Category Archives: General

Review: The Mummy (2017)

Stars: Tom CruiseRussell CroweAnnabelle WallisSofia Boutella.

Director: Alex Kurtzman

The plot:

At the time of the second of the English crusades, Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) is mummified alive as punishment for murdering her Father when she sees what is rightfully hers transfer to his new-born son whom she also murders.  What she saw as a betrayal by her Father led her to tap into dark and demonic powers.  Once mummified she is taken thousands of miles from her Egyptian home and buried well below the surface in what is known in current times as Iraq.  Back in the modern-day and army officers Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) are seeking out hidden treasures to make their tours all that little bit more profitable.  When an airstrike unearths the ancient ruins of where Ahmanet was laid to rest Morton and Vail see dollar signs but they are soon hampered by the arrival of Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) who wants the find to be safely shipped back to London where Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) is waiting to investigate the find.  The trip back does not go well and soon Ahmanet is unleashed on the British public in search of her “chosen one” and will stop at nothing to reclaim what she believes is hers.

Universal Pictures

The cast:

I like Tom Cruise, let’s get that out of the way.  He does make well above average movies for the most part.  Unfortunately this is a very low point for Tom.  I was worried before I saw the film that this really didn’t strike me as a genre he had any history with and that it wasn’t a good fit for him.  He’s not the Indiana Jones type and he does not sit right in a Tomb Raider style movie.  If the rumours are to be believed that he had a lot of control over the movie then there’s only one place the finger can be pointed for any short comings the film suffers from.  To be fair, blame does not lay just at Tom Cruise’s door.  Russell Crowe, a great actor by any standards, really doesn’t do himself any favours here either.  There’s a part where he becomes manically possessed and starts hurling Tom Cruise around whilst giving his best impression on Ray Winstone on speed.  It’s just cringeworthy.  I’d hoped Annabelle Wallis might bring some respectability to the film, she’s obviously not incapable of playing a strong female role given her time on Peaky Blinders but here she is given the usual female supporting role you would expect and there’s not much she can do with it.  In contrast Sofia Boutella does make the film come alive at times but that isn’t really down to her acting but more the CGI effects the film offers up.  She really isn’t given the time and space she was offered in her very enjoyable role as Jaylah in Star Trek Beyond.

IndieWire

The film:

Put simply; this film is a disaster from start to finish.  It was dull and boring for large periods of time.  It was painfully unfunny when it tried to be.  Performances were well below par and as for the script and screenplay I’d have to ask if there was any script or screenplay written.  The story has plot holes galore and lots of key elements are left totally unexplained.  It’s just messy, lacks structure and it’s conclusion just leaves a heavy confirmation that you’ve just wasted two hours of your life.

The Verdict:

1/5 Stars – If this were a mission impossible movie I would have chosen not to accept it, Mr Phelps.

The Mummy on IMDb

The Mummy Official Website

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (UK title – 2017)

Stars: Johnny DeppJavier BardemGeoffrey RushBrenton ThwaitesKaya Scodelario.

Directors: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg

The plot:

Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) forms another unlikely alliance, this time with youngsters Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) and Will Turner’s son Henry (Brenton Thwaites).  They head in search of the trident of Poseidon.  Carina believes it will help her in her quest to find her Father’s identity, Henry hopes it will allow him to release his Father from the curse which holds him as Captain aboard the Flying Dutchman and Sparrow, well, he’s trying to evade falling into the hands of another crew of undead pirates led by Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) who seeks revenge for leaving them in their undead state some years previously.

Hindustan Times

The cast:

There isn’t really a lot to say with regard to the cast.  Johnny Depp provides his trademark Jack as does Geoffrey Rush as the returning Barbossa.  There’s some interesting introductions to both Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario.  After what I thought to be shaky starts for both I thought they settled down nicely, particularly Scodelario who grew into her role as the film progressed.  Thwaites was a good choice to take on the role of Will’s son.  He carried a sincere nature and gallantry you would expect from the offspring of Turner and Swan.  Of course, we know all about Javier Bardem and his now seemingly unshakeable bad guy image and nothing changes this here although, this being Disney, it’s all a little more tongue in cheek for the Pirates adventure.

