The Mummy (2017) Movie Review

9 years since The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Universal Pictures aims to reestablish the OG of the Cinematic Universe, the Universal Monsters Universe, with a new name: the Dark Universe.

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Directed by Alex Kurtzman (co-wrote The Legend of Zorro and the reboot Star Trek franchise), The Mummy is the first of a series of remakes by Universal Pictures in hopes of establishing a cinematic universe revolving around monsters such as Dracula, the Frankenstein’s monster, the Invisible Man, and the Wolf Man. They already did this in the 1920s to 1950s  with great success.

This version, set in the present day, revolves around the character of Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), a former US military officer, who unearths the tomb of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) and unknowingly placed a curse on himself. With the help of a shady organization called Prodigium, led by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), Nick attempts to stop Princess Ahmanet’s plan to summon Set,the Egyptian god of death.

First of all, I looooooove the dedication Tom Cruise has for his movies. Watching his scenes in this movie proves that he still gives it all. At the age of 54, he still does his stunts! Sure, this is not as cool as him hanging on a plane’s door in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, but it is still astounding to know he pushes himself beyond his age. Nick Morton, his character, reminds me a lot of Mortal Kombat‘s Johnny Cage because Nick is very charismatic. Without a doubt, Tom Cruise is the biggest positive in this movie.

The set designs look cool! I had my eyes peeled when the Prodigium HQ was shown. true enough I saw hints of the Gill-Man (The Creature from the Black Lagoon) and a vampire skull.

There were Easter eggs to the Sommers Mummy franchise (the one with Brendan Fraser), too.

And that is where the positives end…

The story of this movie is messy and all over the place. If taken piece by piece, it is enjoyable and fun. That is true, especially the first scene. But if we are to look at the big picture, which we should to all movies, the viewers will realize that this movie could have been an easy trilogy. A lot of things are happening. Often, it happened in random ways. This movie had SIX writers, and it is pretty evident they had a hard time narrowing the story down.

Also, the character of Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) is completely forgettable and unnecessary. Besides being the damsel in distress and the bridge between Nick and the Prodigium, there is absolutely nothing she had offered as a character. Try to remove her in the story. Will we have the same story? Yes! Then, why include her?

Also, much of the humor in the movie does not work for me. Some of it was provided by Jake Johnson, who portrays Nick’s close friend Chris Vail. It felt too forced, and it strays away much to the supposedly feel of the movie. However, I like how the movie incorporates elements of horror in it, somehow resonating the 1932 original.

Lastly… and a bit nitpicky, I had issues looking at Sofia Boutella’s pre-final form (the one where she is Sofia Boutella but with a cracked nose and a cheek hole). The VFX on her face looks so plastic to me. I end up looking at the background everytime her pre-final form face shows up.

If it is what is about to come from Universal’s Dark Universe, The Mummy should be a warning to viewers to be cautious on the next installments (The Bride of Frankenstein will premiere on 2019). Despite the charismatic Tom Cruise in the lead, its disorganized plot has led me to conclude that this film is…

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Get Out Film Poster

A satirical horror film made by the great comedian Jordan Peele.

Wait… what?!

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Jordan Peele makes his directorial debut in Get Out. Anyone who is familiar with Peele’s work knows him as this funny comedian who works with his usual partner Keegan-Michael Key in Comedy Central. But then, to everyone’s surprise and confusion, Peele’s first film is that of horror.

Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a black man (or is it African-American), reluctantly agrees to his girlfriend’s wishes: to meet her completely white family for the first time. As Chris and Rose the Girlfriend (Allison Williams), arrive to the Armitage family residence, he immediately felt a certain level of uneasiness towards Rose’ parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) and the family black servants (Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel). He turns out to be right as soon as he uncovers the family’s dark secret/agenda.

Daniel Kaluuya’s acting shows the slow realization of the situation his character is in. From the moment he was being hypnotized to the moment he realized he cannot leave the residence, his expressions show extreme helplessness.

Speaking of expressions, this film is a perfect example of how micro-expressions show the deeper personality of people. You can see it especially when Rose’ parents talk to Chris. You can see it when the old white people are talking to Chris.

Also, the soundtrack of this film is very effective. The chills of the scene gets added by the music created by Michael Abels.

My only complaint/not-so complaint to the film is that it is a slowburn. At only 1:40 hours, the film feels really slow at times. However, each scene is important to the plot and allows the big payoff at the end to be more satisfying.

