Transformers: Action In Disguise

Transformers 5

 

Decades ago, they were toys that dominated the shelves of the local dispenser.  Next came comic books and a hit animated movie that set off a chain of events resulting in a number of animated series.  And in 2007, Michael Bay tackled the challenge of bringing them to life in the big screen motion picture event of the summer.  Now, ten years later…he is still trying to keep the series alive with a fifth installment. Despite all the bad reviews of previous film, DreamWorks still believes in this big budget money raking machine.  Has Bay learned from his mistakes, or have we yet another special effect wreck on our hands.  Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

 

Animation/Ending:  DreamWorks animation studios still has their finger on the pulse of animation.  Once more their studio proves they can make the fiction world come to life in stunning realism, filling the 2.5 hours with fluid motion, breathtaking special effects, and dynamic sequences.  Bay’s fixation on the special effects continues to shine through in the pyrotechnic, CGI laden visuals that fill the silver screen.  This is great for the last 45 minutes, where the high speed, action packed climax comes to life, infusing adrenaline into the theater and getting things ramped up.  Nice work again guys!

 

Funny:  From the get go, Bay’s writing team has set out to bring laughs amidst the acting (which is about the only thing he is good at bringing). Good news, the 2.5 hours brings plenty of laughs to the mix.  Bantering is certainly the mainstay of the film, but Transformers 5 has a few other bouts of whit, cleverness, and fun to add to the mix.  I found myself laughing at a number of insults to the ridiculousness of the film, and some well-timed quips from a few of the robots and special guest actor Anthony Hopkins.  Speaking of which…

 

Actor/Actress:  I agree with my fellow reviewers that Anthony Hopkins stole the show in this film.  His charming delivery mixes well with the vigor that an old historian of the transformers would certainly hold.  Hopkins delivers his lines in that elegant poise he’s famous for and creates a wonderful character to alleviate from the other humans that inhabit this film.  Certainly, guys like Wahlberg, Duhamel, and newcomer Isabella Moner do a fine job, but they don’t hold a candle to the majesty of this seasoned actor.  Nice pick casting director.  In addition, the new leading lady Laura Haddock is a fantastic addition as well.  Trading characters that are purely sex appeal, for beautiful, respectable, and powerful woman is an A+ in my book.  Haddock has poise much like her other English counterpart, and blew me away at how much I liked the character.  She was a beautiful addition in more ways than one.  Nice work guys.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Human focus:  For a movie titled after giant robots, you would think there would be more focus on them.  Bay once again chose to forego his expensive artificial crafted creations for his real-life actors.  I just ask why?  Transformers has always had human components, but not as the main focus.  In the Last Knight though, it’s all about the human backstories in this film, and trying to wedge them into the story to keep you engaged.  Not the smartest movie, and the amidst the story, the attempt at all these new characters with backstories just didn’t work.

Jam packed story:  Remember the last Transformers movie and the eight plots it had?  Yeah, it gives me shudders too. Unfortunately, the storyboard writers didn’t listen to the last set of reviews, because Last Knight once again is jam packed with multiple stories all trying to wedge their way to the front.  The result is another rushed, sloppy mess that fails to put an engaging story into the midst.  Part treasure hunt, part emerging threat, part character testing for Optimus on top of all the character issues floating around, was just too much to grasp.  And the unifying factor tying all of them together was pretty weak again.  Certainly, the Transformers have never been strong stories, but they have been better and less of a stretch than this mess.  Such a deconstructed plot was not entertaining and left little to ground the action too outside of the finale.

 

Action deficits:  It’s an action movie and as a result you would like to see a chunk of the 2.5 hours filled with the special effects they were so focused on.  Once more this movie fails.  After a decent opening sequence (amidst a hasty opening), the film starts to hit the brakes on the action department.  In an attempt to story build, they extend to drawn out explanations and more comedic banter that wasn’t necessary.  Had the story been worth it, I would have given them props, but nope, just added fluff that wasn’t that engaging to me.  Certainly, there were some fast driving scenes and a quick history of fighting, but these were short lived.  Not cool guys.