Digital Spy

The film:

I enjoyed the film, it’s as simple as that really.  There’s nothing very new here, if at all.  It’s the usual mix of action, adventure and comedy you’ve come to expect from the series whilst still maintaining that darker edge of pirate curses although it does seem to get lighter with each instalment.   I found some of the CGI around Javier Bardem a little hard to accept and didn’t really help him appear all that menacing, quite the opposite but for the most part the effects and actions sequences were at the level the film should be aspiring to.  Some welcome returns, however brief, and a nice little cameo from a Beatle made for a satisfactory couple of hours without reaching the level of the very first movie but performs at least on a par with the best of the rest.  It will be interesting to see, with the introduction of new younger characters, where Pirates goes next.  It’s fair to say “No Jack, no Pirates” but is there maybe a plan that goes against that theory or, as is the way with Disney, can we expect some spin-off movies?  Time will tell but if they can maintain this satisfactory or better level of entertainment then you can count me in.

The Verdict:

3/5 Stars – Brings home the usual booty without the crown jewels.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge on IMDb

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge Official Website

Review: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

Stars: Charlie HunnamAstrid Bergès-FrisbeyJude LawDjimon HounsouEric BanaAidan Gillen.

Director: Guy Ritchie

The plot:

Vortigern (Jude Law) has taken control of Camelot having betrayed his brother, Uther (Eric Bana), but not before Uther can get his infant son, Arthur, to safety.  Unfortunately for Arthur, his Mother is killed during the escape and this haunts him in his later life as he is totally unaware of his heritage.  In later years, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) has become a streetwise hustler alongside his friends Wet Stick and Back Lack.  He makes a quiet success of himself but interests are spiked when Vortigern intensifies his search for his brother’s son.  Uther’s son had been part of the pact Vortigern had made to increase his powers and the fear of his subjects.  This leads the film into a battle between good and evil as Arthur pulls Excalibur from the stone and Vortigern has his man.

Warner Bros

The cast:

Legend of the sword has a very strong cast.  Charlie Hunham, whilst being a draw on paper after his Sons of Anarchy success, is not what I would call a big box office draw.  I don’t rate him as an actor particularly but I suppose he does look the part.  This could go some way to explaining why the film has performed so badly, however.  The rest of the cast, though, you could expect to be more than adequately impressed with but, to be fair, they are not given anything worthy of their skills to work with.  Jude Law does turn in a good turn as our evil antagonist and he certainly makes the most of his role.  Everybody else, Djimon Hounsou, Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen included, just isn’t given any thing great in terms of script or screenplay that they can really make anything of.  Aiden Gillen, though, is usually a pleasure to watch with his own unique style of acting and manages the best he can here and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey does the best she can as our resident Mage but she suffers the same fate as the rest of this highly rated cast.

We Live Entertainment

The film:

If you’ve read any other reviews of this King Arthur adaption then you may feel you’ve read the next part before in those reviews as I’m not the only one to see the real problem with this movie.  For me, you just cannot take an Arthurian legend and retell it like it’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch, it just doesn’t work.  Those two movies are classics in their own genre, one Ritchie made his own, but telling a medieval tale in that manner just falls flat and seems very out-of-place.  The problem, I think Ritchie, has is that since those two big successes he hasn’t been able to match them with his own original stories and screenplays so has taken to adapting well-known stories and retelling them in his style.  The Sherlock Holmes movies were enjoyable enough but King Arthur lacks the grandiose spectacle it deserves and thing that I liked most about it was the much maligned cameo appearance by David Beckham.  The film is being talked about for all the wrong reasons!  Maybe Guy needs to try to put together another original story and try to get back some of that magic that gained him such high recognition.

The verdict:  1/5 Stars:  Not the stuff of legends.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword on IMDb

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Official Website

Review: Sleepless (2017)

Stars: Jamie FoxxMichelle MonaghanScoot McNairyDermot MulroneyT.I.David HarbourGabrielle Union.

Director: Baran bo Odar

The plot:

After apparently stealing a large consignment of narcotics from Rubino (Dermot Mulroney), Las Vegas cop  Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx) sees his son snatched right from under his very eyes.  Rubino informs Downs that the stolen goods had been earmarked for sale to Novak (Scoot McNairy) and unless they were returned Downs would not see his son returned.  With internal affairs also interested in the case which also involved two murders, Downs also has Bryant (Michelle Monaghan) and Dennison (David Harbour) on his tail and it becomes a race against time for our anti-hero to save his son.

