Sunday, June 25, 2017

THE MUMMY (2017)

I love the Universal Monster movies from the 30's and 40's. Those films have an atmosphere about them that I still love to this day. So when I heard that Universal Pictures was bringing them back, I got excited. They announced that the resurgence was going be a cinematic universe. Okay? Whatever, just as long as the Monsters are coming back for a new generation to discover I'm fine with that. But, we're starting with THE MUMMY (again) and Tom Cruise is the star.

Tom Cruise? Now, I like Tom Cruise as an actor but this just felt weird? And weird it was, that first trailer was just awful! They fixed it the best they could a couple of trailers later, but the damage had been done. Instead of a monster movie it looked more like the Mission Impossible franchise just went supernatural?

Regardless of how low the Rotten Tomatoes score I was still going to see the film. I'm that much of a sucker when it comes to the Universal Monsters. When BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN comes out (2019?) I'll more that likely see it too. But after the domestic box office of THE MUMMY, I think Universal Pictures' Dark Universe is D.O.A.

Treasure hunter Nick Morton awakens an ancient princess from her crypt ("This is not a tomb, it's a prison"). The curse begins immediately as a murder of crows causes the airplane carrying the Egyptian coffin crashing to it's doom. Being the "hero", Tom Cruise, oops, I mean Nick Morton saves everybody but goes down with the aircraft.

Free from her sarcophagus, Princess Ahmanet sucks the life out of living things to regain her vigor. Meanwhile, Nick awakens in a morgue confused and apparently cursed. He learns from his treasure hunting partner Chris Vail ( who is also dead) that in order to break the curse, Nick must kill Ahmanet with some special dagger.

The good news for Nick is that he doesn't have to search for the Mummy because she will find him. After a chase and some tossing the protagonist around, a special team shows up and captures Ahmanet.

In some special disclosed location Nick meets Dr. Henry Jekyll. It's here where we the audience and Nick get a big exposition dump of what the heck is going on in the movie. And this is when I lost all interest in THE MUMMY. As a viewer I felt very insulted and robbed. If you thought IRON MAN 2 was terribly obvious in setting up the MCU, you haven't seen nothing yet!

I love the Marvel movies but their cinematic universe serialized storytelling has become the bane of franchise films existence. A childhood friend of mine loves BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. One of the many things he likes about that movie is that it's not a origin movie. Instead we're told a story with already established characters. My point in bringing this up is that I am getting extremely bored with serialized storytelling in blockbusters. The trend is becoming story small enough for one film stretched out over three (or more) films?

Studios are disguising box office returns with character development. If Tim Burtons' BATMAN was made today the third act of that film would now be the third movie. In terms of structure BATMAN is pretty solid! I haven't seen POWER RANGERS, but I've heard that they only become Power Rangers (in suits) at the end of the movie. We only see them once? The reason is not character development, the reason is milking the fans wallet. I'm ranting, so I'll wrap this up, all I'm saying is that you don't need one film stretched out into a "trilogy".

Bringing this back to THE MUMMY: maybe if Tom Cruise, the screenwriters, and the director just focused on Nick Morton vs. Ahmanet, then they might have had a better film? As awkward as it was bring in the Dr. Jekyll stuff at the end.

In conclusion, I don't expect THE MUMMY to be the worst movie I see this year, maybe the just the biggest disappointment?

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Last year when I went to go see ROUGE ONE, one of the trailers before the movie was a teaser for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES. My first reaction was "They made a fifth one"? When the teaser played in front of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 I vocally displayed my disgust. The company I was with quickly told me the movie was getting quite the positive buzz. I didn't believe them.

One day hanging out with a good friend of mine convinced me to see the film. From the things my friend had heard about the movie it sounded like fun. But, the early positive buzz quickly got buried under a fair share of negitive reviews. I became very "on the fence" about seeing it, so I opted out of seeing it opening weekend.