Get Out is a film that explores racism in a horror setting. That is quite a unique experience as I have never seen a horror movie that has racism as a pivotal part of the plot. This is certainly…

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Split Film Review

MIRACLES CAN HAPPEN! SHYAMALAN HAS REDEEMED HIMSELF!

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It is official… Director M. Night Shyamalan has found his redemption in the form of Split. Two years ago, his film, The Visit, gave us a hint that he is returning to form, but there was something missing. He finally got his mojo back and delivered us this gem.

Kevin (James McAvoy) kidnaps three teenagers, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), and Marcia (Jessica Sula). All hope to persuade Kevin dissolves when the three teenagers discover that he suffers from dissociative identity disorder. In his case, he possesses 23 unique personalities. A 24th one, known as The Beast, will soon emerge and plans to devour them. Meanwhile, Kevin regularly visits his psychiatrist (Betty Buckley) to assure her nothing is wrong.

The trinity of this film, McAvoy, Taylor-Joy, and Buckley, delivered very well. Buckley’s character reminds me a lot of Dr. Sam Loomis of the Halloween franchise. They’re both well-known psychiatrist trying to guide and find cure to their respective patients. Taylor-Joy’s performance shows such frailty and control at the same time. And McAvoy is simply phenomenal in this film. Those little gestures and body movements make all personalities truly seem like different people. When he is “Hedwig”, he is really a child who never kissed a girl before. When he is “Dennis”, he is really a controlling person with OCD.

The film manages to give this sense of claustrophobia and dread. You will feel like you are one of the captives. The music provided by West Dylan Thordson captures the sense of helplessness and fear the teenagers feel during the duration of their capture.

MINI-SPOILER ALERT

AND THE ENDING! That ending blew my mind! It opens endless possibilities to the world of Shyamalan movies. The beauty of it is that Shyamalan knows that the general public is looking for a plot twist. The film does not have one! Yeah, sure there is one big impending doom that is The Beast, but it was given in the trailers already. The ending simply takes everything into a new plane of narrative.

However, that ending might only be understood by people familiar with Shyamalan’s early work. In fact, I was the only one who marked out when the ending was revealed.

Split is one of the best Shyamalan films and definitely the best in his line of work for the past ten years. With its chilling music, claustrophobic environment and cinematography, amazing and engaging performances from McAvoy and Taylor-Joy, and an ending no one expected at all, this film is definitely…

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Seklusyon Film Review

Only director Erik Matti can turn an innocent young girl into a manipulative demon.

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Erik Matti directs yet another horror film in his repertoire. This time, it is about 4 deacons undergoing a 7-day retreat in the 1940s. Everything went haywire when a young girl named Anghela (Rhed Bustamante) and a nun (Phoebe Walker) joined the deacons in their … seclusion (ahem).

SPOILER ALERT

One of the great things about this film is how it makes you aware of your inner demons. In most horror films/movies, monsters, serial killers, and demons are the common antagonists. In Seklusyon, the deacons’ faith and willpower are tested everyday. Yes, there was a demonic intervention, but the real enemy here is the monsters hidden in the characters (much like in real life). Each deacon tries to battle these dark pasts, and they unfortunately cling to an entity with malicious intent.

Comparing it with the other entries in the MMFF, this film obviously has better cinematography and sound design. It simply looks professionally done!

The standout of this film is of course child actress Rhed Bustamante, who portrays Anghela. Her back and forth performance as an innocent child and a manipulative demon is fun to watch.

However, Ronnie Alonte, who portrayed the central character Miguel the Deacon, is a different story. 2016 was his first acting role in movies (Vince, Kath, and James was the other one). I guess he is just adjusting? The other three deacons seem to be hollow characters because all you need to know about them is just one thing (Lover Runner + No Mama No + Cookie Monster + Baby Bear = The Four Deacons).

Also, one of the rules the film introduced at the start of the film was completely forgotten or ignored in its climax. This made the primary antagonist too overpowered and unstoppable…

And the biggest downer I had with this film is that… it was not scary as I thought it would be. There is a lot of potential for its psychological horror vibe, but it was simply not that scary enough. One might feel uneasy watching Anghela spew black ooze out of her mouth… Or witness the crumbling of the deacons’ faith… But the fear factor is at a low.

