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

Get Out: A New Twist in Horror

Get Out is a rare cinematic treat. It is one of the most daring films that I have seen and it’s a masterpiece that I have understood but not fully processed. Pushing the boundaries is an understatement for this movie. I can guarantee you, the reader, that Get Out is unlike any other horror film you have seen.

Get Out is one of the very few movies where I was trying to deconstruct it in my head, yearning to get to the core of the movie’s concepts. Normally, I either understand the movie or I don’t. Get Out manages to become a film that explores social commentary on race relations from a perspective I haven’t seen before. It succeeds in finding that very tricky balance of horror, comedy and social commentary.

The plot: Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams) are a young romantic couple and are going to meet Rose’s parents. Chris is worried that Rose’s parents (who are white) won’t accept Chris because he is black. When Chris meets Rose’s parents, they accept him because he is black.

Make no mistake, Get Out is a horror movie. Get Out follows the conventions of a horror movie with set-ups, tension, suspense, the villain with the evil and messed-up motive and the resolution. But how the movie executes these elements is something that is unquestionably unique and, in my opinion, quite extraordinary.

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Never have such uncontroversal statements said by these Whitford and Keener feel so controversal

Rarely does a horror movie build suspense and tension through dialogue that’s unsettling but never disturbing. With all the commentary on black people, I would argue that Get Out is never a racist film, but builds the tension by constantly teetering on the brink by going way too far into the opposite direction of ignorance. It’s done by the family being over complimentary about Chris for his “talents” that “inherited” from being black. I used quotation marks here because it’s from the perspective of the majority of the characters. Those passages of dialogue were so great because of it.

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This ensemble was something special. My third favourite movie ensemble since I started writing reviews

The other thing that was so great was the acting from the whole cast as they give it replay value for me. I would like to watch it again, knowing what I know now after seeing the movie I would love to see the subtleties in the performances of Catherine Keener as the mother (who was so amazing) Bradley Whitford who was the father and especially Allison Williams (Chris’ girlfriend). There were also incredibly freaky performances played by Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel who play housekeepers. There were also performances by Get Out is not a movie that needs to be seen twice to understand it, however, I think I will gain a new perspective on the performances having seen the movie.

If you are remotely into horror I think that Get Out is one of those films that pulls itself away from the rest of the pack. It is both an intense and a thinking kind of movie which gave Get Out a weird sense of an indescribable (and somewhat odd) cathartic release. ⭐⭐⭐⭐3/4

Guardians of the Galaxy- The First One

The five Guardians, sporting various weapons, arrayed in front of a backdrop of a planet in space with the film's title, credits and slogan.

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those movies where positive reception from fans and critics alike was a near-certainty. Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those films people will look back on because it was an innovator especially for 2014. Guardians of the Galaxy mostly works because of the humor, drama, and likability of characters which is what drew me into liking this film.

The plot: Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) steals an orb that has the power to destroy life in order to sell for cash (not knowing the powerful nature of the orb at the time). This gets him in a tangle with bounty hunters Groot (Vin Diesel), Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista) who have to work with each other to defeat a bigger enemy called Ronan

The plot summarized: I am Groot

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I want this to be on my drivers licence

I liked Guardians of the Galaxy. Did I love it? I’m not so sure. What I credit Guardians of the Galaxy in doing is getting a film containing a multi-star cast over with critics and audiences and myself as that is a tough task to accomplish. I also appreciate it for being innovative by being a superhero movie that wins the audience through humor while mixing in a tinge of drama. In most superhero movies pre- Guardians of the Galaxy that was the other way round.

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The power of dance knows no bounds. If only this was used on Doomsday in Batman vs. Superman, it might have made more sense. Shots have been fired.

The problem is, I am watching Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time in 2017 is that I have seen many superhero movies doing exactly the same thing: Using wacky jokes in order to be liked. Power Rangers, Suicide Squad, The Lego Batman Movie, and Deadpool have also tried to succeed by using lots of in-jokes and meta humor to varying degrees of success. Still, I would rank Guardians of the Galaxy second behind Deadpool out of the movies that I mentioned. That’s a good ranking considering the other movies could have refined what Guardians of the Galaxy paved.

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Peter explans to Drax the meaning behind slitting a person’s throat by putting his finger on his throat. This goes for nearly thirty seconds. It’s a rare movie where a lot of the humour comes from explaining jokes or gestures.

