Review: The Mummy

I bet there was a time or two in your life when you and your family made an excursion to your local museum, paid the price of admission to get in, passed through the Ancient Egypt exhibit and saw an actual mummy in a sarcophagus encased in an airtight encasing. I’m also willing to wager, that while you were gawking at the decomposing dead person and his/her fancy-schmancy coffin, you were probably thinking “wow. A dead person. What fun!” in the most sarcastic manner while you were on looking.

This reboot of The Mummy is as exciting as looking at a mummy, in its coffin, gathering dust, in a glass case at a museum. Director Alex Kurtzman takes audiences on an expedition across three countries in the span of thousands of years centering on two individuals from different eras bound together by a sinister plot to bring the ultimate evil on Earth.

Tom Cruise is Nick Morton, the unsuspected and unfortunate fool who unearthed Princess Ahmenet, played by Sofia Boutella, a disgraced Egyptian princess who was eager to get into bed with the god of death in order to assume the mantle of Pharaoh in her time but she was stopped before her designs were set into motion. When Ahmenet is freed, she binds Morton to her with a curse in order for him to do her bidding and complete her plans.

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Image by Universal Pictures

If this movie were made maybe 30 years ago, it may have had a higher impact on audiences but this new mummy is so old-fashioned its practically dead on arrival, emphasis on dead!

Writers David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman did their hardest to incorporate some old-fashioned monster movie nostalgia in a modern-day setting to jumpstart what Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll calls “A new world of gods and monsters” but with the clichés, flimsy characters, ridiculous plot holes and straining story, this “new world” in this “Dark Universe” looks very bleak.

I’m not exactly a fan of Tom Cruise as it is, but he certainly didn’t do any favors himself in this movie. He’s a reputable action star but he just doesn’t excite me as a leading man and his character is just so poorly constituted as well.

Some players never really had a chance to flex their chops in this movie themselves such as Courtney B. Vance, while others were left at the mercy of bad writing and execution like Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson and Marwan Kenzari. The only actor who actually held interest for me while watching this flop was Boutella.

Ben Seresin’s cinematography was mediocre, the editing of Paul and Gina Hirsch and Andrew Mondshein was all over the place, Bryan Tyler’s score was unspectacular, the visual effects were so cheesy, it hindered whatever appeal this film had going for it, I didn’t mind the production design courtesy of Jon Hutman and Dominic Waktins, and I especially liked the make-up applied to Boutella’s character.

To say that I was unimpressed by this film is an understatement. The Mummy was better off in its sarcophagus and left beneath the sands.

Movie of the Week: The Mummy

Ever hear the phrase “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?” That should be the moral of this week’s featured film for this woman seeks to bring hell on earth! Princess Ahmenet was once destined for greatness until circumstances robbed her of her chance to achieve them and so she was buried deep beneath the sands of Egypt. Millennia later, her slumber was disturbed by an unsuspecting individual who will now play victim to her wrath upon the Earth and her wrath is practically biblical! Once a beautiful and powerful ruler-to-be, Princess Ahmenet is now The Mummy!

Director: Alex Kurtzman

Screenwriters: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman

Starring: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, Courtney B. Vance, Jake Johnson and Marwan Kenzari.

What am I expecting to see?: This movie is set to be quite the kickstarter for Universal Pictures as they unveil their new Dark Universe movie-monster franchise. Truth be told, I’m not holding my breath for something awesome with this remake of The Mummy, I happen to be familiar with the previous remake-turned-trilogy from 1999 and I’m not a Tom Cruise fan, but the fact that director Alex Kurtzman chose to reboot this franchise with a female Mummy fascinates me enough to give this a try. Best case-scenario: this movie will sell me on this new Dark Universe franchise.

Review: Inferno

Stop me if you believe you’ve heard this before: a renowned billionaire has quite a pessimistic perspective on the state of the world at present and he has collected quite a following who share his vision and this billionaire alone has the means and drive to engineer a plan of action that he believes can heal all the wrongs of the world in order to bring order back to the world at large.

No, I’m not talking about a certain billionaire who is currently running for public office! I’m talking about a character named Bertrand Zobrist and his vision is more extreme than the billionaire you are probably thinking about.

Betrand Zobrist is a key player in the new cinematic Dan Brown adaptation titled Inferno, but from looking at him and listening to his rhetoric, you’d think he would be the next James Bond villain. He believes that overpopulation is the crucial factor as to why the world is spinning out of control; the cause for several cases of animal extinction, climate change, economic and political catastrophe, social unrest and his solution is derived straight out of the philosophies of the epic poet Dante himself: a plague that can eradicate virtually half of the world’s population.

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Image by Sony Pictures

In order to escape capture Zobrist committed suicide but in his final days he set his plan into action and procured a pawn who could see his machinations come to fruition: esteemed symbologist Robert Langdon, who cannot account for his actions in the last 48 hours and the person of interest for several covert organizations who are chasing him throughout Florence and Venice. Aided by Dr. Sienna Miller, Langdon must remember a past that was taken from him and thwart Zobrist’s scheme before billions of people are eradicated.

Inferno was a decent action movie but as I sat in the theater taking it all in, I was trying to figure out what was missing and how this could be better and it finally occurred to me when Inferno ended: this movie could have been a lot better if you substituted Robert Langdon for James Bond because Bond would be better equipped to handle stopping an extinction level event than a Harvard symbologist.

I will give director Ron Howard and screenwriter David Koepp credit for another attempt to bring a Dan Brown novel to the big screen and make it as suspenseful and action-packed as possible but let’s face facts here: this was a Dan Brown novel trying to wear James Bond’s clothes; at least that’s the way I saw it. Those who read Inferno prior to seeing it won’t have the best opinion of it, while others who did not read the book will find some redeeming value in the film; I find myself in the latter category but to be fair, considering The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons were not exactly cinematic grand slams, I didn’t expect Inferno to turn my world upside down going in.

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Image By U.S. Department of State, via Wikimedia Commons

Tom Hanks who is a few weeks removed from a solid performance in Sully, tries his best to make Langdon an action hero but in Inferno, his character is merely a pawn to characters with larger designs and that is simply wasteful to his talents. Felicity Jones is about to enjoy a very fruitful end to 2016 and her performance as Dr. Sienna Miller is as grounded as it can get, the rest of the supporting cast including Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy, Ben Foster, Sidse Babette Knudsen, Ana Ularu, Ida Darvish, make their marks then fade away as the picture tries to tie up every loose end possible.

Salvatore Totino’s cinematography is quite effective and the editing of Tom Elkins and Dan Hanley benefits off of using such striking imagery, especially when Langdon suffers from his visions and his unwilling participation through Dante’s perspective of hell.

Hans Zimmer provides the score to Inferno and he perhaps does more to lift this film up more than anyone by providing dramatic atmosphere to a film that has drama but doesn’t lacks staying power.

Peter Wenham’s production design, the art direction, the costumes, the visual effects, the sound; truth be told Inferno has solid and effective technical aspects to its production.

To wrap this up, I’ll be succinct: I didn’t hate Inferno but after watching it, I wished that it were remade and adapted to be a James Bond movie because let’s face it, the plot and the setting for Inferno fits the skillset for a character who can take more action in the story like Bond rather than Langdon and it was disappointing that Dan Brown orchestrated a plot like this instead of Sir Ian Fleming.

Movie of the Week: Inferno

This week seems like a reversal from my perspective. I just saw a beautiful and profound film last weekend, so why am I seeing a potential flop this weekend? I do not know but at least I’ll be seeing something and writing about something. To say that the Dan Brown film series has been underwhelming is a grand understatement but for the life of me I grab some fulfillment out of these movies. Now Professor Robert Langdon is drawn into a new historical scavenger hunt in the effort to thwart an extinction-level event that takes the term “hell on earth” to literal proportions. Inferno arrives in theaters this week.

What am I expecting to see?: Truth be told if Inferno is entertaining on some level I’ll be satisfied yet I don’t expect this to be great in any sense of the term. Tom Hanks is back as Professor Robert Langdon, hero symbologist aided by Felicity Jones, who has positioned herself to have a monster fall-winter in 2016 with Ron Howard back to direct. David Koepp has adapted Brown’s novel to the screen and Hanks and Jones will be supported by Ben Foster, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, Sidse Babette Knudsen, Ana Ularu among others. If Inferno can at least smolder rather than completely burn, that should be victory enough for this film.