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…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

Kong: Skull Island Film Review

King Kong is sick and tired of these stupid @$$ humans in his stupid @$$ island!

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Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Kong: Skull Island is the second installment in Legendary and Warner Bros’ MonsterVerse, a cinematic universe where Godzilla, King Kong, and other kaijus exist. With an ensemble cast featuring Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, and John C. Reilly, this film features the second monster in the upcoming 2020 showdown.

Monarch senior official Bill Rana (Goodman) hires tracker James Conrad (Hiddleston), photographer Mason Weaver (Larson), and a helicopter squadron led by Preston Packard (Jackson) to journey to the mysterious Skull Island, a place where gargantuan monsters live. One big problem though… Only Rana knows about the monsters part…

The biggest (get it?) positive I can give to this movie is the action sequences whenever King Kong is on screen. You can truly feel the aggression and the ferocity of each blow and stomp. King Kong is menacing!

Do you know who else is menacing in this film? Samuel L. Jackson! The moment he locked eyes with Kong is one of the best scenes in the film. His character slowly loses his rational thinking and, much like Moby Dick‘s Captain Ahab, falls to a state of insanity and obsession.

The way the human characters get picked on one by one is also a pretty sight. A new set of monsters means a new way to die. However, it was predictable when it will happen. After the first two deaths, the film gave us a pattern that tells us it is about to happen.

The monster designs do not seem original. Of course, I’m not talking about Kong. The big bad monster looks like the creatures chasing you in Temple Run.

I can’t help but compare Kong to 2014 Godzilla. One of my biggest issue with Kong is that he does not feel that big. Perhaps, it is due to the way his scenes were shot. True, most of Kong’s shots were beside a mountain, but there’s something different in Godzilla‘s cinematography which makes it feel like you’re really looking at the King of Monsters.

Also, it is quite a waste not to use Toby Kebbell as the mo-cap actor for Kong. To use him as Packard’s second in command could have been okay, but the film decided he’s just a random cannon fodder to the Skullcrawlers.

The main cast, for most of the film’s run, stayed the same. There was no big character changing moment for them. Conrad and Weaver may have decided to protect Kong at the end, but they already had doubts and questions since the mission briefing.

Kong: Skull Island is an enjoyable film with awesome King Kong scenes and good action. Also, that post-credit scene had me sold on the MonsterVerse franchise. However, it suffers from predictability and lack of character development. Therefore, this is…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY