Friday, June 9, 2017

The Mummy (Rated R/110 Min.)

I made the mistake of reading several other reviews of this movie after I’d started my own.  I haven’t read one review yet in which the critic liked it.  Good thing I tend to disagree with a lot of the critics.  I liked it and will, more than likely, watch it again.    

The Mummy begins several thousand years ago and tells of a princess who was raised to rule and then is set aside when her little brother is born. Needless to say, she’s less than happy about the situation.  Add to that a bit of dark magic, a sarcophagus and a millennia or two; just for good measure.  This is not the kind of woman you want to wake up.  But!  Wake her, they did. 

If you’re going to this movie with any other films in mind besides the one you’re seeing, you’re going with the wrong frame of mind.  If you’re going to compare this to past Mummy movies, you’re probably not going to like it.  So…don’t.  Stop being a movie snob, enjoy it at face value and leave the other monsters at home. 

My only major complaint about The Mummy is that the director couldn’t seem to decide how to portray Tom Cruise’s character.  Is he a self-serving, womanizing, moronic thief or is he the selfless hero?  I guess the answer is, a little of both.  As Tom Cruise’s number one non-fan, I scoffed at some of the things he did at the beginning but I actually began to warm up to him and finally liked him at the end.  For the most part.  My only minor complaint is that I really wanted to see how the mummy saw things with her double iris/pupil eyes.  If you’re going to make a big deal out of this, play it up all the way.

Though I truly did like this movie…a lot…the acting isn’t much to write home about.  I think this was meant to be an action film and that most of the budget was spent on the special effects and action sequences.  And I was okay with that.  I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to make an action film, make an action film.  Make any long speeches the “chicks dig scars” kind of speech.  Leave the Gipper out of this and go blow crap up.

There is a reason that this film is rated PG-13.  Actually, there are several.  There’s nudity.  There’s a bit of cussing.  There’s violence.  There’s people being turned in to zombies.  There’s murder and mayhem.  Just not enough for an R rating. 

If you like Tom Cruise, go see this movie.  If you like evil, she-mummies, go see this movie.  If you want a good action-y/low talk-y talk experience, go see this movie.  If you’re just trying to decide what you should see, this weekend, go see this movie.  But, if you do, don’t bother staying through the credits. There’s nothing there.  Just a blank screen.  What a missed opportunity.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Fate of the Furious (PG-13/2 hrs. 16 min.)

If you’ve seen the trailers for The Fate of the Furious, you know that a very important character has gone to the dark side.  If you haven’t seen any of the trailers, well, now you’re caught up AND you have the added benefit of being able to enjoy the action scenes for the first time on the big screen. 

A lot of you are probably wondering why Dom went rogue.  How could he possibly betray Letty and the rest of his team?  Why would he do that?  Why, Dom.  Whyyyyyy???  Well, I’m not telling.  I’m not even hinting because it is not a spoiler anyone will thank me for sharing.

For those of you who have been faithful to the FATF franchise, I’m pretty confident in saying that you’re going to like this one.  For those of you who haven’t seen any of these movies, first of all, why not?  Second, do not, I repeat, do NOT start with this one.  You need the background, you’ll be lost during a few scenes and I don’t think your friends should have to explain what just happened.

If you haven’t seen the other movies but go to see this one anyway, I’m warning you now; leave reality at home.  This is over-the-top, could only happen in the movies kind of action.  But, oh my gosh, is it fun!!!  My only complaint about the Hollywood-ness of it all is the Dwayne Johnson prison fight scene.  I find it hard to believe he would do what he did to the guards and be okay with it.  There.  That’s the extent of the spoilers. 

There’s really no point in discussing the actors in this movie.  You know them.  You love them.  You’ve always secretly known that you’d probably be the best besties ever.  No?  Just me?  Okay.  I liked each of the main characters.  Even the ones you’re not supposed to like.  I didn’t like who they were in the movie but I liked how good they were at being bad. 

And the action scenes!  You already know what to expect and you will not be disappointed.  I wish I could tell you my favorite scene but I can’t for obvious reasons.  Just know it’s super cool and super cute at the same time. 
I do realize that this is a very minimal review but I did find it really difficult to not give too much away.  If you like the other FATF movies, go see The Fate of the Furious.  If you don’t like them, you should still see them all.  What else could you possibly have to do on what looks like it’s going to be a decent Spring weekend?  Oh!  And there’s

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Great Wall (PG-13/1h 43min)

I must see this movie again!  And again and again!  I went to “The Great Wall”, last night and enjoyed every minute of it.  You must know, right away, that this is not, I repeat NOT, your typical war movie.  I must have only seen one of the shorter trailers, and even then, I didn’t pay too much attention because I hate that trailers ruin movies.  Anyway, this…is a monster movie.  Surprise to me!  Even though I was expecting a regular war movie, I was just as thrilled with what this turned out to be.  You see, I love a good monster movie, too. 

