The Mummy

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Directed by: Alex KurtzmanThe Mummy

Screenplay by: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman

Screen Story by: Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet

Executive Producers: Jeb Brody and Roberto Orci

Starring: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari and Russell Crowe.

Welcome to Universal Picture’s Dark Universe:  A series of Monster-Verse movies to be distributed in the coming years beginning with the release of, The Mummy.

This is the first time we’re seeing the monster as a female mummy – Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an ancient Egyptian princess cheated out of her rightful place as ruler and a god amongst men.

Ahmanet draws on the power of evil to reclaim what she believes is rightfully hers only to be thwart at the verge of succeeding.  Erased from history and imprisoned for 5000 years, she’s unwittingly released by Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), a careless soldier of fortune who has no scruples using anything and everyone to get what he wants.  The perfect match for a monster.

But is he evil or just an idiot?

There’s chemistry between Nick and the British officer of Cultural Heritage, Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), with a sprinkling of humour that sometimes missed the mark for me but made the pair tolerable.

Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), Nick Morton’s side-kick, was a bonus providing comic relief, lifting the film out of taking itself too seriously, allowing the audience to laugh intentionally.  It can be a close call – to laugh with or at seemingly ignorant action-types.

Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) was well-cast as the evil Egyptian princess.  The costuming (Penny Rose) and make-up (Lizzie Georgious) creating the rune-style writing on her skin very effective and the double iris a unique look l’ve never seen before.The Mummy

This leads me to the explosive effects and setting which made the film worth watching on the big screen.  Shot in three countries from the Bridge of Sighs in Oxford for those creepy dark and dank moments, to Namibia in southeast Africa for the heat and desert surrounding the discovery of the Sarcophage containing, The Mummy.

If the story remained the light-hearted, explosive action, sometimes scary zombie, Mummy-come-to-destroy-London movie, this would have been a familiar, successful formula.  What I don’t understand is the addition of Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe).  Adding a character so different to the rest of the story stretched the suspension of belief too far leaving me to question – why?!

I was absorbed with the explosive opening and the effects, so-much-so, I put off that desperate need for the bathroom because I didn’t want to miss  what was coming next.

But there was a wrong turn in the story with too much weight put on the already thin character of Nick.  Add the Henry Jekyll character and you’re losing the audiences enthusiasm for the characters’ survival.

Wonder Woman

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Directed by: Patty Jenkins

Screenplay by: Allan Heinberg

Story: Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs

Produced by:  Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder and Richard Suckle

Executive Producers: Stephen Jones, Geoff Johns, Jon Berg, Wesley Coller and Rebecca Steel Roven

Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Ewen Bremner, Lucy Davis, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Eugene Brave Rock and Said Taghmaoui.

With the couple ahead in line, kissing.  Just a quick smooch, but often.  Making that, kissy-kissy, sucky-wet sound, constantly.  Perhaps out of nerves or because they’d just found each other and were terrified the other would disappear if they didn’t lock lips and suck the air out of each other’s mouths every 30 seconds…

You can probably tell I wasn’t in the mood for a romance.

And unfortunately Wonder Woman wasn’t all Amazons and action, there was romance here with love interest, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American World War I fighter pilot who finds himself in the Amazonian magical world of Themyscira while being chased by the Germans.

Which brings me to the classic Wonder Woman guitar rift.  You’ll recognise it when you hear it and it does add to that cringe.WONDER WOMAN

But that’s all I have to complain about.

Overall, Wonder Woman was a well-thought and executed film.

The story of Diana (Gal Gadot), growing up in Themyscira allowed a beautiful setting of crystal clear blue waters and souring cliffs, and women warriors fighting from pure white horses with long braids falling down their backs.  This magical place allowed the story of the gods to be shown like a moving painting brought to life to then shift to WWI and all the shock and tragedy of death.

After hearing of the violence, Diana vows to fight in the war to bring peace, as she was trained to do.  All very dramatic.

