To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky visuals with exaggerated action. It's certainly nothing like the involving classic monster movies they're trying to reignite, such as the 1932 Boris Karloff classic The Mummy. But this movie has more in common with Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible and Jack Reacher blockbusters, with added swimming zombies.
Cruise plays Nick, an American army officer and mercenary who with his cohort Vail (Jake Johnson) has just located a long-lost burial site deep in Daesh-controlled Iraq. Somehow, the hot archaeologist Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) arrives immediately to stop him from plundering this tomb. It turns out that the sarcophagus contains the remains of ancient Egyptian Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who was mummified alive for making a pact with the evil god Set and then murdering her father and brother. Now transported to London, she returns to life with a vengeance, casting a spell on Nick to help reassemble Set's dagger and finish her nefarious plan. So Jenny turns to her deeply unstable boss Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) for help.
There's rather a lot of mythology building going on here, setting things up for the further adventures of Jekyll's secret society, which is trying to deal with ancient evil like a mash-up of Men in Black and Night at the Museum. Without the humour. There are some throwaway gags here and there, but director Alex Kurtzman stages everything with a gloomy sense of foreboding that simply never gains traction. The thin plot seems constructed merely to connect a series of enormous action set-pieces, which are all very well choreographed but never remotely exciting. It doesn't help that everything on-screen has been extravagantly over-designed, with cavernous sets that have been made deliberately dark and sooty. But this leaves the entire movie feeling artificial, random mayhem in fake places.
Continue reading: The Mummy Review
With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded franchise continues in its trajectory to provide mindlessly outrageous thrills involving muscly guys, tough girls and loud cars. This episode is marginally more grounded than the high-flying previous instalment, but it's still utterly preposterous. It's also a huge amount of fun, thanks to the snappy cast and far larger than life driving stunts.
We catch up with Dom and Letty (Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez) living in Havana and challenging the locals to some vroom-vroom racing antics. But their happy life is interrupted by the arrival of Cipher (Charlize Theron), a mysterious woman who has something on Dom and lures him to the dark side. To stop Cipher's nefarious plan, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is brought back into action by Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell) and his rookie colleague Eric (Scott Eastwood), who also draft in Letty and the team (Tyrese Gibson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges and Nathalie Emmanuel) before heading off to Berlin. Things don't go so well there, so they bring in hothead nemesis Deckard (Jason Statham) and chase Dom and Cipher to New York and Arctic Russia for even more outrageous vehicular mayhem.
New to the franchise, director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) gives the film a gritty edge that sits surprisingly well with a stream of wry comedy running right through every scene. He also kicks off the action from the opening shot, then barely pauses for breath for a odd moment of plot exposition or emotion along the way. This is full-on action entertainment, riotously over-the-top and hilariously enjoyable, even if it's dumb as a post. And the action sequences are jaw-droppingly enormous.
Continue reading: The Fate Of The Furious Review
With its above-average cast and a gritty, realistic tone, this exorcism thriller is a lot more involving than most. Not only is it packed with demonic mayhem, but the complex characters make the drama much punchier, setting up the audience for several big jolts. Even so, the plot builds slowly, finally reaching its most intriguing twist right at the very end, so the credits start rolling just as things get properly riveting.
The title refers to a secret archive under the Vatican run by Cardinal Bruun (Peter Andersson) and his assistant Imani (Djimon Hounsou). It contains files and lots of tapes of demonic possession, including scenes of 30-year-old Angela (Olivia Taylor Dudley). She has a happy life with her cute boyfriend Pete (John Patrick Amedori) and tough-but-kind dad Roger (Dougray Scott), but starts acting a bit strange whenever a raven is nearby. As her behaviour gets more erratic, she is assisted by Father Lozano (Michael Pena), who takes a personal interest in her case. But things spiral far beyond Lozano's expertise, so he calls the Vatican for help. And when Bruun arrives in America to meet Angela in person, he's unnerved to discover that this might not be a demon: she could be the Antichrist.
The screenplay cleverly weaves in news reports and current events to make everything that happens feel grounded in real life. As it continues, the biblical and fantastical flourishes intriguingly fit into this context, while director Mark Neveldine delays tipping over into effects-based action until the final act. This means that the film quietly unnerves the audience from the start, using CCTV footage and some enjoyably scary touches that add to the atmosphere. As a result, the actors are able to flesh out their characters. Dudley gives Angela a strong personality that lingers even after the presence inside her starts to take over. As the three priests, Pena, Andersson and Hounsou don't have much to do, but they add subtle details to their scenes.
Continue reading: The Vatican Tapes Review
For their seventh adventure, the Fast & Furious cast and crew continue to outdo themselves with mind-boggling stunt driving and outrageous action mayhem, this time infusing everything with emotion as a way of honouring late actor Paul Walker. The rip-roaring pace and more internalised drama combine effectively to create a riotous thrill ride that might actually bring a lump to the throat. Even if it's all utterly preposterous, it's solidly entertaining.
