The Mummy: Dead on Arrival

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Acting ⭐1/2
Build ⭐⭐
Writing ⛧⛧
Characters ⭐3/4
Visuals ⭐⭐1/2

Creating Universes are now a trend in movie industry now more than ever and Universal have responded badly to the changing trend. The Mummy, the first movie of the “Dark Universe” franchise Universal have made and it’s like watching paint dry. It is so boring that Tom Cruise couldn’t save it. If an energetic Tom Cruise can’t save it, that’s all you need to know about how bad The Mummy was.

Tom Cruise plays a soldier stealing ancient artifacts and selling them for profit. When he gets involved in a conflict zone, he finds an underground temple that awakens Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) and Cruise has to stop her from creating her new world order.

That is the jist of the plot, though The Mummy makes it feel needlessly complicated. To be fair on the movie’s part, there are two action scenes that were good and the CGI is not too terrible. While in any movie, that is not a pass mark, it is certainly a redeemable film if I can easily spot some redeeming qualities.

What redeeming qualitys The Mummy had however vwas swallowed up in a sea of bland boring badness. There are many bad things about The Mummy but I will limit it to two major components which are the tedious dialogue and the zany genre shifting that never gels together nor works on their own.

The writing is terrible in ways that make me wonder if the six writers ever proofread what they were writing. The writing is a flood of expository dialogue that is never interesting. This is due to The Mummy needing to “build the franchise”.

The expository dialogue is either narration, expositions of mythology or lazy writing to get out plot holes. Russel Crowe must have been bewildered with the amount of dialogue he had to read for his role. Eventually, The Mummy stopped becoming a film and more about an audiobook on ancient Egyptian mythology narrated by Russel Crowe.

Beyond the bad writing, The Mummy also loves to shift between genres like horror and action-comedy whenever it wants to without it ever feeling like a smooth transition. This did not matter much as the horror scenes were not scary, the comedy was not funny and the action only mildly thrilling. The only good scenes are when Tom Cruise gets to be Tom Cruise (which is about two or three sequences). Trust me, you will know what those are because they will stand out from the 120 other minutes of nothing.

The Mummy is the worst kind of franchise building that you could imagine. It’s the kind where they introduce characters and have limited depth to them for which they will be revealed in subsequent films. It also feels like a stopgap for other subsequent movies and this is the first in the franchise. The Mummy is unusually bad. ⭐1/4

Uno: The Movie

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Written by Nelson Cumming

After Rooster Teeth created Laser Team, a film that took years to get off the ground, their subsidiary company Achievement Hunter, created a movie with a stripped-down minimalist approach. There were no concerted efforts of pre-production or the filming this feature. So much so, that the movie wasn’t considered a movie until filming was nearly completed.

Yes, Rooster Teeth’s follow-up feature length film Uno: The Movie has many unique characteristics that I have never seen in the last 11 months I have been reviewing movies.

First of all, Uno: The Movie is the first movie I have seen this year where the main plot involves a game of Uno. Secondly, Uno: The Movie is the first movie I have seen where I couldn’t see any of the character either animated or in real time.

The story centers around five gamers Geoff, Ryan, Jeremy, Gavin and, later on, Jack. These five gamers battle their hearts out on the children’s card game that is Uno. However, with house rules such as drawing cards until you have the right colour or number, draw two stacking and hand swapping, it takes the gamers an eternity to complete a single round. Who will win, if there is a winner at all?

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Drawing 8 cards is just the beginning of the hurdles the gamers have to face

 

Uno: The Movie relies on knowing the characters entirely through the sounds of their voices. I have not seen this since Scarlett Johanson in the movie Her. While the product placement in Uno: The Movie is grotesquely extreme, I cannot deny that the movie worked for its bold experimentation in film that you don’t see in the mainstream, mass-produced movies.

What makes this movie watchable is the simplicity of the plot, the characters, and their motivations. All of the key characters want to win a game of Uno but all of the characters are likeable and relatable. So unlike some bad movies, I can understand what is going on and they don’t make the story overly complicated.

The main problem in this movie is the repetitive gags. I can only laugh so much at guys being unfortunate enough to draw eight cards. When I no longer laugh at the misery of players getting 18 cards there is a problem. Uno the movie is 164 minutes in length which is 2 minutes less than Transformers: Age of Extinction but only half as boring and five times better.

 

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I can only see all players getting 10 or more cards in their hands so much. I want the game to end after awhile

 

I see Uno: The Movie as an allegory to life itself. When you have a goal and it is tough and pointless to reach, you dig in deep and achieve your pointless goals and, hopefully, you catch someone filming it. Knowing that the unreasonable struggle to obtain something meaningless makes it much sweeter.  ***

Norm of the North: As Bad As It Looks

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Written by Nelson Cumming

Norm of the North is that movie you find at a Go-Lo or The Reject Shop that only the most desperate parent will buy just to distract the kids for two hours. It will actually sedate them. I honestly believe a nine-year-old will be able to tell the movie is terrible. It is so ineptly made and struggles to tell a single joke properly.