But the addition of humour made the film for me, particularly Charlie (Ewan Bremner), the Scottish marksman suffering from shell shock and Etta Candy (Lucy Davis) the ever reliable, can-do secretary.  I was constantly tickled by Etta Candy’s humour and the writing here is to be commended.  As is the story of the film.

There’s a slow build.  And yes, it felt like a lengthy movie, understandably at 2 hours and 21 minutes.  But the time spent on building the momentum was worth it.  There’s plenty of action and funny bits so as the story developed, the further I was pulled in.WONDER WOMAN

So even with a bit of cheese and romance, I found the character, Steve Trevor better than expected, and more down-to-Earth (just can’t resist a pun) then James T. Kirk played by Chris Pine in the recent Star Trek films (but hey, I liked those films too), and that comes down to the fantastic script.

There was a tug and pull of the lasso for some depth into human nature.  But like the above statement, it was somewhat half-hearted.  Wonder Woman is more about how Diana evolves into a superhero.

By playing with the time sequences and using clever camera work and images (like the moving painting montage), the film is given a bit of spice.  It’s always good to see something different as it keeps the attention.  Because wow, there have just been so many superhero movies that the trickery of the director becomes the point of difference; Patty Jenkins succeeding here with help from director of photography Matthew Jensen.

I wasn’t blown away but this is a quality film with the resurrection of a fantastic character who we’re left in no doubt will return in the very near future.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: Guy RitchieKing Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Producers: Akiva Goldsman, Tory Tunnell, Joby Harold, Steve Clark-Hall

Screenplay: Jody Harold, Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram

Story by: David Dobkin and Jody Harold

Starring: Charlie Hunnam (Arthur), Jude Law (Vortigern), Astrid Berges-Frisbey (The Mage), Djimon Hounsou (Bedivere), Aidan Gillen (Bill), Eric Bana (Uther).

I love a good action film with a healthy dose of fantasy, and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword delivered.

This isn’t a tale about King Arthur and the Round Table, this is more about the magic of Excalibur.

Director, Guy Ritchie has taken a classic story and turned it into something else.  If you can forget all you know about the previous tales of King Arthur and all the romance, gallantry and honour, it’s worth letting go and getting taken for the ride.

King Arthur is one of those big budget films with thought put into the camera work with director of photography, John Mathieson bringing the audience right up close to run along-side the characters.  Add burning towers, giant snakes and elephants as big as football fields, weird water creatures and the magic of The Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey): you’ve got an entertaining film.King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Jude Law as Vortigern, brother of King Uther (Eric Bana) and uncle to Arthur (Charlie Hunnam), gives a solid performance, legitimising the film by making the villain of the story believable.

No-one can pull a look of disdain like Jude Law.

Not to take away from Hubbard.  There is a consistent air of nonchalance he gives to every role: the laid-back smart arse hiding a sharp mind.  Deviation from this persona brings disaster, think of his role as Dr. Alan McMichael in Crimson Peak.  But he was cast well here, with the action scenes and sword fighting perfect for his physic (not that I’m a perv, well… maybe a bit…).  And the comradery with his mates, growing up in a brothel and learning the hard lessons of life off the street reminiscent of his character in, Sons of Anarchy (of which I’m a fan).

There was certainly the Guy Ritchie-esq feel to the film with fast King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
exchanges of dialogue and sharp changes in camera work, jumping from past to present to future in seconds.  The technique reminding me of scenes from Snatch (2000).

To get the audience up-to-speed this way can be exhilarating; to catch a train of thought, to run with it to flash to the next part, the exciting part.  But there was some definite glossing over of story that was sometimes OK and sometimes not, leaving me with the thought, That’s just lazy.  And glossing over essential aspects of Arthur’s character weakened the story.

The cracking soundtrack and music by composer Daniel Pemberton helped to lift and smooth each scene; the first thought after the film finished being, ‘Jeez, the soundtrack was good.’

And there were satisfying circles of storyline but the pacing felt patchy
with weight and time given to some scenes where essential timelines were past in fast forward.  And this was the biggest downfall of the film.

