Friday 5th May 2006

Chris had already seen it. Last night in fact. He had picked up his girlfriend from The Oracle, got home to Henley-upon-Thames, only to turn around and head back for the 10pm screening. (He was even willing to wait for the 11.15pm final show). To his surprise the theatre was empty with perhaps 20 people in total there. He wanted to tell me everything but I just wanted one answer to the question, “Is it worth going to see?” He just replied with a nod of the head and a plain yes. Before he could continue and reveal anything about the movie I told him to stop. I could wait for a few more hours, my screening was at 9pm, at my favourite cinema, formally known as Warner Village Reading. I left work early (by fifteen minutes but who out there is really counting?) overjoyed with the mouthwatering prospect of the weekend. It had slowly crept up on me, having been for such a long time, just a future date in the diary. How did I feel as I drove home, through the country lanes across Berkshire? I felt strangely content after a roller coaster week. Glad knots of trouble had untied themselves. A voice in my head said that everything works out in the end and for a split second I wholeheartedly agreed. The main roundabout before I get to my house is called the Turnpike and is always busy. While I was waiting to turn left, I watched a black 3-series cabriolet (with top open) fly around ahead of me. I noticed the plate was MI3 S00. Amazing, strange what you noticed when on on the road. Getting home, I was upset. Upset that no one had answered the phone when I had called home, then my Mum’s mobile or even my Dad’s mobile. My Dad called me back at work and got things sorted. Even so, he kept me waiting and eventually came downstairs to say that he could not collect my special delivery item as it clearly states on the card that you have to wait 24 hours before visiting the Post Office collection point. Smiling, he then went behind the sofa to get two packages instead of just the envelope I was expecting. Result. For a change I was not interested in the big parcel, just the envelope and opened it. Yes! I had my ticket! Sure it was not where I had expected to be seated and perhaps I won’t have the best view of the game but I have my invitation to the party. Sunday cannot come soon enough!

Arsenal versus Wigan Athletic

For all their faults, the ticket office had delivered! A few hours earlier, Terry (who has a new blog over on Bebo) had come on MSN and sent me a link to the full running order of the closing ceremony for a grand old stadium. Even now, as I write this at 1.38am, it has been updated with a half time penalty shoot out featuring David Seaman. So much to look forward to and so little time. Sunday will be an emotional day for Terry and I plan to spend the morning with him has he takes his final memories of the ground away with him. Fifty photographs will never be enough in my humble opinion, but the man knows what he is looking for. Back to tonight, a little after 7pm, we headed to Reading. The sun was just setting in the distance as we made our way down the A404 and A4, the traffic was steady and slowly drifted off as we edged closer to the town. Pulling up to the car park and slotting into a nice slow on level three, right by the main lifts right by the cinema we headed down to Riverside and shops (as the female voice pronounce in a slight electronic drone). I went in to get my tickets and as usual one of the machines was being examined by a member of staff, as my five tickets were printed I asked when we would be allowed into screen four. 20:40 was the time I was given, so we had almost an hour to kill before our date with Ethan Hunt. We went for a walk around the Oracle shopping centre and into the town centre, only to find it deserted and all the shops closed. We headed back around to the Oracle and walked through as the shutters were coming down on the final few stores that had been, until a few minutes ago, open. Heading back towards the Riverside, we took some seats outside Cafe Nero, only to discover it was closed when I walked in to place our order. Walking across the bridge, we went to Starbucks. Or rather my family took a table outside and I went in and ordered some drinks. An attendant came across to off me some free summer Frappuccino, which I quickly declined. She would have been better suited behind the counter serving, rather than handing out freebies. In any case, here I was again at the corporate coffee shop, which just goes against my very existence. I am not a coffee drink and consume a limited amount of tea, so should perhaps join the Hate site. The cool air outside indicated the sun was slowly setting behind the car park and the night would be soon upon us. The evening crowd were slowing descending around us, as we headed into the cinema and went upstairs. As we came up the second escalator, we discovered we were not the only ones eager to get good seats for the third installment of the spy series. I went to get some popcorn and drinks, while the rest of the clan waited in line. Just as I picked up my order the queue was opened and the crowd began to head into the screen. I took the lead and as we headed saw a perfect spot but minus one seat. So I went up and asked a couple to move to the left, luckily an empty seat which was not taken meant a five seat space had been created. I thanked the couple and ushered the rest of the family up. A guy behind me was shocked as I explained I had just taken all these seats, “What, all of them?” Erm, yes I’m afraid. Sorry. We took our seats and got comfortable. Perfect. For the first time in three trips to the cinema (two to this particular venue) I would be able to enjoy the Pearl & Dean music. After the trailers, the film began and I think from the very first scene you are instantly hooked. I know I was. Now I suppose most people will read this review as overly bias. Yes I think Cruise is a great actor and I love the Mi movie installments. However I want to clarify this with being a true fan of the original series from the 60s and 70s. I was bought up on a strong diet of episodes by my father, from the re-runs shown on Channel 4 in the early 1990s. While as a television series it mixed the drama, suspense with the thrilling chase of a spy action series, it hadn’t aged well when I was watching Jim and the team. I am so thankful Tom took it upon himself to bring the series to the silver screen. While perhaps he would have gone a satisfactory job starting in someone else’s vehicle, being in control of almost every element in the movie series means it is true to his vision as a fan. Briefly, a quick synopsis. I enjoyed the original (which I saw at the cinema) it had some great action scenes, perhaps a slightly doggy plot and I did not like the betrayal at the end but the action scenes were breathtaking, including the climax. The second saw a change in direction but once again included a rogue element. Thandie Newton walked her part, which was a shame because she is quite an accomplished actress. Yet, once again the action scenes and some light comic relief rescued the affair. So with this third installment I had quite high expectations, particularly as we had already been waiting a year for the movie to be made. Overall, a fantastic movie which if you are a movie fan you will want to see. There is action, less use of gadgetry, and while it perhaps tries to be an American James Bond, there is a greater emphasis on team work, which makes the I, in IMF rather redundant. The support cast are excellent, particularly the team of Rhames, Maggie Q and Bend It Like Beckham star, Meyers. The drama is tweaked and for the first time a true love story develops, which makes the ride much more emotional than before. Cruise, as always carries out the job with a toothy grin, sparkle in his eye and a big thumbs up. Looking back ten years (yes it really is ten years since the first film was released) Cruise has done something unimaginable. Taken a well loved television series, made three very different movies, with different directors, actors and styles. The music as well takes a different genre, to match the fabric of the movie in each case. This time around Kanye West, “kills” the original theme to pimp it up with some heavy bass, meaning that the Moby mix from 1996, remains most faithful to the original score and my personal favourite. Although I cannot say I am that much of a fan of the track “Impossible” featuring Twista, Keisha and BJ Thomas. Back to the movie, the villain, played perfectly by Hoffman (but you can understand why Kenneth Brannagh was original slated to appear) is perhaps the strongest we have seen to date and a real match for Hunt. Perhaps because there is some conviction in his threats and he always appears to have the upper hand on our hero. Michelle Monaghan beautiful in her role as the “girl” although I have not seen her in any other movies or television series I will keep a look out for that wholesome face in the future. The on screen chemistry (although limited) is clearly electric, right to the end. There is also great comic relief, particularly towards the end, with our very own Simon Pegg. Strange to think he was starring in Doctor Who this time last year. I suppose Americans need to have an eccentric Brit to lighten the tone, but funny how he plays the role of technical support. A great action movie, but with a few unexpected twists and turns which will keep you hooked on the edge of your seat. The question is will Hunt return for another adventure?

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