 

Unbalanced Robots:  Ever since the second film, Transformers movie have been awful about utilizing all of their creations.  Optimus and Bumblebee take the lead again, and the rest of the Autobus have their moments to “shine.”  Hound, Hotrod, and Squirt get a few gimmicks here, but others like the dingbats and Drift are barely needed having little lines or involvement in the movie.  And the Decepticons, after a major introduction were even more pathetic at being underutilized.  If you’re going to go to depths to recruit cars and voice actors, do something with them!

 

The VERDICT:

 

Transformers the Last Knight showed promised from the trailers as returning to the action roots we loved.  Too bad it didn’t deliver to the level the first production did years ago.  While animation and acting were bullseyes, the rest of the movie is a disproportioned mess with too much going on.  A weak story focusing on humans going on an extensive search and find didn’t do much for engaging plot, and the inability to focus on a plot made it even worse.  Throw in a lack of action and underutilizing of all the other robots and more points get derailed.  While this certainly isn’t the last installment, Transformers needs some repairs to bring it back to the light. Outside of the special effects, this movie isn’t necessarily one for the big screen. 

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

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Dive Down Into 47 Meters of Survival Terror

47 meters

 

It’s the beginning of summer and many people are storming to the beaches for a variety of activities. And of course, Hollywood is happy to release a shark movie to scare everyone back into the theaters, or at least try to.  My build up is of course on the latest suspense/thriller shark movie 47 meters down.  This “original” titled film looks interesting, so naturally I’ve been assigned to analyze, comment, and share with the public.  Robbie K here back again this weekend with yet another review. Let’s “dive” on in shall we?

 

LIKES:

 

Cute leads:  Many modern films are all about using that eye candy to reel you in, and 47 meters is no exception.  The lovely ladies Mandy Moore and Claire Holt take much of the screen time and as such are very pleasant to watch.  For one thing, they are certainly cute. Whether in stunning dresses or wet suits, they look fabulous to keep your attention to the big screen.  Looks aside though, the more important aspect is their acting.  While certainly not an Oscar performance, the girls have the part down pat of playing fear, scared to the point of either death or survival.  The kept the acting in check (for the most part) and sold me into their characters. Of course, they could have used a little more character development to further invest me into the girls’ lives.

 

Suspenseful:  When it comes to suspense/thrillers we want…well suspense.  Good news folks, 47 meters has you covered with this aspect.  The setting itself will get your muscles tense, the dark, foreboding depths filled with terror at what lurks in the shadows.  Yet that is just the surface of the thrills, as the ever-present threat of drowning looms over our heroines. This constant threat continues to amplify the fear, especially when the CGI sharks swim in and things get further heated. The team balanced the fear with brief rests to ease the tension, many times faking us out with foreshadowing before taking a different path.  Such dynamic antics, alongside great sound and music editing, resulted in a fantastic culmination that many shark movies have lacked in the past.

 

Surprises: As I mentioned up above, the directing team kept things dynamic through this movie.  While there is certainly a linear goal for the girls (survival), the path they pursue takes many detours to get there. Just as you think one goal is accomplished, another curveball is thrown to waylay their mission and keep things interesting.  Yet it’s the end that really churns up the water and will leave you in a daze that many horror movies fail to achieve.  So well done on that guys.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Pointless extras: You see the credits, you realize there are few names listed for the acting cast.  In all honesty, they could have left almost all those names off. One major dislike is the limited involvement with the other cast.  Yes they do a lot of background activity to help increase their chances of survival, but you just don’t see much involvement in them. As such, you can’t help but wonder what was the point of them (primarily their boy interests) being in the movie.

 

Miracle moments: Many films have those moments that are sheer coincidence or miracle moments.  In 47 meters down, those moments are quite frequent, throwing plenty of inconsistencies that are a bit eye-rolling at times. Prolonged bouts of struggle often fade fast and magically get solved.  These stretches do add suspense, but many of them are incredibly unlikely to end that way and takes away from the magic they were building up. If you can suspend these observations you will have no problem, otherwise get ready to laugh at some of these cheesy moments.