Things pick up right where Part 6 left off, with former black-ops killer Deckerd Shaw (Jason Statham, who else?) determined to avenge his fallen brother. As he tracks them down, Dominic and Brian (Vin Diesel and Paul Walker) have reassembled their team (Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges) to take a job with shady government agent Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell). Their target is the even shadier villain Jakanda (Djimon Hounsou), who has kidnapped a genius hacker (Nathalie Emmanuel) to get his hands on her all-seeing gadget. But Shaw is on their trail as they track Jakanda to the mountains of Azerbaijan, and he interrupts their mission there as well as in the deserts of Abu Dhabi and the streets of downtown Los Angeles.
The double-edged premise offers all kinds of opportunity for plot twists, but of course the main point of these movies is to create increasingly insane set-pieces. This time, the film opens with Brian explaining to his young son that cars can't fly, after which director James Wan proves otherwise, flinging our heroes' hot rods into the sky from airplanes, tower blocks and cliff tops. Amazingly, they seem able to steer even in mid-air! But never mind, it looks so painfully cool that there's little do do but sit back and enjoy the chaos, knowing that even though a flashy vehicle is destroyed every minute, there's a newer, more awesome car coming in the next scene.
Continue reading: Furious 7 Review
The franchise will continue and it will be in cinemas in April, 2015
Fast & Furious 7 is definitely still happening, and if Vin Diesel's Facebook account is to be believed, then it will be here by next spring. The star of the franchise took to his Facebook page late on Sunday, 22 December, night to leave a tribute for deceased star Paul Walker, before eventually revealing the release details for the upcoming film.
Walker and Diesel were set to star together once again
F&F7 will arrive in cinemas on 10, April, 2015, according to the Facebook post, after production was put on hold. Filming for the next instalment of the F&F series had been put on hold indefinitely following the untimely death of star Paul Walker on 30 November, however Universal decided to go ahead with the filming when writer Chris Morgan and director James Wan, apparently, devised a plot eventuality where they can retire Walker's character from the series using scenes already shot. The film was initially due to be released on 11 July, 2014.
Continue reading: Vin Diesel Confirms 'Fast & Furious 7' Release Date
Keanu Reeves takes on witches, trolls, giant snakes and other fiends in the '47 Ronin' new trailer.
Keanu Reeves plays an outcast in the fictional retelling of the forty-seven ronin, and while it looks a lot more promising than his other recent movies, could it be the one to save his career?
Keanu Reeves in '47 Ronin'
So, he's not exactly been rolling in the glory in recent years with 2012 seeing him star in major commercial and critical flop (an understatement) Generation Um and this year in the China based film Man of Tai Chi which was also his directorial debut and fared a lot better considering it was his first directing stint but still failed to grasp mainstream attention.
The most impressive thing about the sixth entry into this noisy franchise is that it's both more preposterous and more self-important than ever before. Which is no mean feat. The cast and crew clearly went for something bigger and more explosive, but by removing their tongues from their cheeks they leave us laughing at them rather than with them. Even so, some of the crazed action scenes are breathtaking.
The story picks up right where the last one ended: Dominic and Brian (Diesel and Walker) have taken the fortune they grabbed in Rio and started an idyllic life in the Canary Islands. Brian and Dom's sister Mia (Brewster) have even produced an adorable baby. Then US Agent Hobbs (Johnson) appears asking for their help in capturing the villainous Shaw (Evans), who is collecting military technological gadgets for some nefarious purpose. And they agree to go along because Dom's presumed-dead girlfriend Letty (Rodriguez) is working with him. So they reassemble the team (Pataky, Gibson, Bridges, Kang, Gadot and Carano) and get started in London.
Yes, this chapter takes place in Europe, which gives the filmmakers new landmarks to race past in their elaborately orchestrated chase sequences, throwing cars like toys at every plate-glass window in sight. The first night-time set-piece in London is fairly incoherent (and nonsensical), but things get better from there, with a whizzy bit of competitive driving for Dom and Letty and a few other showdowns before the action moves to Spain for a couple of massive, gob-smacking action sequences that would boggle the mind if we thought for a second that they were even marginally possible.
Continue reading: Fast & Furious 6 Review
For the record, Rob Cohen's The Fast and the Furious -- which took the name from a 1955 Roger Corman racing flick, and updated the master's exploitation bent with well-deployed studio gloss -- was a perfectly enjoyable piece of work. Throwing squadrons of neon-colored muscle cars and a still-trying Vin Diesel into the middle of an overheated potboiler drama about family honor and loyalty turned out to be a genius stroke; the thing left scorch marks. It moved with the skillful speed of well-honed pulp. By contrast, the near-laughable Fast & Furious (directed by Justin Lin, who did the honors on the last installment, Tokyo Drift) tries far too hard and achieves very little.
Continue reading: Fast & Furious Review
What sounds an awful lot like The Matrix is actually Wanted, an adaptation of Mark Millar's 2004 comic book miniseries by style-conscious Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov. His name may ring a bell with adventurous moviegoers who sampled his frenzied vampire thriller Night Watch and its muddled sequel, Day Watch. And though it's unlikely Bekmambetov will become a household name once Wanted explodes on the scene, a wider audience certainly will become more familiar with the director's uniquely kinetic aesthetics.
Continue reading: Wanted Review
To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...
With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...
With its above-average cast and a gritty, realistic tone, this exorcism thriller is a lot...
For their seventh adventure, the Fast & Furious cast and crew continue to outdo themselves...
The most impressive thing about the sixth entry into this noisy franchise is that it's...