The Pitch

Could you possibly imagine any enthusiasm from a board meeting when the ideas man suggested this:

“We are going to have Rob Schneider play Norm: A twerking polar bear”

That idea was worth 18 million dollars.

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How the hell did Norm of the North bypass the Gruen Transfer?

I may even consider Norm of the North some twisted form of ironic meta humor. The reason being that I am currently studying for a marketing degree and this movie dabbles on about marketing jargon. The movie talks about approval ratings, statistics, re-postings, legalities and investors. Didn’t everyone involved in this realize this is a kids film?

If you account for the marketing budget (which is normally about the same as the production budget), It’s possible that the film didn’t break even. Part of the marketing campaign was advertising a trailer on Youtube. The trailer has a worse likes percentage than Ghostbusters.

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Left: Chris Stuckmann’s reaction to Norm of the North. Right: My reaction to watching Norm of the North

Why is this received so negatively you may ask, well a lot what is wrong with Norm of the North is slapped onto the animation. It is lazily done. The character movements are not naturally smooth and the textures are very basic without much detail to them. It’s like watching a kids TV computer animation. It’s very cheap B-grade looking.

There is also an over reliance of showing popular music and animals and people dancing to it. It served as pure filler that didn’t add anything to the story. It was like the movie was saying “Hey kiddies we know the business-speak can be terribly boring so we are going to entertain you now with more nothing!”

Perhaps another problem is the gags. The gags don’t have much humour in them at all. It goes down to pee and fart jokes that weren’t funny. The filmmakers obviously didn’t think so as they repeated the same unfunny jokes over and over again.

The one and only positive thing about Norm of the North is that it’s material is inherently harmless. Kids won’t be scarred for life and soccer moms won’t complain to classifications board about the movies PG rating. But a lot of adults will see just how aimless the execution is.

At one point, Norm of the North makes a dated Titanic reference and I wrote in my notes “A Titanic reference? That’s because Norm of the North is a sinking ship”. I have not seen a film where the animation was so poor and ineptly made. Watch the trailer and tell me if you have ever seen animation so poorly done on a feature length film that was releases in theaters. I really want to know.  -**

Cafe Society: A Half Decent Woody Allen Film

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Written by Nelson Cumming

Café Society is pretty much the same movie as Hail, Caesar!. Sure Café Society is more romanticized and pretty than Hail, Caesar! but both movies hit the same notes, they are both love letters to the Hollywood of the past and the directors from both movies decided to let their hair down and embrace themselves in the nostalgia of a place in time from a place they used to love (and maybe still love, I don’t know)

For Woody Allen, filmmaking, young love, and comedy are his passions. Yes, you can tell he loves to make movies because he is 80 years old and still writing and directing one film per year since Annie Hall in 1975. That is over half his lifetime. Café society shows us that the love of filmmaking is still there.

Very Warm and Very Pretty

 

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If you think this is pretty you should see the inside. 

 

Allen’s love for cinema is are in the shots and the scenery more than anything else. Throughout the movie, there is warm golden lighting with light jazz music and exquisite locations and set design but nothing is oversaturated or overdone. He used light, whimsical subtly to immerse you into the picture of the Hollywood lifestyle of the 30’s. Even the way he transitions through scenes adds a bit of light heartedness to the performance.

This lavish but inviting atmosphere is backed up by the chemistry between Kristan Stewart and Jessie Eisenberg as well as Steve Carrell. The three are in a complicated love triangle. Stewart falls for both of them but there are complications to both of them

 

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Stewart and Eisenberg representing two-thirds of the love triangle 

 

Carrell is an agent to the stars (Like Bead Whitlock in Hail, Caesar!) who ends up hiring his nephew (played by Eisenberg) out of nepotism. Eisenberg falls in love with Stewart’s character the first time he meets her. The problem is Carrell is also in love with her but Eisenberg dosesn’t know that because Carrell’s character had been happily married for over twenty and struggles to find the courage to ask his wife for a divorce. You can see how complicated it gets. Despite the complexity of the love triangle it is easy to understand when you see it.

The one thing that is annoying about Café Society is the narration. At first, I liked it because I thought it added to the story. Then it’s done far too often and it starts to feel like a narrative crutch. Allen is the narrator and he is good at exploring beauty, style, decor, scriptwriting and wit. What he lacked was brevity this time. The narration just sprawls on and on and on and it did get boring.

Nevertheless, Café Society gave me an odd character experience at the end. The end shows sadness and beauty together where at the end I felt heavy but oddly relaxed. It was a strange but satisfying emotive feeling. There are not many morals to Café Society but it wants to appreciate the scenery and the story and the former was great and the latter was good. It’s not one of Allen’s finest works but one that works if you are a fan of his catalog ***1/4

Masterminds Review

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Written by Nelson Cumming

I am not a dead-inside film critic when I say Masterminds is unfunny and forgettable. I was watching Masterminds with around thirty people who were trying very hard to have a good time and find the movie funny. For the first thirty minutes, there were half-hearted chuckles and then there was complete silence. It’s an eerie, sad experience when it happens to comedies.

