Movie News – June 13th, 2017

Adam West dies age 88

The man behind one of the most iconic portrayals of Batman died over the weekend. Adam west continued to be popular and beloved by people everywhere since the Sixties. He will be sorely missed.

Marvel unveils a new Black Panther Teaser Trailer

We’ve still got Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok to come this year but Marvel has given us our first look at Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther.

Not much in Movie news this week, E3 is coming up so if you are a big Gamer, it’s basically Christmas!

Due to the Long Weekend in most States in Australia, the Box Office Report should be out tomorrow.

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The Mummy (2017) – Review

The first chapter in the rebooted Universal Monsters’ Dark Universe delivers a lot of set up and a bit of fun, but no real bang. The Mummy features Tom Cruise as Tom Cruise in a Tom Cruise movie that really wasn’t very Tom Cruise-y.

The Mummy is not a great film, but its fun. There’s enough action coupled with a little bit of mild horror and well-blow-average comedic levity to make it an OK popcorn flick to sit down and switch off. There’s not much to it.

Tom Cruise plays Nick Morton, a reconnaissance soldier that uses his job to pilfer and sell antiquities he finds in the Middle-East. During a mission he embarks on to find treasure he accidentally stumbles on an Ancient Egyptian tomb. Upon further investigation Annabelle Wallis’s character Jenny Halsey finds that the tomb was actually a prison holding a princess that seemed to have been scrubbed from history – Princess Ahmanet (played by Sofia Boutella).

Opening the prison has allowed her to return to power and escape. Ahmanet made a pact with Set, the God of Death, to bring him in to the physical world. In the past, she failed but now that she’s been released and now she wants to complete the ritual.

Cruise delivered an average performance, playing almost a caricature of himself. He pulled off some decent action sequences but nothing really stuck. Annabelle Wallis, brought nothing to the role of Jenny Halsey which had nothing in the script anyway, she was there to be a beautiful woman and barely a love interest for Nick. What she did provide was a link to the wider ‘Dark Universe’ through her job with Prodigium, enter Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll.

Crowe brought probably one of the more outstanding performances of the lacklustre cast. He portrayed your pretty standard version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (yes, Hyde also makes an appearance), with just a sprinkling of an organisation leader, a la Nick Fury from S.H.I.E.L.D in the MCU. His is a role I’d like to see developed further in the future of the Dark Universe. Now that I’ve mentioned the word developed, I should mention that there is no character development in this film, it seemed to all fall by the way-side while they set-up the franchise.

Sofia Boutella has brought fantastic physicality in her roles in Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond, her performance in The Mummy is no different. While she seems to never be a character with too much dialogue, what she does get to say isn’t bad. I’m not fluent in Ancient Egyptian but it sounded right (she also delivers about one line in English). She was a decent Mummy and provided a good looming threat.

The visual effects were pretty good, lots of sand and big sand storms, a bit of mummification and zombification and some Mercury which moved with a little too much life of its own in my opinion, but other than that I had no issues with it. Sound was good too but nothing stood out to me really.

The story flowed reasonably well providing a lot of exposition into not only the origins of The Mummy herself but really trying to push down your throat that this is the beginning of a new cinematic universe (just in case you haven’t worked that out yet). There was one plot point that seemed to break the in-universe rules they set up, but when you need something to happen and when you’re talking about a ‘world of Gods and Monsters’ you’re going to have to let some of these things slide.

The Mummy is a film its best to just switch off to and let it take you for a ride. The action in the film was enjoyable and the pacing was pretty good. One thing I want to praise the movie for is that it was only 107 minutes long! Though you could probably have thrown in an extra few lines of dialogue or a scene or two to either set up characters or show some development, I thought that the movie didn’t overstay it’s welcome. The mythology this film presented has piqued my interest in the Dark Universe (but that’s because I’m a sucker for Cannon), however the rest of the film was average, with nothing overly standing out.

2.5 Stars

The Mummy is in cinemas now.

Cinema Forecast: June 8th, 2017

The Mummy

An ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.

