Dark Universe Scores Big Hit in China with The Mummy Winning the Weekend

I was really busy this last weekend. I didn’t get the chance to see The Mummy, one of my most-anticipated films of 2017. Reviews are mixed but skewing more toward the rotten side of things, and the domestic box office displayed a win for Wonder Woman over the first film in the Dark Universe.

But over in China, The Mummy is making some bank, scoring almost $52 million in the opening weekend, accounting for more than 50% of all the film revenue at the Chinese box office.

In its opening weekend, The Mummy managed to outperform other American hits like Logan, Beauty and the Beast, and Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2.

The Mummy, from first-time feature director Alex Kurtzman, underperformed at the domestic box office but was expected to rake in heavily internationally and it stands as one of Tom Cruise’s biggest hits due to this.

It’s disappointing to me that The Mummy didn’t get more of a take domestically as I love anything that could possibly harken back to the classic Universal Monsters franchise and while I think it was a mistake to play so heavily to the Dark Universe aspect in all the promotional material, I’m still very excited to see the film.

So what do you think? Did you see The Mummy this weekend? Did you enjoy it? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Kyle’s Top Ten Most Anticipated Films of 2017

 

Okay, folks, I’m a little late on this one, as I’ve already seen a few of 2017’s early films. But don’t worry, I made this list almost a month ago and am just now getting the chance to write it up for you. So, let’s start off with a point.

  • This list is most anticipated, not what I think will be the best by any stretch. These are the films I’m most looking forward to at the beginning of the year, so there will be a lot of bigger blockbustery films because that’s Sundance is just now happening and the other big Oscary films haven’t premiered yet. So with that being said…

 

NOTE: THIS IS NOT A COUNTDOWN BUT A LIST.

 

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Star Wars Episode VIII

  • Whatever the title may be, I’m so excited to pick up with the further adventures of Rey, Finn, Poe, BB-8, Luke, and Leia in Star Wars Episode VIII. It’s also a bittersweet film for me personally as it is the last time fans will see Carrie Fisher as their general. It means so much for fans to have that connection, one that many have felt since 1977. But there are many things to be excited for in Episode VIII. More revelations about Snoke, seeing Luke back in action, and new characters played by Benicio del Toro and Laura Dern. What’s not to love? Have I even mentioned director Rian Johnson? So excited!

 

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Alien: Covenant

  • I may find myself in the minority here, but I really enjoyed Prometheus. I had issues with some of the plot points, but the film made me yearn for more from this universe, and this year, we get it in full force with Alien: Covenant. I reported years ago about the then-titled Prometheus 2 having no Xenomorphs. I’m glad that director Ridley Scott changed his mind on that are we are getting Alien proper. Add in Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Billy Crudup, James Franco, and a return from Michael Fassbender as android David and you have a recipe for one hell of a film. At least…I hope.

 

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War for the Planet of the Apes

  • I really enjoyed Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but I absolutely loved Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Talk about a film that services fans both big and small. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was one of the best films of 2014 and remains a powerful work of art. Director Matt Reeves returns to helm War for the Planet of the Apes, and after Dawn, Cloverfield, and his remake Let Me In, I’m overjoyed to see what he does with this franchise next. Add in the extremely underrated Woody Harrelson to match the mo-cap performance of Andy Serkis as Caesar. This is an opening night kind of movie.

 

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Kong: Skull Island

  • The fact that Skull Island is actually happening is pretty impressive. The fact that the trailers look amazing is even more so. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts adds some lovely flair to this story of 1970s-set Kong tale with John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, and Tom Hiddleston. I only hope that the focus is on Kong and not set-up for the eventual match between the King of Skull Island and the King of Monsters, Godzilla in a few years. I’m thankful this one is coming out around my birthday so I have an excuse to drag everyone I know to this movie with me.