I liked the meta humor to a point. That point was reached when the would be a dramatic point in a conflict in which one of the main characters (mainly Peter) would interject by saying jokes when I thought it was unnecessary as it patronized the main villain Ronan. It watered down the payoff of key fight scenes in the movie. It made me believe that the heroes were not taking the main antagonist Ronan seriously. If the Guardians of the Galaxy treat the villain like a joke, I see no reason to take the threat seriously and therefore I don’t care for the Guardian’s fates. It felt like the movie was selling itself short.

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I say that this secne where the guardians unite is a good scene however Rocket the raccoon believes they look like “A bunch of jackasses” You be the judge.

What wasn’t sold short was everything else in the movie from the character development of all four Guardians of the Galaxy as a cohesive unit from bounty hunters who are all in for themselves to the bonding through grief in order to work together and destroy the villain. The emotional payoffs of the four characters worked and made me want to see them fight and win.

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The special efferects are great. It’s not exclusivly purple like Battlefield Earth. There are a variety of colours and textures that are pleasing to the eye in this movie.

The special effects were wild and beautiful to look at most of the time. Marvel have this thing nailed down where they show a lot of colors and shades in their special effects and you never feel like you are drenched in it. Doctor Strange, in my opinion, is still the best superhero movie for the GCI that it had, but Guardians is yet again a close second. It adds a lot of life to the movie and it’s always got me in wanting to see it.

So, Guardians of the Galaxy is not as perfect as what people made me believe, but I am still happy with the final product. Like a lot of three-star movies I give, all they need is some refining and it would have gone a long way with my enjoyment of it. Still, like any three-star movie, I cannot deny I enjoyed it ***3/4

The Fate of The Furious: Still chugging along

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They say you cannot judge a book by it’s cover. They never said you can’t judge a movie by promotional picture!

The Fate of The Furious is one-upping itself by having bigger action set pieces than ever before. There are cars that topple over a multi-story parking lot like tears in the rain, five cars trying to hog tie another car, there is a car race were one of those cars was on fire and a goddamn submarie break thes ice of the Russain freaking ocean chasing our heroes. None of which is a spoiler because either 1. They happen early on or 2. They revealed them in the trailer.

The reason I describe the movie like that is simply for this one notion:

What more did you expect from this franchise?

Despite the enthusastic tone, let’s not be mistaken, The Fate of the Furious is an unsurprising, middle of the road film. To continue this car analogy, this installment of the franchise is the pitstop. A 1 billion dollar pitstop, but a pitstop nonetheless. At least it was not the car crash of the franchise. The pitstop isn’t a bad place to be but it isn’t running the laps. That’s because this movie was a hit and miss: some action scenes worked, others were too ridiculous. There is a story in it that darting around, but at least there is a story to this movie. If you are a fan of the franchise, you will like this because The Fate of the Furious keeps chugging along rain, hail or shine.

The Positives: The story and the Script

The plot: Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) goes rogue because the antagonist Cipher (Charlize Theron) has something on him and uses that to her advantage and Toretto helps her against his will to implement her own plans (and to the horror of his “family”).

There is a reason I mention the plot and that’s because it’s somewhat important. Yes, in movies as a whole, that’s a given but in action movies not so much. A prime example of bad storytelling being xXx The Return of Xander Cage in which the story was so aimless, scattershot and boring that it became laughable. The Fate of the Furious actually has some restraint in what it shows in terms of keeping the plot together as it kept me focused on the story which is a relief.

The other thing that was restrained was the script. It wasn’t cringeworthy like I have heard in most action movies. They only mention the word “family” thirteen times (I predicted twice the amount and it being more explicit than subtle). Therefore I consider it a success. The script isn’t Shakespeare but it doesn’t have to be. The funniest lines occur when Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) has a hang up that he didn’t make it to the ten most wanted list whereas the other friends did (conveniently, he was number 11). So the movie was salvageable in the script department as well.

Furiously Burning the Budget: The Action Sequences

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The picture totally doesn’t make me the think of the song “America, Fuck Yeah” from Team America World Police

What was not restrained was the action sequences. That was exactly what I expected. They normally started off by being cool and/or clever but then change gears and amp up the ridiculousness. A prime example is an opening scene where Dominic races a Cuban with a poorly run car that he soups up at the last minute. During the race, the engine catches on fire while he is neck and neck.

That was fun. I have seen it before, but it was still fun.

Then the engine combusts and the flames obscure Dominic’s vision so he decided to finish (and win the race) by driving backwards while the crowd is cheering that a flaming car is racing toward them.