So, although the editing and story was not always consistent, the strong performance from Law and the cocky English, Guy Ritchie flavour, kept up the entertainment factor to reach expectation.

Beauty and the Beast

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Beauty and the Best

Director: Bill Condon

Producers: David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman

Screenplay: Stephen Chbosky, Evan Spiliotopoulos

Based on: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont

Music: Alan Menken (composer), Howard Ashman (lyricist), new material by Tim Rice

Starring: Emma Watson (Belle), Dan Stevens (Beast), Luke Evans (Gaston), Kevin Kline (Maurice), Josh Gad (Lefou), with Ewan McGregor (Lumiere), Emma Thompson (Mrs Potts), Ian McKellen (Cogsworth), Stanley Tucci (Cadenza), Audra McDonald (Madame Garderobe) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette)

Watching the live action re-make of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which has been successfully updated without losing the original’s charm, the first thought that occurred to me was why has it taken so long to make this film?

The new version is vibrant, entertaining, full of catchy songs, impressively realistic sets and gorgeous costumes plus energetic choreography, making the transition from animation to live action most effectively.

I watched the original version again after seeing the new film, and aside from a few lines of dialogue or moments of visual humour not being retained, the live action version works better because it provides the opportunity to create beautiful costumes and sets, and enlarge the number of performers in crowd scenes.

There are also new songs, which have transformed some characters from stereotypes to convincing individuals.

I particularly loved the Beast’s new song “Evermore” (sung with throbbing undertones by Beast Dan Stevens during the film and less heroically by Josh Groban over the end credits).Beauty and the Beast

The townspeople clearly indicate their opinion of Belle as being odd in the rousing song “Belle”, which is how it was originally, but apparently the actress Emma Watson wanted Belle to be more in keeping with modern feminist portrayals so her independent streak seems stronger and she has added talents beyond being just a supportive daughter.

Although Emma Watson is not a strong singer, her solemnity and occasional hints of humour allow her to carry off her role with conviction, as she shows bravery and selflessness and is more than a match for the moody yet fascinating Beast.

A few scenes have been added or extended which help make Belle and the Beast’s burgeoning love seem more convincing as they go from being “barely even friends” to something more.

The updated screenplay has fixed a few plot-holes, including how long the curse has been in place. There is also an underlying urgency to end the curse because of the long-term effect it may have on the Beast’s servants, who have been animated beautifully, making me long to buy some of the merchandise.

Beauty and the Beast

The servants’ rendition of “Be our guest” is an absolute showstopper, this time with the added benefit of wonderful special effects and a fuller-bodied orchestra and chorus.

The villain Gaston is played with relish by Luke Evans, who is fêted during the boisterous tavern scene by faithful sidekick Lefou (a delightful Josh Gad). Gaston’s penchant for antler décor and his skill at “expectorating” are still laugh-inducing but he doesn’t appear as two-dimensional now, despite still being vain and self-centred. Ironically his inflated ego marks him as more “monstrous”, making him a far greater beast than the titular one.

A lot has been said about Gaston’s sidekick LeFou, who was an under-developed bumbling fool before, but who is now given depth, partly through his implied sexual orientation.

It’s pleasing to see Disney is trying to reflect modern-day sensibilities, while the racial diversity amongst the townspeople and servants at the castle is also refreshing.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and could barely resist humming along.

This version has refreshed and updated the original film without losing any of its enduring appeal, and no one should be “gloomy or complaining” about the result.

A visual and aural delight for young and old.

