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.

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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: The Nice Guys

To be honest, I had my doubts and reservations going into The Nice Guys, the new film written and directed by Shane Black. My doubts and reservations were not unfounded considering my disdain for Black’s last film, which happened to be my first sampling of his acumen as a filmmaker.

So, The Nice Guys is set in 1977 Los Angeles, where the sun is shining, the air is polluted with carbon-emitting smog that is claimed to be suffocating the birds, the atmosphere is filled with sex and vice that affects citizens of all ages and two men are caught in the middle of a not-so-friendly game of “Where’s Waldo?”

“Waldo” in this scenario happens to be a young woman named Amelia, played by Margaret Qualley, and she is in the epicenter of hurricane of scandal, sex, government corruption, corporate shadiness, environmental degradation and she is the target of many unscrupulous men. She is also a person of interest to a swindling private detective named Holland March and Amelia happens to be a former client to a man named Jackson Healy; I suppose the best way to describe him would be a “thug.”

Image by Warner Bros.

The initial encounter between Healy and March didn’t exactly start on the best of terms-Healy broke March’s arm because Amelia paid him to in the effort to have him back off looking for her-but when Healy needs to find Amelia he has to reach out to March and work with him despite their mismatched skillset as investigators and respective personalities.

I had reservations going into The Nice Guys, but coming out I can definitely say that I had a nice time seeing a very nice flick! Shane Black and Anthony Bagrozzi crafted a very slick, buddy cop comedy that was acutely balanced with humor, graphic nature, action, 70s era swagger and leading men Russell Crowe (Healy) and Ryan Gosling (March) shined from start to finish.

I would argue that The Nice Guys’ strong suit lie in Black and Bagrozzi’s savvy writing, which was the foundation of the chemistry between Healy & March’s “partnership” which is also bolstered by the assistance of March’s astute daughter Holly, played by Angourie Rice, who serves as Healy and her father’s moral compass/sidekick throughout most of the investigation. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the dynamic between Crowe and Gosling’s characters, Healy as the brute enforcer who is not afraid to get his hands dirty, March who is a little sleazy and squeamish yet kind of crafty and I felt that they complimented each other quite nicely.

Image by Hollywood.com

I also felt that Black’s direction was seamless. I felt that every subplot flowed and meshed together with a great degree of patience and clarity for the audience to understand and The Nice Guys is a very fun film to follow. I also felt that the use of the “film” that Amelia made with her dead boyfriend and the dead porn-actress Misty Mountains, played by Murielle Tullo, was smart; the idea of film as a means of artistic expression used to expose truth was clever of Black to utilize.

Again I say that Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling had a fun rapport with each other that was very fun to watch. From the moment, Healy breaks down March’s door, roughs him up, breaks his arm, then accepts a Yoo-Hoo from Holly, I was smiling because my inner movie buff was telling me that these two are going to make quite an entertaining team; three if you count Holly and she plays an important role in this film as well.

The supporting cast including Matt Bomer as the no-holds barred hitman John Boy, Kim Basinger as Amelia’s mother/head of the Justice Department, Yaya DeCosta, Keith David, Beau Knapp, Lois Smith, Jack Kilmer, Lance Valentine Butler who clearly enjoys his brief five minute stint of fame in his small role, Ty Simpkins, all do well with their characters.

The music provided by David Buckley and John Ottman was perfect for this film, I give full marks Joel Negron’s editing, Philippe Rousselot’s cinematography was well done, the production design of Richard Bridgland, the art direction by David Utley, Danielle Berman’s set decoration and Kym Barrett’s costume design, you couldn’t ask for more in my honest opinion.

If I had a complaint, it is that I wasn’t exactly excited by The Nice Guys. Meaning, I wasn’t jumping out of my chair and I’m not banging the table hard calling this the best movie of the year. I’m not.

What The Nice Guys is a nice change of pace for this time of the year. Now that school is out and summer is on the horizon, we should be expecting superheroes, visual effects, unnecessary sequels to movies that don’t need sequels, and rest assured those will be coming sooner than you can expect, but with The Nice Guys you get an entertaining, smooth alternative that will tickle your respective fancies and leave you very satisfied. I enjoyed The Nice Guys and I think audiences will get a kick out of it as well.

