Didn’t know this, but Universal Studios is trying for a multi-movie story, similar to Marvel and DC’s, about monsters, vampires, fairy tales, etc. The first movie in the franchise is this weekend’s The Mummy. They are off to a bit of a rocky start. I came in with low expectations, and they were exceeded, but that is damning The Mummy with faint praise. (Side note; I remember when Maverick came out my dad really enjoyed it, b/c Mel Gibson had played so many tough guy roles, and In Maverick he was also vulnerable, while still being the hero. That is what Tom Cruise was trying for in this movie. He was still mostly typical Tom Cruise, but threw in some regular dude moments. He even tried to crack some jokes. With this and Edge of Tomorrow Tom Cruise might be evolving. (Side note to the side note; You can’t just write Cruise or Tom, you have to write Tom Cruise.)) The Mummy just isn’t as good as its trying to be. It has the ingredients, but at the end of the day it is just a generic action flick. And if you’re trying to build a franchise off of a generic action flick, you better make the best damn generic action flick out there. The villain isn’t villainous enough; the sidekick isn’t Jack Sparrow enough, the hot chick isn’t desirable enough, and the story isn’t unique enough. The Mummy is like a North Korean missile, impotent and only momentarily news worthy. The acting is pretty good, and the directing is alright; they’re all trying real hard, but the whole thing is just underwhelming. Universal’s version of trying new things is doing all the same things over again and promising there will be more where that came from.
And really, “The Mummy”? Come on! You couldn’t put any more effort into the name than that?
Don’t take your kids. They don’t cuss or have bloody scenes, but but there are some zombie scenes that are going to keep them up at night.
I don’t even know if I should tell y’all this part, but when Wonder Woman started getting amazing reviews I said to myself, “of course, no self-respecting liberal media member is going to give the first super hero movie with a female main character a bad review.” So my macho sexism kicked in and I went into WW looking for bad. I found some: Gal Gadot is not a very good actress and is much better in small doses, and the film struggles when its trying to crank out the story. But that is about it. WW is the best DC movie so far. It edges out Man of Steel, and is a mile better than Batman v. Superman. The action scenes are pretty good, using slow-mo to give WW a sense of power. Chris Pine is funny; basically playing his cool Captain Kirk role, and the other actors do a good job. The comic book junkie in me thinks the best part is that DC finally got out of its own way and allowed its hero to be super. People get stabbed and shot, but there is barely a drop of blood; no sex on screen. If your kids can watch Iron Man they are safe here.
One thing about the empowering women thing; I’m recommending WW b/c it is an enjoyable movie. WW will make a lot of money, but if studios think that is b/c this movie features a female character I think they are setting themselves up for a bad time. I think the same thing about Deadpool; it made a lot of money b/c it is a quality film, not b/c it was rated R. Learn the appropriate lessons from success, make good movies.
The first Pirates of the Caribbean was the perfect mix of story, casting and fun. The newest edition, Dead Men Tell No Tales, can’t replicate that perfect blend, but does almost as good a job as could have been done with the lesser ingredients provided. Captain Jack Sparrow is probably my all time favorite movie character, but he works so much better in a supporting role; swinging in, laying down a funny line or a silly walk, then swinging back out. If he has to do all the heavy lifting on the plot then he loses some of his electricity. Combine that with the average cast, and the ceiling for PC:DMTNT is lower than the Pirate movies you remember from back in the day. But that is all the bad things I have to say about it. The story is fun; the action is good and evenly spaced; the length, pace, and direction are all good. PC:DMTNT is a good movie, way better than the critics are giving it credit for. If you’re a fan you need to see it. If you want to go to the movie and have already seen Guardians then you need to see this one. It’s a fun movie, a good way to start off the summer. If your kids saw the others they can see this one.
The less enjoyable movie I saw yesterday was Alien: Covenant. The first two movies in the Alien franchise, from nearly 30 years ago, had a really unique and compelling vibe. Those movies were suspenseful, spooky, and attention grabbing even as a minimal amount was taking place on screen. A:C desperately wants to rekindle that old magic, but is far too safe and replaces spook with shock, attention grabbing with boring, and suspense with practically nothing at all. A:C has no creativity and no risk. The first hour and a half is a slog. The last half hour is better, but only b/c it just shifts into action movie mode and becomes just an average movie. So that is my synopsis, A:C is 3/4 below average and 1/4 average. Not a great recipe. The acting is probably the best part, but the actors have no story, no direction and nothing interesting to work with (except Michael Fassbender, who is brilliant as usual). There is blood, some parts that try to be scary and a sex scene, but in realty those don’t matter, b/c there is no reason to go to this movie, kids or otherwise.
Beauty and the Beast is great. Take the kids, take the spouse, take the neighbor’s kids, it’s really good. It is 99% of the best they could possibly have done with the live action remake. It’s an instant classic and has to be seen. Theater or top of the rent list (since you may not make it in time to the theater).
Ghost in the Shell was a lot better than I thought it would be, but I went in with really low expectations. I don’t think older people will like it, but there is a possibility that the younger crowd might (don’t go to the theater, use this to decide if you rent). If you like the anime source material than you’ve already seen it and don’t need this review.
The Great Wall is probably out of a theater near you already, but as far as a rental goes you could do worse. The Great Wall was also better than I thought it would be, but, again, I had low expectations. It has a bit of a vibe like the good Chinese movies that pop up every now and then, meaning it is more of a Chinese movie with a couple of Western actors, than a Western movie with a lot of Chinese extras. Not a must see, but I’m very pleased that I did see it.
Fate of the Furious is in the running for most ridiculous of the Fast and Furious franchise. The acting is probably the worst in the franchise, and, if memory serves, F8 also has the worst writing. The writing is bad enough to where even The Rock loses some of his luster. Jason Statham is awesome, but he doesn’t have enough scenes to carry the movie. The action is what you’d expect, if you had big expectations, and knew that unbelievable and physically impossible stuff was going to happen. I don’t feel like I’m breaking any new ground here, so let me skip to the end.
F8 is a movie for Fast and Furious fans, everyone else should avoid it. In most of the FF movies great action overcomes bad acting and middling writing; in F8 the writing and acting drop so low that they are too much to overcome. Credit where credit is due, the franchise keeps upping the action, keeps it fresh, but all their creative talents flow to the action and leave the movie part of the movie sorely lacking.