The Playlist

The cast:

Jamie Foxx has a mixed CV but, as Vincent Downs, I felt this stood up to a more than adequate level given the genre of the movie.  Although it’s never really in any doubt where his true allegiances lie he gives enough to the role to add a certain amount of questions towards his loyalties.  I particularly enjoyed Michelle Monaghan’s portrayal of a cop recently returned from being attacked by a junkie.  She asserts herself back into her role despite clearly being incredibly unstable but no less determined to get a positive result.  Partnered with the always enjoyable David Harbour, they both provide a good “buddy-cop” element to the film.  For Scoot McNairy, this was a role tailor-made for him.  Not unlike Bryant, Novak is an equally unhinged character with the same determination showing but with very different goals.

Log’s Line

The film:

We all know Jamie Foxx has made some excellent movies (see Django Unchained and Collateral) but there’s also been moments like Law Abiding Citizen which, at first look, Sleepless would seem to fall into the latter’s category.  It doesn’t.  It’s not a great thriller by any stretch of the imagination but it’s sits comfortably in the above average section.  It’s a very compact film, mostly set within the confines of a Las Vegas casino which gave it the a kind of Die Hard feel but on a much less extravagant level.  Yes, it’s very much a “by the numbers” action thriller and doesn’t really leave you guessing too much as to how things will conclude but with the right sort of performances the cast make the most of what’s put in front of them.  It’s not a film that is likely to stand out long in the memory but I didn’t leave the cinema in any way disappointed.  Sleepless gave me what I expected and in that respect didn’t leave any real cause for complaint.  The only thing I would say against it is that Sleepless presumes quite heavily there will be a follow-up as it suggests that there is more to come from the story than that which you have just witnessed.  I’d be very surprised if there was a sequel but, to be fair, I’d probably be interested all just the same.

The verdict:  3/5 Stars: A compact and well made thriller that ticks the required boxes.

Sleepless on IMDb

Sleepless Official Website

Review: Alien: Covenant (2017)

Stars: Michael FassbenderKatherine WaterstonBilly CrudupDanny McBride.

Director: Ridley Scott

The plot:

The crew of the Covenant are in deep hyper sleep when they are prematurely awoken by Walter (Michael Fassbender), the ships synthetic crew member, who alerts them to an emergency situation that requires their immediate attention.  The Covenant was headed to Origae-6 on a terraforming mission with over 2000 colonists on board and lives had already been lost during the emergency incident including that of the life of the ship’s captain.  Whilst carrying out repairs the ship intercepts a distress signal and despite some resistance newly promoted Captain Oram (Billy Crudup) decides to investigate, especially as the source of the signal was from a planet that seemed to offer better colonising options than that of their original destination.  Once down on the planet they make some startling discoveries and it becomes a story of survival for the whole ship and it’s crew.

AVP Galaxy

The cast:

The cast is not filled with household names for the most part.  Of course, we know all about Michael Fassbender and he updates to the role of Walter from that of David in Prometheus in particularly artificial fashion.  A much colder character than that of Ash or Bishop, in Alien and Aliens respectively,  perhaps showing that personality was something the synthetics would develop at a later stage.  Comparisons to Ripley are going to be very hard to avoid for Katherine Waterston as Daniels but I felt she did really well and coped with that burden in strong fashion.  A gritty and loyal crew member she showed Daniels was not a character to be trifled with.  I was a little concerned at the casting of Danny McBride.  I just wasn’t sure with his comedy background he was quite the right choice but as Tennessee he really impressed me.  Just like Daniels, Tennessee was a fiercely loyal character not afraid to take a chance to save his fellow crew members even if it meant bending the rules a little.  Finally there’s Billy Crudup, an underrated actor in my opinion. Playing the post disaster ships captain, Crudup’s character reminded me very much of Dallas from the first Alien movie played by Tom Skerritt.  A thoughtful character who struggles with his new-found promotion as he feels he doesn’t command the respect of his subordinates.  

