nicely in the humour aspect of the show, whilst also giving us the chance of a possible Adler-Holmes team-up in the not so distant future. Once the rounded package finishes up after the hour and a half run time, it almost seemed cruel to make us wait another week for the next episode. Blatantly a 10/10 show, now release the hounds for next Sunday's, The Hounds of Baskerville!


Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Trailer Tuesday: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

A little late, I admit, but I can't just let such a monumental trailer slip by without my most humble of dissections. Yes, we shall be returning to Middle-Earth this December when Peter Jackson's highly anticipated prequel to the epic Lord of The Rings trilogy finally hits cinemas, in an unprecedented level of 3D with 48 Frames per Second (that's good). Without further a-do, here's the synopsis for any Shire dwellers out there less acquainted with the tale:

"The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers." - Warner Bros

And prepare to get all goose-bumpy with the trailer to rule them all:

Now prepare to get all knowledgeable with my breakdown:

  • 0:12 - Ah, even that music (produced once more by Howard Shore) takes me back... Especially when we can see the welcome return of Frodo (Elijah Wood) and an old Bilbo (Ian Holm), standing Hobbitly in the Shire during this prologue scene. The film is, after all, going to be seen through their eyes as they read of Bilbo's past escapades.
  • 0:23 - And so we come to the real star of this story, a young Bilbo Baggins, marvellously captured by fan favourite, Martin Freeman (of Sherlock fame). Of course, pipes are a-go-go, as well as everyone's favourite wizard, Gandalf the Grey (Sir Ian McKellen).
  • 0:29-0:33 - Hobbits can only really ride ponies, as Bilbo demonstrates, while he gathers stock around the Shire markets with that awfully long list the Dwarves give him at the beginning, seen at 0:32. From these short clips alone, it's easy to see why Freeman got the role; looks the part, sounds the part and can really nail the humourous elements of Tolkien's and Jackson's writing.
  • 0:35-0:50 - It's Dwarf time! This recreation of the memorable first chapter in which the 13 Dwarves accompany Bilbo for an impromptu party looks very true to form and we get to see each of them (briefly) in action. First up is the youngest of the troupe, brothers Fili and Kili, the latter you may recognise as Being Human's Aidan Turner. Smoking Oin is next, followed by Gloin (father of Gimli!), and then the brutal Dwalin and look-out Balin.  Next is the three cousins, Bifur, funny-guy Bofur (James Nesbitt) and the comically enormous, food consumer Bombur. Nearly there now, with the brothers Ori, Nori and Dori, each with their own physical traits. And finally we have their leader, the mighty Thorin Oakenshield, played by another British actor, Richard Armitage.  
  • 0:55-1:15 - As well as all being kick-ass in battle, the group can also lay down some awesome bassy tunes. This is where the spine-shivers start, people, as the Dwarves eerily recite the classic "Over The Misty Mountains", one of many of Tolkien's compositions. Jackson has promised there'll be a greater focus on the music lore of the book, and this definitely backs that claim. 
  • 1:19 - Gandalf on his own? This looks like one of the many new scenes created for the film, that fill us in on why the hell Gandalf keeps wandering off. Looks like trouble... Could it be the Necromancer, which has been confirmed as turning up at some point (in the shape of Sherlock himself, Benedict Cumberbatch!)...
  • 1:24 - Bilbo finds the broken sword at Elrond's home in Rivendell, another early part of the book. 
  • 1:31 - Wait, what? Gandalf and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), romance sub-plot!? That's certainly... new. Not sure whether to be intrigued by this new angle, or grossed out... 
  • 1:36 - More Gandalf "lone-wolving".
  • 1:43 - Bilbo draws, for the first time, the legendary sword, Sting, the very same weapon Frodo adopts in years to come. 
  • 1:50 - Alright, let's kick this into high gear. With increased tempo (and trumpets) comes those beautiful scenic shots of Middle Earth, also known as New Zealand, as the gang head up toward the daunting Misty Mountains.
  • 1:58 - Who exactly is Gandalf fighting in these shots? Necromancer? Goblin/Orc? James Corden!?
  • 1:59 - If you pause quickly you'll see some of the dwarves rushing the Trolls from the book's early stages. Mutton, ahoy!
  • 2:01 - And if you pause again here you'll see (SPOILER ALERT) Gandalf casting that great beam of searing light to turn those aforementioned trolls to stone. (SPOILER OVER)
  • 2:02 - The Dwarven floods wreak havoc on Bilbo's homely hole. 
  • 2:12 - Recognise that bit of bling? Yup, that's the One Ring alright. Looking somewhat younger here too - it's amazing what movie magic can do these days.
  • 2:25 - A familiar voice... Riddle games with Gollum (Andy Serkis, no less) are sure to be tense...
  • 2:29 - December 14th 2012. Luckily just before the apocalypse, allowing you to see it roughly 21 times before we all die. And don't forget that 3D, because this could be just what the tired gimmick needs to revitalise. 
Yes it's still nearly a year out, but you can't rush perfection. Plus this is only the first part, with the second coming one year later, in There and Back Again (which was the title of Bilbo's finished book in the story). This part alone is already running on odds of 3-1 to win a whopping 11 Oscars next year, following in the footsteps of The Return of The King. So until December, make sure you don't die, go blind or deaf or enter a coma, because YOU WILL NOT WANT TO MISS THIS FILM.


