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
Ever since the end of WWII, the rough riding O'Connell Family -- Rick (Brendan Fraser), Evelyn (Maria Bello, subbing for Rachael Weisz), and college age son Alex (Luke Ford) -- have been in semi-retirement. Gone are the days when they would circumnavigate the globe looking for ancient treasure and kicking antiquated butt. When they get the chance to return a precious diamond to the people of China, they jump at the chance. Unfortunately, the gem is instrumental in the resurrection of the evil Emperor Han (Jet Li), a ruthless tyrant bent on conquering the world. Luckily, an ancient witch (Michelle Yeoh) has cursed him to an eternity embedded in rock. Of course, it won't be long before our haphazard adventurers have him up and around -- and seeking immortality via his massive terra cotta army.
Continue reading: The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor Review
The Scorpion King ably rehashes the plots of the variety of other, better films including Gladiator, the Indiana Jones series, Flash Gordon, Beastmaster, and even The Goonies. Set 5,000 years ago, a warlord named Memnon (Steven Brand), acting on crazed Napoleonic urges, ravages the land and bends its people into totalitarian rule. With the aid of a seer who foretells the future, Memnon stands invincible against all aggressors.
Continue reading: The Scorpion King Review
Unfortunately for Perry, it's April 1992, and not a very good time to be an arrogant, white LAPD officer. The Rodney King trial has set L.A. on the precipice of Armageddon, and the verdict - to be announced imminently - has become the focal point for a metropolis simmering with class and racial tension. Perry, however, has more pressing matters to worry about. His partner, a wet-behind-the-ears rookie named Bobby Keough (played with baby-faced blankness by ex-Felicity hunk Scott Speedman), has screwed up an arrest, and Perry - always looking to back up a fellow brother in blue - has killed the defenseless perp (with Keough's gun) rather than letting him escape. The film begins with both officers knee-deep into lying their way through an eight-hour inquiry, since Perry has decided that his incompetent protégé should take the heat for the killing anyway. As far as Perry is concerned, one's first shooting inquiry is a right of passage - a baptism into an immoral system that's primarily sworn to protect and serve its own members.
Continue reading: Dark Blue Review
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