Slashfilm

The film:

I’ve already made many comparisons to films from the original saga and from Prometheus.  This is unavoidable.  The original films are so iconic and influential any subsequent movies are always going to have the standards those original movies set to live up to.  Ever since the Star Wars prequels debacle I’ve met prequels with such an apprehension it’s almost made me not actually want to see the prequels that have been released.   As Ridley Scott directed both this and it’s predecessor I carried more hope for both this and Prometheus.  I enjoyed Prometheus but it received mixed reviews and Scott has admitted he may have gotten it wrong, I’d disagree to some extend though but it would explain how Covenant came across.  For me, it felt like a mash-up of Prometheus, Alien and Aliens.  On paper that sounds like a great mix, on-screen not so much.  It combines the exploration elements of Prometheus with the crew under siege mentality of Alien and the action of Aliens if that makes sense.  Still sounds good doesn’t it?  Well, it is enjoyable don’t get me wrong but it’s just a little bit messy and where Scott takes the xenomorph’s evolution doesn’t quite sit right with me especially as there’s a huge question mark over one character left unanswered after if feels like a scene explaining it has been completely omitted!  The action is good but the tension isn’t really there that we’ve come to expect.  The xenomorph itself did not seem as authentic which is perhaps down to the CGI effects.  It reminded me of the joke about the shark looking fake in Jaws, the alien seemed really artificial and didn’t strike the same sort of fear as it previously did.

The verdict:  3/5 Stars: Worse than Alien 3 better than Resurrection.

Alien: Covenant on IMDb

Alien: Covenant Official Website

Review: Unlocked (2017)

Stars: Noomi RapaceOrlando BloomMichael DouglasToni ColletteJohn Malkovich.

Director: Michael Apted

The plot:

There was something of a delay from the close of production on Unlocked and it actually hitting cinemas this May in the UK.  Having seen the film I think this may have been due to the subject matter of the film and the Paris attacks of 2015.  As Alice, Noomi Rapace plays a C.I.A. interrogator haunted by not being able to stop a terrorist attack on a bridge in Paris in 2012.  She is soon drawn into a conspiracy to launch a deadly biological attack in London and has to work quickly to prevent the attack.  Alice really has her work cut out for her as the line between ally and enemy becomes incredibly blurred the longer time goes on.

Teaser Trailer

The cast:

I’ve often found Noomi Rapace to be a little flaky and not very convincing in her previous roles.  She’s a lot better here.  She gives a more determined and clinical performance and the burdens she carries show well.  Orlando Bloom pops up as Jack Alcott, a former marine who tries to ally himself with Alice.  Bloom is very much the weak link in Unlocked.  An overblown cockney accent partnered with a very cocky demeanour did not make for a particularly likeable character.  Toni Collette plays a British senior agent and it’s very difficult not to think it’s actually Annie Lennox given the haircut she’s sporting.  You can see what they were going for with the imagery of the character but someone should have noticed the resemblance to Lennox and suggested something else.  That said, she weighs in with a gritty performance nonetheless.  Finally, we come to our movie veterans; Michael Douglas and John Malkovich.  These sort of roles have been their bread and butter for longer than I can remember.  You’d expect nothing less than what they put into the film, they’re both calculating individuals with motives often left open to debate.

Flickering Myth

The film:

If I had to make a comparison for Unlocked the easiest on would be to a really strong episode of Spooks, the British spy drama set in a department of MI5 and with Michael Apted directing he’s well qualified to deliver a film of this genre given his James Bond experience with The World Is Not Enough.  Not a great Bond film perhaps but that was not down to his direction.  It’s a well constructed storyline even if the whole stopping a terrorist attack premise has been done to death and will continue to be so.  You only have to look at the cast to think this has to be better than average and it certainly is better than average without hitting any great heights.   Everyone involved knows what would be expected from this kind of film and they certainly put in enough to make it so.  Another way of looking at it is that if this was a straight to DVD title then it would be better than just about everything else than doesn’t make it to a cinema near you.  I enjoyed the film without it having any fireworks but it did offer the some moments of tension and action and would be worth ninety odd minutes of your time.

The verdict: A competent thriller that doesn’t quite set the world alight but rather prevents it -3/5 Stars.

Unlocked on IMDb