Seklusyon is a well-shot horror film that is directed by a renowned director of the genre, however its lack of fear inducing scenes and ignorance of the rules it established make this only…

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Underworld: Blood Wars Movie Review

When will it end???

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Directed by Anna Foerster (directorial debut), this movie is the fifth in the franchise and stars Kate Beckinsale (Selene), Theo James (David), and Tobias Menzies (Marius).

Both the Lycans (werewolves) and the vampires hunt for Selene and her daughter, Eve. Selene hides her daughter and is later called by David and Thomas (Charles Dance) to help stop the conflict between the two factions. Meanwhile, a new Lycan leader, Marius, and a high-ranking vampire, Semira (Lara Pulver), separately plan to strengthen their respective factions by extracting the blood of Selene or her daughter.

It was great seeing Beckinsale in a leather suit again. She really looked like she did not age at all!

The action sequences were good enough, except for the ones with Lena because it feels so lazily done.

The movie is very formulaic in its plot. Talk talk talk fight repeat until the end of the movie. Everyone just talks and talks, and its not even natural. Every bit of dialogue felt so forced to the bones. Yes, certain films follow this flow, but the dialogues used in those films were so natural you barely felt the formula.

A few character motivations change in an instant with little to no moment to explanation. A lot of revelations appear with little to no moment for the characters to digest or react what they heard. For example (mini spoiler alert), Selene finds out Michael’s fate from the last movie, but there was no repercussion or reaction to it.

The antagonists were just there for this movie to have a villain. The fights between Theo and Semira and between Selene and Marius ended so stupidly that one would wonder how these two became such feared villains in the story.

Underworld: Blood Wars may have Kate Beckinsale in a leather suit, but that is not enough to cover the problems it has. Because of that, this movie is…

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Don’t Breathe Film Review

The eleventh commandment: Never break into blind Stephen Lang’s house.

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Some critics did not like the blood and gore of director Fede Alvarez’ 2013 Evil Dead. Naturally, Alvarez’ answer is to remove all the gore and give us this year’s Don’t Breathe, a horror movie in which a blind man is the killer… Wait what???

The movie is about three delinquents Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minette), and Money (Daniel Zovatto). After hearing that a Blind Man (Stephen Lang) has a $300 000 settlement from the family of his daughter’s killer, the three decided to rob him. Unknown to them, the Blind Man was a Gulf War Veteran and a total badass.

Stephen Lang kills it as the Blind Man (pardon the pun). He was so good as this intimidating killer. The fact that he was mostly mute in the movie gave his performance a more chilling feel to it.

The three delinquents were also effective in their performance, especially Levy’s. However, this is that rare time when the audience are more on the side of the antagonist. C’mon! They’re trying to rob an old blind man. They got what they deserve. Go Blind Man!

The second act of the film was so effective. Alvarez was able to make the audience act like the teenagers in the movie. Everytime the Blind Man was on screen, I can feel myself breathing very slowly as to not give him a signal I am there. It makes the viewers feel like they’re in the movie.

However, the third act of the movie was a bit of a letdown. I wish THAT part of the narrative was not included at all. It felt so sudden and unnecessary, and the logic behind it was WTH.

Don’t Breathe is another horror film that showed us that our basic fears is, in its own way, more frightening than ghouls and demons. Due to Stephen Lang’s performance, its amazing 2nd act, and its added sub-plot in the third act, this film is…

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Train to Busan Film Review

Incredible pacing, great characterization, and a simple plot makes Train to Busan a thrilling ride!

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Another zombie movie? After almost 80 years of zombie movies, it can be said that people have seen it all. Then director Yeon Sang-ho brings us Train to Busan. Starring Gong Yoo and Kim Su-an, this film brings something new to zombie movies.

Fund manager Seok-Woo (Yoo) reluctantly agrees to accompany her daughter Su-an (Su-an) to visit his ex-wife in Busan. In the train, they meet Sang-hwa (Ma Dong-Seok), his pregnant wife Seong-kyeong (Jung Yu-mi), a  bus company COO Yong-suk (Kim Eui-sung), and a group of college baseball players. Chaos came when an infected woman enters the train…much to the horror of the passengers.

