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19 out of 30 people found the following review useful:
Why This Film Is Better Than Spielberg's Version, 17 July 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spielberg and Latt had a tough mountain to climb. Wells wrote about a very charismatic every-day man and had him commit suicide at the end of his journey. That's not really set for a Hollywood big ending. Plus the fact that (at least in the original text) the main guy is not pro-active. He doesn't try to take down the aliens. He doesn't try and be the hero. His main goal is just to survive.

So with that in mind both stories center around two leads...and what to do? Spielberg made Ray (Tom Cruise) a divorced dad, unliked by his children, with no direction. And when the aliens attack, he has no goal except to bring his kids back to Boston so the 'mom' can deal with them. Plus Ray kills a human being in cold blood in the middle of the movie without provocation. This is hardly reason to get behind a character. Spielberg made me not like Ray from the get-go. He didn't make me join his journey and he didn't give me any ending that I could support.

By contrast you have Latt's film whom I believe spent a lot of time on their lead character. C. Thomas Howell plays a loving father who's only goal is to re-unite his family. He is going to DC because he needs to see/touch/be with them again. He's not the hero. He doesn't try to take on the aliens (like Wells' book). He just survives. When he thinks he lost everything, you believe him. You understand why he walks up to the alien at the end.

Yes, Latt's story is slower...and it's more character driven...and don't get me started on the lame aliens. They're a joke. Really.

But, I am so much on the side of Latt's story, that the only thing that Spielberg's offered were cooler effects. And sure, when you're watching a popcorn film maybe that's all that you need...but in the end all you are left with is a bad buttery taste in your mouth.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Not great, 17 July 2005

There's no Bond in Mission: Impossible. Instead, the lead character is Ethan Hunt, the point man for Jim Phelps' IMF (Impossible Missions Force). Phelps (played by Jon Voight, not Peter Graves) receives assignment messages from his boss, Kittridge (Henry Czerny), via video transmissions rather than old-fashioned tapes. His group's latest job is to prevent something called a "NOC list" from falling into the hands of an international arms dealer (Vanessa Redgrave). If placed on the open market, the NOC list would put every United States deep cover agent in danger of exposure. However, when they embark on this mission, the IMF runs straight into an ambush where everyone is killed except Hunt and Phelps' wife, Claire (Emmanuelle Beart). Because he survives the carefully-orchestrated massacre, Hunt is suspected of turning traitor.

Fans of the TV series expecting a faithful translation may be disappointed. Except for a few nods to its small-screen predecessor, this Mission: Impossible is a vastly different, autonomous entity. Nine years ago, director Brian DePalma used a similar approach for a superior version of The Untouchables, but lightning hasn't struck twice. Teetering on an uncertain edge between action flick and thriller, Mission: Impossible doesn't succeed well as either. There are some high-energy moments, but none offers more than a moment's edge-of-the-seat excitement. Too much of what happens in Mission: Impossible comes across as fait accompli.

The predictable plot generates little interest. It's pathetically easy to guess the mole's identity despite the screenwriters' attempts to obscure the issue. The overall storyline contains a legion of gaping holes -- the more you think about it, the less sense it makes. Weak character identification allows Twister to seem like a masterpiece by comparison. In fact, taken as a whole, Twister is a significantly more involving spectacle.

Fargo (1996)
Some Issues, not many, 17 July 2005

The problem with Fargo is that there aren't any substantial characters. Everyone, from the overwrought Jerry to the methodical Marge, is a pure caricature. None of these people are particularly interesting or sympathetic, and watching their exploits becomes a detached experience. By the end of the film, you're more interested in how the filmmakers choose to tie together loose ends than whether any particular individual lives or dies. In the past, the Coens have managed to create characters worth caring about; such is not the case here, and it greatly diminishes Fargo's effectiveness.

Born and raised in Minnesota, the Coens know their home state, which accounts for their ability to reflect reality there (which is like unreality for most of the rest of the country). People say things like "You're darn tootin'", "aw, geez," and "what the heck". Knowing how strange the talk of Minnesotans will seem to the rest of the world, the Coens intentionally play it for deadpan comic effect.

51 out of 69 people found the following review useful:
It's a classic!, 17 July 2005

There is little doubt that the most memorable aspect of The Silence of the Lambs is Anthony Hopkins' incomparable performance as Lecter. Taking over for Brian Cox, who was effective, but not especially memorable, as the good doctor in 1986's Manhunter, Hopkins instantly makes the role his own, capturing and conveying the charismatic essence of pure evil. To his dying day, no matter how many roles he plays in the interim, Hopkins will forever be known for this part. (It is a credit to Hopkins' ability as an actor that this part did not result in stereotyping. His post-Silence career has been greatly varied, with roles as widely diverse as a stodgy butler in Merchant-Ivory's The Remains of the Day and an action hero in The Edge.) I can throw out any number of superlatives, but none of them do justice to this chilling performance, which I labeled as the best acting work of the '90s. Want to feel the icy fingers of terror stroke your heart? Watch this mixture of brilliant eloquence and inhuman cruelty. As portrayed by Hopkins, Hannibal is both a suave, cultured gentleman and an unspeakable fiend. He is gracious and monstrous at the same time. (Hopkins also provided one of the most quotable lines in recent film history with "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti", which was followed by an inimitable slithering slurp.)