This film will hopefully mark beginning of a re-invigorated Universal Monsters franchise, bringing back old favourites like The Mummy, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, The Wolfman, The Invisible Man, Frankenstein’s Monster etc. They’re bringing some big names to this franchise. I think this is one to watch!

Director: Alex Kurtzman
Cast: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe

Churchill

A ticking-clock thriller following Winston Churchill in the 24 hours before D-Day.

Director: Jonathan Teplitzky
Cast: Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson

My Cousin Rachel

A young Englishman who plots revenge against his mysterious, beautiful cousin, believing that she murdered his guardian. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms.

Director: Roger Michell
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Holliday Grainger, Iain Glen, Pierfrancesco Favino

 

Movie News – June 6th, 2017

Wonder Woman is officially the biggest opening for a film directed by a female in Hollywood history.

Hollywood is notorious for being an industry dominated by men. Even now in 2017, women have to fight for the same pay for leading a film. I hope this is a step in the right direction. Wonder Woman opened to US box offices with over $100 million, the highest opening for a female directed film. What’s more is, this is a female led superhero film, something even Marvel hasn’t done. Admittedly, this should have been the first, it is Wonder Woman, but after almost 10 years Marvel still hasn’t pulled off this feat.

Patty Jenkins announced for Wonder Woman 2

Director of Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins has been announced to be directing the sequel. This is no surprise as not only was the film a huge opener in the box office, it would have been in her contract to deliver a sequel should the first find success. Jenkins has already said in an interview with EW that she knows where she wants the second film to go, “The story will take place in the U.S., which I think is right. She’s Wonder Woman. She’s got to come to America. It’s time.”

John Wick 3 will begin production later this year

Writer Derek Kolstad will return and will be working with Chad Stahelski on a third movie in the Keanu Reeves action movie. They have said that the film should go in to production in the American Fall.

Top Gun 2 gets a title and plot details, courtesy of Tom Cruise

After revealing that a Top Gun sequel was going to happen on Sunrise in Australia. Tom Cruise spoke to Access Hollywood giving us a title and a little of what we can expect.

“It’s not gonna be called Top Gun 2 it’s gonna be Top Gun: Maverick. I didn’t want a number. You don’t need a number. We’re gonna have the same tone that we had with the first one. Stylistically it’s gonna be the same. We’re gonna have the same score from Harold Faltermeyer. Aviators are back. The need for speed, we’re gonna have big machines. It’s gonna be a competition film like the first one, and it’s gonna be in the same vein, the same tone as the first one but a progression for Maverick.”

Last Weekend’s Box Office Report

# | Movie | Gross (in US$) | Days in Release | Total Gross (in US$)
1 | Wonder Woman | $5,035,387 | 3 | $5,035,387
2 | Baywatch | $2,589,935 | 3 | $2,589,935
3 | Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales | $1,852,832 | 10 | $7,367,546
4 | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 | $416,394 | 38 | $23,647,975
5 | King Arthur: Legend of the Sword | $352,073 | 17 | $3,645,866

Information gathered from The Numbers:
http://www.the-numbers.com/weekend-box-office-chart/Australia

Wonder Woman – Review

An action-adventure film that is worthy of the praise it’s getting, Wonder Woman is a excellent example of what we could hope to see from more DC films.

Wonder Woman tells the story of Princess Diana of Themyscira, an island paradise secluded from the rest of the world, who yearns to see the world of man. One day, Steve Trevor, an spy for the Allies crash lands just off the island and the world of man comes to Themyscira along with news of the ‘War to end all Wars’. Diana travels to Europe with Steve in an attempt to find the god Ares, who she believes is behind this War.

In a way, unfortunately some what foreign to the previous DC Films, Wonder Woman features a coherent story line that follows the hero’s journey’s three act structure. Which worked so well for this film. A lot exposition was required to set up this world, and it was mostly worked in to dialogue between characters which is never something I’m a huge fan of. For example, Amazons saying to each other, “We have not had to fight in a war for 2000 years.”, they already know this, stuff like that wouldn’t naturally come up in conversation. Some of the exposition was delivered as a story told to Diana as a child – this, I enjoyed.