 

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It

  • As sad as I am to be missing Will Poulter as the titular creature and Cary Fukunaga behind the camera, I’m still very excited to see this new R-rated take on Stephen King’s classic story. It is a fascinating look at fear itself as a beast targeting children. Splitting it into two films scares me only for the concern that we may not get the conclusion we want if the first isn’t successful. Thanks to Stranger Things from last year, I do not believe that to be the case, but hopefully a trailer drops soon to help convince film-goers to spend their money.

 

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The Dark Tower

  • While we are on the subject of Stephen King, the long-gestating adaptation of his behemoth series The Dark Tower is almost upon us. Starring Idris Elba as the gunslinger Roland and Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black, there has been a lot of confusing information being thrown around about what the film is actually going to concern itself with. With producer Ron Howard helping shepherd the film, I trust that it will be a hell of an experience, but I hope it will also bring in casual moviegoers with its marketing campaign. I’ll be there opening night, and I hope you join me.

 

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The Mummy

  • Cinematic universes are such a big thing right now that many fail to realize the first universe created was the Universal Monsters universe with films like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and House of Dracula. Universal hopes to ignite a new fire in their monsters with The Mummy, the first in a series of monster movies aimed at bringing these creatures out from the darkness. After the first attempted failure of Dracula Untold, write Alex Kurtzman took directing duties with powerhouse producer and star Tom Cruise set to introduce the female mummy played by Sofia Boutella to the world. Aided by Russell Crowe’s Dr. Henry Jekyll, Cruise’s Nick Morton must save the world from an ancient and malevolent princess recently awakened. Count me in.

 

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Thor: Ragnarok

  • I’m only picking one Marvel film this year and that’s because I really love Thor. I love Chris Hemsworth. I love the Hulk. I love Mark Ruffalo. I love director Taika Waititi. I just love everything I’ve heard coming out of this film. I cannot wait until November to see how this all plays out. Yes, I get it. Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 will be pretty great. Spider-Man: Homecoming has a lot riding on it. But Thor…Thor is my favorite film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I’m just dying to see him suited up, especially after that [SPOILER ALERT] post-credits scene in Doctor Strange.

 

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Blade Runner 2049

  • I’m pretty late to the Blade Runner game, having only recently falling in love with the original film from Ridley Scott (Final Cut for the win!), but with Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners, Arrival, need I say more?) behind the camera and original scribe Hampton Fancher’s screenplay, Blade Runner 2049 looks to be serving up some excitement heading towards its October release. It’ll be exciting to see original star Harrison Ford back in the fold with Ryan Gosling joining him. Another situation here of what’s not to love about this movie? Much in the way of The Force Awakens, there’s just so much to be excited about after being absent from these characters for over 30 years.

 

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God Particle

  • Lastly, we get to the strangest entry in this list. God Particle is apparently the third installment of the Cloverfield series, and after only last year discovering that there is a Cloverfield series, its safe to say that something interesting is happening here. Now, the film was pushed back to October for reasons, and the IMDb page has updated with the title Untitled Cloverfield Anthology Movie (2017), I can only wonder when news will come of this tale featuring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Bruhl, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, and David Oyelowo. One thing I can say: J.J. Abrams is insane.

 

SO there you have it. What film are you most excited for in 2017? Let me know/Drop a comment below.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Teaser Trailer for Regular Trailer for Reimagining of Classic Horror Monster Cinematic Universe is Exciting! In Short, The Mummy Trailer Teaser is Here.

 

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Wow, who would’ve thought the idea of a Universal Monster Cinematic Universe would be so exciting, but here I am gushing over the teaser to a trailer for the upcoming 2017 The Mummy starring Tom Cruise.

I left the teaser below to check out, and there isn’t a whole lot to describe, but we get a chance to see Sofia Boutella as the titular mummy, Tom Cruise says a line, and we get a real quick glimpse at Russell Crowe who is co-starring as Dr. Jekyll and maybe Mr. Hyde.

But it isn’t so much what’s in front of the camera that excites me as what’s behind the camera. Alex Kurtzman is a terrific writer who is finally sitting in the director’s chair, and I can’t wait to see the finished product.

