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Old 04-19-2012, 01:23 PM   #1
Peter Marlowe
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Join Date: Jun 2008
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Default Marlowe's Official HDF Review of...MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE GHOST PROTOCOL (Paramount)



MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE GHOST PROTOCOL BLU-RAY DISC REVIEW
WRITTEN FOR & UPLOADED TO HIGH DEF FORUM BY PETER MARLOWE 04.19.12


Studio: Paramount
Disc/Transfer Specifications: 1080p High Definition; 2.40:1 (Original Aspect Ratio 2.39:1, 1.43:1); Region 1 (U.S.) Release Tested
Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Tested Audio Track: English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (run in 5.1 configuration)
Director: Brad Bird
Starring Cast: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Vladimir Mashkov


PLOT ANALYSIS:


This was a pretty kick-ass action flick, and I’m just sorry I didn’t get a chance to see it in theaters. But before I go into any depth about any of that, let me say this – I have a new raging hard-on for the hot and sexy miss Paula Patton, who struts around in this film in ridiculously tight skirts, flirty, open-cut gowns and with a body so deliciously toned and breasts so humongously in-your-face….it really makes it difficult to concentrate on the actual plot or film itself. This light-skinned African-American chick is downright smokin’ hot, and the way she uses that sexy body and raspy seductress voice to melt men into smoldering piles of masturbating messes is downright incredible. I have a new go-to poster girl.

Patton aside, I was never a fan of the Mission: Impossible films, believing their plots and writing got too convoluted for their own good; watching Cruise’s main character perform death-defying stunts while desperately trying to keep to a deadline when he “chooses to accept his missions” all got just too much after awhile, and I’d just lose focus of what was going on in the actual plot. It was like a thick, syrupy, confusing hybrid of a James Bond film and a Jason Bourne variant with no real synergy (in my opinion). Secondarily, I never really bought the becoming-a-freak-of-a-man-but-still-getting-pussy Tom Cruise as an action hero/super spy kicking asses and taking names on secret missions; I will always see him as Jerry Maguire or the kid that got to pull up Rebecca De Mornay’s minidress and bang her from behind in Risky Business. That said, I know of many Mission fans that think this prick that now has a full time job impregnating Katie Holmes was a perfect fit in the role of “Ethan” – much like the controversy surrounding the decision to cast Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman; in the end, sometimes these things “just work.” Admittingly, I did think Keaton worked as Wayne (more specifically as his Dark Knight other half, as I always thought he got the “Batman sneer” down perfectly from behind the mask) and, ultimately, I began to “buy” Cruise in his super spy role a bit more as the Mission series went on.

The thing with Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol is that Paramount marketed this – specifically with the intentions of Brad Bird behind them – as a kind of standalone entry to the franchise; a version that could shine on its own as a kinetic action film, able to be enjoyed by viewers outside the diehard fanbase of the previous films in the franchise. In that regard, there was a hint of success – much like Terminator 3 or perhaps even Live Free Or Die Hard, in which these entries in their respective film franchises stood alone as kick-ass action flicks, definitely connected to their sequels and originals that came before them…but somehow a bit individual in flavor.

And so it goes with Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, which ended up coming off being a slight bit less uber-exciting as the trailers made it out to be, yet still managed to deliver edge-of-your-seat action setpieces and sequences. Further, the Blu-ray Disc features a ridiculously aggressive Dolby TrueHD soundtrack (more on that later in my audio specifications review) that truly showcases the best of what a high resolution audio mix can do – hot in nature, deliciously overcooked in certain places but bursting with constant, non-stop surround activity and sheer sonic realism, the Dolby TrueHD track on this disc was a refreshing change from the somewhat ho-hum DTS-HD Master Audio tracks I’ve been sampling on most Blu-rays. The 1080p picture quality was dazzling in most places too, to boot. The beginning scenes of the film take place in Russia (ironically like the last film I reviewed, The Darkest Hour), with the opening sequence depicting a prison riot breaking out in a Moscow jail. It seems our trusty super spy wonder group have hatched a plan to release all these prisoners from their cells for some reason, via gadgets they have access to in a van they’re staked out in somewhere outside the prison’s walls. As thieves, murderers, child molesters and downright frightening-looking Russian criminals emerge from their cells to the backdrop of Sinatra’s “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” and begin beating the vodka out of each other, we get a closeup of Cruise’s “Ethan” character posing as a Russian criminal who begins beating up everyone in his way to get to a certain prisoner to release him – obviously, there is an undercover operation going on here, in which Ethan’s organization needed to get this guy out of the prison.

