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 The stories they told remain timeless, but sadly the graphics are a little outdated for most modern movie-goers… until now.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

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His Reach Fell Short!

reacher-2

Seems this weekend is all about prequels/sequels coming to the theaters. Robbie K here reviewing Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, which promises to have some mystery, action, and comedy to entertain us.  But will Hollywood deliver on its promise, or will we get another lackluster sequel from the generic mold?

 

LIKES:

 

  • Fast Pace
  • Comedic Timing
  • Solid casting

 

In my experience, crime stories tend to drag out a bit before getting to the juicy drama and violence.  While this film is a little slow and convoluted at the beginning it does cut through most of the boring fat to get to the action packed meat. The pace continues to pick up through the movie, as constant pursuit from the enemy keeps our small band on their toes throughout the country.  While some of the slower character building moments are integrated into the intense game of hide, seek, and run, they are often short, entertaining sequences that are there to set up for the impending “excitement”.  Rest assured, Reacher’s latest journey connects the dots in rapid succession to get you to the answers as quickly as possible.

And like the last installment, you might be hoping for some witty comedy to help relieve the tension of the constant chase.  Good news, the writers adapted the book to provide Reacher’s famous dry humor.  For those who don’t know, this movie’s style isn’t slapstick and stupid one-liners to be endlessly quoted.  Instead Reacher’s comedy is dry where timing is the main punch line rather than mindless babbling.  Seeing Cruise react to some of the scenarios or deliver a sarcastically flat response were the funniest components of the film.  I felt the comedy was well integrated into the tale and not abused to keep the laughs as fresh as possible.

Of course the comedy and story would be nothing without a good cast, and Reacher has a great lineup to keep you entertained.  All of the cast feels like a solid military crime family, each playing that stereotypical, no nonsense attitude cinematic soldiers seem to have. While not as tall as book Reacher, Cruise’s rogue nature mixes well with Smulders modern age warrior woman to craft a realistic, crime solving MP duo. Ms. Yarosh as the edgy teenager from a broken home also played her part well and added a twist that both worked and annoyed me at times.  And as for the hunter, Heusinger played him well but I don’t think the character direction worked for me (more on that later).  Still the cast overall make you feel part of a government conspiracy, which gets a plus in my book.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Action is short lived
  • Annoying character tendencies
  • Little mystery and suspense

 

The trailers paint for action, but sadly that action has been greatly reduced to Reacher being in small scuffles that usually detail some poor extra getting knocked unconscious in a single punch.  Occasionally you get some gun play involved and a chase scene displaying Cruise’s agility, but even this lackluster at times. While a former veteran appreciated the realistic battles, I was hoping for a little more excitement and tension to grace the screen. This nearly happened at the end, but that scene crossed into a drawn out, ridiculous torture that while justified, did little but make my eyes roll.

While the action scenes may have been annoying at times, there were a few characters who ground my gears. Samantha in particular was an irritation, as her portrayal of an edgy teenager, whining about everything did little to entertain me. Samantha’s arrogance can be entertaining at times (and was important for character development), but there were a good number of shots that had me hoping Reacher would slap some sense into her. And as for the hunter, well he doesn’t win the award for scariest motive, merely a mercenary with delusions of grandeur to feed his obsession. His skills are certainly impressive, but his drive is lacking and kind of stupid.

Yet the biggest disappointment had to be the lack of mystery and suspense in this movie. In the first installment Reacher had to dig deep to find the perpetrator by pushing his skills to the limit and using ingenuity.  In this film though, the quest was almost too easy for Reacher, with all the pieces falling to conveniently into place that is uncharacteristic of a crime thriller. The source of the corruption was sloppily revealed in the form of pointless character I cared little about and lacked the twist of the original. Of course the surprise isn’t helped by obvious foreshadowing introduced in what would be perceived as unnecessary scenes.

 

THE VERDICT:

 

Overall Reacher’s latest adventure is a more diluted version of its predecessor.  For me the cast is the strongest aspect in this fast paced adventure who will set the stage for the adventure. However, the lack of a challenging mystery was a major disappointment that didn’t have the action to make up for it. If you are looking for some realistic crime/adventure you might check this out, but I recommend most wait for RedBox to pick this flick up.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Crime:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6