Movie of the Week: The Nice Guys

I really had to think about whether or not I wanted to see this movie, but since I didn’t really have any plans this weekend, I ultimately elected to commit to see The Nice Guys, the new film from Shane Black, who directed Iron Man 3. The Nice Guys stars Academy Award nominee Ryan Gosling and Academy Award winner Russell Crowe as a pair of private detectives who reluctantly pair up to crack a case involving a fading porn star and mobster operations in 1970s Los Angeles.

What am I expecting to see?: Honestly, I’m not even sure I’m going to like The Nice Guys considering my thoughts on Iron Man 3. Still, I shouldn’t judge a director just by one of his films alone, I haven’t seen any of Shane Black’s prior works so, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe because this film takes place in the 70s and I have a great appreciation for 70s culture for some reason is what is drawing me to this film and I respect buddy-cop comedies and The Nice Guys seems to fall in line with the buddy-cop genre with a dash of graphic subject matter thrown in. Crowe and Gosling look decent in this and the supporting cast including Kim Basinger, Matt Bomer, Ty Simpkins, Margaret Qualley and Hannibal Burress are respectably talented in their own rights. The Nice Guys could be boom or bust but it gets me out of my comfort zone.

 

Review: Noah

Academy Award nominated director Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan,” “The Wrestler”) takes a biblical approach to his latest feature.

From the book of Genesis to the big screen comes Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” starring Russell Crowe

For generations man, born from the line of Cain, has grown extensively greedy and devious. The creator has made all things in his image, but humanity has tarnished and tainted everything that God has made for them, so reckoning must be at hand.

He sends visions to a man descended from the line of Adam and Eve’s third son, Seth. “Noah,” played by Academy Award winner Russell Crowe (“Gladiator,” “Cinderella Man”), foresees that the world will drown in a sea made by endless rain, and humanity will be wiped away for their substantial sins.

Uncertain by what the dreams mean, Noah’s wife Naameh, played by Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind,” “Blood Diamond”), suggests that Noah seek out his grandfather Methuselah, played by Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins (“The Silence of the Lambs,” “The Remains of the Day”) for counsel.

After consulting with his grandfather, Noah comes to the conclusion that his dreams are a warning for an impending doom for humanity but the visions were not entirely ominous.

A great flood is coming! We build a vessel to protect the innocent! We build an ark!“-Russell Crowe as Noah

The ark is to protect two of every creature on Earth from the flood in “Noah”

The visions included instruction on how to build an ark which would assure the survival of Noah and his family as well as the innocent creatures of the Earth, the animals. Noah, Naameh, their sons Shem, played by Douglas Booth (“Great Expectations”), Ham, played by Logan Lerman (“Percy Jackson and the Olympians: the Lightning Thief”), Japheth, played by Leo McHugh Carroll, Noah’s adopted daughter Ila, played by Emma Watson (“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”), as well as a legion of fallen angels called “The Watchers” would construct the ark.

When the animals come to take refuge inside the great vessel, the descendants of the line of Cain immediately take notice, especially Cain’s descendent Tubal-cain, played by Ray Winstone (“Beowulf”).

Russell Crowe (left) and Ray Winstone (right) seek the refuge and salvation the ark provides in “Noah”

Once the flood comes, Tubal-cain and his army will stop at nothing to kill Noah, his family and his protectors and seize the ark for himself. Noah believes that it is his duty to protect the innocent from man’s corrupt nature and will do what he must in order to complete the task the creator has given him.

“Noah” is a steady yet powerful venture, driven by its amazing visual effects and steered superbly into harbor by Aronofsky and screenwriter Ari Handel.

Aronofsky and Handel managed to adapt one of the most memorable stories in the bible into a well-built adventure story that really commentates the dichotomy of humanity, the turmoils and triumphs of family and the unrelenting nature of the works of nature. This film says so much on so many levels, but it is easy to interpret and understand.

The acting was top notch from the major actors. Russell Crowe delivers a strong performance that is properly balanced by Jennifer Connelly’s genuine performance and the supporting actors of Hopkins, Winstone, Lerman and Watson were all very well done.

Though Aronofsky and Handel take some creative liberties with “Noah” they stay faithful to the biblical interpretation. In fact, their creative spins contribute to the impact of the story on the screen.

This cinematic adaptation of “Noah” is paced perfectly. The story simply flows on a continuous motion that sweeps the spectators in, but doesn’t sweep them away and leave them lost.

“Noah” is a visual epic delivered with the proper substance behind the visuals to make the film a success. The directing, writing, acting, visual effects, cinematography and editing are all quality.