The characters in this film are different from characters in your average zombie movie… They are human beings. The film expertly showed character motivations. You really want these people to succeed and reach Busan before it’s too late (except for one guy), which is kinda ironically rare in a zombie movie. The big brawler portrayed by Ma Dong-Seuk surprisingly provided most of the humor in the movie, and I definitely like his character. Incredible acting all through out. Tears were shed that night.*

The zombies, as well, were great in this movie. The way they move and react gives chill and thrill to the viewers. There were a lot of edge of your seat scenes in the movie. World War Z zombies might be faster and more rabid… But there’s something special in seeing REAL zombies, not CGIs.

The pacing of the film is superb!  There were no idle moments at all! Everything was a thrill ride from start to finish.

Train to Busan is all hits and no misses. Ticket price is worth it. I was honored to watch this movie with a pack of moviegoers who were as invested in this film as I am. Because of that, this film is definitely…

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The Last of Us is not the only emotional zombie fiction anymore.

Lights Out Film Review

Director David F. Sandberg brings us back to our primal fear of the dark.

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Last 2013, Director David F. Sandberg’s short film, Lights Out, received positive reviews and even got some recognition such as the “Best Short” (FANT Bilbao 2014) and “Best Director” (BC Horror Challenge). Three years later, we now have a feature film about it.

The film is about siblings Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) and Martin (Gabriel Bateman), who are recently haunted by the ghost of Diana, an entity that can only harm you when it is dark. The fact that Diana was a childhood friend of Sophie (Maria Bello), their mother, makes things worse for the two.

The thing that made me so hooked in this movie is that beyond the horror aspect is a tragic story about a mother’s descent into madness and how it affects her family. Take Diana the Ghost away from the picture, and you still have a heavy plot. The two conversations between Rebecca and Sophie before the climax are heavily emotional. You can’t say that to most horror films/movies.

Every character is able to give something significant to the plot table. No one is there just to be a cannon fodder. Each character has depth. Even the character of Bret (Alexander DiPersia) is a surprisingly good one; he’s the ultimate boyfriend.  But none can compete to Teresa Palmer’s portrayal of Rebecca. The way she acts after the second she hears her brother say Diana shows the viewers that there was a history between her and Diana. The forced exposition that happened next is really unnecessary after that. When the scares come in, Palmer delivered authentic screams and body movements one might wonder if the filmmakers are doing a snuff film.

The scares are beautifully executed. In his feature film directorial debut, Sandberg proves to us that he is a master of jumpscares. There is build-up and suspense.

My only gripe with the movie is the character design of Diana. She looked exponentially scarier in the short film.

Lights Out is a refreshing addition to the horror genre. Man’s basic fear is reawakened everytime the lights turn on and off. Actor performances are amazing. Because of this, Lights Out is undoubtedly…

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The Conjuring 2 Film Review

Director James Wan proves to us yet again that he is a master of horror storytelling.

conjuringpostersmallDirector James Wan, Vera Farmiga, and Patrick Wilson return for the second installment in the Conjuring franchise. After the highly successful first film, this one has a lot to live up to.

The story takes place after the first film. During investigation of the infamous Amityville Horror case, Lorraine Warren (Farmiga) foresees a demonic entity who might be the cause of the haunting (and for some reason… wears a nun costume). She also witnesses something so horrific she decides not to take another case. Meanwhile, a family in London are being haunted by a spirit of an old settler. Through persuasion, Ed (Wilson) manages Lorraine for them to take the case.

After The Conjuring and the Insidious franchise, director James Wan is undoubtedly an expert in telling/showing horror stories. The tilted camera angles, the suspense, and the cinematography in general makes the viewers grip their seats and lean back waiting anxiously for that scare.

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga’s chemistry as the Warrens is still present. Because of the film’s conflict, you can really feel the history/connection between the two characters. It is a delightful sight to see Wilson sing Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love. After The Phantom of the Opera, it has been a long time since I heard him sing.

But the real star of this show is Madison Wolfe, who portrays the victim to the poltergeist. The success of most of the scares rely heavily on her acting ability. She really looked scared and terrified.

(MINI-SPOILER BELOW)

The only problem I have is the anti-climactic resolution of the film. After all the scenes of scares and demon voices, the demon was easily defeated. Though there was a simultaneous scene of suspense, the climax was not as “seat-gripping” as the first film’s.

Despite its anti-climactic ending, The Conjuring 2 is a rarity when it comes to great horror film sequels. Because of that, this film is…

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