Power Rangers

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Power Rangers

Director: Dean Israelite (Project Almanac)

Producers: Haim Saban (Power Rangers creator), Brian Casentini (Power Rangers TV series), Wyck Godfrey, and Marty Bowen (The Twilight Saga, The Fault in Our Stars, The Maze Runner franchise)

Executive Producers: Allison Shearmur, Brent O’Connor, John Gatins, Joel Andryc, Takeyuki Suzuki

Screenplay: John Gatins (Kong: Skull Island)

Story by: Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless (Dracula Untold) and Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney (based upon Power Rangers created by Haim Saban)

Starring: Dacre Montgomery (Jason Red Ranger), Naomi Scott (Kimberly Pink Ranger), RJ Cyler (Billy Blue Ranger), Becky G (Trini Yellow Ranger), Ludi Lin (Zack Black Ranger), featuring Bill Hader (Alpha 5 cyborg), with Bryan Cranston (Zordon) and Elizabeth Banks.

Having never seen an episode of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series (1993), loosely based on the Japanese 1970s Super Sentai TV series, I had no preconceptions or even expectations about the latest incarnation, Saban’s Power Rangers.

From the brief snippets I had seen, I knew there were energetic people who dressed in colour-coded costumes and leapt about doing heroic things, but that was the extent of my knowledge. So I was pleasantly surprised to find the new Power Rangers film entertaining, humorous, with effective use of the latest in spfx technology, and awesome Ranger suits designed by Weta Workshop.

Power Rangers
The action is set in the small American fishing town of Angel Grove, and focuses on five teenagers, each with their own particular problems, who stumble upon an ancient, alien spacecraft and five coloured “coins” which bestow upon each of them extraordinary power and the ability to morph into Power Rangers, as they face a world-wide threat from an evil alien.

Television producer Haim Saban, who produced the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series, wanted the updated cinematic version to retain the original’s idea of five teens with attitude who must battle evil whilst also dealing with “today’s issues of cyber-bullying, peer or family pressure and the uncertain future.”

I appreciated that sufficient time was spent to develop each Ranger’s backstory so that they all emerged as clearly defined individuals rather than anonymous teenagers, one with a “spectrum” disorder, another dealing with their sexuality and another with a sick parent.

For established fans of the series, the carefully plotted introductions of each teenager may drag, but I appreciated how their trust issues and self-imposed isolation made it difficult for them to quickly achieve the required togetherness necessary to become a team of Power Rangers.

The fact that they trained, fought and had their own individual problems to overcome before they could become a united fighting team made their eventual transformation feel more “earned” than if it had occurred within a shorter time frame.Power Rangers

Other supernatural hero films often lavish huge chunks of screen time on drawn-out action sequences where entire cities get obliterated in mind-numbing CGI effects extravaganzas, and

I find those types of films to be boring and non-engaging.

The battle sequences in Power Rangers still occur, but because they don’t happen until the last section of the film they seem more effective.

There is one rather large plot loop-hole involving the Power Rangers and their evil opponent Rita Repulsa (played with relish by The Hunger Games’ Elizabeth Banks in a gorgeously over-the-top green and gold costume), which would have ended the battle very quickly and with far less destruction, but aside from this, the story line and character arcs were all well written and believable within this specific world.

The fact that there was no swearing was a big plus in this age of profanities, which makes this a great family-friendly film, which won’t disappoint anyone seeking an entertaining and well-made diversion. (The version of the song “Stand by me” used during one scene made me want to dash out and buy the soundtrack.)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: David YatesFANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Script Written By: J. K. Rowling

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan, Fogler, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Jenn Murray, Faith Wood-Blagrove, Jon Voight, Ronan Raftery; Josh Cowdery.

‘Worrying means you suffer twice,’ says Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne).  Which is another way of saying, Why worry, when there’s no point.  If something bad is going to happen, suffer through it once, not twice!  What a gorgeous way of treating life, the sentiment setting the tone of the film.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is J. K. Rowling’s debut as a screenwriter.  The inspiration from the Hogwarts textbook of the same name, written by her character, Newt Scamander.

It’s difficult not to compare Fantastic Beasts and the previous Harry Potter films as there’s a similarity in vision; not only writer, Rowling, being the creator of both worlds but David Yates returning after directing the previous 4 ‘Harry Potter’ films.