The whole story revolves around David (Zack Galifianakis) who works driving armored trucks filled with money. David has fallen in love with a new co-worker (Kristin Wiig) and she has friends (including Owen Wilson) who want to rob millions of dollars and she manipulates David to do be a part of the robbery. They soon double cross David once the robbery is done. David has to avoid a hit man (Jason Sudeikis) and law enforcement to get his revenge.

You can tell the scriptwriting is so bad that stars like Zack Galifianakis, Kristin Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis and Kate McKinnon cannot make the material funny. Sudeikis and McKinnon get it the worst. I felt sad for them on what they had to do.

McKinnon plays a stereotypically dumb redneck blonde who is David’s fiancee and she deliberately made her facial expressions look mechanically fake. It was just looked so weird. What’s even worse is Sudeikis, who plays a hit man sent to kill David, Galifianakis’ character. All he added was a layer of comedic awkwardness on material that just failed to land.

What is also not believable is the storytelling. To advance the story you have to believe the main characters are impossibly dumb. There is also a massive eye rolling moment when you realize that the assassin sent to kill Galifianakis stops his plan when he realized that Galifianakis is his brother. It’s almost akin to Batman vs. Superman when Batman stops fighting Superman when Superman says his mother’s name.

Masterminds is the comedic film where nothing works. The overuse of slapstick doesn’t work, the dialogue doesn’t work nor do the characters have the chemistry to make what little they had funny. Although the characters and their motives are entirely believable in the movie’s internal logic, very little laughs materialized from the audience. At least Masterminds was not boring.

When I left Masterminds I left with the most positive bad reaction. I just said “Well that sucked” in a care-free way. It’s not boring, nor is it hateful. It’s kinda messy but coherent enough to not make me lose complete faith. Most importantly, it’s just not that funny *1/2

Sausage Party Review

Genre: Animated Comedy
Year: 2016
Rating: MA
Length: 88 minutes
Main Cast: Seth Rogen
Kristen Wiig
Jonah Hill
Production Company: Annapurna Pictures, Point Grey Pictures
Written by: Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Story by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Jonah Hill
Directed by: Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan

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Written By Nelson Cumming

Love it or hate it, Sausage Party is a movie that you will remember. It is a type of movie I have never seen this year. It is an r-rated, rude, crude animation comedy. It has the iconic actors that are a part of the new wave of R-rated comedies such as Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. With such talent signing up for this movie I was highly anticipating it for weeks. The multi-million dollar question for movies as innovative and promising as this is: Does it live up to its hype?

Yes, but…

That would be the short conclusion to my review of Sausage Party.

The plot revolves around personified foods at a supermarket who are eager to be bought by people as they believe that “The Great Beyond” (which is outside the supermarket) will lead them to a better life Frank (Seth Rogan), a sausage, finds out the fate of “The Great Beyond” is not as lush as it seems for the perishable foods and they must stop humans from consuming them.

Really Long Highs, Followed by Really long Lows

When Sausage Party is funny, it is damn funny. When it isn’t funny, it is a little flat in the room. When it wasn’t funny it wasn’t a crowd killer like Zoolander 2 was, but I felt the audience wanting to laugh because the first ten minutes was so good. There was a period where no one laughed for 20 minutes, but at the same time, I felt that no one turned against the movie. Despite the fact the movie is only 88 minutes long, they didn’t have enough tight comedic material to warrant 88 minutes.

Nothing is Sacred

With Sausage Party, they dared to go to the worst places for humour and I loved it. They had fun with religion (A personified Lebanese bread hoped there would be 72 extra virgin olive oils at The Great Beyond) they did a lot of gags about pot (If Seth Rogan is in it, what do you expect?) and there are a lot of sex jokes.

The great part about a lot of the gags that hit in Sausage Party is that they are smartly written in a way that works for both observant and unobservant audience members. The depictions of food torture were highly graphic but easily watchable and humorous. A lot of the best humor works on multiple different levels and is innovative.

The Swearing and Swearing Leaves a Lot Less Caring

The second and last major problem with Sausage Party is there are a lot of f-bombs (and three c-bombs) used in a tiresome manner. Initially, it was surprising because they were swearing in enthusiastic ways. Eventually when they kept doing it, it became tiresome.

I predicted it was on the Wikipedia list for the most uses of the f- word in a film. You need to say it 150 or more to qualify. That’s how many I predicted. The only other time that thought crossed my mind in a movie was in Dirty Grandpa and sure enough, it sad the f-word 160 times. It’s also right alongside Dirty Grandpa. Click here if you don’t believe me

My Conclusion

Sausage Party is outrageously funny enough to overcome its demerits. You can say it’s orgies of fun but the climax is fucked up ***1/2