 

Few shark moments:  After all the advertising of shark attacks, one would think this movie would be filled with close encounters of the toothy sea beasts.  Not the case my friends.  Certainly, there are moments of intense jaw chomping action, but much of the 90 minute screen time is left in the dark.  Like Jaws, the threat of the unknown paints the picture of fear, but I had hoped for a little more engagement with the sharks. Instead, much of the movie focuses on the decreasing air supply and the girls trying to handle their fear.  When the sharks do finally come into play, it is exciting, but also the most overdramatic component of the film, especially that ending sequence.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The reviews say it is the first good shark movie since Jaws, and on some level I agree with that.  However, 47 meters down has a long way to go to master the epic tale of the shark attacks.  It certainly has suspense and uses some cool tricks to get you fired up at the fear the lies at the bottom of the ocean floor.  While the survival aspect is neat to see, I came for a shark movie and felt I only got about 1/3-1/2 of that with the limited shark involvement. And for many of those moments, the coincidental solution to their problems made for some eye-rolling, groan filled reactions.  Still it isn’t the worst shark movie to date and is miles above the “original” pictures from Sy-Fy!  Worth a trip to the theater?  Yeah I think it is on some level, but you can hold off for NetFlix as well. 

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0 

A Rough Night For This Reviewer

Rough Night

 

Bachelorette parties, a sacred ritual to help a young woman transition from single life into the world of marriage.  Of course, like most things, modern traditions have adulterated with new traditions and rituals that leads for a rather “exciting” night. So why not make another movie about it.  Tonight, my friend and I hit the theater to cover the latest comedy to “grace” the big screen entitled Rough Night!  What does this obviously titled film have in store for us?  As always, please read on to find out and help determine whether or not it is worth your money to hit the theater.

 

So what do you get?  For once the trailers were pretty spot on with their portrayal of this movie.  Rough night is a very raunchy, simplistic, and over the top comedy that has little sustenance outside of the attempt at humor.  It’s ridiculousness at times is clever, but these moments are few and far between, buried under the comedy rubble that fills this movie. Aggressive innuendos come rushing out of the woodwork, many delivered in the overdramatic manner that somehow seems to be popular and entertaining to many.  The all-star cast assembled to for this film are okay, dropping their dynamic acting range for superficial roles filled with cursing and satire. Lazy writing also doesn’t help sell the comedy factor, primary thanks to the consistent cursing, shouting of the male genitalia, overzealous drug use, and cringe worthy catchphrases.   Kate Mickinnon is able to salvage some parts of the film with her usual tricks, working the Australian accent with her pizazz and spot-on timing.

Story wise, nothing special here.  Rough Night’s plot is about 80% revealed in the trailers and there is little surprise left for you in the audience. Some of the more adult moments will be the eye widening magic you are seeking, but again these are often awkward uncomfortable, or unnecessary.  Still the movie’s tale had some surprising character development and a nice twist thrown into the mix to help keep things dynamic.  The morals hit close to home on some level, but again are robbed by another bout of stupidity.  I know, you aren’t there for the character developments and rugged plot, but other comedies have learned to balance things and that is where this movie fails.

 

In the end though here are my likes and dislikes:

 

LIKES:

  • Kate McKinnon
  • Good, upbeat soundtrack
  • Short Run Time
  • More dynamic storyline

 

DISLIKES:

  • Incredibly stupid
  • Excessive cursing
  • Aggressive humor
  • Trailers Ruined most of the movie
  • Inappropriate at many times
  • Shallow story
  • Annoying characters
  • Dropped plots
  • Overacting
  • Limited target audience

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            It’s nice to see a movie fit the expectations set by the advertising, but it’s sad that this is a form of entertainment.  Rough night fails to find balance and resorts to cheap parlor tricks known as adult humor.  Sure there are clever components (primarily thanks to the boyfriend and Kate), but even they can’t save the movie from the monotonous laziness that is to come.  kWhy must it be overacted?  I don’t know, but nevertheless this movie failed on many accounts.  Recommended audience members include bachelorettes, girls nights out, or fans of one of the cast.  For the rest though, skip this movie until it darkens the library of Netflix. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy:  5.5

Movie Overall: 3.0

Revving Up To A Better Story

Cars 3

 

“I am Speed!” A quote that will live on forever in the minds of the 2000 generation, movie quote boards, and the status of Disney fans.  For those not remembering the quote, or not realizing what this review is about, it is Lightning McQueen’s catchphrase in the famous Cars series.  Pixar’s work about living Cars took the world by storm long ago, but a flat tire left it stranded behind its cousins.  After a detour with the second installment, Cars 3 attempts to change tires and redeem itself on the winner circle.  And it’s my job to commentate and analyze the movie.  Let’s rev up and take off with another Robbie movie review.

