Disappointing action heroes, but also Kat Dennings and John Goodman! Movies and TV

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: Fallout (2018) was a direct sequel to Rogue Nation in which the IMF learns the Syndicate is still running without its leader, and plotting to launch a nuclear terrorist strike so bad the world order will collapse so a better world can arise. Can Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team stop them when CIA spooks Angela Bassett and Henry Cavill (as stiff and uninteresting here as I found him in Enola Holmes) think Hunt might be the real mastermind?

On the plus side, the final fight with the bad guys is truly spectacular and I like that the terrorist strike shows some imagination (contaminating the watershed that provides drinking water for China and the rest of Southeast Asia). And this writes Cruise’s wife (Michelle Monaghan from the third film) out, presumably so Ethan can hook up with Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) who also returns from Rogue Nation. On the downside, it says something I couldn’t even remember which mastermind was returning. And once again it appears the initial tape recording message is setting Hunt up, which happens ridiculously often in the movies (Bassett and Cavill lampshade this by pointing out how many times the government has failed or betrayed Hunt). Mostly, it just didn’t engage me — for all their flaws, the best Fast and Furious films are better. In any case, that’s it for this series until next year’s sequel. “I kill women and children with smallpox. I have no line.”

That said, Fallout was Star Wars compared to THE BATMAN (2022), in which Robert Pattinson’s Darknight Detective and Jeffrey Wright’s Commissioner Gordon try to thwart the Riddler, a serial killer murdering government officials involved in a vast coverup and conspiracy. Can Batman stop him? Is it even worth it if the system Batman protects is that corrupt?

Critic Christy Lemire describes this as a gritty 1970s crime thriller with Pattinson playing Taxi Driver‘s Travis Bickle more than Batman; I agree but unlike Lemire I don’t think it’s a good thing. Pattinson himself is unimpressive, playing Bruce Wayne like he was sleepwalking and giving voiceovers about Gotham crime like he was channeling Watchmen‘s Rohrschach. And the climax, with Gotham on the brink of destruction, has been a cliched third act for Batman movies since R’as tried bringing the city down in the first Nolan film. Color me very unimpressed, though Zoe Kravitz’ Catwoman adds some fun. “Since your justice is so select/tell me which vermin you protect.”

In the second season of DOLLFACE, Jules (Kat Denning), having regained her closest friends at the end of S1, now has to get a handle on the rest of her life — can she find a worthwhile boyfriend? A good job? And Madison, Stella and Izzy all have the same mission. As with the first season, this wraps up well, with the friends all in good places even if they haven’t figured it all out. I’ll be happy to see a third season. “That’s a lot to unpack — but I’ve now unpacked it and its really bad.”

I picked up a DVD of MATINEE (1993) just four years ago, then learned there’s a BluRay with lots of special features, so I ordered it. The story of Laurence Woolsey (John Goodman) premiering the giant bug film Mant! in Key West during the Cuban missile crisis was great fun to rewatch and the special features cover a lot of details about how much the movie draws on director Joe Dante’s life as a monster-movie loving nerd of roughly the same age as the kid protagonists. There’s also a short version of Mant! (Half Man — Half Ant — All Terror!) with more footage than the movie within the movie. Well worth buying. “One of you will have to go to the atomic destruction without Shredded Wheat.”

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders; comics cover by JL Garcia-Lopez.

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