Tom Cruise heads underwater and into the air in new "Mission Impossible' trailer
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise heads underwater and into the air in new "Mission Impossible' trailer

And who is that intriguing female lead?

Twenty years.

That's how long Tom Cruise has been making "Mission: Impossible" films. I kind of love that every sigle film in the franchise is a different director. Over the last three films, though, the series has snapped into a much more rigorous sort of overall continuity, and it's done a much better job of building a team that lasts from film to film.

From JJ Abrams to Brad Bird to Christopher McQuarrie now, we've seen Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) put together a team, and in this one, it looks like we get Jeremy Renner, Smon Pegg, and Ving Rhames together, along with uber-hot newcomer Rebecca Ferguson. I love the various set pieces we get a glimpse of here, and the craziest of the bunch appears to be the one at the start of the trailer, with the weird whirlpool and the strange underwater stuff.

I'm not going to pretend like these movies have all been masterful executions of perfect plots, but I am excited to see the latest one to see how McQuarrie ups the stakes from the last one. In that film, it felt like Brad Bird finally perfected what a "Mission: Impossible" movie is supposed to look like, and McQuarrie did an excellent job with Cruise in "Jack Reacher."

So does this mean that between the excellent place they left the last film and the remarkable talents of Mr. McQuarrie, this is going to be the best "Mission: Impossible" of the bunch?

The Led Zeppelin certainly does not hurt.

We'll find out when "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" opens July 31, 2015.

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Review: 'Insidious: Chapter 3' is the most familiar trip to The Further so far
Credit: Gramercy Pictures

Review: 'Insidious: Chapter 3' is the most familiar trip to The Further so far

HitFix
C
Readers
n/a
Prequel adds nothing new to what is starting to feel like a small world after all

With the third chapter of the "Insidious" series, Leigh Whannell steps up to take over as writer and director on the second franchise that he started with James Wan. As today's "Aquaman" news made clear, Wan has become a major asset to studios now, and while I doubt he's made his final scary film or even his final small film, I doubt we're going to see him make any more films in the "Saw" or "Insidious" worlds again.

So why not Whannell? After all, if there's anyone who understands this world, it's him. He was the one who created the mythology, after all, when he wrote the first film, and he's played Specs, part of the paranormal investigation team headed by Lin Shaye, in the other two films. When I first saw the set-up for this film, I assumed it would be an early adventure for Specs, Elise (Shaye), and Tucker (Angus Sampson), and I thought that sounded great. I like that Shaye plays her part as someone who deeply believes, someone who has great respect for the surreal experience that these people are going through when they come in contact with her, while the guys are both far less ethereal about the whole thing. It's a fun contrast, and they never felt like simple knock-offs of real TV paranormal "ghost hunters" or of the Ghostbusters, which is harder than it sounds.

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Weird Crush Wednesday: We're haunted by JoBeth Williams in 1982's 'Poltergeist'
Credit: MGM/UA Home Video

Weird Crush Wednesday: We're haunted by JoBeth Williams in 1982's 'Poltergeist'

Suburbia sure looked good to us in Tobe Hooper's well-loved horror film

When "Poltergeist" was released to theaters, I was 12 years old, and it was smack dab in the middle of the best summer of movies I'd ever seen. Film after film after film, I felt like these movies were hitting me right smack dab in my own particular pleasure center, and when I walked into "Poltergeist," I was ready for anything.

One of the most complicated things about my reaction to the film was thanks to JoBeth Williams, who played Diane Freeling in the movie, the mother to the family that was troubled by the visitation. In the movie, she was 33 years old, a suburban mom, pretty much the opposite of what most kids at the age of 12 would consider an object of desire. It is safe to say that I had a full-blown out-of-control crush on Williams by the end of the film, though, and I'm not sure I could have even pulled it apart to explain why at that point in time.

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This is one seriously good-looking end of the world
Credit: Relativity

This is one seriously good-looking end of the world

This is one seriously good-looking end of the world

One of the films I was quite taken with at Sundance this year was Craig Zobel's latest, "Z For Zachariah," and now that we're six months into the year, it remains one of the films I've most enjoyed this year.

It's a simple movie, and I get the feeling that fans of the Robert C. O'Brien novel may have some difficulty with the adaptation, but it packs a powerful punch thanks to Zobel's expert work with his trio of lead actors. Chris Pine is sly and insinuating in his role as the guy who stumbles into and potentially spoils a sort of post-world paradise that Margot Robbie and Chiwetel Ejiofor have made for themselves in a valley that was somehow skipped when the world ended. Ejiofor is going to break a lot of hearts with his work as the guy who liked being alone in the world, and who is sure that as soon as Robbie is offered a choice, he won't be the choice she makes.

It's Robbie that makes this one really special, though. I've been writing about how impressive her work is since "The Wolf Of Wall Street," and I think she single-handedly elevates "Suicide Squad" with her casting in the role of Harley Quinn. Watching Paul Dini's delighted reactions to her on social media is my favorite thing about "Suicide Squad" set photos so far. If anyone has the final word on whether or not they think Harley is being done properly, it would be the creator of the character. Robbie has managed to demonstrate remarkable range in just a handful of films, and while she is a striking young woman, she manages to disappear into the roles she plays. She has a great ear for accents and voices, and her work in "Z" is particularly subtle and affecting.

We've got the new exclusive debut of the one-sheet for the film today, and I'm really pleased to be able to present it:

I'd direct your attention back to my review of the film, our interview with the cast which is embedded above, or the longer interview with Craig Zobel that our own Katie Hasty conducted.