So what did you think of the trailer teaser (I hate that this is a thing now)? Are you excited for the trailer? Are you already plotting out when to see The Mummy? Let me know.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Russell Crowe Makes Me Feel Better about The Mummy

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For those of you living under a rock, Universal Studios actually made a name for themselves back in the 30s, 40s, & 50s for their horror movie monsters. So much so that creature features like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon all exist under the title Universal Monsters. Universal was most well known for these pictures that have now become classics in film. Recently decades have proven to be less successful in terms of Universal’s monster films. Their recent slate has felt like action films badly disguising themselves as horror films.

Films like The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The Wolf Man and Dracula Untold have not given fans much to get excited for. But now, Alex Kurtzman is bringing a new vision of the Universal Monsters to light with a Cinematic Universe of creatures, similar to the MCU. It is important to note that the Universal Monsters were quite possibly the first cinematic universe with films like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and House of Dracula where multiple monsters came together to tell stories. The first installment (though some have counted Dracula Untold as the first, this is still uncertain), The Mummy, is lensing right now. It stars Tom Cruise and the project just recently added Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll (an interesting character to add to a story that never featured him), so it would seem like they are putting the wheels in motion to get this franchise up and going.

Not only was the addition of Crowe exciting, but the actor recently spoke to Collider about the tone of the story, remarking that it will “seriously scare the shit out of you.”

That’s what I like to hear, I think so often that Universal believes that the monsters put asses in the seats, but it has always been the tone first, and that tone hasn’t been right in some time. Now it seems, with Kurtzman at the wheel, that we will finally be seeing what we want from this franchise.

What do you think? Are you excited for The Mummy and the Universal Monsters cinematic universe? What’s your favorite creature feature? Let me know!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

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Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, John Turturro

Screenplay: Ehren Krueger, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman

150 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, some crude and sexual material, and brief drug material.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

 

I was extremely surprised that I enjoyed Michael Bay’s Transformers. I had convinced myself all the way up to the premiere night that I was in for a long slow burn of disappointment. I was wrong. I had fun. That was a similar case with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the 2009 sequel featuring Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, Lawless, Fury) heading to college and trying to balance his life and relationships with Mikaela (Megan Fox, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, This is 40) with that of Bumblebee and the Transformers. I found the film to be an occasionally enjoyable romp with much lower quality of technical achievement. I didn’t think the movie was boring, but I felt like they had stretched the premise of the first film without offering anything new of merit. It felt like a big budget movie with absolutely no forward momentum for its characters. It looked nice, but really nothing special.

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Sam Witwicky is college bound. Unfortunately, his Autobot friends are challenged by threats old and new including the reanimation of Megatron and the reemergence of an exiled Transformer known only as The Fallen. The remaining Autobots have joined with new allies as well as a human tactical team called NEST, featuring old friends Major Lennox (Josh Duhamel, TV’s Las Vegas, Scenic Route) and USAF Master Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Black Nativity). Before leaving for college, Sam uncovers a piece of the Allspark which gives him visions of Autobot language and clues leading him around the world in search of a mystical tool that can save his friends and defeat The Fallen.

After multiple viewings, I began to notice how none of the plot actually made a whole lot of sense. The convoluted quest Sam finds himself on is strange as it is leading him to something he doesn’t even need yet. It isn’t until partway through the quest that he actually has a use for what he is looking for.

Shia LaBeouf’s performance is downright underwhelming. If there was an award for yelling “Bumblebee!” as many times as you can, he might win, but performances don’t really matter when the script is so shotty. We have to blame the writer’s strike, which caused the death of several terrific television series and a screenplay that wasn’t ready entering production. Disappointing, too, because if waited on, I’m sure the film would have been more successful, but this team just didn’t have the time to actually create an organic story. This is more jerry-rigged.