“The Great Wall” is Independence Day meets Mulan meets Cirque du Soleil meets The Last Samurai meets Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (the battle scene with all the super beautiful/hot elves; you know the one) meets who-knows-how-many-other movies. 

It’s about a couple of mercenaries seeking black powder to take home with them, who end up getting stuck in the middle of a centuries old conflict.  You know, just an every day occurrence in the life of a mercenary. 

There is not a lot of down time in this movie.  It starts out action-y and doesn’t let up much.  Even the dining hall scene had to show some bravado.  This is, by no means, a complaint.  Mainly because it’s not edge of your seat action through the entire movie.  I will admit that someone nearly got his fingers broken during the battle scenes.  Sometimes I think it might be safer for my friends/family if I watch intense movies by myself.   

The first battle scene nearly had me come undone.  The costumes, the props, the set in general.  My breath was taken away and I came dangerously close to loudly expressing my awe.  Not at the same time.  The costumes.  Wow!  I want to be in that designer’s head.  It must be an awe-inspiring place.  From head to toe, each soldier was a sight to behold.  And the colors!  This is not your typical blandly-clothed army you see in a lot of battle movies. 

Then there were the props, for lack of a better word.  If this Wall wasn’t amply defended, it certainly wasn’t due to a lacking in weaponry.  They seem to have thought of everything.  Sure, there were your basic bows and spears.  But then there were your catapults (remember, not much is plain old, plain old in this movie) shooting fire balls and spiky fire balls, your giant scissors (you’ll have to see it to understand), your special arrows (small but effective), and finally, there were the soldiers themselves. 

Let’s talk about those soldiers for a while.  If, in your mind, you picture the stereotypical, in the Western world, Chinese person (my apologies, in advance), you might be imagining men who are small in stature and not terribly muscular.  I think we saw maybe one or two instances of this.  The rest?  Not so much.  These men were huge in stature and commanding in presence.  And weren’t too difficult to look at, either.  These were men who are meant to intimidate their foes. Oh.  Wait.  Did I only mention the men?  If you’re thinking this is a testosterone tour de force, you are so wonderfully wrong.  The women were also a force to be reckoned with and, in my opinion, were much braver than most of the men while still coming across as feminine.  I can’t even begin to explain how this works.  You’ll have to see it for yourself.  It was the women, and what they did, that took my breath away during the battle scene.  I can’t get it out of my head. 

I have no idea where the first part of the movie was filmed but I must go there.  With a camera and several days in which I can take as many pics as I desire.  I never in a million years thought I’d ever describe a bunch of hills as lovely but they very much are.  Then we see the Wall.  It just has to be capitalized.  There’s no other way around it.  From the first moment we saw it, to the fog-shrouded scenes, to the final glimpse, it was nothing short of amazing.  I know I sound like I’m over-talking this movie but I was just that impressed with all the visual aspects of it.  And then they added the main actors.

Let’s start with the obvious.  Matt Damon.  While this seems to be a huge change from his last few roles, I still liked him as William, a mercenary searching for black powder.  But, even though I am a huge Matt Damon fan, I feel that this role could have been played by any number of actors.  Now, that’s just an opinion.  It doesn’t necessarily mean I’m right.  I just felt that he could’ve been so much more.  And that, in a manner of speaking, he was very nearly robbed! 

Actress Tian Jing came very close to overshadowing Matt during several scenes.  She plays Lin Mae, one of the commanders in the Chinese army.  You’ll quickly see that none of the commanders in this film just…well…command.  They head into the fray along with every other soldier out there.  Lin Mae is no exception.  She is incredibly brave and intelligent.  She expects no more of her soldiers than she is willing to give, herself.  And she believes that trust and loyalty are two of the greatest traits you could possibly have.  I like her.  I like her a lot. 

There were several other actors that probably deserve a small mention, at least, but I’m happy with the two I’ve already discussed.  Okay, okay.  I’ll mention a few more.  I didn’t like Willem Dafoe’s character.  At all.  Pedro Pascal is Tovar, the other mercenary.  He was okay.  I didn’t like some of his choices.  Finally, Lu Han is Peng Yong, a noble, if somewhat clumsy foot soldier.  I liked him a lot.  You will too. 

There is only one reason “The Great Wall” received a PG-13 rating.  The violence.  Fortunately, most of the gross has to do with the monsters so it’s a little easier to take.  Judging by the upset children at this showing, I wouldn’t recommend it for youngsters unless you’ve seen it first, yourself, and feel they can handle it.  The 20 to 30 minutes of crying was more than a little frustrating.  Apparently, that parent felt that it was all right to let everyone else enjoy their upset little one. 

I would highly recommend this movie.  As mentioned at the beginning, I will see this again.  If you can’t handle violence, monsters, or monster blood, I’d skip this one.  The rest of you should go see it.  This weekend.  Or tonight even! Just remember that it might not be safe to hold hands with your girlfriend during this one.