After the jailbreak and a visually interesting opening title sequence a la Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace, Ethan, his new Russian friend, the sexy Patton and another agent drive off in their surveillance van, only for Cruise’s character to learn what’s going on here, as explained by Patton’s character: Apparently, there are some Russians that are vying for nuclear weapon launch codes that are for sale, and their mission becomes trying to stop one of these Russian head honchos from getting his hands on them, as he has a personal desire to begin a war with (presumably) America. What doesn’t make sense about this plot hole is why some rogue Russian would want to start a war that would end up killing everyone on the planet anyway, should the Americans or others respond with nuclear assault; then again, the same thing could be asked about the situation right now with China and the U.S. in real life…

At any rate, the great Tom Wilkinson plays an all-too-brief role as the spy group’s supervisor ordered to get the team back to Washington and shut down their operations – but suggests just as quickly that if Cruise’s character and his cohorts were to “disregard” those orders and find these Russian launch codes themselves….well….you know; so be it. An explosion then rocks the car they’re all driving in, presumably killing Wilkinson’s character and throwing Cruise and the rest into a body of water. Meanwhile, Cruise’s “Ethan” character has been accused of blowing up the Kremlin after his “prison break,” thus why he was ordered back to the U.S. to be neutralized. The group – now made up of Cruise, Patton, Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg – reteam aboard a specially-equipped cargo train car (where do they think this shit up?) and make a pact to “accept the mission” of finding the double-dealing Russians planning on buying and selling the nuclear weapon launch codes and protocols…all as rogue agents on their own, with no backing from the organization they’re part of or from the U.S. How noble, right?

The thing is, this mission will be far from easy – hence the “Impossible” moniker we’ve grown to know and understand – as their spy travels take them from Russia to Dubai and other locales tracing and tracking the people involved in this scandal. Cruise displays some more death-defying work via his Ethan character, as he sticks to buildings hundreds of feet in the air using specially-magnetic grip gloves (that don’t work out so well after all) to get to some of the villains in play here (while the sexy Patton dons a skin-tight baby blue short skirt suit and heels to do some undercover work at the same time inside the same building); the Ethan building-climbing sequences are particularly exciting and nail-biting-inducing, as we witness Cruise swinging from cords to try and break into this glass building before he slips off of it, some hundreds of floors in the air. Transactions between Ethan and his crew with phony launch code protocols and the ruthless criminals trying to obtain the real ones ensue, along with some premium spy vs. bad guy hand-to-hand combat/fight sequences that ends with Cruise’s character chasing the primary Russian target through a blinding Dubai sandstorm, eventually losing him. Needless to say, Patton’s character can kick ass with the toughest of hardcore chicks, as evidenced by her martial arts fight sequence between her and a counterpart blonde assassin somehow mixed up in all the Russian launch code stuff.

The remainder of Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol concentrates on Cruise’s character and the team (including Jeremy Renner who originally explains his character as just being an “analyst” for the organization Ethan and the other spies work for, yet ends up being just so much more than that, including boasting a fascinating connection to Cruise’s Ethan character you’ll never see coming) desperately trying to stop this main rogue Russian lunatic they’ve been chasing from launching a nuclear missile. Do they succeed? Does this maniac get at least one missile off and is the tip armed and ready to blow? Better than all this – how ridiculously delicious, edible and downright fuckable does Paula Patton look in a gorgeous, plunging, leg-showing blue gown when she goes undercover at some Indian mogul’s party to seduce him into giving her the launch codes? Trust me. It’s ridiculous. This chick is insanely hot, and you have absolutely got to witness her gigantic funbags that practically spill right out of her dress in this scene. It is wild.