"Z For Zachariah" is in theaters on August 21, 2015.

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First 'Fallout 4' trailer shows a post-apocalyptic Boston in bloom
Credit: Bethesda Game Studio

First 'Fallout 4' trailer shows a post-apocalyptic Boston in bloom

Looks like "Fallout" fans are in for one heck of a year.

Long-rumored and only confirmed today after a fun 24-hour countdown clock, "Fallout 4" will take the post-apocalyptic gaming franchise to Boston, and part of the fun of the premiere trailer today is looking at the way the design of the game plays off of familiar Boston landmarks. For people who have lived in the city (I assume my buddy writer/producer Kevin Biegel is going actually move into the game), it's going to be even more of a blast, but these games aren't just jokes about real estate.

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Why Dwayne Johnson is asking for 'Big Trouble' with his Carpenter remake
Credit: 20th Century Fox

Why Dwayne Johnson is asking for 'Big Trouble' with his Carpenter remake

Oh, this one ties me in knots

I confess that my first reaction to this news was caught on film and you can now see it in photo form attached to this story.

Here's the thing: I am on record as saying that I consider Dwayne Johnson a bit of a natural resource. I don't think the movies he makes are always worthy of his charisma and his genuine talent, but i think he's more than proven himself capable. I am hopeful when he announces a project that it'll be something that is as good as he is.

I am also on record as saying that it's exhausting to get worked up about every single remake or sequel or reboot or whatever at this point. The industry has so clearly embraced that as an omnipresent business plan that it is wasted energy. It takes a lot to shake that loose from me now, but maybe this one bothered me more than normal because I spent most of yesterday writing about a John Carpenter film, so my affection for his work was already at the forefront of my mind.

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Fox Searchlight goes bold with 'Me & Earl & The Dying Girl' posters
Credit: Fox Searchlight

Fox Searchlight goes bold with 'Me & Earl & The Dying Girl' posters

Is this poised to be the summer's indie breakout hit?

I haven't had the chance to see "Me & Earl & The Dying Girl" yet, but I'm excited that opportunity is finally here.

When I attend Sundance as part of Team HitFix every year, we divide the movies up before we get to the festival, and as a result, there are times when I miss a title that has everyone worked up, and that was "Me & Earl & The Dying Girl" this year. As soon as that first screening ended and our own Greg Ellwood started going nuts for it (along with everyone else), it seemed like a pretty safe bet that we'd get a chance to see the film this year at some point.

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Review: 'Entourage' is a big-budget riff on the low-stakes original
Credit: Warner Bros.

Review: 'Entourage' is a big-budget riff on the low-stakes original

HitFix
B-
Readers
n/a
If you're already a fan, you should be very happy with what they've done

There have been a few reviews lately where people have gotten hung up on the letter grades on these reviews, and it seems like this is a good review to begin with a reminder of how the letter grades work. If you want to know how I felt about a film, you read the review. I'll tell you about my own personal reactions, and I'll tell you if I enjoyed things. And I'll work hard to try to set a film in some sort of context if I think that's required.

The letter grade, though, is more about a general sense of how well I feel like a film accomplished the goals of the filmmakers. I may not like those goals, but if I think the filmmaker did what they were trying to do, then I'll give a solid letter grade. There are plenty of films I don't especially like that I can acknowledge will play to some audience even if they don't play to me.

"Entourage" is one of those films.

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Are horror movies the antidote to the way we're making modern kids afraid?
Credit: Anchor Bay Home Video

Are horror movies the antidote to the way we're making modern kids afraid?

Are we scaring our kids the right ways today?

It happened, and I didn't notice it. I've been hoodwinked, bamboozled. Someone made an end run, and it worked? Oh, my god, I'm Elmer Fudd. I got took.

And honestly?

Couldn't be prouder.

For the most part, when I write about Film Nerd 2.0, I'm writing about both Toshi and Allen, both of my sons, and when it comes to showing them movies, I try to keep them both involved as much as possible.

Toshi turns ten just a few months, though, and there's really no comparison between the way he digests media now and the way Allen does. Toshi's begun talking to me about storytelling in a way that suggests that when he's done watching or reading something, he's not done thinking about it. He came to me recently to tell me that he's "got a character." The other day, he and Allen were playing, and I was sitting in the other room. I could hear them talking, and Toshi was telling Allen a story about this character he's created, a story he appeared to be making up as he was telling it.

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Review: As destinations go, 'Aloha' makes 'Elizabethtown' look irresistible
Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: As destinations go, 'Aloha' makes 'Elizabethtown' look irresistible

HitFix
D+
Readers
n/a
This long-delayed romantic comedy is a dud from frame one

If you were to show me "Aloha" with no credits on the film, my reaction would remain just as complicated as it is now, but I'd say, "There are a few moments here that are promising, and I feel like this filmmaker might put it together at some point. Not this film, probably not the next one, but at some point." It is, frankly, astonishing to me that "Aloha" is the eighth film in someone's directing career, not the first.

When they released the trailer for "Aloha," I was flabbergasted by it. It looked like a beat-for-beat remake of "Elizabethtown," which seemed like very odd choice considering the response to that film. Now that I've seen it, the crazy part is that they had to go out of their way to cut the trailer like that, since "Aloha" is not structured the same way as "Elizabethtown." Basically, Sony decided that it was better to advertise this as a loose remake of the film that derailed Crowe's career than to advertise the film as what it actually is.

That pretty much says it all.

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