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
Since novelist Dan Brown wrote a new thriller featuring the symbologist Robert Langdon, Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard have reteamed to bring it to the big screen. But this second sequel to The Da Vinci Code feels like a pale imitation of the original. Gone are the clever, fake-academic revelations and rather wacky action antics, and in their place are clues that feel utterly irrelevant, accompanied by fights and chases that are incoherent.
At least it opens well, with Langdon (Hanks) waking up in a Florence hospital without a clue how he got to Italy. Then when a sexy cop (Ana Ularu) tries to kill him, Robert's hot doctor Sienna (Felicity Jones) helps him escape. She also has an unusual knowledge of antiquities, so she travels with him to figure out why he's being chased by the police, an army of World Health Organisation officials (led by Sidse Babett Knudsen), a man (Omar Sy) leading a team of violent goons and a shady businessman (Irrfan Khan). Robert traces all of these shenanigans to the recently deceased billionaire anarchist Bertrand (Ben Foster), who was plotting to release a virus that would kill off half of mankind to halt overpopulation. Is his plan still going forward? Can Robert stop it in time? The next clues are in Venice and then Istanbul.
The settings are gorgeous, and Howard knows how to use them to pack the film with old world elegance. But while David Koepp's script keeps the mayhem moving along whether or not it makes any sense, Howard directs everything at a glacial pace. So it looks like Hanks is in danger of falling asleep at any time, even in the middle of a car chase. There's also the problem that the central premise is utterly preposterous: if you're planning a terrorist attack that will kill four billion people, would you take the time to set it up as an elaborate scavenger hunt? And it doesn't help that everyone in the movie seems untrustworthy. The script sorts the good from the bad as it goes along, but it never matters.
Continue reading: Inferno Review
David Koepp - A host of stars were photographed as they attended the UK premiere of 'Mortdecai' which stars American actor Johnny Depp. The premiere was held at the Empire cinema in Leicester Square, London - Thursday 22nd January 2015
Paul Bettany, Johnny Depp and David Koepp - Shots of the cast of 'Mortdecai' including Johnny Depp as they promote their movie at Hotel Adlon at the Brandenburg gate in Berlin, Germany - Sunday 18th January 2015
When a priceless painting is stolen with the presumable intention of being sold to fund terrorist activities, England needs a hero. Enter, Mortdecai. Lord Charles Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) is a well-known and barely liked art dealer. He is also on the verge of bankruptcy. Well, 'on the verge' may be a little too generous. Mortdecai's extravagant lifestyle ensures that he is in desperate need of money - so much so, that he is willing to take on the job of tracking down and returning the painting. Or, perhaps, he'll steal it himself when he gets the chance. Either way, he'll have to get his hands on it first, and that is going to be far from easy. Or safe.
Continue: Mortdecai Trailer
The new trailer for next year's Mortdecai appears promising, although it seems far more focused on character than plot. The plot, such as it is, takes inspiration from the Mortdecai series of books by author Kyril Bonfiglioli.
Johnny Depp as Charlie Mortdecai
More specifically, the film is set to take cues from the novel 'Don't Point That Thing at Me', and follows a rich English art dealer as he traverses the globe in search of a paining containing the code to a bank fully of secret Nazi gold. Although the trailer keeps most of the storyline under wraps.
Charlie Mortdecai may be rude, arrogant and distinctly unlikeable, but he's also a terribly rich English art dealer with a drop dead gorgeous wife, charming looks and a trusty man servant. He has been enlisted to uncover a painting, lost for decades and containing a top secret code that leads to a hidden bank account inside which is mounds of Nazi currency. It is with much apprehension on the part of Inspector Martland that Mortdecai become involved, with him being notoriously overt and extremely moronic. But he is happy to help with the recovery, travelling to various corners of the world and dazzling those he meets along the way. However, he has a lot to face on his journey - from MI5 to terrorists and his wife's repeated questions.
Continue: Mortdecai Trailer
There's nothing very original in this spy thriller, but director Branagh gives the film a weighty sense of importance that at least makes it feel important. He can't make up for the flimsy plot or cliched characters, but he can coax shaded performances from the cast to grab our interest. And while the action is never as coherent as a Bourne movie, it at least has a sense of gravitas about it.
For yet another reboot of the Tom Clancy franchise, we go back earlier to follow Jack Ryan (Pine) as he is inspired by the 9/11 attacks to leave his financial studies and join the Marines. Shot down over Afghanistan, he undergoes a gruelling recovery and is recruited by CIA operative Harper (Costner) to work undercover on Wall Street, monitoring terrorist fund movements. A decade later his girlfriend Catherine (Knightley) has no idea what his real job is, so when she surprises him on a business trip to Moscow she ends up in the middle of an operation to investigate shady Russian businessman Cherevin (Branagh), who's behind some sort of imminent global attack.
The film's brisk pace focusses on Jack's motivations all the way through, so we understand his earnest desire to serve his country. Although we can't quite figure out how he developed all these he-man skills working behind a desk in a bank. Not only is he adept at firearms and hand-to-hand combat, but he can ride a motorcycle like a stuntman! Fortunately, Pine's everyman persona makes him easy to identify with and bodes well for future franchise instalments. Opposite him, Costner is marvellously lean and cool, Branagh has terrific lip-less menace and Knightley does her best in the standard underdeveloped female role.
Continue reading: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Review
Our hero is Wilee (Gordon-Levitt), who gave up his law studies to become a daredevil courier who believes brakes are for sissies. So it doesn't seem too much to accept a job to carry an envelope for a friend (Chung) from one end of Manhattan to the other. But he's immediately accosted by frazzled cop Bobby (Shannon), who so desperately wants to get his hands on that envelope that we think his buggy eyes might explode. But Wilee is a clever biker determined to do his job, and as the cat-and-mouse chase travels down through the city, drawing in a tenacious bicycle cop (Tveit) and some nasty gangsters, Wilee gets help from his colleagues (Ramirez and Parks).
Continue reading: Premium Rush Review
Wilee is one of New York's best agile bicycle messengers, due in part to his skill at riding the 'fixie' - bikes with just one gear and no brakes. Every day he braves the famous New York traffic, weaving in and out of taxis and dodging traffic lights, so he can deliver packages on time, or as fast as he possibly can, if it is labelled 'premium rush'.
Continue: Premium Rush Trailer
After a dozen or so years of fantastically bitter legal wrangling, Spider-Man has finally crawled to the big screen. For the uninitiated (and even for those of us who grew up with the comics but can't remember all the details), Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is the whipping boy of his New York high school. He's got a crush on the girl next door, Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), and his best friend Harry (James Franco) is the son of the local millionaire/scientist Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe).
Continue reading: Spider-Man Review
And so it is that in the terrorism-edgy mid-'00s, Steven Spielberg has resurrecteds War of the Worlds - again - and created the greatest alien invasion movie ever.
Continue reading: War Of The Worlds (2005) Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.
To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...
Since novelist Dan Brown wrote a new thriller featuring the symbologist Robert Langdon, Tom Hanks...
When a priceless painting is stolen with the presumable intention of being sold to fund...
Charlie Mortdecai may be rude, arrogant and distinctly unlikeable, but he's also a terribly rich...
There's nothing very original in this spy thriller, but director Branagh gives the film a...
Director-cowriter Koepp fills this film with so many whizzy visual flourishes that we might not...
Wilee is one of New York's best agile bicycle messengers, due in part to his...
In Zathura, a board game magically comes alive when played, thrusting its participants into a...