Tag Archives: Ving Rhames

The Star

In nearly every church staging of the nativity story, some beatific, well-behaved little girl is cast as Mary, some lucky boy as her Joseph, and then about 30 of their friends as various sheep and camels and goats and whatnot (in Love Actually, Emma Thompson is surprised to learn there was not just one lobster but several, plus an octopus and a Spider-Man) – the point is, there are lots of kids and very few roles, so they’ve always been padded out with the animal brethren likely to be hanging around a manger.

In this particular retelling of the nativity story, the humans take a back seat to the animals; for once, they’re the stars, especially a brave young miniature donkey named Bo (Steven Yeun). Bo dreams about being in the royal caravan but in fact is locked up in a mill grinding grain all day. His buddy Dave, a dove (Keegan-Michael Key), eggs him on.

Meanwhile, Mary (Gina Rodriguez) and Joseph (Zachary Levi) are celebrating their wedding feast and about to have a VERY awkward conversation. Boy is she relieved when a wayward runaway donkey crashes the party and gives her a few minutes’ reprieve. Anyway, eventually she and Joseph start their trek to Bethlehem and Bo and Dave find a helpful sheep named Ruth (Aidy Bryant) to lead the way and help Bo with a Lassie moment.

Meanwhile, a trio camels (Tyler Perry, Oprah, Tracy Morgan) belonging to the three wisemen are also having a moment trying to get their human cargo to a baby foretold by the stars.

Every nativity scene you’ve ever seen has a donkey. Now you’ll actually appreciate him.

The Star is actually a charming little movie full of big voice talent and quirky little moments to make your season bright.

Mission: Impossible -Fallout

lead_720_405Aside from the awkward colon in the title, the most annoying thing about the Mission: Impossible series has always been Tom Cruise’s massive over-reliance on rubber masks (yes, even moreso than his ridiculous excessive arm-pumping while running). While Mission: Impossible – Fallout doesn’t totally avoid the rubber mask cliché, it tweaks it enough to feel fresh. And every once in a while, despite how familiar the M:I formula has become after six attempts, the movie will sneak one by you, winking as it does.

In Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team (Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg) are tasked with saving the world (again) by recovering a bunch of stolen plutonium before a terrorist group can use it in nuclear weapons. The stakes are high so Ethan and his crew need to be at the top of their game, and doubly so when we’ve seen them in action so many times already.

M:I-F is up to the challenge in all respects. This is the best entry in the franchise so far. Not because it does anything surprising or anything we haven’t seen before, but because it delivers exactly what it promises and because it’s flawlessly executed, without a single misstep.

Action-packed and entertaining from start to finish, M:I-F is better than I expected, better than it has any right to be, and better than it ever needed to be.  This is 2018’s best summer blockbuster, hands down.

Lilo & Stitch

Lilo & Stitch is one of my favourite Disney movies, one that I think flew under a lot of people’s radars but deserves some special attention. It’s a fun watch that’s got some real jerks to the heartstrings, with its themes of family and inclusion.

Lilo is an orphaned 6 year old girl who is cared for by her older sister, Nani. Nani is struggling to fulfill the sudden role of parent and has social services breathing down her neck with the usual threats (Ving Rhames tumblr_mqjpzfpnac1rjxfbno1_500voices the social worker, although you wouldn’t be wrong for thinking the character bears a striking resemblance to the gangster he played in Pulp Fiction). Nani thinks that some joy and stability will be brought into the family if they adopt a dog, but the mutt they actually come home with is Stitch, not a puppy at all, but an alien genetic experiment who is so out of control he’s been banished to Earth.

Stitch does indeed wreak havoc in their lives, but he’s lovable and adorable and irresistible. So is Lilo, and if you give them a chance, this duo will definitely warm your heart.

The film takes place in Hawaii (on the island of Kauai, which is where Sean and I are today) and so of course it’s beautiful. The animated locations are real Hawaiian spots that I look forward to visiting. It looks so gorgeous because although it’s computer-coloured, it is indeed hand-drawn, and was the first Disney film since Dumbo to use watercolour-painted backgrounds. It was such a lost art that they had to train their artists in the technique, but the result is exactly what you’d want from a tropical paradise. The water scenes are particularly exceptional, and lots of their designs are consciously based on marine life, which keeps the subtle theme running throughout the film. Disney purposely wanted to make a throw-back film that would feel warm and old-fashioned (although it’s one of the rare Disney films that takes place in present day). You can see other shout-outs to bygone Disney traditions too – like some of Stitch’s fellow aliens, who look an awful lot like Piglet, and Tigger.

Lilo & Stitch was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animation but lost to Spirited Away, which is hard to argue. The same little girl who voiced Lilo (Daveigh Chase) also provided the dubbed voice in Spired Away. While Spirited Away is largely considered a modern day masterpiece that just happens to be animated, Lilo & Stitch is hands-down the one I’d rather rewatch, and a big part of that is the successful rawintegration of lots of Hawaiian culture into the film. Although it’s scored by Alan Silvestri, he collaborated with Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu, a veritable hula master. It’s no coincidence that I’ve always treasured the soundtrack. Hula plays an important part in the film. To accurately capture the dance, Disney took their animators to a halau (a hula school) where they studied the techniques. An introductory hula dance is modeled in the film, and I look forward to seeing the real thing live at a luau tonight. 

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Oh, Tom Cruise. How did you become such an Action Hero? I know! It’s because you pump your arms so much when you run! And for Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, you upped the ante and taught your running technique to your co-stars! When you and your (female) British Intelligence counterpart run side by side, you look like twins! Superfast, Olympic calibre twins!

By now, we know that the “Mission: Impossible” title is a misnomer. Because as confirmed in this movie, the Impossible Mission Force has a 100% success rate! I think we need to start a petition to change the name of this franchise to “Mission Difficult”, especially since a byproduct would be that Tom Cruise couldn’t make the same joke in his promos for the now-inevitable sixth movie, i.e., “This isn’t Mission Difficult…”. This time that quote referred to him hanging off a plane, which i heard about more than probably any single stunt ever. And honestly if there hadn’t been so much hype I might have forgotten that scene altogether by now, because it has nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of this movie!  So to me it just came off as Tom Cruise trying too hard to prove he is an Action Hero, and set that tone for the rest of the movie (and it’s the opening sequence).

Despite all that, I enoyed Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. It’s well executed, keeps moving, and doesn’t have any glaring plot holes or overly ridiculous contrivances (as long as you accept that Ethan and Luther and Benji and Jeremy Renner all can immediately do anything needed to bring a plan into effect, and I’ll give them that one here). It’s a decent summer movie. Nothing more, nothing less. But if you’re at or near your limit for Tom Cruise tolerance, you might want to skip this one, because in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, he is at his Tom Cruiseiest!

I give Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation seven rubber masked impersonations out of ten.