Movie of the week: Noah

Darren Aronofsky is about to go Old Testament in his new feature film. In his new film, God is about to purge the world he created for man’s wickedness and capacity for evil has run unchecked. This apocalypse will be one of great tidal waves swallowing the Earth. cleansing his creation of evil but the Almighty Creator of all things seeks to save what little purity the planet has left. He sends visions of the coming doom to an unsuspecting man and instructs him to build a vessel large enough to accommodate two of all of the world’s species as well as his own family. Darren Aronofsky’s new film stars Russell Crowe as “Noah,” which also stars Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Ray Winstone.

What am I expecting to see?: “Noah” boasts the promises of a visual epic that takes initiative with the original source material, yet stays faithful to the overall story. The story of Noah should be common knowledge to all, so I’m not expecting any big surprises or alterations to the story courtesy of Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel. Russell Crowe appears to be in command of this epic but I want to see how the supporting cast including Connelly, Hopkins and Winstone will be depicted in this feature. “Noah” appears to be a film that is grand in the visual scale and thematic scale, but I’m intrigued by what lies within the narrative.

Review: Man of Steel

The origins of DC Comics’ iconic hero are redefined and reimagined in the new adventure “Man of Steel.”

Superman returns to the big screen in visually stunning fashion in the new film, “Man of Steel”

Director Zack Snyder (“300,” “Watchmen”) delves deeper into the origins of the last son of Krypton and the path he takes to become Earth’s greatest defender.

Clark Kent, played by Henry Cavill (“Immortals”), is off the farm he was raised in Smallville Kansas and is adrift in the world trying to find answers as to how he has such extraordinary abilities, ranging from super strength, invulnerability, heat vision, x-ray vision, and why he was sent to Earth to be raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent, played by Academy Award winner Kevin Costner (“Dances With Wolves,” “JFK”)  and Academy Award nominee Diane Lane (“Unfaithful,” “Under the Tuscan Sun”).

During Clark’s upbringing, the Kent’s helped him hone and develop his abilities and urged him to keep his powers a secret, in fear that the world was not ready to know who Clark is or what he is capable of.

Once Clark was old enough to leave the farm, he travels the world to try and find answers to his origins and he finds the answers he was looking for and more when he stumbles onto an alien spaceship buried in ice. Through activating the ship’s system, he comes across a hologram of a man named Jor-El, played by Academy Award winner Russell Crowe (“Gladiator,” “A Beautiful Mind”).

You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall but in time they will join in the sun. In time Kal-El, you will help them accomplish wonders.”-Russell Crowe as Jor-El

Jor-El happens to be Clark’s biological father and a scientist of the destroyed planet Krypton. He and his wife Lara, played by Ayelet Zurer (“Angels and Demons”), decided to save their son from Krypton’s impending apocalypse by sending him in a spaceship bound for Earth.

Jor-El also warns his son about a Kryptonian named Zod, played by Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon (“Revolutionary Road,” “The Runaways”), and his legion of soldiers who are on their way towards Earth and they don’t share Clark’s interests in living amongst the humans in peace.

Michael Shannon is ruthless as General Zod

Zod will stop at nothing to claim Earth as the new Krypton and it is up to Clark, or as he is known on Krypton “Kal-El”, to defend his adopted homeworld with the help of a few humans, including Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane, played by Academy Award nominee Amy Adams (“Doubt,” “The Master”).

“Man of Steel,” is a bold and unique adaptation into the origins of Superman and it offers audiences a different flavor of super hero genre but at the end of the day, it is slightly above average.

Credit should be given to Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer (“The Dark Knight Trilogy”) for penning a fresh and original story for Superman’s beginning for there are a lot of liberties taken in this movie, but the plot is, at times, overshadowed by the astounding visual effects; a calling card for a typical Zack Snyder motion picture.

The acting is pedestrian at best. Michael Shannon’s interpretation of Zod is menacing but no one in the cast truly stepped up and put a stamp on their roles.

The direction of the film is marginally standard. Snyder had all of the elements to make “Man of Steel,” stand out from the rest of the blockbusters but unfortunately, it underachieves.

This is a movie good enough to see for it offers a new perspective on the Superman legacy, intense action scenes and great visual effects, but it is simply satisfying rather than groundbreaking.

“Man of Steel” is a film that doesn’t have enough power to soar, but it glides nicely and has decent entertaining value enough to see on the big screen.