The Mummy

The Mummy (Alex Kurtzman, 2017) 2.5/5

Tom Cruise. Love him or hate him, he knows how to market himself and the films that heThe_Mummy_(2017) is in. Usually however, they are fresher adventures with a much greater need to rexamination. With the last film in this franchise The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor receiving a rather damning response, Kurtzman’s reboot can’t quite improve on this either.

As the introduction to the Dark Universe, where Universal are resurrecting all of their favourite monsters of the past, it isn’t an altogether smooth ride of quality. The intentions seem to distance itself from the previous Brendan Fraser-Rachel Weisz starrers, however, by stripping away the camp self-awareness of these, you are left with a bit of a damp squib.

The screenplay by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman feels like they all had very different visions and in the end is a tad muddled. There is no consistency in tone, characters seems to be flailing around the desert and London is destroyed in a sand storm for no apparent reason (where did the sand even come from?).

Sofia Boutella throws herself admirably into the role of Princess Ahmanet, but there is very little to flesh out of a character that is half dead to begin with.

In sum, this first installment of the Dark Universe is a little bit fumbling. Tom Cruise is simply Ethan Hunt in the desert and in order for this particular franchise to succeed, please can we have a more coherent plot?

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017) 4/5

Never send a man to do a woman’s job. This should be DC Comics new mantrWonder_Woman_(2017_film)a when it comes to their own cinematic universe. I have to admit, I was sceptical after viewing the previous instalments of Batman V Superman (a little bit silly) and Suicide Squad (all over the place central). However, this is the most coherent addition to their canon yet and it deserves all of the praise.

Let’s start with the backstory. For a starters, what makes this more interesting is that we haven’t seen this character before (not recently, anyway). Gal Gadot inserts herself into the lead role and is so perfect in the role that is hurts.

Alan Heinberg’s script has something that other DC films have been lacking and that is humour. The whole tone is a lot lighter at times and this makes it an even more enjoyable experience. Lucy Davis is a treat as Etta Candy, the lovable secretary of Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor.

In sum, this is not only a film about female empowerment, but it is also a darn good superhero film that makes up for it’s lackluster predecessors. I hope and pray that this will be the beginning of something great for upcoming DC films and that there will be an increase in the number of blockbuster films with a female protagonist.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (James Gunn, 2017) 4/5

Marvel just has it in the bag when it comes to tongue in cheek adventures. Unlike the GotG_Vol2_postermore stoic DC (although, they are showing signs of improvement), there is an effortlessness to all of these films.

James Gunn’s new franchise was a little bit off kilter when it was first announced. Like the black sheep to the main films of The Avengers stars. However, with this sequel, it has really come into it’s own. With the addition of Kurt Russell in a pivotal role as well as Pom Klementieff as Mantis. These aid in the continual humour that actually surpasses the original as volume 2 is a lot more sure of itself.

Gunn’s script also delivers more insight into the core crew’s backstory and makes everyone gel a bit more throughout the narrative. As opposed to the underwhelming Alien: Covenant, this did exactly everything and more than it needed to.

In sum, this Marvel black sheep is now a well and truly a part of the main family, but still has the edginess to stand on it’s own.

Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant (Ridley Scott, 2017) 3/5

In Hollywood, nothing is original anymore. The three R’s stand true and are testiment to Alien_Covenant_Teaser_Posterthe current sitch in Tinsel Town. Yep, Remakes, Reboots and Reimaginings are all top of the list to satisfy the studio bosses. Ridley Scott started an iconic franchise with the first Alien and launched Sigourney Weaver’s fabulous career. Unfortunately, this latest addition, a sequel to 2012’s Prometheus is largely a confused and plodding addition to this canon.

Everything about this film is polished to perfection. Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography, Pietro Scalia’s editing and Chris Seager’s production design all make the trip into space a beautiful journey. However, the actual narrative just isn’t there. It all seems to be a re-hash of Prometheus, where Michael Fassbender’s ‘David’ is still a sociopath, causing havoc on a supposed empty planet. The new addition of Katherine Waterston is good, however she does weirdly resemble Noomi Rapace, which begs the question why did they not just want the actress to return?

Considering the 5 year gap in proceedings, the entire package just doesn’t move anything forwards. Instead, we’ve got a new planet, new crew, new protagonist. We are no further advanced to discovering how these aliens were created in the first place and why we should really care.

In sum, Alien: Covenant is a half-baked addition to the Alien franchise. The story just doesn’t further anything and as a view you are left feeling a tad empty. As such, in a town where originality is a dying breed, Alien: Covenant is an example of just how important it truly is.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast (Bill Condon, 2017) 4/5

Ok, let’s just all acknowledge the elephant in the room. No, i’m not talking about a certain batbgay moment (I mean really, what is all of the fuss?). No, let’s talk about a certain animated film released in 1991 of the same name. It was enchanting, beautiful and had everything. Now, I loved it, you loved it, the entire world loved it. But, let’s all take a breath, this is not the shrine of Turin. Things get adapted, rebooted and re-imagined all the time. Why? Because Hollywood does not like to take risks and this live action version was always going to make a lot of mulah.

If i’m not being too out there, comparisons can be made of this and the film version of ‘Les Miserables’ (stay with me, I do have a point) – Basically, like that dreary french musical, when the opening credits begin of BATB you have to either board the train or get bulldozed down in the process.

Director Bill – Dreamgirls- Condon knows how to do a musical and the musical numbers here are so full of energy you thought the air was saturated with Red Bull. ‘Belle’, ‘Be Our Guest’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ are belted out with great aplomb.

All of the acting is great and Emma Watson is a great leading lady here, holding her own and harnessing and formulating her own star power in the process. The CGI beast is a little off putting a times, yes, but Dan Stevens has got some good pipes on him, which also helps!

In sum, this is a proper old school musical complete with high kicks, adrenaline and a sense of purpose. It also respects the original source material and should be commended for that. Is it as good as the original, well you’ll have to decide that yourself.

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi, 2016) 3.5/5

Theodore Melfi’s follow-up to the well received ‘St Vincent’ is a solid and heartwarming hidden figuresbiopic of three black women working for NASA during the 1960’s. Played by Taraji. P Henson (Katherine Johnson), Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan) and Janelle Monae (Mary Jackson), they light up the screen as their real life counterparts. What’s more, it is their chemistry that really elevate the course material and keep this film over the hedge of ‘just another history movie’.

Everything works well here, from the original score, cinematography and editing, it all creates a seamless character study of these three extraordinary women. Indeed, Henson really steps up as the lead as the story begins and ends with her personal development. However, even though it is set within the ever increasing racial tension of segregation, it slightly glosses over this in favour of a seamless and classic storytelling device. In fact, most of the historical events are played either through suppoirting characters or within montage sequences.

There is no denying that this is a timely film to be released, but as we have already discussed, there is little poking at real life issues here. In fact, the narrative is heavily focussed on what made these women so influential, and that is their work within NASA itself.

Nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Picture, Hidden Figures deserves its plaudits for its technological prowess. Indeed, this would make a great companion piece to the 2011 hit ‘The Help’.

In sum, if you are searching for something heartwarming and incredibly relevant then this realy is something worthwhile (If the slightest bit sanitised).

Arrival

Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016) 4/5

Villeneuve’s follow-up to the astounding drugs war thriller Sicario comes a similar tale of arrival_movie_posterfemale empowerment, this time under the guise of an alien invasion. Now, before you think this is going to be Independence Day 4 (heaven forbid), it isn’t. Instead what you have here is a masterclass in suspense, intellect and an amazing lead performance by Amy – Gimme an Oscar already – Adams.

Now the plot is fairly simple in structure, a University lecturer in Linguistics called Louise is tasked to join Forrest Whittaker’s team to decipher the reason why alien pods have sprouted around the globe. In order to communicate with them, they have to understand their language and in their very own version of extragalactic pictionary they do this.

As the film progresses it becomes clear that this isn’t your usual science fiction film, for one, it is beautiful to look at and Bradford Young’s (Selma) cinematography is so simple in it’s effectiveness. As well as this, the music by Johann Johannsson’s transports you to an alternate atmosphere when coming into contact with the ‘Heptapods’, which are our lovely foreign visitors.

I couldn’t also help but notice the timely arrival (sorry, couldn’t help myself) of this film. With a Brexit UK and a Trump USA, the whole narrative is yearning for cross-border communication, most notably between China and Russia, which makes for even more intriguing viewing.

In sum, Amy Adams towers in this film with another fantastic performance. Villenueve has shown once again that subtletly can create great power in this thinking mans science fiction wonder.