“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
“This Is Bigger Than I Imagined…”
During the opening credits to Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, there was an uncanny moment of laughter from the audience when we made aware to the notion that not only was the latest Lee Child big-screen adaptation starring Tom Cruise, it was also specifically, “A Tom Cruise Production”, immediately evoking thoughts of that sketch from Little Britain in which Dennis Waterman has the desire to write the theme tune, sing the theme tune etc, etc. Perhaps regarded as a Tom Cruise-driven money booster therefore, with director Edward Zwick perhaps being top choice to lead the project due to their involvement together with The Last Samurai, the latest Jack Reacher was in danger of becoming a complete turkey and yet, whilst it isn’t exactly groundbreaking, Never Go Back is a passably fun, strictly 12A action thriller which passes the time nicely but does little to break out of its’ minimal existence.
In backing up the notion that Never Go Back is an undeniably and wildly strict 12A movie, kill-shots are edited away so quickly that for all the audience knows, Mr. Reacher may well have missed whilst one scene in particular comically shows one of the films’ bad guys attempt to say a naughty word beginning with the letter F only to be buffered out so all we hear instead is a muffled “fuh”. The editing and obvious cuts adhere to the now-favoured choice to gain the much wider appreciated 12A rating rather than a 15; a decision firmly based on economic reasons and whilst I’m rarely bothered by such trivial matters, Never Go Back suffers from being just another action flick, just with less Werner Herzog and more annoying sub-plots featuring 15 year old girls. To say the movie is both preposterous and predictable is an understatement but on-screen, the dynamic duo of Cruise and Cobie Smulders look like they are having enough fun to warrant its’ short existence, even if it isn’t quite the advocate for future Jack Reacher movies it might want to be.
Overall Score: 6/10
The British Invasion
It never fails to amaze me how even after years of movie companies churning out the same age-old tale of the super-spy, whether he be American or British, that even in 2015, such a story can be just as entertaining and thrilling as ever, and in the case of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the fifth entry into the cinematic series based on the American TV series of the same name, the argument that too much of the same will inevitably get boring is lost in the chaotic spectacle that is Tom Cruise’s latest run out as IMF Agent Ethan Hunt. If the first M:I showed us that stunts and deception were the core traits of the series, then Rogue Nation laps up such a notion and turns it up to eleven, with the film offering as much spectacle as all the previous entries in the series put together, whilst fully embodying the comedic element supplied by the inclusion of Simon Pegg in a clear attempt to distance itself from the darker and much tougher spy movies we have been used to recently in the form of the Bourne Series and the Craig-era of James Bond.
In terms of the high points within the movie, the scene in which our beloved hero tracks down the leader of the so-called Syndicate during an operatic session within Vienna was a fabulous concoction of thrills, comedy and high-risk tension, with the background performance adding to the sense of drama that was occurring on-screen. Other highlights included the constant comedic output supplied by our team of agents, with Simon Pegg gratefully lapping up the chance to keep the British end up and be the star of the film in scenes in which we are reminded of how much a step-away Rogue Nation has decided to be from the darkness of say Skyfall and, I assume, Spectre, which from watching the trailer, looks even darker than its’ predecessor. Setbacks within the film include the obvious over-use of CGI in certain scenes which unfortunately only weakens the sense of reality we get from watching scenes and stunts that did not rely on CGI and were actually done FOR REAL in a George Miller-esque fashion, whilst the overarching villain in the form of Sean Harris’ Solomon Lane, won’t exactly be remembered outside of the film, with it being a rather hollow and cliched performance from start to finish. Rogue Nation therefore features a whole lot of thrills, but ultimately, a few too many spills, making it entertaining for the time-being, but definitely not something to be treasured for the long-run. Still, its’ better than M:I 2. Seriously John Woo, stop with the doves.
Overall Score: 7/10
If you’ve been to the cinema recently, you’ve most likely been barraged with Edge of Tomorrow trailers and advertisements. Normally I would go off them gradually, although with this, I felt compelled to go see it. The trailer looked better after I saw it a few times and with Tom Cruise’s success in Oblivion and many other Sci-fi movies, I knew it would be a good watch.
