Brad Bird took chances with “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” gadgets

Tom Cruise in "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol"

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Tom Cruise’s blockbuster spy-fest, “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” arrives on Blu-ray and DVD today, and its technical mystique involved more than an occasional exploding message. Director Brad Bird made his feature-length jump to live action for the film after winning Oscars for Disney and Pixar’s “Ratatouille” and “The Incredibles.”

Bird knew going in that the “M: I” franchise thrives on wacky technology, and together with Cruise’s self-performed stunts, those gadgets attract audiences. Nevertheless, Bird first had to ask his own crew to suspend belief while filming the Kremlin scene.

“I think the [gadget] that took the biggest leap—meaning that some of the people in the crew came up to me later and said, ‘To be honest with you, I don’t think this is gonna work’—was the e-screen in the Kremlin,” Bird told IFC at a tech-heavy pre-launch event at Washington DC’s Spy Museum. “When we were making it the projected image was not there, and things didn’t fit as tightly.”

Although much of what made the final cut in theaters is real in “Ghost Protocol” was accomplished without extensive CGI effects, the e-screen, which renders a hologram of a fake hallway, had to be fully integrated after shooting.

“It was a little more wonky, and everyone was having to suspend disbelief and believe that we were going to pull this off,” Bird explained. “So they were very gratified when the sequence was finally done.”

Meanwhile, Cruise and his co-star for the scene, Simon Pegg, have had plenty of professional experience performing with animated props and set pieces.

“The actors are a little more willing to go there,” Bird said. “They don’t want to look foolish, but they’re playing pretend, which is essentially what a director does; he’s got his little toys, and he’s going [makes pistol-shooting sounds].”

Dale Shelton, a technical consultant on the film, helped Bird to keep things believable. Even when they were playing around with remote-control vehicles and bio-metric scanning devices, they tried to make Cruise’s espionage arsenal seem like it could exist sometime in the next few years—that is, if it doesn’t already.

“That’s what’s great about this film—there is that basis in reality, and you leave thinking, ‘Maybe that does exist,’” Shelton said.

“I was kind of shocked that some of these crazy ideas that we had were actually not too far from happening—like the camera in the contact lens is something that they’re close to having,” Bird confessed. “It was that these outlandish ideas weren’t 20 years off—they were like two years off.”

The ideas that came out of the script resulted in gloves for climbing scrapers and magnetic hover-suits, though, so not everything will be available on ThinkGeek.com in the next decade.

“Sometimes it doesn’t matter whether it’s going to exist or not,” Bird admitted. “[We just decided] it would be cool in the movie, so we’re going to do it.”

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.


It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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