More unnecessary dialogue was worked in between Diana and Steve in attempt to set up their relationship, it wasn’t bad but it slowed down the pacing of the film a little.

Parts of Wonder Woman felt like your ‘swords and sandals’ movie, while others give off a good War movie vibe. The contrast between Themyscira and World War I was noticeable and featured similar dull tones and muted colour palate that the ‘world of man’ has had in previous DC films. It makes me think that the image of Mera from Aquaman that is full of vibrant colours, will be in Atlantis making these two magical locations the most interesting parts of the DC universe.
Gal Gadot really brings it as Diana. The former soldier, turned model now actress might not have the strongest acting ability but her physicality makes up for any minor short falls there were, though I think her delivery of dialogue and facial expressions were good. Chris Pine was great as the almost-sidekick to Diana and key to her transition to the world of man. The supporting characters worked well and I don’t think anyone necessarily phoned it in.

Patty Jenkins directed this film very well. It’s so focused and it sticks to the narrative. There’s great action scenes that were also paired with some good dialogue and character driven scenes she also added a little slow-mo, unassumingly to fit in to the DC mould.

With out going into too much detail in to the film, in order to avoid spoilers, I’ll say that the film was a good action-adventure film that served as a ‘coming of age’ for Diana, its a way to show how she became the fierce warrior we see at the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Her character progression and development is such an important part of this film and its one of the key elements of this film.

Wonder Woman is an excellent example of what we could hope to see from more DC films. It is a near-perfect story of Diana’s first steps in to the world of man, and a nice origin story in a day and age where ‘origin stories are over-rated’. Wonder Woman is a character I want to see more of in the coming DC universe films. She is, so far anyway, the best character they currently have and I hope Justice League will continue to show her in the light that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Wonder Woman has.

Wonder Woman is in Cinemas now.

3.5 Stars

Murder on the Orient Express Trailer

“My name is Hercule Poirot and I am probably the greatest detective in the world.”

20th Century Fox has released the first trailer for the star-studded Murder on the Orient Express. Based on the Agatha Christie novel and directed by Kenneth Branagh. The film is set on a packed train where one of the passengers is murdered, Detective Hercule Poirot, played by Branagh, is on the case, and begins narrowing his suspects one by one.

This trailer looks great and I am very excited for this film. I think a cast including Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Olivia Colman, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, Lucy Boynton, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Sergei Polunin and Marwan Kenzari being directed by Kenneth Branagh based on this classic story will bring a fantastic film..

Murder on the Orient Express hits cinemas November 9th.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Review

Zack Snyder’s attempt at the movie we’ve wanted to see for decades fell short of expectations.

In anticipation to Wonder Woman, I watched Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice again, so here’s the review. PLEASE BE WARNED! While I will try not to go into specifics, there could be some spoiled plot points. While this is a review, it will include some analysis and ‘ways I would do it better’.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice never had the excitement around it that the idea of a Superman/Batman film had. That came from the divisiveness of 2013’s Man of Steel, which I enjoyed for the most part.

The main problem Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is the Dawn of Justice part. This is two movies. The first involves Batman and Superman both being manipulated in to hating each other, they both had their reasons but they were played upon and had their perspective skewed. The story would involve the main characters investigating what seem to be separate leads that all end up being part of the one plan. That plan, was to have Superman kill Batman and that this scenario would have one of two outcomes:

1. To show the world either that Superman would kill someone – God can’t be all good. Or,

2. To show the world that Batman killed Superman – God can’t be all powerful.

Now to me, that sounds like a good story. A little bit of action sprinkled in at certain points, some mystery and intrigue, all culminating in a finale that pits the two DC Comics greats in a battle of Brains (and money) vs. Brawn. Naturally, of course before killing one another they realise they are actually on the same side and they go after the real threat that has been influencing them from the start. We put that threat in jail, while he is in there he plots something bigger, upon his eventual escape, which will be the story of the next film. 2 hours and 10 minutes, simple story, easy to follow, everybody forgets their so-so reaction to Man of Steel, bring on the next film, ‘Dawn of Justice’.