 

LIKES:

Animation:  Let’s get the obvious out of the way, Pixar continues to prove they rock at making things move.  Cars 3 is beautifully detailed, stylish, slick, and fluid on all levels from the skidding tires to simply drinking oil at a local garage bar.  Unlike its sequels, the movie really focuses on the fast-paced world of racing, and brings the full effects of Disney animation to life. All the excitement is captivating and exciting, perfect for many audience members of all ages. And with all the new characters plenty of room for merchandising.

 

Soundtrack: Most Disney fans often won’t pay attention unless it is a flashy, over the top musical number famous from the renaissance of the 90s (and Frozen).  Well although not the famous show stopping sequences, Cars 3 has a nice collaboration of song covers to classic songs that is sure to bring up some nostalgia.  While not as good as the originals for me, I enjoyed most of the twists in this movie and felt they were appropriately placed in the film.  Certainly, not the most unique soundtrack, but strong nonetheless.

 

Comedy:  Good news, Cars 3 is still funny, but even more importantly it doesn’t rely on comedy as the only gimmick.  Rather than relying on Mater’s childlike innocence and stupidity, Cars 3 was able to bring some wit to the table and with it some dynamic comedy.  Mater still has some quips to throw into the film, but the rest of the gang has some well-timed jabs that touch on a variety of topics and styles, which again, will hit most members of the audience.

Story: The team must have taken a step back and analyzed the blue prints of their tale.  Cars 3 story is miles above Car2, dropping into the character development and life lessons made famous in the first film.  It is jam packed full of emotion, with gripping tales all coming together into a very compact package. With exciting races built into the story, the movie keeps a nice pace and remains fun to watch while also being educational.  No convoluted tales of quirky action or stretches here folks, it’s just classic country lifestyle.

 

DISLIKES:

Depressing: This really doesn’t reveal anything, but much of this movie is quite depressing.  While there is certainly a broad range of emotions “racing” through this film, I can say a good chunk is spent in the downer zone. While the kids will have a few moments that might upset them, adults are going to really take the blunt of the depression in this movie.  The trailers have already hinted at the message, but they didn’t prepare me for the intensity this movie has at times.  Fortunately, they relieve that melancholy with fun moments, but somehow Pixar keeps that sullen moment in your mind.

 

Old jokes: I told you they did a nice job balancing jokes, but I didn’t say perfect, did I?  Cars 3 gets a little obsessive with one joke category and starts to rely on it a little too much.  These jokes at times is the perfect icing on the cake, but often it goes with that depressing component I told you about.  I found the fun starting to leave and the sadness starting to set on… way to go Pixar, depressing comedy.  Still, your kids will laugh and might pick up a few annoying phrases to throw at you in the process.

 

Characters dropped:  Like many Disney films, the studios find a way to dump on the old to bring in the new. While certainly not the worst example of dropping characters, Cars 3 reduced many of your favorite character to background characters delivering somewhere between 1-5 lines.  So those heavy on Mater, Sally, and the rest of the gang need to lower your expectations, and prepare to fall in love with the new guys on hand.  This disproportion of characters is certainly sad to see, and while I do enjoy many of the new characters, you can’t help but long to have the old and new world blend a little more together.

The VERDICT:

Cars 3 was certainly rebuilt from the wreckage of the last movie.  The animation remains stunning, brought to full throttle with the exciting races thrown into the mix.  Pixar makes the tale funny and with a much deeper, enriching story than number 2.  Unfortunately for the audience above the age of 15, a somber mood hangs over much of this movie and it lacks a good balance of integrating old with the new.   There are some other components I could comment on, but I’m out of room so you’ll have to see for yourself.  Nevertheless, Cars 3 is definitely worth a trip to the theater folks, and probably the leading blockbuster of this weekend’s new releases. 