Instead, I decided to watch the first three movies at home. It had been awhile since I'd last seen Gore Verbinski's PIRATES trilogy, so I made a weekend out of it. And let me tell you, you need a weekend. I had forgotten how long DEAD MAN'S CHEST and AT WORLD'S END were? Also, I forgot how much I liked the movies! Yes, they are both long and convoluted but I'd be lying if I say that I didn't soak it all up!

Here's where I may loose some credibility, it's just how my movie brain works sometimes, but to me the original PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN trilogy is Verbinski's STAR WARS of the open seas.

The enchantment of the Black Pearl reminded how mythic the Millennium Falcon was in the holy trilogy. I know he was more concerned about the precious "cargo" aboard the ship, but we know why Vader wanted the Falcon in EMPIRE! And in DEAD MAN'S CHEST, I loved the Flying Dutchmen! Davey Jones and his crew looked fantastic! I was quickly reminded of the awesome bounty hunters from EMPIRE! And finally, the opening action scene of AT WORLD'S END in my opinion is an homage to Jabba's Palace in RETURN OF THE JEDI!

Watching the first three films got me pumped for DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES that I decided to go ahead and watch the fourth entry, ON STRANGER TIDES. That movie killed my buzz. ON STRANGER TIDES is the definiton of a rushed film. 2011 was too soon to bring back Captain Jack Sparrow. Everything about the production felt bland. The Fountain of Youth is a great concept, but it's not supernatural enough and ulitmatly doesn't seem to fit in this franchise.

Needless to say I was exhausted after watching four films. I made the decision that I could wait till DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES hit Netflix, which would be about 6 months from now.

A few days later I met my friend again at Barnes & Noble. We talked about geek stuff that we normally do, but we mostly discussed the PIRATES franchise. He had seen DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES twice already and said that I should see the film! This is why I take a critic's opinion and RT percentage with a grain of salt. My friends recommendation got me pumped again. Don't get that confused with me thinking I am about to witness the greatest summer movie of 2017? If I decided to see DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES, I knew pretty much what to expect.

So upon my friends recommendation I watched PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES, and I liked it. It's not as good any of the Verbinski films, but it's a whole lot better than the garbage that is ON STRANGER TIDES.

For the fifth adventure of Captain Jack Sparrow we have Henry Turner (all grown up now), son of Will Turner looking for Poseidon's Trident. Legend has it that the trident can break any and all curses of the sea. Henry finds the trident and no longer will his father be bound to captain the Flying Dutchman.

Aboard a British vessel pursuing a pirate ship Henry meets Captain Salazar, a ghost of the sea trapped in the Devil's Triangle. To save his own life Henry tells Salazar he knows Jack Sparrow. Salazar wants revenge and Jack's famous compass.

Henry finds Sparrow, and with the aid of young scientist Carina Smyth, our three adventures are off to find Poseidon's Trident

The movie was entertaining but like I said not as good as any of the original trilogy installments. For a fifth film in a franchise I am amazed that the special effects are still awesome! Captain Salazar and his crew are pretty creepy.

And yes, Johnny Depp is adding nothing new to Captain Jack Sparrow. But you know what, I love slapstick and Depp delivers in that department!

Here's what I didn't care for:

The characters of Henry Turner and Carina Smyth are pretty bland. In someways I am not surprised because this has been a problem since the sequels. In DEAD MANS CHEST and more so in AT WORLD'S END, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan became cardboard for the most part. And in ON STRANGER TIDES those supporting characters we're even more cardboard and completely forgettable.

This next complaint is a spoiler so if you're wanting to see the movie stop reading and go see it, I recommend it.

My final complaint is Captain Barbossa. It has nothing to do with Geoffrey Rush's performance, it's great every time! My problem is that they killed off his character, again. Yes, I am sure it is because this film is meant to be the last one. But you all know as well as I do that if DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES makes a lot of money then they'll make another one. And I'm sure they'll bring back Barbossa, again?

