The Mummy

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MThe Mummy

Directed by: Alex Kurtzman

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.

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.

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The Accountant

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MA 15+The Accountant

Directed by: Gavin O’Connor

Screenplay: Bill Dubuque

Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J. K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jean Smart, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow.

Based on a screenplay written by Bill Dubuque, The Accountant is one complicated, cracker of a story: flash backs, fight scenes, number crunching montages, loud shots from military grade riffles to the quiet of an accounting office to the chink of cutlery in a jail cafeteria; wry humour, Crime Enforcement agents to stone cold killers to the dynamics family.  All combined with the overriding discussion of autism.

There was so much going on it was hard to keep a handle on all the threads.

On the one hand, this is a character driven story about family and autism; on the other, The Accountant is an action-packed crime thriller.

Chris Wolff (Ben Affleck) is an accountant, but not your everyday H&R Block style, CPA certified accountant – Chris is a high functioning autistic who’s a savant when it comes to numbers.  He also works for drug dealers and assassins; criminals who call in a guy who’s clean and can uncook their books to find any missing money.

With heat coming from the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, Chris needs an above-board job.  He needs to get under the radar.  So when a job to find missing funds from a robotics company comes up, his handler sends him to meet Lamar Black (John Lithgow).  But there’s more going here than the ordinary.  And Chris shows himself to be more than an accounting whiz – he’s an autistic action hero.

I was pleasantly surprised by the attention to sensory detail: colours of paintings, an eye disappearing through a crack in a door that’s slowly closing; flashes of light and loud music…

Epileptics with a photic sensitivity be warned: the flashing light is bright and about 3Hz – a dangerous but effective addition to the film.  But yeah, there should be a warning here!

So, the sensors were certainly entertained and the association with autism and the effect of sensory stimulation on the character were cleverly worked into the story.  What I did miss was Ben Affleck’s cheeky grin.  There’s a deadpan humour that works well, but the constant blank face of Chris felt a bit forced.  People with autism do smile.

I really wanted to love this film as I’m always looking for that thriller that surprises, giving so much more than expected.  And although complicated, director Gavin O’Connor did tie the whole story neatly together, but the main character, Chris, was just too incongruent at times.

A strong performance from J.K. Simmons helped pull the story together, but aspects of the film just didn’t quite fit.  Putting such emphasis on The Accountant having autism was dangerous territory and requires getting it right.  And some aspects of the character grated as they didn’t feel authentic.

I don’t want to give too much away as there’s a lot going here and this is a great story with an interesting message, but getting all the moving parts right felt like a stretch.  Everything was there from story to characters to time spent on delivery.  And I know it sounds like I’m bagging this film but I’m being harsh because I love a good crime/thriller.

As a series, The Accountant would have been perfection.  As is, a cracker of a story that’s so close but not quite for me.

And a grin from Chris would have gone a long way.

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Deepwater Horizon

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Action/Drama           Rated: MDeepwater Horizon

Director: Peter Berg

Screenplay: Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand

Screen Story: Matthew Sand

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, Dylan O’Brien and Kate Hudson.

Based on the article written by David Barstow, David Rohde and Stephani Saul: ‘Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours’, Deepwater Horizon is about one of the largest man-made disasters to have ever occurred.

Ultra-deep-water drilling off the coast of Louisiana, the rig suffered a massive blowout after pressure caused oil to explode up the pipeline.  The oil then caught fire destroying the rig.  The disaster killed 11 people and leaked 50,000 barrels of oil into the ocean for 87 days.

Deepwater Horizon is about putting the audience in the midst of the disaster, about pressure from the depths hard to fathom.  In fact, the whole scenario is difficult to get my head around because I’m not an engineer nor a deep sea drilling technician that understands drilling and pressure and the forces of rotting dinosaurs from a previous millennia.  And there isn’t a requirement to have this knowledge as the film shows the staff, doing what they do, without dumbing it down for the audience.

The story is shown in a way where you get it.  That the mud is used to contain the pressure of the oil, so that if it’s oozing up the pipes onto the rig, that’s a bad thing: the mud isn’t stopping the pressure.  And if that dial goes to a psi in the red area of the dial, that’s a very bad thing.

That’s what I liked about the film.  Being right there with the people working on this monstrous rig.

Mark Wahlberg as the Transocean chief electronics technician, Mike Williams, gives a great performance as an everyday guy doing his job.  And Kate Hudson as the wife waiting at home keeps the cheese to a minimum – it’s all about down-to-earth folk just dealing with it.

Wahlberg and director, Peter Berg, have worked together previously in the film, Lone Survivor.  Another survival story about making tough decisions. Berg doesn’t use cheap tricks to tug the heart strings, he just tells a tale with an authentic flavour and Wahlberg plays the no-nonsense hero well.  And the simplicity and straight forward telling of Deepwater Horizon gave the story more impact and power.  It was left to the audience to feel the emotion.

I love a good techy film and Deepwater Horizon filled the bill with great camera work to show the scale undertaken to drill into the depths of the ocean; and the explosion and visual spectacle of the disaster was totally believable on screen.

There was a glossing over of the politics of dealing with BP, but covered by the interaction between Donald Vidrine, the BP company man played by John Malkovich (he plays a villain just so well) and Kurt Russell as Mr. Jimmy who was the offshore installation manager.

Rather than the politics or emotional drama, Deepwater Horizon was more about the confrontation of the disaster itself.  And I liked that.

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Suicide Squad

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MSuicide Squad

Director: David Ayer

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Trek Beyond

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: Justin LinStar Trek Beyond

Story By: Gene Roddenberry

Screenplay: Simon Pegs, Doug Jung.