 

My scores:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Don’t Leavey Your Tissues Behind

Leavey

 

This weekend is certainly a mixed bag of movies from adventure/fantasy to horror/mystery. So why not throw in a military/biographical/drama into the fray as well, this time portraying a different, and more realistic, female super hero.  If you are reading past my confusing opening, (and the title of this review), you know I’m talking about Megan Leavey. With leash, and gun, in hand, this movie is the chronicle of her walk into the life of a hero and the struggles she had to climb over to succeed.  What’s the verdict?  You’ll have to read on to find out!

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Kate Mara was a fantastic pick for the lead of this movie.  Based on Leavey’s history (from the little research I’ve done), Mara was able to play the emotional rainbow required of this complicated role.  The angst of a rebellious young adult is perfectly portrayed, with enough saucy edge to keep things spicy, while only going over the line occasionally.  Yet, the real portrayal of her talents is her acting of honor, valor, and trauma that comes with being a real-life hero.  You’ll feel all the emotional turmoil, or in some cases lack of emotional turmoil, associated with marine life and the sense of duty before self.  Many audience members became entangled in all the feelings of the movie, captivating them in the story.

 

Good Pace: We know that many military dramas are a little long winded, whether in build up or the tail end of the spectrum.  Not the case for Megan Leavey.  This movie keeps things moving quite well, blending excitement, suspense, and character development in a decently condensed time.  The training portion of the movie is funny and heartwarming as bond between dog and human is formed, adequately building what will be the key foundation for the rest of the movie. Once the exciting deployment begins, the tension only surmounts and keeps one further fastened into the movie, constantly reeled in with each ticking minute as they perform their duty.  It’s engaging! It’s exciting!  And it is real!

 

The Dog:  Let’s face it though, the best part of this movie for most is going to be getting to see the dog or dogs trained to sniff out bombs.  Megan Leavey may be a tale about a woman transforming into a hero, but the director also does extraordinary work with the developing the dog’s status as a warrior itself.  Watching Rex perform all the duties required of him is awesome, feeling like a human actor himself rather than a four-legged accessory.  If you think Mara is the emotional lure in the film, then yes you are correct, but that would make Rex the lighthouse of emotions drawing you more into the flame of this movie.  Watching Rex with the consistent worry that something will happen is the true suspense of this movie, I myself silently praying he would make it home alive.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Movie magic drama:  We know that when it comes to describing drama, many films can exaggerate the truth.  While I’m not certain how tough Megan’s life was, this movie had many moments and characters that felt a little overdramatic to me.  I’m not talking about the war aspect, we know that’s hell.  No, the real overacted moments come in the form of her family life, primarily the interaction with her mom.  Eye-rolling moments aside, fans who like these overzealous characters are in for a treat, but it hit some nerves and took away from the movie.

 

The Final Act: Megan Leavey’s film is split into three parts for me and the first two parts are epically put together to keep the film exciting.  The third part however, is more on the slower side and not the area I would have spent a great deal of time on.  I can’t say much without ruining things, but here it goes.  This finale is certainly emotional, well designed, and a fine example of character development.  However, the pace changes at this part, doesn’t focus on the chemistry I fell in love with. Yes, it’s emotional, and the parts are well put together, I just wanted a little more time with the dog and woman.

 

Theater Worthy?: This is a tough component because there is a lot about this movie I like.  However, I can’t say the movie was really something that needed to be in theaters.  With few special effects and stunts, and a story that, while touching, isn’t an epic, adventure/book like drama that Hollywood theaters have captured.  Instead, this movie would have been solid on the History Channel or a Netflix original movie where you could enjoy it in the comfort of your own home.  So, don’t behead me people, I’m just trying to save you some money to maximize the quality of the film.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Megan Leavey is one of the better military drams I’ve seen in a while.  A fantastic chemistry between man and dog uniting to portray the honor of military service is a leading factor to see this movie.  With emotional sequences captured by beautiful cinematography and epic acting, you’ll find this at the top of a lot of drama loving lists.  Yet, it still lacks some finesse in terms of perfect pace and even more lacks the theater quality effects that make the expensive ticket worthwhile, unless you get the discount show.  Still it is a movie worth checking out when you can, to pay tribute to an honorable woman, her dog, and the heroes that are our military.