Oops, one more complaint. The post-credit scene completely contradicts the film. How can Davey Jones come back all octopus like when all the curses of the sea have been broken? Maybe it was just a nightmare? Yeah, of course it was...

In conclusion, I recommend PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES. If you're a fan of the franchise then you've probably seen it. If you were turned off by the last film, give this one a shot, it's a well earned redemption. And do I think this should be the last adventure of Captain Jack Sparrow? Yeah, I think it's time.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


Consider me shocked that GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movie? I was certain a film with a sentient tree and talking raccoon was going to be the first Marvel Studios dud. But, all that changed once I saw that first trailer! Director James Gunn making a Dirty Dozen-esque film about a group of Space-Mercenaries saving the galaxy from a genocidal maniac, count me in! Lo and behold GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY became my favorite film of 2014!

To say that my expectations were high for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL.2 is the understatement of the year. I'm just happy to report that the anticipated sequel did not let me down. At the time of writing this post my only complaint of the film is that it might be a little too long? A third viewing will determine if I'm for certain.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 takes place what seems like only a few months after the events from the first film. The rag-tag group of space mercenaries doing odd jobs to help the galaxy. Star-Lord and friends are helping a race called the Sovereign (who are too pretty to deal with matters that might make them dirty) fend off an alien creature that loves to feed off of the Sovereign's precious batteries.

This action sequence kicks off the movie, but director James Gunn does something brilliant. Much like the original film, the sequel opens with a music/dance number. But this time it's on a whole other level. While the Guardians are fighting the alien in the background, Baby Groot is dancing to music in the foreground. It's just the joyous thing ever! I have two theories/opinions about this opening. First, it's just a throwback to the opening of the first film? Or, it's the films mission statement letting the audience know that they are in for a fun-filled comic book movie ride, in true Marvel Studios fashion!

The battery-eating monster creature is defeated and the Guardians are rewarded, but Rocket takes some batteries for himself. The Sovereign are slighted by this and demand nothing less than death. Outnumbered, the Guardians face certain doom until a mysterious figure appears and saves them.

The mysterious savoir is a man named Ego, who claims to be Star-Lord's father. Peter decides to go with Ego, but brings along Gamora and Drax in case something bad goes down. Rocket, Groot, and prisoner Nebula stay with the ship while Rocket repairs it. So sticking with second movie tradition, the team splits up.

Meanwhile, Yondu and his Ravagers are having a good time at a interglatic brothel. The Sovereign show up and offer a reward for the death of the Guardians. Yondu accepts the offer in his typical fashion, and by that I mean you know he's not going to just straight up kill the Guardians of the Galaxy. He'll scheme another plan, you just know it.

Back on Ego, Peter is getting to know his father but nothing is as it seems and something sinister is afoot. Yondu's plans backfire when Nebula escapes and captures him and Rocket. Can they get free and reclaim their ship in time to help the other Guardians of the Galaxy?

Man, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 rocks! I still think the first film is better, but just barely. Until I saw WONDER WOMAN it was easily my favorite comic-book movie of the year. Taking a page from successful sequels like THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KAHN, director James Gunn gets it right!

He ups the ante without the film feeling too over-bloated. And he expounds on some character conflicts developed in the first film.

I love the sisterly rivalry between Gamora and Nebula. It's so fun and heartbreaking at the same time. Thanos better be careful of these two come AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR!

And of course I loved Kurt Russell as Ego! It was sad to see him play a bad guy (oops spoiler), but he's so damn fun playing a villain! Check out DEATH PROOF to see what I mean. Kurt has always been one of my favorite actors, so seeing him in the MCU puts a smile on my face.

But the best thing about GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 was Yondu. He was my favorite character in the first film, so it was awesome that his role in VOL. 2 ended up being important and stealing the show!