That was dumb.

To be honest, Fate of the Furious was mildly interesting throughout. It is certainly not the best in the franchise (that was Fast Five for me) but it is certainly not the worst (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift). It aimed to be the biggest action film of the year in terms of sheer scale and yet I didn’t feel that way. In terms of money at the box office, that is a real possibility. **3/4

The Lego Batman Movie: Deadpool for Kids… Sort of.

 

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The Lego Batman Movie is a unique entry in the superhero genre, not only because it’s a Lego animation but also sees the story in a kid-friendly, light-hearted manner. It’s such departure from other DC movies of Batman in that it’s hard to make a comparison of this movie to other Batman films. Instead, I will be comparing The Lego Batman Movie to Deadpool.

Both The Lego Batman Movie and Deadpool are inherently well written as the characters are witty, both movies wink at the audience with the breaking of the fourth wall and all the inside jokes and finally, both aim to give the audience a feeling of joy and fun while the superheros do their superhero stuff.

Lego filmakers Love Joy

Michael Cera as Robin and Zack Galifinakis as The Joker. The casting director is a genius

The plot: Batman is the poster boy for saving Gotham that all the children love him and sing his praises. Batman (Will Arnett) just laps it up and is arrogent (He brags to have a 9-pack. Yes, a 9-pack) . What we find out early on is the reason Batman is self-centered is because he is afraid of committing to a quiet, family life. Batman is on the mission to save Gotham once again from The Joker (Zack Galifianakis), only he cannot save Gotham on his own this time. He inadvertedly adopts a child (Michael Cera) who turns out to become Robin and they both try to save Gotham.

The bottom line is that The Lego Batman Movie succeeds in what it attempts to achieve. That is because it is so committed to a tone that aims to be lively, child-like and fun that it’s hard to not buy what The Lego Batman Movie is trying to sell. I was buying it for the majority of the movie. Like Deadpool, The Lego Batman Movie does this through fourth wall breaking, witty and funny characters and an arrogant, ego-driven yet charming main character.

The jokes: Faster than a Speeding Bullet

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Tylor Goodwin holds the world record of the number of jokes told in an hour with 571. The Lego Batman Movie might have beaten that record. That is not a good thing if you are trying to keep up

The Lego Batman Movie succeeds to a lesser extent than Deadpool due to the inability for the movie to control the barrage of jokes and the narrative pacing. The main problem with The Lego Batman movie is it either scattershot with jokes that move so fast that you couldn’t keep up or the momentum of the movie would slow down to a near halt.

The scriptwriters also decided that Batman should break the fourth wall five times per minute, which I grew tired of by the end as I was constantly reminded that I was watching a movie and therefore made it hard to suspend my disbelief. Deadpool had the perfect balance of breaking the fourth wall by dropping the intensity of fourth wall breaking considerably after the first act. In The Lego Batman Movie, the filmmakers didn’t get that memo.

The uneven narrative pacing and the overuse of jokes are the two main things The Lego Batman Movie could have improved upon and it did hurt my overall enjoyment of it.

The Running Gag: A Killing Joke

Barman: The guy that doesn’t so “ships” as in “relation-ships”. He is the Dan Bilzerian of life. Just swap women for fighting and they are a mirror image 🙂

Aside from that, there is not much else that is bad that I can think of. The story between The Joker and Batman in this movie are unique, especially the character motivations of The Joker. It somehow manages to work even if it shouldn’t on pen and paper. As always, The Joker wants Batman to hate him as much as the Joker hates Batman, only they make their own twist. It’s a romanticized story in a oddly comedic way where destroying Gotham is like courting Batman to take part in a hate relationship. I loved the angle The Lego Batman Movie takes with that and It was my favourite part of the film.

With all this in mind, I believe it’s the best movie DC has put their name on since The Dark Knight Rises. I still don’t believe it’s as good as a lot of Marvel movies, but it’s a positive step in the right direction in my opinion ***1/4

Who Killed Captain Alex? Bizzarly Works

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I am reviewing something quite odd. When I first heard about, and saw snippets of, Who Killed Captain Alex? words couldn’t describe it but I had to watch it. It is like Cool Runnings and The Gods Must Be Crazy on acid.

Is Who Killed Captain Alex? flawed in its storytelling, sequential editing, music selection, special effects, convincing dialogue, cinematography, and acting? Well yes but if you’re given the context about the making of the movie, Who Killed Captain Alex? brings a whole new perspective. Most of the cinematic errors are forgivable in my eyes due to the context on how the film was made.