 

Biography/Drama/War:  8.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

Ambiguity Comes At Night

It Comes At Night

 

Horror movies, they seem to be popping up at random times during the year.  Why June 9th called for one, I don’t know, but nevertheless… here I am writing another review on one.  Tonight, we hit It Comes At Dark, a movie starring Joel Edgerton.  Based on the trailer, I was expecting a thriller set out in the woods, as our main cast remained isolated in their proverbial fortress of solitude.  And with good reviews on other sites, my expectations further swelled.  What lies hidden in the house?  Robbie K will try to answer with another spoil free review.

 

LIKES:

 

Unique Twist: I use the word unique lightly as most stories have been told in the daunting flood of movies.  This film though treks away from the typical presentation of the horror genre, focusing a lot more on character development instead of just on the scares.  It comes at night takes a more artistic explanation, using the metaphorical devices to build up the suspense, story, and spook factor present in the film.  Such an “original” presentation is fun to watch, as the realistic atmosphere adds a little more edge to the movie.

 

Creepy:  If you’ve read my other horror reviews, you know I like a movie that balances jumps with creep factor. It comes at night doesn’t rely too much on the abrupt symphony blares that shatter the silence, but instead focuses on the creep factor to get under your skin.  The director brought three components that helped deliver the motive.  The first is the use of shadows, letting the unknown hijack your imagination and pain the picture of what lies n the dark.  Have a fear of the night, or at least night in the woods, then get ready for your worst nightmare, because that is what you are going to get. Second is the utilization of subtle sounds to further tease your imagination to create an image of what lurks in the dark. And finally, the realism factor.  It comes at night’s twist could certainly happen and realizing the fact spices up the terror.  That’s right, no over the top monsters, gratuitous maiming, or cheesy over dramatic stories about possession. It’s just straight up creep fest, using simple scare tactics.  Nice job guys.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Slow Pace: It Comes At Night does indeed have a unique twist, but it also opened the movie for a much slower presentation. After a rather tense opening, the pace drops to a snails run as you watched the family work to make a living in this post-apocalyptic world. Like one of the weaker episodes of the Walking Dead, much of the movie involves sequences of chores, upon chores, upon…yep you guessed it…more chores. And given the short run time, I wanted more bang for the buck.  Certainly it develops character (a plus), but without that exciting finish and tension to bring it full circle, the movie dragged and left me bored at times.  Artistic? Yes!  Realistic Yes! Needed all the time?  No!

 

Frustrating flashbacks:  This movie has plenty of weird dreams and semi-flashbacks trying to tell the story and do indeed build up the tension of the situation.  What is frustrating though is how incomplete these flashbacks are in the grand scheme.  The director had a brilliant idea to tease you with the unknown threats looming in this movie.  Unfortunately, the flashbacks, again, never get to the final answer, and all the extra flashbacks (while a great portrayal of thought and fear) frustrated me to know end at the constant interruption of the momentum and not providing the answer. I get it…that’s the point of this movie, but come on…give us something.

 

Ending:  The ending is certainly not the typical, run of the mill finish you expect in most spooky flicks.  So, this reviewer gives them props for that originality and significantly hard punch in the face.  Yet again, the director’s obsession with being artistic resulted in an ambiguous ending that drops to black just like that.  After bringing things to a full boil, the big finish fizzles out with a hasty wrapped up conclusion and a silent final scene where nothing happens.  No answers to what has happened to the world. No answers to the unknown factor that led to chaos (no clear one anyway). And no satisfying ending to complete the run.  So unless you just like dark, vague, finales where you are responsible for piecing things together, get ready for a disappointing ending.

 

The VERDICT:

 

It Comes At Night certainly defies the typical horror genre, and finally injects some uniqueness back into the mix.  A fantastic use of shadows and using the imagination to fill in the gaps amps up the scares and truly colors the unique “monster” looming in the woods.  Yet, they went a little too far with this gimmick and the incomplete ending just didn’t do it for me.  Abstract thoughts and artistic quality aside, I can’t recommend this one for the theaters except for those who like psychological analysis of a plot. 

