To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky visuals with exaggerated action. It's certainly nothing like the involving classic monster movies they're trying to reignite, such as the 1932 Boris Karloff classic The Mummy. But this movie has more in common with Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible and Jack Reacher blockbusters, with added swimming zombies.
Cruise plays Nick, an American army officer and mercenary who with his cohort Vail (Jake Johnson) has just located a long-lost burial site deep in Daesh-controlled Iraq. Somehow, the hot archaeologist Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) arrives immediately to stop him from plundering this tomb. It turns out that the sarcophagus contains the remains of ancient Egyptian Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who was mummified alive for making a pact with the evil god Set and then murdering her father and brother. Now transported to London, she returns to life with a vengeance, casting a spell on Nick to help reassemble Set's dagger and finish her nefarious plan. So Jenny turns to her deeply unstable boss Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) for help.
There's rather a lot of mythology building going on here, setting things up for the further adventures of Jekyll's secret society, which is trying to deal with ancient evil like a mash-up of Men in Black and Night at the Museum. Without the humour. There are some throwaway gags here and there, but director Alex Kurtzman stages everything with a gloomy sense of foreboding that simply never gains traction. The thin plot seems constructed merely to connect a series of enormous action set-pieces, which are all very well choreographed but never remotely exciting. It doesn't help that everything on-screen has been extravagantly over-designed, with cavernous sets that have been made deliberately dark and sooty. But this leaves the entire movie feeling artificial, random mayhem in fake places.
Continue reading: The Mummy Review
The director is following up 'The Mummy' with a new Universal horror classic.
The latest adaptation of 'The Mummy' comes to theatres this weekend with Alex Kurtzman at the helm. It's just the first in a series of Universal horror reboots, which is set to be followed by the classic tale of 'The Bride of Frankenstein' in just a couple of years.
Alex Kurtzman at 'The Mummy' premiere
Alex Kurtzman could barely contain his excitement talking about the forthcoming movie in a recent interview, following the release of 'The Mummy' starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella. He reveals there's already a script in place from the same writer and it's 'brilliant'.
Continue reading: Alex Kurtzman Spills On 'Relatable' Bride Of Frankenstein Script
During a deadly military operation in Egypt, an explosion uncovers an overwhelming secret buried in the sand. Army officer Nick Morton teams up with an archaeologist named Jenny Halsey to investigate the new find, but what looks like an ancient tomb is found very quickly by Halsey to be a prison, which tells of the fate of Ahmanet; the heir to the throne of Egypt. Destined to be queen, Ahmanet's quest for power led her on a murderous rampage when she was alive, and her punishment saw her sealed in her sarcophagus and buried alive. The power has remained, and the discovery has released a dark force that nearly kills them all as they attempt to fly the sarcophagus back to London. Somehow, Nick manages to survive an horrific plane crash completely unscathed, with the spirit of Ahmanet using him to regain her power back. She won't stop until she has seized control on the world that slipped through her grasp all those centuries ago, and London is the first target.
A re-boot of the original 1932 horror (which previously spawned the 1999 trilogy of the same name and the Dwayne Johnson spin-off 'The Scorpion King'), 'The Mummy' is a brand new story based on Egyptian myth. It has been directed by Alex Kurtzman ('People Like Us') and written by Jon Spaihts ('Passengers', 'Doctor Strange', 'Prometheus') and the Academy Award winning Christopher McQuarrie ('The Usual Suspects', 'Jack Reacher', 'Edge of Tomorrow'). The new trailer features a part instrumental of The Rolling Stones hit 'Paint it Black'. 'The Mummy' is set to be released on June 9th 2017.
There are also a number of excellent featurettes to watch. The Zero gravity shoot is particularly fascinating to learn about. To replicate zero gravity, a specially equipped plane must fly to a great height and then basically go into a freefall for 22 seconds - as the time frame is so short, they had to reset the shots over forty times.
The tombs and burial chambers in Egypt have long provided fascinated discoveries and lead the world to understand incredibly important facts about ancient times. Down the generations, it's been said that the ancient Egyptian gods, deities and earthly pharaohs had powers beyond those of a normal human.
Thousands of years after the gods walked the earth, we're still as interested in the secrets the ancients held.
