First Glance: “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

Ooooooh yes! There’s really no need in me trying to hide or even downplay my enthusiasm for the next Mission: Impossible installment. I’ve love this blockbuster franchise, and it has only gotten better and better. In fact, a good argument could be made that the last film, “Fallout” has been the best of the lot. But not to be outdone, Tom Cruise and company are back for the series finale. And if the new trailer is any indication, we’re in for the biggest M:I film yet.

Cruise teams up again with writer-director Christopher McQuarrie to give the iconic action character Ethan Hunt a fitting send-off. The film brings back franchise favorites Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, and Vanessa Kirby. New to the series are Hayley Atwell, Shea Whigham, Carl Ewes, Pom Klementieff, and Rob Delaney. The trailer shows Hunt once again hopping the globe, and we get glimpses of some truly incredible action sequences. And of course if features Cruise doing his own signature stunt work. Originally slated for a 2021 release, we’re finally getting the first of the two-part finale next year. I can’t wait.

“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” hits theaters July 14th. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.

First Glance: “The Forgiven”

“The Forgiven” is the latest movie from writer-director John Michael McDonagh, the filmmaker behind 2014’s stellar “Calvary”. Here he leads an electric cast featuring Ralph Fiennes and recent Oscar winner Jessica Chastain. The film also stars Matt Smith, Caleb Landry Jones, Saïd Taghmaoui, Christopher Abbott, and Ismael Kanatar. “The Forgiven” premiered last September at the Toronto International Film Festival and is finally set to be released via Roadside Attractions and Vertical Entertainment.

The story follows a wealthy couple (Fiennes and Chastain) who hit and kill a young local while driving to a friends wedding in a remote section of Morocco. Instead of notifying the authorities, the couple load the body into their car and take it to their friend’s (Smith) home. And the cover up begins. But when the young man’s grieving father unexpectedly shows up, the couple come face-to-face with the consequences for their choices. This looks to be a sharp and candid haves vs. have-nots story, and I’m interested to see how far McDonagh goes with it.

“The Forgiven” hits theaters July 1st. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.

First Glance: “Avatar: The Way of Water” Teaser

It has been 13 years since James Cameron’s “Avatar” hit theaters, shattering box office records and ushering in a 3-D craze that (thankfully) has died off. The story of “Avatar” was essentially an overly preachy “Dances with Wolves” rip-off. But technically the movie was an eye-popping wonder and unlike anything moviegoers had ever seen. And it utilized 3-D in a way that no other movie after it could ever do.

Following numerous delays, many were wondering if the rumored “Avatar” sequel would ever see the light of day. Well, it most certainly is and we actually have the first teaser. There’s not much there in terms of story. We do know it’s set a decade after the first film and it revolves around Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) protecting their family from a new evil on Pandora. But this teaser is all about the visuals and it looks stunning. You could say it looks more like a PC graphics card demo than an actual movie. But I’m sure we’ll see more soon.

“Avatar: The Way of Water” hits theaters December 16th. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.

First Glance: “Hustle”

I hate to say it, but I’ve reached the point where whenever I hear “Adam Sandler” and “new movie” together I brace myself for the worst. It’s a reaction I think the always likable actor has earned. I can’t remember his last movie that I really liked (yes, that includes “Uncut Gems”). But his lucrative deals with Netflix has ensured that we still get a new Sandler movie nearly every year. This year it’s “Hustle”, a sports drama that sees Sandler shedding his signature goofiness for a more serious story.

Directed by Jeremiah Zagar, “Hustle” has Sandler playing a washed-up basketball scout attempting to revive his career by bringing a talented overseas player with a sketchy past to play in the NBA. The movie also features Queen Latifah, Ben Foster, and Robert Duvall. But then you have the shameless list of basketball cameos that have become a staple in movies like this. It’s a lazy recipe and hopefully one the movie doesn’t milk too much. Either way, it’s hard for me to get excited for a movie that looks too similar to countless other sports movies of its kind.

“Hustle” premieres June 10th on Netflix. Check out the trailer below and let me know if you’ll be seeing it or taking a pass.

Star Wars Day 2022: (List) The Five Best Star Wars Villains (Who Aren’t Darth Vader)

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m a huge Star Wars geek. I have been since I was a kid, and I proudly wear that badge today. I saw all the movies in theaters going back to the original trilogy. I had the action figures, vehicles, storybooks, blasters, etc. etc. etc. In other words, Star Wars has played a HUGE role in my life, and over the years my love for it hasn’t waned.