As I mentioned earlier, my only complaint with the film might be the length? A third viewing is in order to see if I really feel this way or not. The second time we were on the front row of IMAX 3D. It was bad, but not quite terrible? So as you can tell, a third time is a charm. And here in a few weeks my town is getting a new movie theater, a Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to be exact! And you can bet your bottom dollar if they are showing GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2, I'll be in attendance with a pint of my favorite Stout!

In conclusion, if you haven't yet, see GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2! But if you love comic-book movies, then you probably already have!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


One thing that I think is really cool about PROMETHEUS and it's sequel ALIEN: COVENANT is that director Ridley Scott is going for something different, and just not doing the typical prequel formula. Unfortunately, I'm sure it's only a matter of time (the next film) before producers and the studio mandates that Scott's new space-horror trilogy connect with his 1979 masterpiece.

Back in 2012, I was one of the crazy few that really liked PROMETHEUS. My peers really gave me crap for liking it, so I just kept my opinion to myself. There was a lot of dumb decisions and actions being made by so called scientists in the movie. We're talking some real stupid stuff! But despite all that, I loved how gorgeous the film looked! The production design was insane! I couldn't wait to buy the movie on blu-ray and wallow in it. In one scene there is this beautiful mural of the Xenomorphs, I wanted to study it for hours. The music, oh man, the PROMETHEUS score is so great! I'm glad to hear a slight return in the new movie.

In addition to all the dumb actions made by "smart" characters I think another thing audiences hated about PROMETHEUS was that there was no literal connection to ALIEN. There was this expectation of the origin of the Xenomorph. Instead we got something different, and far more interesting. Our favorite Space-Bug is there, just a little different. I had read recently that Ridley Scott thought that the Xenomorph was dead and old hat. He wanted to scare audiences with new horrors from the same universe. Turned out he was wrong. Some fans just want the same McDonalds double cheeseburger every damn time.

Now, I'm going to give some fans the benefit of the doubt and agree that some are valid in their distaste of PROMETHEUS. The main problem with prequels is that not everything needs explaining. Or as J.J. Abrams likes to put it, "you don't have to open the box of magic tricks". And I stand by those who believe that audiences don't need to know where the Space Jockey/Engineer or Xenomorphs came from? All we need to know is that they are not nice and must not reach Earth.

Scott tried something new with PROMETHEUS by showing us a different kind of Xenomorph. I was on board with this, the majority we're not. In fact, apparently audiences we're so disappointed that Ridley Scott himself apologized and promised the return of the Xenomorph in the next film.

ALIEN: COVENANT is a PROMETHEUS sequel first and ALIEN prequel last.

We start with what looks like "birth" of the android David. His creator Peter Weyland giving him tasks as if he's testing David for the first time. David is told to play something on the piano and his selection disappoints Weyland. He comments that without an orchestra David's selection is rather bland. It's very subtle but David takes it personally and in my opinion is the catalyst of this new trilogy. David is an android who wants to be god because he's felt slighted by his father.

10 years after PROMETHEUS and probably 30 years before ALIEN, the crew of the Covenant are on a colonization mission to find a new planet. Some kind of solar blast interrupts the ship and the crew must repair damages. Afterwards, the Covenant receives a signal from planet that is habitat.

Almost immediately the idea of visiting the planet is a bad idea. Two crew members get infected with some spores and a creature bursts out of them shortly after. Getting their butts handed to them by the creatures, a mysterious figure rescues them. It is David, the only surviving member of the Prometheus. But are the remaining crew of the Covenant really safe?

I really can't go into more detail than that without major spoilers. But, I will say that my favorite scenes in the film were between Warren (the new android) and David. Both characters played by Michael Fassbender, and it's amazing. Their interaction reminded me a lot of BLADE RUNNER, another Ridley Scott film.

Just like with PROMETHEUS I loved the look of ALIEN:COVENANT. I'm really digging these films I think!