VIDEO QUALITY ANALYSIS:

While not quite as ridiculously (my word of the day) clear and sharp-as-a-tack as the last Blu-ray transfer I reviewed, Summit Entertainment’s The Darkest Hour, the 1080p transfer Paramount has prepared for Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol’s BD launch is stellar in its own right. With only the slightest bit of softness in some places, along with a tiny amount of a “washed out” look in some very brief scenes, the 1080p 2.40:1 widescreen image sparkled with detail and clarity, especially in the bright, outdoor sequences (a common characteristic of my rear projection display); when Cruise goes into his undercover get-ups, such as imitating a Russian general with thick mustache and all, you can make out nearly every strand of the fake ‘stache along with lots of pores on his face.

When the camera panned over rooftops and buildings, such as during the Dubai sequences, the transfer rendered these images in a startlingly clear fashion, depicting all the detail and sharpness in the structures and rooftop elements. There were moments of such clarity here it was almost eye-popping in nature, and I commented to my wife as we watched this about how far the Blu-ray format has come from the initial waves of releases upon the format’s launch – from those soft, grainy and noisy titles to the kinds of films we see today which are clean, clear and absolutely noise (dare I say “grain” as well?) free.

AUDIO QUALITY ANALYSIS:

I know. The first thing I said too when I saw the available audio tracks offered by Paramount on this release was…”What? No Master Audio? Dolby TrueHD again?!” But I had a suspicion I was in for a real treat with this track – and I wasn’t wrong in the least bit. I have some questions via email in to my press contact at Paramount’s media satellite office regarding the choice of Dolby TrueHD on this title – whether it was determined from the theatrical release plans of the film during executive meetings, or if there was a technical reason to go with a TrueHD track over a DTS-HD Master Audio variant – and I will return to add commentary about that if and when I hear back from him (Shaun Lowder). However, let me get this out of the way right now: This 7.1 Dolby TrueHD mix, “dumbed down” to 5.1 based on my system’s layout, was one of the most aggressive, rousing and downright immersive audio tracks I’ve heard from the BD format to date. And it’s not just about sheer volume power or LFE boom – which are there too – it was more about the subtle environmental fill that truly put you right in the middle of the onscreen action. I’m not kidding. This is how a film surround soundtrack should be.

From the opening moments in the Russian prison, the surround channels were alive with the clanging, banging cues that really put us into that prison, in addition to the all-encompassing activity of general prison life as well as the shouts of the enraged men; as the film progressed, the crashing of glass, the zooming of screeching cars, the hyper-aggressive pinging of bullets and gunfire and the ridiculously realistic pans of the action sequences absolutely shook me to the core. The mastering volume of the TrueHD track was also on the hot, overcooked side – just the way I like ‘em – requiring not that much receiver master volume goosing to get going, and this was just a rousing audio experience from beginning to end.

Excellent job by Paramount here.

SUMMARY & RECOMMENDATIONS:

Fans of the Mission: Impossible franchise films will definitely want to see this – if, of course, they haven’t already done so in theaters (perhaps several times). For casual fans (I’m guilty here), this was a good “standalone” kind of entry that made it play like just a good, raw action picture. It was definitely a good rental, and was definitely entertaining – however, for us personally, the jury is still out whether the Blu-ray warrants a purchase or not.

But, if nothing else, you gotta see Paula Patton’s out-of-control ass, body and face in this – wow.

Please – let’s discuss Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol!

Last edited by Peter Marlowe; 04-19-2012 at 06:05 PM.
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