In recent months we have seen comets flying over the sky of Russia and many other places on the news. Using the footage, Edge of Tomorrow has built upon the idea that they harbour life. However, this life is a little less microscopic and a little more giant, rip your face off and swing you round like a piñata big. Eventually the spread of these monsters has led to the European mainland becoming alien HQ. Much like the D-Day landing in WW2, England send troops over to the beaches of Normandy to push a seemingly weak army back into the stone age. Not all goes to plan and our protagonist –Cage, ends up dead, only to repeat the day continuously until he can find a way to end this war and the slaughter of the humans for good. The story reeks of Nolan’s signature psychological games and most likely takes reference from him. With the increasingly bad K-D ratio of Cage rising steadily, he seeks help from the poster girl of this war. The Iron Bitch/Rita soon is able to sympathise with him as she has experienced the same. After a particularly jarring training scene we learn that there is a master key that if destroyed, will kill these aliens for good and they embark on a giant adventure to blow it the hell up. Without releasing a lot of information and ruining it, the story is surprisingly solid. It’s engaging and the continual death toll of Cage and the repeat beatings he gets forces the same emotions of stress and anxiety that he feels. Just slightly less damaging and without the months lost…
Apart from the movies solid story, it cannot stand on that alone. After all, it is a sci-fi. Visually the movie looks wonderful. Although I can see many of the scenes being filmed on green screens, the general flow of everything going on made it bearable. Everything looked great but I do have to question the designers of those creatures. They are nightmarishly scary. If I was ever to dream something like that up, I would get myself checked. They looked amazing and did instil fear with the rapid movement and screeching. Now with the barrage of deaths, a personal favourite was acid being dropped on Cage which was brutal to watch but I may have giggled a little bit. Fighting with non-existent creatures isn’t very easy so when they are being flung about, its animated brilliantly.
There isn’t really not much more for me to say. Yeah sure, the acting wasn’t the best but what can you expect. It’s Tom Cruise in a Sci-fi movie. We come for fun action scenes where humanity fights against an alien terror and kicks some ass with it wrapped up nicely at the end. The fact that the story was good (perhaps generic in the genre) and looked great made at all the better. In the sci-fi genre, Edge of Tomorrow deserves 8/10. It’s a full on fun movie with plenty of twists and turns that keep you guessing! Go see it! Seeing it’s Wednesday, Orange Wednesday it!
In the opening of Oblivion, we are given snap shots of a memory from Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), skipping throughout the huge landscapes pan shots. The CGI never looked out of place and looked exceptionally real when you are moving at pace. Robots and other set pieces look brilliant and lifelike even when they are manipulated by CGI for certain scenes. Then you have the set locations, these contrast between new and old, from a library to a lavish, modern house of the top of a huge tower.
To the action! Well, at the start of the film, there is very little action and that continues most of the way through. Oblivion feels more of a Sci-fi thriller but for a 12A audience which restricts the amount of violence we could have seen if it was for an older audience, but it does have many twists and turns that catch you off guard and force you to piece the puzzle together on your way home.
The director; Joseph Kosinski, who also directed Tron Legacy, shows his stunning camera techniques and framing ability. Alongside the rest of his talent, directing a combat scene with no dialogue (or screaming) between the characters, just the whirling of gears, the pumping of machine guns and thrusters with music that fills you tension. In one of the beginning scenes we are located in a demolished American football stadium, a shot looks up at Harper with his arms raised in celebration as a crooked goal post fills the background to draw your attention onto Jack. I would like to say that the writer of this did a brilliant job, with the plot twists, the character development of Harper and much more, but what the hell is with the sex scene in that freaky ass pool!? One, it was super weird. Two, you won’t see me jumping into a pool hundred of feet in the air supported by a couple of beams in a world which was destroyed by nuclear fallout (It’s not a spoiler, it says it right at the start of the film).
The official soundtrack was created by M83, who sounds remarkably like Daft Punk’s Tron soundtrack. Whoever he is, M83 does brilliantly to create drama, raise tensions and get you pumped throughout action scenes. Sounds are crisp and truly reflect the area they are in and all the sounds are crisp and clear, especially in the huge ass screen with the big ass speakers!
Finally, the acting. It was alright. Not exceptional that you felt for all the characters. Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman’s acting was the best out of the small cast with Olga Kurylenko felt a little flat and occasionally a bit dramatic. Andrea Riseborough was a character simply crazy and was much the same as Olga in certain scenes. All of the extra cast members were alright but they lacked a script and blended into the background when they could have had a much deeper connection to the outcome.
Overall, this Sci-fi – thriller is a good watch with some brilliant filming, good acting and epic music making this film worth a watch.
My rating for this shall be 7.5/10