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Mystery:  6.0

Movie Overall:  5.0

Mum’s the Word: 60s story with 2000s Style

Mummy

 

Monster movies, an epic genre that at one time scared the pants off many before you know… things got out of hand with modern cinema. Legendary creatures like the Wolfman, Dracula, and Frankenstein filled the theater with actors decorated in epic make-up with often beautiful costars to face their “terror.” The stories they told remain timeless, but sadly the graphics are a little outdated for most modern movie-goers… until now.  This evening my buddy and I hit the theaters for a retelling of a classic tale in hopes of sparking a new trend to get us hooked on and make money.  As you can read, my review is on the Mummy tonight starring Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, and Sofia Boutella. Will it be a success, or are we cursed to another mediocre film?  Let’s find out.

 

LIKES:

 

True Monster Movie:  Where most creature films have been turned into gore-tastic bouts of killing, the Mummy returns to the roots of monster movie story telling.  A creature starts to rise to power and it is up to the group to uncover the mystery of how to stop it.  The Mummy focuses on the story telling dynamic, bringing character development, background information, and a dynamic tale that revives the classic genre. Even better is how the movie focuses on the story of this film, instead of building up for an inevitable sequel, something that is rare given the franchise aspect of Hollywood.  The result is a stronger story that is a little more captivating.

 

Comedic relief: Much like the 2000 series, this rendition brings some comedic magic to the desolate desert scenery.  The writing in particular is funny, with well-timed quips that range from simplistic insults and banter to clever puns that are more precious than the treasure under the sand.  Cruise and Wallis work well together with a chemistry that feels like rivals/love interests, and each delivers their humor in their own style that works. However, I laughed the hardest at Jake Johnson whose energetic and erratic style is reminiscent of a giant man child trying to face the curse.  The dynamic style keeps the laughs coming, but doesn’t get overused as we often see.

 

Impressive graphics/action:  While the Mummy certainly takes the story of the 1960’s monster franchise, its graphic presentation is clearly that of the more modern series. Nostalgia runs thick at the various curses our female monster throws including swarming birds, flesh contorting strikes, and yes, face in perilous sand.  The old tricks have never looked better and the technological feats are beautifully integrated into a smooth performance that is somewhat exciting. And speaking of the excitement, the action of the Mummy provides a faster pace than the classics, moving at breakneck speed and loaded with spectacular pyrotechnics.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Out of Place Components: The Mummy does well on the story aspect, but there are parts that felt out of place.  Certain qualities of the film curtail to setting up for the next movie of the franchise (yes, Universal is planning to revive the classics).  These moments are a change of pace (good), but divert a little too much from the path into the cheesy, overdramatic styles that we sometimes see.  I’ll agree that they are impressive displays of technology, but this just proves that not everything has to be covered in movies (hence sequels).

 

Action:  I said the action kept the pace fast and the movie engaging, but the action still has some improvement for me to get the seal of approval from me.  It’s a lot of running, praise to Cruise’s fitness level. Unlike the predecessors in 2000, this Mummy as fewer bouts of gunplay or combat, much of the time the cast dropping their guns to run some more.  They tried to throw some brawls in the mix, but that didn’t work to well for me. I missed the dynamic sequences and thrills they brought, but hey it’s the first film of a long line and there is sure to be more stunts in the future…maybe.

 

Rushed tactics: The heading is tough, but there are some rushed components to this film that needed some fine tuning.  In many proceeding films, it takes time for the bandaged monstrosity to rise to power, requiring gradual offing of characters in suspenseful sequences.  This version was a little short sighted, reduced to a monotonous ploy that lacked little more than repetitive spasms of poor extras.  Many may like the spin on this movie, but this (among other ploys) felt a little underdeveloped and soon became stale to watch.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

The Mummy is certainly not the movie I was expecting, and on many levels this is good.  While not the wild thrill ride from the 2000s, this spin brings the modern technology to the classic story, giving it a unique feel that was refreshing to see.  With comedic relief, decent acting, and impressive visuals, it has a number of qualities beckoning for a trip to theater. Yet, there are some editing limitations that need tightening up to make it flow better and the action component needed some sprucing up to further expand on the thrills.  All in all, a solid start to upcoming monster franchise, but there is work to be done in the future.

 

Action/Adventure/Fantasy:  8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5