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba; Sofia Boutella.

There’s always a moral to a Star Trek story, and this time in, Star Trek Beyond, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is having a midlife crisis.

He’s been lost in space for too long and doesn’t know what he wants anymore.  He’s made the memory of his father proud; he’s the captain of the Enterprise.  But where do the steps towards his father end? And where does Kirk begin?

That’s what I like about the Star Trek franchise.  I like the characters and seeing how they deal with their struggles in life.

Interesting that Beyond is the third in the trilogy of the Re-boot series (the 13th Star Trek film) now coming to maturity, just like Capt. Kirk.

As always, there’s the difference in characters’ personality and culture.  I love Scotty the Scotsman and am really getting into the reluctant Dr. ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban), the southern doctor.  And not just because he’s handsome, Bones makes me laugh.

And there’s always the running theme of unity, which is mostly what the Star Trek films are about.  The difference of the crew members and the strength of working together.

So yes, there’s a formula in the writing here, in the themes written for Star Trek, but that’s why we dig it, yeah?

What was new is the addition of the character, Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) who looks to be a permanent fixture in future films.

And the visual effects just keep getting better with each Star Trek adventure.  See Ian Failes article for Inverse here: how-star-trek-changed-visual-effects-history.

Director Justin Lin has brought Peter Chiang on board to take a more scientific approach to the visual effects.  The realistic VFX (visual effects created by processes in which imagery is created and/or manipulated outside the context of a live action shot) go beyond (ha, ha) all expectation.

There are some amazing perspectives here that on the big screen kicked in my vertigo, so yeah, the visual effects are amazing.

I have to mention the sadness felt when realising I’ll never see Anton Yelchin as Chekov again.  See article about his passing here.  I’ll miss the innocence (although not as innocent with the ladies in, Beyond) and the genius Anton managed to give to the character, Chekov…

A few asides from crusty Bones, tracks to get the blood pumping and the feeling of being on a roller coaster, Star Trek Beyond adds up to a well-packaged, entertaining film.

The Nice Guys

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Director: Shane BlackThe Nice Guys

Writers: Shane Black; Anthony Bagarozzi

Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Yaya Dalosta, Keith David, Lois Smith; Kim Basinger.

Harking back to the funky-soul disco era of the 1970s, The Nice Guys is a private detective, who-done-it comedy, with a bit of action on the side.

The scene is set when Misty Mountains (yes, her name referring to her boobs) comes to a dramatic end – assets revealed in life but covered in death, because hey, she’s human and this is a classy film.

Now, Amelia Kuttner (Margaret Qualley) is being followed.  She hires Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), muscle who is paid to deter those, well, who need deterring.  His line of enquiry leading to Holland March (Ryan Gosling), a private detective also on the case.

Delving into the world of ’70s pornography, dirty deeds are uncovered circling closer and closer to those targeting Amelia.

A classic storyline, yet, it’s the characters Healy, March and March’s daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice) who are the focus of the film.  And the success of the film comes from the perfect casting of Gosling alongside Crowe.

It’s a pleasure to see Gosling playing a light-hearted character after all his seriousness in the past (Half Nelson (2006), The Ides of March (2011), The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) and more recently, The Big Short (2015)).  Gosling’s character, March, is a funny bastard.  Either he’s a natural comic or director Shane Black deserves a tremendous amount of credit as March was the highlight of the film for me.

Russell playing, Healy: as always the steadfast meat-head with a heart of gold.

The two characters had a great chemistry, like the small dog yapping at the big.  I wondered if there was a genuine annoyance from Russell Crowe regarding Gosling.  But with a clever script, there were many moments for laughter.

Add the background scenery of horses get-up as unicorns, protesters playing dead in gas masks and some well-placed action (I was about to get bored near the end until the action kicked in); you’ve got an entertaining film.  I’m still grinning about March falling, yet again, and somehow surviving.

But, honestly, there wasn’t a lot of depth here.

There were definite moments of wit and cleverness but the story barely held together at the end.  The action got ramped up so I forgave the fading narrative.  It depends on what mood you’re in.

If you’re looking for a, who-done-it with wit and action, this is a great film.

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Captain America: Civil War

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe RussoCaptain America Civil War

Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Based on: Captain America by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Chadwick Boseman, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt; Daniel Brühl.

With no expectation going in, I was pleasantly surprised by gutsy action and a well-thought out storyline.  And yes, I’m just going to say it, Captain America: Civil War was heart-warming.

To be honest, the Captain America character has never appealed to me.  As Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) says, ‘Sometimes, I just want to punch you in your perfect teeth’.

However, the film celebrates difference of opinion and differing values and cultures and that’s a definite positive of this film.

Civil War is about friendship and the difficulty in accepting differences between friends.  Who’s to say they’re right and who is wrong?  People have their reasons whether it be loyalty, the idea of doing the right thing, of looking after the little guy; and then there’s the bad manipulating the good.

The huge number of strong characters could have led to confusion, but the well-paced storyline gave every character their point and time in the spotlight.

I liked the addition of the cat-man, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman).  And the threat of cheesiness was nicely averted with humour: The characters able to make fun of themselves and each other, particularly Iron Man, and Ant-Man (Scott Lang) is just hilarious!

I admit I was a little confused at times regarding the history of the characters and how they came to fight together, which means I need to go back and re-watch some of the previous films.  And that’s a lot of watching.  Civil War is the third in the series of Captain America.  But then you have Avengers (2012) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).  Plus there’s all the Iron Man series and of course the films casting all the other characters…  So there wasn’t really anything new here, either.

But when I find I’m entertained at the beginning, the middle and the end, I say that’s a good movie.