When everybody's favorite Xenomorph shows up is really the weakest part of the movie, but that's just me. The aliens of the franchise aren't that scary anymore. Yes, they are still cool but not scary, ALIEN 3 was probably the last time? It was nice to see a proper return of the Xenomorph but it quickly became been-there-done-that.

In conclusion, I recommend ALIEN: COVENANT to fans of PROMETHEUS. But, if you hated PROMETHEUS and are a fan of the Alien franchise, I say go ahead and give the film a shot.

Friday, June 2, 2017


Okay, male comic book fan confession time, I never collected 'Wonder Woman' during my avid years as a reader/collector. Not because I thought the character was just for girls, I never found a good jumping on point. Also, if I remember correctly my friend (who literally had a comic book collection that consisted of a little bit of every title) said the 'Wonder Woman' comic (at the time) wasn't that great? That story might be incorrect a little bit, but we did have discussions about Wonder Woman, and they seemed mediocre.

While I never picked up her book, I always loved the character. It was cool seeing her kick butt in a Justice Leauge comic. And I absolutely loved the idea (more like fact) that she could give Superman a run for his money!

More recently another friend of mine who reads comics told me about the New 52 run of 'Wonder Woman', and it sounded awesome. Because of this I started reading the Rebirth issues of 'Wonder Woman', and they have been really good. To save money and space I recently transitioned frome single issues to trade paperback volumes. Cannot wait to pick up the Wonder Woman books!

I am part of the unpopluar group that liked BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. The Theatrical Cut is problematic and I vastly prefer the Ultimate Edition. Some issues just cannot be fixed, but for the most part as a comic book fan I enjoyed it. I really believe the best thing about the movie is when Wonder Woman shows up to help fight Doomsday. Yes, Wonder Woman steals the show from Superman and Batman!

Warner Bros has had a rocky start with their DCEU films, but I believe WONDER WOMAN is the first of many steers into correct course correction. Or maybe WONDER WOMAN will have fans (not critics) revaluate BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and/or be more optimistic in November when JUSTICE LEAGUE hits theaters. Whatever the case, I think it's a no brainer that Diana Prince is now the anchor for the DCEU (sorry, not sorry Batman)!

Patty Jenkins' WONDER WOMAN is an origin film where we see Diana grow up to become the Amazon warrior we know and love. One day a WW1 pilot crashes on a secret island called Themyscira. The pilot is about to drown but Diana saves him. Germans break the invisible barrier and attack the Amazon warriors. The pilot, a spy name Steve Trevor tells them about the war. Convinced that Aries the god of war is behind it, Diana goes back to the real world with Steve to defeat the Germans and stop WW1.

Man, this movie was awesome from beginning to end. The 2 hour and 22 minute run time really felt like 88 minutes (something that cannot be said about BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE). I was glued to the screen. In my opinion WONDER WOMAN is so far the best DCEU movie to date. The film feels like a return/throwback to Richard Donner's 1978 film SUPERMAN. WONDER WOMAN director Patty Jenkins has given us a classic comic book movie. The film is DCEU cannon, but I'd be lying if I didn't feel it was a cousin to SUPERMAN (78).

I really enjoyed how colorful WONDER WOMAN was! I bet all the Themyscira scenes are just beautiful in IMAX 3D laser projection.

The cast is great too! Gal Gadot as Princess Diana/Wonder Woman is even better this time around. Move over Ben, Gal is the star now! And Chris Pine as spy Steve Trevor was great! I'm glad that Chris didn't get typecast as the young Captain Kirk from the new Star Trek movies. He is a talented actor and I expect even greater things to come.

One thing that I didn't much care for in the film was the villains. Why are villains so hard to get right these days? General Ludendorff started out being a real terrifying bad guy, but as the story progressed he became more cartoonish and over the top. and when Aries reveals himself it was kind of been-there-done-that in my opinion. The action climax (while very CGI) made up for it a little bit.

In conclusion, I highly highly recommend WONDER WOMAN! At the time of writing this blog post I like the movie more than GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2. It truly is that good.