There are few details available about the precise plot of the new movie but here's what we do know. When a new tomb is found, work begins to excavate the structure and catalogue its contents. When a mummy's tomb is uncovered, the archaeologists can't believe their luck, wishing to protect and preserve the tomb, the army are called in and asked to transport the structure to London but whilst the freighter is in the air, the team on board find themselves - and the plane - being attacked by a vast swathe of flying creatures.
Continue: The Mummy Trailer
Scooter Braun, Nicholas Wootton, Nick Santora, Walter O’Brien and Alex Kurtzman - 2014 PALEYFEST CBS preview panel featuring 'Scorpion' at The Paley Center for Media - Arrivals - Los Angeles, California, United States - Sunday 7th September 2014
As with the too-early franchise reboot in 2012, this sequel struggles to balance the demands of a teen romance with a superhero blockbuster. The interpersonal storylines are sharply written and skilfully played by the gifted cast, but the eye-catching effects sequences feel like little more than a shiny distraction. Action fans will love the way digitally animated Spidey swings more realistically than ever down the streets of New York, but the fact remains that these scenes are cartoons. And a new template is badly needed for this genre.
It kicks off as Peter (Andrew Garfield) nearly misses his high school graduation to save the city from another crazed nutcase. His girlfriend Gwen (Emma Stone) is fed up, and then crushed when Peter breaks up with her because he's worried about her safety. So she considers taking a place at Oxford University to get away. Meanwhile, Peter is also trying to understand the truth about why his parents (Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz) left him to be raised by his Aunt May (Sally Field). But he's interrupted from all of this by the arrival of old pal Harry (Dane DeHaan), back in town to inherit the family business from his dying dad (Chris Cooper) and in need of moral support from Peter.
In each of these three plot strands, Peter faces a significant dilemma that's beautifully played by Garfield as a cheeky, good guy who worries about the darkness all around him. And there's also a nefarious side-plot trying to take over the movie, as nerdy technician Max (Jamie Foxx) is transformed by an electric shock from Spider-man's biggest fan to a spark-emitting villain called Electro. This shift doesn't make sense on any level, and Harry also has a sudden personality change that's badly under-explained, forcing the film into a series of huge action showdowns along with a completely irrelevant aside about two colliding airplanes that feels tacked on to up the human stakes.
Continue reading: The Amazing Spider-man 2 Review
Since this entire story centres on virtual-reality gaming, it's tricky to feel any sense of what's at stake here. But a strong cast and above-average effects work help hold our interest until the requisite dramatic shift takes hold. Along the way, the movie explores some punchy issues such as the nature of true leadership and the morality of war.
It's set in a distant future: Earth has regrouped after an alien invasion, turning to children to harness their quick gaming reflexes and inner fearlessness. Ender (Butterfield) is a 12-year-old who's sure he'll crash out of training like his older sister Valentine (Breslin). But Colonel Graff (Ford) and Major Anderson (Davis) see something in him and send him on to battle school in an orbiting space station. As he shows true leadership potential and a sharp mind for warfare, he's promoted even further, training with iconic hero Rackham (Kingsley) on one of the aliens' former planets. And as he approaches his final exam, there's the sense that the fate of Earth hangs in the balance.
Yes, everything Ender does throughout his training is game related, either with digitally created environments or in a weightless battle globe with other cadets. This adds huge possibilities for the script to grapple with moral issues as Ender faces some staggering decisions. But since it's just a simulation, does it really mean anything? Thankfully, Butterfield is a terrific actor who lends the character a steely interior life that catches our interest. And being surrounded by the terrific Ford, Kingsley and Davis helps. As do some intriguing fellow recruits played by Steinfeld, Arias and others.
Continue reading: Ender's Game Review
The idea of magicians conducting a series of heists is a great one, but this under-developed film never quite seizes the opportunity. Even its terrific A-list cast can't make much of the lame plot. And director Leterrier is so enamoured with magic that he packs the film with whizzy digital trickery. Which completely misses the point.
At the centre are four illusionists: card trickster Daniel (Eisenberg), hypnotist Merrit (Harrelson), escapologist Henley (Fisher) and street magician Jack (Franco). They're summoned by a mysterious figure to team up for a series of elaborate performances funded by a wealthy benefactor (Caine). First up is a Las Vegas show that involves stealing millions of euros from a Paris bank and raining them down on the audience. This attracts the attention of FBI Agent Rhodes (Ruffalo) and Interpol's Dray (Laurent), who follow them to their next shows in New Orleans and New York. As does a notorious debunker (Freeman) determined to expose their secrets.
The film never quite gets the balance right, as we're not sure if we should root for these flashy young magicians or the people they're leading on a wild goose chase. But there's plenty of eye candy to keep us happy, as each whizzy stunt goes over-the-top to make us wonder what's really happening here. Everything this quartet does has an anarchist slant, stealing from the wealthy to help the needy, which adds a tinge of topicality. Although the gratuitous action scenes and ludicrous effects leave the film about as realistic as a Road Runner cartoon.
Continue reading: Now You See Me Review
After his successful re-imagining of the Star Trek universe four years ago, Abrams dives even deeper into the mythology, which is thrilling for fans but might leave newcomers feeling a bit lost. This sequel surges forward with action, drama, romance and a lot of comedy while constantly nodding back to the earlier TV series and films. And the smart screenplay finds ways to deepen all of the characters along the way, as well as offering an unusually complex villain.
The action picks up soon after the first film ends, as Kirk (Pine) is once again in trouble for disobeying the Prime Directive not to interfere with a planet's culture. But his punishment is short-lived, as Starfleet becomes the victim of brutal attacks in London and San Francisco, sending Kirk, his first officer Spock (Quinto) and the gang (Saldana, Urban, Yelchin and Cho, with Pegg following later) into enemy space to chase the villainous John Harrison (Cumberbatch). But of course, there's a much bigger story going on, and Harrison has a reason for his violent behaviour, leading to a series of terrifying showdowns as they all return to earth.
While the script is packed with shadowy characters, there's not much actual "darkness" in this movie. It's a pretty bouncy, energetic ride, continually making us laugh at tetchy interaction and throwaway one-liners, all of which are cleverly character-based rather than merely silly gags. This gives each actor a chance to shine, with Pegg and Urban offering much of the humour with their amusing crankiness, while Saldana provides the stereotypical female emotional beats. As usual, the strongest scenes are between Kirk and Spock, and their shifting bromance is well-played by Pine and especially Quinto. But dominating the whole film is a meaty turn from Cumberbatch as a particularly fearsome nemesis who also happens to be both brainy and openly emotive.
Continue reading: Star Trek Into Darkness Review
The cast and crew of 'Star Trek Into Darkness' discuss their biggest challenges on the movie, their successful auditions and working with each other at the official UK press conference for the movie. Among them are producer Bryan Burk, writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof, director Jj Abrams and actors Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Alice Eve, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch and Chris Pine.
There's an intriguing true story buried inside this overly structured drama, and by playing by simplistic screenwriting rules the filmmakers make everything trite and predictable. Fortunately, the cast is much better than the material, and they bring their characters to life with jaggedly engaging interaction and some resonant emotion.
The story centres on Sam (Pine), a fast-talking New York salesman who is in big trouble professionally. So when his estranged father dies in Los Angeles, it gives him a chance to escape. He heads off to see his mother (Pfeiffer) and find out what he has inherited. But the lawyers hand him a bag of cash that he has to give to smart 11-year-old Josh (D'Addario), whose barmaid mother Frankie (Banks) is the half-sister Sam never knew he had. Without revealing his identity, he worms his way into Frankie and Josh's life. But the Feds are catching up with him, and Frankie is about to learn who he really is.
This is one of those films that hinges completely on the characters' inability to talk to each other. So one honest conversation at the beginning would make this a very short movie! But no, the screenwriters force everything into an unnatural formula that completely undermines the genuinely interesting things going on. Even so, the actors manage to hold our interest, mainly due to some terrific chemistry. At the centre, Pine nicely holds his own in scenes with the wonderful Pfeiffer and Banks, while D'Addario proves to be a young actor to keep an eye on. Meanwhile, side characters add texture, most notably Duplass as a neighbour with the hots for Frankie, and Wilde as Sam's frazzled girlfriend.
Continue reading: People Like Us Review
To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...
During a deadly military operation in Egypt, an explosion uncovers an overwhelming secret buried in...
The tombs and burial chambers in Egypt have long provided fascinated discoveries and lead the...