Needless to say, when something like Star Wars Day comes along it gets me pretty excited. And what better time to focus on Star Wars that May 4th? So I thought it would be fun to revisit something Star Wars is well known for – its villains. Today I’m sharing my five favorite Star Wars villains within the current canon but with one significant omission – Darth Vader. I mean naturally he would be #1. So in an effort to give everyone else a fighting chance, I’ve decided to let him sit this one out. Tell me what you think…

#5 – Kylo Ren

Ok, so you could make a good case that Ben Solo aka Kylo Ren isn’t actually a villain. But he more or less played one for most of of the sequel trilogy. And he actually killed Han Solo (I can’t think of anything that would make you more of a villain than that). Regardless, from the very start I have loved the Kylo Ren character. One of the complaints is that he borrows too much from Darth Vader, but that’s kind of the point. Kylo is being torn apart inside and everything about his character conveys that, from his impulsive aggression to his iconic lightsaber with its crossguard hilt and cracked Kyber crystal. I love the emotionally ravaged Kylo.

#4 – Boba Fett

I have always loved Boba Fett beginning with his brief faceless presences in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Return of the Jedi”. Admittedly, back then it was mostly the ‘cool factor’ that made him a favorite of mine. But over the years Star Wars has done a wonderful job fleshing out his story, starting with our introduction to young Boba in “Episode II: Attack of the Clones”. The brilliant animated series “The Clone Wars” provided even more insight into his journey to the world of bounty hunting. But it was his recent reintroduction to live-action in “The Book of Boba Fett” that really secured his spot on this list. With his Mandalorian background mixed and an intimidating mean streak, Boba Fett makes for a great baddie.

#3 – Cad Bane

Man I love Cad Bane. Hailing from the planet Duros, Bane is a ruthless bounty hunter and mercenary who can’t be trusted by anyone whether good or bad, Empire or Republic, Jedi or Sith. His notoriously cold businesslike manner makes him feared across the galaxy. He’s also extremely cool with a look and demeanor that feels yanked right out of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western. Cad Bane really came into his own during “The Clone Wars” and had a great appearance in “The Bad Batch”. And some may argue that he stole the series when he showed up in “The Book of Boba Fett”. Regardless of what he’s in, Cad Bane always brings with him a fascinating mix of menace and excitement.

#2 – Darth Maul

I wasn’t the only one blown away by Darth Maul in “Episode I: The Phantom Menace”. Everything from his terrifying appearance to his mind-blowing fighting style (kudos Ray Park) won him a legion of fans. Now if you only watch the movies it might surprise you to see him on this list, especially ranked this high. But as is often the case in Star Wars, Maul’s story is unpacked through other canonical series, mainly “The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars Rebels”. Maul has one of my favorite stories out of all Star Wars villains. It shows us someone burning with hate, not just for the Jedi (especially Obi-Wan Kenobi) but also for his one-time master Darth Sidious. I won’t spoil it, but the twisted layers of Darth Maul’s story is unlike anything else in the franchise.

#1 – Darth Sidious/The Emperor/Supreme Chancellor Palpatine

With his hideously scarred face, his snarling smile, and a voice that sounds like he’s gargling gravel, Darth Sidious is a truly chilling villain. He is the personification of evil and his impact can be felt throughout the entire Skywalker Saga. Sidious is not only frightening because of his horrifying appearance. He’s also cold and calculating, and it doesn’t matter who he has to go through to obtain and maintain power. Add to it the fact that he is the most powerful Sith and shows it throughout the franchise. And who doesn’t love Ian McDiarmid who has played the character since 1983. Sidious/Palpatine is not only a staple in the gallery of Star Wars villains. He’s the true mastermind behind most of the evils that shrouds the galaxy.

Star Wars Day 2022: New Trailer for “Obi-Wan Kenobi”

Star Wars Day 2022 opened up with the exciting announcement that a fresh trailer would be dropping for the upcoming streaming series “Obi-Wan Kenobi”. To get us prepped, they first unveiled a brand-new poster for the highly anticipated show (check it out HERE). A short time later Disney dropped the trailer and lets just say that the Star Wars fan in me was left absolutely giddy.

The trailer gives us a few scenes from the previous teaser but also several new shots that really help give us a sense for where this series is going. Times are tense for Obi-Wan as he keeps a watchful eye over young Luke Skywalker. But Darth Vader (a returning Hayden Christensen) has sent his Inquisitors to hunt down the remaining Jedi, young and old. And tops on his hit-list is his old master, Obi-Wan. I can’t wait for this and it has all the potential to be a true classic. Check out the trailer and tell me what you think.

“Obi-Wan Kenobi” premieres May 27th exclusively on Disney+.