Monday, 2 January 2012

RE:View: Mission:Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Minor Spoilers Forth-Coming

Doing a fourth instalment of a well known franchise is always a risky move in Hollywood, especially when that 4th film is being directed by someone who's previous works have all been purely animated (Brad Bird). Add to that the fact that the flagship star of it all, Tom Cruise, is now getting on a bit (coming on to 50 this year), and you've got yourself a shaky foundation to start from. But luckily, M:I - Ghost Protocol doesn't just excite with its baffling gadgetry and all-out epic stunts, but also entertains and delivers something a little more than just adrenaline action.

   Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his highly skilled spy team, the IMF, are shut down after being accused of bombing the Kremlin during a simple intel mission. Now underground, the group (mostly fresh faces) find themselves traversing the globe in search of the conspiracy that led to their current rogue status, and discover that the entire world is at stake; with only them to stop it, and everyone on their backs.

    Within the first 10 minutes the tone is set and the pace identified, as Simon Pegg's Benji and Paula Patton's Carter hatch a daring escape plan to bust Ethan out of a high security Russian Prison. It doesn't take long for us to establish Bird's style with a  humour fuelled action sequence played out delightfully between the banter of Cruise and Pegg, with the two agents squabbling aimlessly while prisoners riot to the sound of Dean Martin's "Ain't That a Kick In The Head". From this early scene alone, it's obvious that Bird has defied the odds.

Holy Shiiiiiii...
 From there on, it carries this sense of entertainment into some truly spectacular set pieces; the highly publicised and highly high acrobats of Cruise around Dubai's notorious Burj Khalifa, (which includes some terrifying "edge of the seat" moments), an intense simultaneous dual-con scene involving deadly assassins and silicon masks, and a desert storm chase that's sure to get the popcorn flowing. With all this fast paced action, you'd think the plot would fail, but thanks to some neatly placed and neatly written dialogue the story hangs on just enough for it to be clear, but not patronising.

    Of course, Cruise keeps Ethan the same as ever, the all-american hero type, albeit slightly bitter since the whole "Your team is shut down" thing and an apparent "Your wife has left you" issue. Naturally, the guy's going to be a little pissed. Remarkably though, he's still able to keep up with the hugely demanding physical stunts without the aid of "Cutting Corners" CGI and gels well with the rest of the team. Pegg, as always, nails the comic relief of gadget geek Benji, with just the right expressions, tone and timing to fit into the story without becoming a plot device, while Jeremy Renner's secretive Agent Brandt compliments this during the third act, simultaneously pulling off the kick-ass moments too. But no team would be complete without the female companion, and Paula Patton manages to keep up with the boys, despite the predictability and misfired themes of her role.

I can see where this is going...
   As the third act take shape, the pace remains the same, but the writing weakens slightly. There's a couple of predictable turns (Of course, the woman has to seduce the enemy... *Groan*), and mismatched situations where the gadgetry steps out of realism and borders on "Spy Kids" territory, which seem cheap compared to the gripping nature of the previous scenes. The ending, while cheesy as it gets, still has a certain roundness to it, although it doesn't try to bend the genre with any unexpected final thrills, but I guess that's not what you're paying for.

  For a film that had such low expectations (from me at least), these discrepancies aren't too major when you consider how well the rest of the pay-off was. For a big-budget action movie, Ghost Protocol pulls enough of the right punches to secure it a success among a graveyard of failures within the same genre. While it may not nail everything, at the very least it's got some of the best action and surprisingly good laughs that I've seen in a long time, without sacrificing too much of the narrative.

3.75/5 Stars