But this is America, not England.  There’s a new language where Muggles are now called No-Maj (humans without magic).   Where the American’s have the Second Salemers – fanatical No-Maj’s who want to get rid of wizardry for good.

Terrified of exposure, Director of Magical Security at MACUSA (Magical Congress of the USA), Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) makes short work of anyone who threatens the fragile hidden world of magic.  Until Newt arrives with his suitcase full of fantastic beasts.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Instead of Harry Potter and his young friends battling their way into adulthood, with an exploration into all the dark corners of life in magic and life as neglected children, we have adults running through 1920s New York trying to re-capture cute magical creatures.  Instead of a darker adult outlook, I found Fantastic Beasts to be more childish in its tone.

There was a lack of depth, the feeling of a beginning, a building of a story rather than a whole which was disappointing after the Harry Potter introduction of J. K. Rowling’s magical world.

But what lacked in story was somewhat off-set by the magical creatures, the Niffler, reminding me of a platypus with a keen eye for all that glitters and all that’s gold.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

I couldn’t help but grin and giggle at the behaviour of these creatures, and that brings me back to the childish tone of the film.

Eddie Redmayne as the protagonist, Newt, was likeable and I could relate to his awkwardness, which was essential as I felt if you liked Newt, you liked the film.

But I admit I wanted more from this film, from this story.

The characters were likeable, the creatures adorable, but the story didn’t have that darkness that make the Harry Potter films such a surprise.

Fantastic Beasts is a PG-13 film that I’d take my nephews to watch for some fun entertainment.  Which doesn’t make it a bad film just not thought-provoking.  The Harry Potter films were an adaptation with more thought to the themes like good versus evil and all the inbetween.  Whereas Fantastic Beasts felt more like a glossing over of the story.

I’m expecting a series here.  A series that will get deeper and darker as the story progresses.

 

Suicide Squad

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: David AyerThe Suicide Squad

Writer: David Ayer

Starring: Will Smith, Jimenez Fitzsimons, Ike Barinholtz, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Cara Delevingne, Jai Caurtney, Joel Kimaman, Adewale Akinnuoge-Agbaje, Viola Davis, Ben Affleck, James McGowan,, Jim Parrack, Ezra Miller; Jay Hernandez.

With such a huge amount of hype my expectations were duly high for Suicide Squad.

Was I impressed?

It comes down to the entertainment factor for me. Without a doubt, I was entertained.

Suicide Squad is an inverse to the usual superhero movie, where the bad guys are good and the humans, particularly Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), have become the devil incarnate to keep the human race feeling safe.

It’s a time of fear where mere mortals are faced with the idea of being over-powered. What would happen if Superman decided to take the President and drop him from the sky? No one would have been able to stop him.

To protect the human race, Amanda Waller puts together a squad of super-villains. Those with superpower but those locked away for being, well, bad. And now an Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), a genie let out of the proverbial bottle, has come to take over the world.

There are a lot of big names here, the stand outs for me: Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot. I’m not always a fan of the Smith, but he played Deadshot well, managing to give the character warmth and depth.  There’s also a chemistry between Margot Robbie and Will Smith that works and appears genuine on film.

I have to say I was let down by the Joker (Jared Leto) after so much hype. The Joker in a film full of big characters felt crowded, but the twisted love story with Harley Quinn was a nice twist to the usual superhero love story.

The editing was conducted so even a second was counted.  A couple of jolts at the beginning and the rest of the film was seamless.  To fit so much and still give air to the story and characters, director and writer David Ayer is to be commended. And the rock’n soundtrack gave a great pace to the film.

A few gaps have to mentioned. If you don’t have prior knowledge of Suicide Squad or included characters, some of the backstory was a bit thin.  How a psychiatrist becomes a marital arts expert because she’s suddenly crazy was a stretch. And I would have liked more heart from Katana.  But more backstory of some characters would have meant cutting others.

Suicide Squad isn’t just a superhero movie, there are elements of fantasy (which I thoroughly enjoyed) put together with fun characters, a great soundtrack and a story held together enough for the film to be entertaining.