Except that didn’t happen. Instead, that story more or less ends around the 2 hour mark and the remaining 30 minutes of its run time resulted in a ridiculous mess that features an overpowered enemy that came out of nowhere, with very little set up or reason for being there, a character that while awesome (spoilers: it’s Wonder Woman), probably shouldn’t have been in a movie called ‘Batman v Superman’ and particular plot point that probably shouldn’t have seen the light of a projector til ‘Man of Steel 3’. Some shots from the last 30 minutes looked good, but a lot of them were just so cluttered by lighting bolts and laser beams that it lost all meaning. Some of the shots were harder to determine what was going on than being able to determine who’s fighting who in a Transformers movie.

There are more issues with the film, including pacing, writing and editing etc. But I don’t want to be so negative on this film, because there is something there. There’s a movie in here, I have ever since I saw this film believed that. All I need to do it sit down in front of my computer one day and maybe make a cut of my own to prove it. (I don’t want to alarm you but the writers and editor from BvS:DoJ are doing the same jobs on Justice League.)

I very much enjoyed Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne and Batman. He gave the older, gruffer character that the story asked for and we were looking for. That said, I like most of the acting in this film. Henry Cavill and Amy Adams have a shallow dynamic, dialogue-wise but their body language and the look in their eyes said more than the script could. Gal Gadot did a pretty decent job as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and delivered in my favourite shot of the entire film – a small smile during the big fight at the end, a little thing that said so much about the character, it said: “This is fun.”, “I’ve missed this” and “So you want a fight, huh?” all at the same time.

Jeremy Irons brought a new side to Alfred Pennyworth that we hadn’t seen before and I didn’t mind Holly Hunter’s role as a senator leading an enquiry in to Superman. Lawrence Fishburne brought nothing to the role as Perry White and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor left a lot to be desired… there were moments of proper evil to his character but sadly it was overshadowed by his ‘no one comprehends my genius’ shtick mixed with a fair amount of overacting.

The first 2 hours of the movie weren’t bad, it probably could have been done with being an hour and 40, but the story was enjoyable and could be followed somewhat. That being said, this is a comic book movie, and yes, the characters are from comic books, I know. I mean this movie paces like a comic book, it could even do with the odd “Meanwhile” tags in the top left corner in a few scenes, if this film was adapted in to a comic book – it would work. I think that is what sets the current DC films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe apart, Marvel makes movies based on its characters, they have adapted story lines, DC, or at least Zack Snyder seems to adapt the panels. Which is why 300 and Watchmen worked for the fans of those movies, its what they were expecting. It’s not what fans were expecting after Marvel had completed its ‘Phase One’. I think the culture had changed.

After all this though, I like parts of this movie, so it doesn’t fail completely in my opinion. I see this movie for it’s merits and what it tried to do. Don’t get me wrong, I have ideas about how you can fix this and effectively write this movie off – which in the DC Universe at least can be done very easily.

2 Stars

Cinema Forecast: June 1st, 2017

Wonder Woman

An Amazon princess leaves her island home to explore the world and, in doing so, becomes one of the world’s greatest heroes.

This film is set in the ‘DCEU’ (DC Comics Extended Universe), the same universe as Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. While having seen Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman before might be beneficial, I wouldn’t say that it would be required. I have not seen this film yet but I have heard that this will be one to watch.

Director: Patty Jenkins
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright

Baywatch

Baywatch follows devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchannon as he butts heads with a brash new recruit. Together, they uncover a local criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay.

Director: Seth Gordon
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario, Jon Bass, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING TRAILER IS A ‘RED BAND’. THIS TRAILER HAS ADULT THEMES.

Early Reviews for Wonder Woman are wonderfully positive!

The embargo has lifted and the reviews are in. Wonder Woman has got the internet in a whirl.