The Context and the Plot

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The production budget

The Context: Here is how dedicated the director was in making Who Killed Captain Alex? This movie was made in Uganda where the director sold everything he owned for a camera so he could film. The director also made his own computer so he could edit. The entire production budget was 200 dollars and all the actors were just excited to be in a movie and did it for free.

Who Killed Captain Alex? is not for everyone. I can understand that, but this is unbelievably crazy. It’s so crazy that it works. The reason it works is that, given the context of the making of this film, it captures the spirit of filmmaking and it commits to its crazy cinematic style. This is the film that xXx: The Return of Xander Cage wishes it could be.

The plot: Captain Alex is a soldier who was hired by the government to kill the drug cartel group The Tiger Marfia. Unfortunately during one of his raids Captain Alex is killed. It is now up to captain Alex’s brother called Bruce U (Uganda’s Bruce Lee) to defeat the Tiger Marfia and end the mayhem once and for all.

Who Killed Captain Alex? and the Enormous Effort

There is a narrator throughout the movie called the video joker. His role, from what I was hearing, was to say things that were completely random (and funny) in his Ugandan voice. During action scenes, the video joker said things like “Supa Fighter” and “Movie! Movie! Movie!”, it’s like Deadpool without the wit while retaining the humor. He constantly breaks the fourth wall left right and center. It works. It actually freaking works. I was stunned.

The Actors: How they try so hard.

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I think all of the male actors know karate and it surprisingly half decent.

I remember in high school how there were people who were in their first production. They tried so hard because they were not offered a drama course. Who Killed Captain Alex? reminded me of that moment. They were trying so hard to be great that I am giving them points based on that principle. As I have said. This movie works because it reeks in the spirit of a joy in filmmaking.

Some of the actors are alethetic in their fighting sequences. I believe that Jackie Chan could take some of these actors under his wing with his stunt crew. There is a training montage with Bruce U, that reminded me of the training montage of The Karate Kid (the 1980’s version). I saw effort in that guy. It wasn’t smooth, but the energy from his performance shows and because of that it’s admirable that he tried.

When I finished Who Killed Captain Alex? I knew I watched something special. Nor great, but special. It was incompetent filmmaking mixed with ambition and the result is something oddly charming and magical ***1/4

Groundhog Day Tw- uh… Before I Fall Review

 

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Remember when Bill Murray wakes up at 6:00 am every morning to this Sunny and Cher song “They put your little hand in mine, there ain’t no mountain we can climb.” Oh Before I Fall, you certainly created an unassailable mountain climb with that premise of yours.

Although I can say that Before I Fall acts in good faith by trying to be its own thing and having good intentions, it embellishes itself into the sad state of reminding you of better films that you could be watching. The one film that Before I Fall reminded me of the most was Groundhog Day because the premise and plot points are exactly the same and therefore predictable.

The Plot: Zoey Deutch plays a self-centered teen and only wants to socialize with other self-centered girls. After a night out partying and making fun of people the girls retreat to their car and by 12:39 am, she gets involved in a fatal accident that wasn’t so fatal. She wakes up the next day and relieves it over and over again until she realises she needs to be a good person to break the curse of reliving the same day.

I wish Before I Fall was better: A lot better

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This is Before I Fall: Stuck in the timewarp both as a story and as a movie unfortunatly.

What Before I fall does differently to Groundhog Day is the dramatization. It goes for the route of finding moral redemption in a world where it’s hard to find. It works at the end, but it stumbles across the line with narrative cliches and shoehorning their messages across (There’s a poster on the wall that says something along the lines of “Be yourself” or “Be different”)

For what it is, Before I Fall is mildly interesting overall but I didn’t find the supporting characters too interesting, the cinematographer loves to shoot in shades and hues of blue (except for the party scenes which are in a completely red tint like being in a photo lab) and lines of dialogue were sometimes ill-timed (but not cringeworthy). In other words, lots of little things really hurt the movie’s overall quality.

I understand what the Before I Fall is intending to communicate it’s target audience (young adult females) and I like the intention. I am mixed about the movie for what it is, but Before I Fall suffers in the sense that it constantly reminded me of far better movies (like Mustang, Groundhog Day etc.) and it does absolutely nothing new with its premise. This, sadly, makes Before I Fall cinematic mediocrity **1/2.