I've watched and really enjoyed 2 of this summers biggest hits (So far. The next James Bond and Star Wars films won't be out for a couple of months). Jurrasic World and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation are undoubtedly great popcorn films and will be rewatched for years to come as (nearly) the best films in their franchise. I say nearly because one of the films far exceeded my expectations and took the franchise to a whole new level and the other film, while quite good, had me feeling that something was definately missing.
Let's start off with Jurassic World. I saw the trailer some months before the film and based on what was laid out as an interesting, albeit familiar storyline, I decided to see it. Jurrasic World covers much of the same ground as it's predecessors, particularly the first Jurassic Park film. Various extinct versions of dinosaurs are created and allowed to roam in an interactive theme park and then expectations of what should happen vs. the reality of what can happen suddenly brings man and beast together in violent and exciting ways. When I saw the first Jurassic Park back in 1993, I was absolutely blown away by the films awesome power to grab me and place me in an unfamiliar place with creatures that had roamed the earth hundreds of millions of years ago. No movie up till then, had really presented those animals on screen with any realism. Steven Spielberg crafted an incredible story that had the audience in about as much amazement as the first time Dr. Grant, Dr. Sattler and Dr. Malcom witnessed a variety of dinosaurs in herds, moving peacefully together in a valley below. I remember the first big close up of a Brachiosaurus in one of the early scenes with it's skin twisting and shimmering in the sunlight as it moved, it's ability to lift itself up on it's hind legs to eat from a tree. The thundering crash as it came down on all fours. I was hooked. The rest of the movie was uphill from then on. The T-Rex chasing the jeep, the Velociraptors viciously hunting with a sense of reason and purpose. During the whole movie, moments of terror were balanced with moments of humor. Dr. Grant pretending to be electrocuted in front of Hammond's grandchildren, the message in the side view mirror of the jeep (Objects in the Mirror be be larger than they seem), etc. Those moments of humor allowed us, the audience, to take a breath and pause somewhat during what was (for me) a 127 minute thrill ride on a roller coaster of adreneline and amazement. Subsequent films in the series also had moments of humor and helped to lighten the movie somewhat. So after consuming Jurrasic World for two hours and leaving the theater with a satisfied smile on my face, it dawned on me. Where was the humor in this film? There really wasn't any. None. Zip. Nada. And that I believe that is why it falls short, not as a good summer blockbuster, but as a worthy and memorable entry in what has been a pretty strong franchise.
Mission Impossible: Rouge Nation not only starts off with one of the most incredible action sequences ever filmed, it presents us with twists and turns in the story line, action ramped up continuously as the film progresses, familiar characters that we enjoy seeing and something else; A woman who is, blow for blow, move for move, every bit as capable a spy as Ethan Hunt. I enjoyed watching the character Ilsa Faust as much as I did watching Ethan Hunt. And more than anything else, it was funny. There were true moments of laughter coming from the audience and it made watching the film a more complete experience. Humor placed at just the right time in an action movie, can really allow for the audience to relax a bit, laugh and then get ready for the next bit of action. Too many Hollywood action movies try too hard to inject humor where it's not needed, not relevant to the story and can sometimes derail a good solid action film (Spy starring Melissa McCarthy not withstanding.) MIRN made me remember why I liked the first movie so much in the first place. It took a older, somewhat clever 60's TV show and recreated it, paying homage to it in ways that only the truest Mission: Impossible fan of the TV series would appreciate and brought a newer, fresher, yet familiar take on the spy genre. The James Bond films are really about one thing; James Bond. The Bourne films are really about Jason Bourne. But the Mission Impossible films are really about the MI TEAM. Ethan, Benji, Luther and Brandt working together to uncover the identity and purpose behing this rogue band of spies. The bad guys are badder, the henchmen are bigger and more challenging, the allegiances are more doubtful and the moments of humor are perfectly placed and extremely effective allowing this film to do the seemingly impossible; surpass in every way, everthing we expected it to be. Mission accomplished.