Rotten Tomatoes has the current rating at 97% with 64 out of 66 positive reviews and the 2 ‘rotten’ reviews still talk about the many upsides of the film giving a 2/5 and a 2.5/5 each.

Naturally, with more screenings still to come and more reviews coming out the score will go down a little. But I’m looking forward to see this film so much. I plan to see it on Thursday night and will have a review up on Friday.

The excitement will continue to build over the next few days. Without seeing this film yet, I encourage everyone to go out and support this movie. Show Warner Bros. that this is the kind of superhero movie we want.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Review

I hadn’t seen this Pirates of the Caribbean movie until last week, the day before I saw Dead Men Tell No Tales.

Please note, this review was written before seeing the fifth film, due to other reviews I already had scheduled, this is being released afterwards.

To preface, I’ve only really liked the first Pirates film, The Curse of the Black Pearl. The other two were good from a production value point of view, but story line wise they go off in all sorts of directions and the overacting became a staple of the franchise. That being said, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides also features the overacting. When I think about it though, what I really want from a blockbuster pirate movie, is actors acting like pirates. I want the ‘argh me-hearty’s’, swash-buckling, stereotype of pirates that I’ve grown up with. That is what I’ve come to expect when I hear Hans Zimmer’s epic theme, and that’s what I buy a ticket for.

On Stranger Tides, seemed to have a more streamlined story, while there are three ‘teams’ all racing to one goal, as well as a shopping list for ‘the ritual’. The important thing is that the protagonists and antagonists are all heading following a simple story and not all heading off on convoluted journeys for complicated reasons.

As usual, the film looks pretty good, pretty blockbuster-y but again, that’s the point right? The scenes on the water, at night especially, look like they’re shot on a sound stage but some of the location shots were pretty so you forgive it. While there wasn’t much in the line of CGI on characters, mostly enchanted ropes, water and backgrounds, there is a CGI frog that I wasn’t a huge fan of, a far cry from Davy Jones. On the plus side though, the mermaid effects weren’t too bad. I’m just about to get to the acting in this film, but I’m going to mention this now, there’s a clergyman and a mermaid who fall in love or what ever, it was a story tread to get the mermaid to cry because a mermaid’s tear was needed for the ritual – other than that, reasonably unnecessary.

Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) returns along with the first trilogy’s Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin McNally) in a one-shot of sorts having very little (if nothing) to do with the films that came before. Barbossa and Gibbs’ style of pirate-y-ness is what I was talking about earlier on. It’s nothing too amazing, but in this film, its fun, it fits the theme. It reminds me of what I liked about The Curse of the Black Pearl. Straight up pirates followin’ maps and findin’ treasure. Depp’s Jack Sparrow felt a little toned down in this film. Not to say he wasn’t overtly Sparrow, but it didnt feel as overdone as it did in Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End.

Penelope Cruz plays Angelica, a former flame of Jack’s whose motives and intentions are all over the place. I get the feeling that Cruz was performing each line at a time, because her character tells a lot of ‘lies’ that are actually ‘truths’, ‘truths’ that are ‘lies’, and ‘lies’ that are actually ‘lies’. In a blockbuster like this, a film for the masses, surely there should be a small tell or a subtlety or something that gets you thinking about what she is saying, questioning it’s validity. Either that or she would be killer at ‘two truths and a lie’.

Now we get to Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard. While McNally and Rush play your typical pirates who’s allegiances can change with the wind, Ian McShane plays straight up bad pirate with Blackbeard. He’s on a mission to live forever but despite coming up against the film’s ticking clock, a foretelling of his death, he seems to have all the time in the world to kill crew members, threaten Sparrow and even play Russian roulette with his daughter’s life. That minor motive issue aside, the character was great and I would say is the reason I continued to have interest in the movie til the end.

Speaking of the end, its time to wrap this up. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a fun popcorn flick. It isn’t bogged down by the narrative of Will Turner like the first three films were, which gives it a lighter tone. It’s a modern version of the classic pirate films, stereotypes and over-acting a plenty. Still though – enjoyable.

3 Stars