“Welcome To A New World Of Gods And Monsters…”
Adding a new layer to the ongoing genre of Universal Horror, a cinematic legacy which began all the way back in the 1920’s. the newest blockbuster franchise comes in the form of the so-called “Dark Universe”, a directed step into another legion of remakes and re-imaginings which begins this week with The Mummy and is set to continue into the future with fresh interpretations of classic monster movies which are reported to include the likes of Van Helsing, Frankenstein’s Monster and of course, Dracula. Taking the time away from beating the heck out of people in Jack Reacher and flying super speedy jet planes in the upcoming Top Gun sequel, Tom Cruise leads the way as the flagship star of the franchise’s beginnings in the latest incarnation of The Mummy, a well-known and well-versed adventure tale, with arguably the most popular representation being the Stephen Sommers led take in 1999 which featured a clean shaven Brendan Fraser and a pre-Daniel Craig infused Rachel Weisz. With Alex Kurtzman on directorial duty, a filmmaker with a background in the likes of movies such as Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness and Mission: Impossible III, the latest incarnation of The Mummy is unfortunately a generic, overblown snooze-fest, ultimately resulting in a movie which begins the Dark Universe franchise in a rather mediocre manner to say the least.
With a narrative which is more than familiar in terms of the overall set-up of the titular bandaged antagonist, The Mummy suffers too from a wild scope in tonal bipolar, changing from B-Movie horror to cringe-inducing comedy in between an array of soulless set pieces which either consist of endless CGI hollowness or people wildly screaming whilst being shot at with both never actually managing to induce a sense of threat into the proceedings. At the heart of the action, the duo star power of both Tom Cruise and Russel Crowe never really have anything juicy to work with either, and although Crowe’s character reveal was quite charming in a in-joke, canon kind of way, Cruise’s overly cocky and quite annoying leading character is at its’ best a poor depiction of Brendan Fraser. Similarly, although Boutella has all the hallmarks of a beautifully seductive Egyptian princess, her campy leading villain is ultimately a dead rubber alongside a long list of supporting characters who are either there for cannon fodder or for cranking the creaky narrative into place. The Mummy isn’t exactly terrible, it just reeks of laziness, and for a movie which is meant to propel a new franchise into some sort of success, Kurtzman’s movie doesn’t do the job effectively enough to wonder where it ultimately goes next.
Overall Score: 5/10
“You’re The World’s Worst Detective…”
Before venturing into the world of Marvel with Iron Man 3, Shane Black was perhaps best known for writing and directing Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the neo-noir black comedy starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer, a film in which inevitably draws parallels to Black’s latest, The Nice Guys, a film of unquestionable similarity in both tone and set-up, albeit starring the one-two of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling and set slap bang in the late 1970’s instead. After the sudden death of adult film star Misty Mountains, private detective Holland March (Gosling) is hired by the deceased’s aunt to discover whether or not she is actually alive after seeing her days after her supposed death. Coincidentally, March is quickly intimidated by enforcer Jackson Healy (Crowe) who has been hired to prevent his search for Amelia, a suspect in the murder of Misty Mountains, and is told to leave her alone and end his quest for answers. After a quick-fire turn of events however, Healy convinces March to join forces in order to discover the seedy doings of the Los Angeles porn industry and discover the reasons behind the growing number of deaths that seem to be happening around them.
Part Chinatown, part Lethal Weapon, The Nice Guys gives everything you expect from a picture helmed by the dark comedic mind of Shane Black, with laughs galore throughout the film’s more than satisfactory runtime and a pitch black violent streak so reluctantly hilarious, you’ll walk out the cinema wondering whether you should have laughed or not. The answer? Of course you should, with the one-two success pairing of Crowe and Gosling being the best on-screen duo in recent memory if being, at times, bettered by the remarkable talents of young Angourie Rice as Holland’s daughter, Holly, who is presented as the real brains of the family and the one with the real talent when it comes to investigative pastimes. A long way away from the likes of his time with Marvel, Shane Black’s The Nice Guys is a riveting success, one that will leave you with a embarrassingly wide grin for days, the hallmark of an effective comedy if ever there was one.