Ehren Kruger (The Ring, Blood and Chocolate) added some underwhelming touches to the original material drafted by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), and I feel like he was too attached to the material as he was quoted as being a major Transformers fan. Of course he can’t do justice to the film. Too much pressure.

I didn’t really hate all the annoying characters (I tend to believe that Jar Jar Binks is needed in Episode I to prove that some aliens are going to be annoying as shit), but there was a lot of them, ranging from Autobots to humans.

The big win of the film is Devastator, a Decepticon comprised of several moving parts and automobiles. That was some great creature design.

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If given the option, find a copy of this film in its IMAX edition because the only major element of this film that works is the Visual Effects (even if Bay does continue to show us the robots transforming just because). This movie will delight fans of the Transformers brand, but likely no one else.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of Michael Bay’s Transformers, click here.

For my review of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, click here.

For my review of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, click here.

Transformers (2007)

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Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Anderson, Megan Fox, Rachael Taylor, John Turturro, Jon Voight

Screenplay: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman

144 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, brief sexual humor, and language.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Sound Editing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Visual Effects

 

I had a conversation once with a friend who told me something very profound and possibly the best description of director Michael Bay (Armageddon, Pain & Gain). He said, “Michael Bay makes likable trash.” It’s true. None of his films are very well put together, so going into them with the thought process that you are reviewing a Best Picture nominee would be a mistake. You have to take it at face value.

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That being said, I think Transformers is one of his best works. It stars Shia LaBeouf (Lawless, Fury) as Sam Witwicky, a teenager who just wants a car. He wants something that is his, something that he thinks will make him unique. He quickly finds out how true that is when he comes across the realization that his newly acquired vehicle is actually a robot in disguise named Bumblebee. Bumblebee is an Autobot, a good guy, and he isn’t the only Transformer on Earth. In fact, Sam soon finds himself entangled in a battle between the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, and the Decepticons, led by an unknown force. Sam only has romantic interest Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, This is 40) to assist him as he is hunted by the mysterious government agency Sector 7 and its leader Agent Simmons (John Turturro, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Exodus: Gods and Kings). Meanwhile, a military base in Qatar is attacked by Decepticon forces, leading Captain William Lennox (Josh Duhamel, TV’s Las Vegas, Scenic Route) and USAF Tech Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Black Nativity) across the desert in search of rescue and answers.

I walked into Transformers expecting crap, but what I got was a fun romp that didn’t take itself very seriously and worked for that very reason. It had a lighthearted screenplay from Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and strong actors in the roles, with the exception of Megan Fox who essentially fills the role of Boobs and Ass very nicely, but is little more than a thing to look at when the robots aren’t fighting. Bay doesn’t take his source material very seriously either, and I think that is why it works so well. He was reported as almost turning down the film based on the fact that he didn’t know or like the Transformers line. The same can be said of J.J. Abrams when he took the role of director on the Star Trek films. He wasn’t a fan of them and therefore came at the material from an unclaimed perspective.

I think that is one of the reasons that the sequels to Transformers suffer from so many more flaws, but the original film is a good time. Most of the production’s technical aspects are nothing too exciting, but the post-production work with the visual effects is astounding and if you asked me, and of course you are, I think that it got robbed the Oscar in visual effects that year.

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Have fun with this movie. I did. I was very pleasantly surprised to see how much fun I had. It had some pretty likable trash indeed.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

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Director: Marc Webb

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field

Screenplay: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner

142 mins. Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence.

 

After the okay-ish 2012 release of The Amazing Spider-Man, I was uncertain if the franchise had the staying power after essentially remaking the original Spider-Man. Now, with this year’s sequel, is The Amazing Spider-Man 2 further proof? Find out now.

And, I should point out, Spoilers be warned for any and all plot points of previous films. I won’t ruin this one though, so feel free to read on.

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Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield, The Social Network, Never Let Me Go), still suffering from his failure to save Captain Stacy, is forced to juggle his role as Peter with his role as Spider-Man when new villain Electro (Jamie Foxx, Django Unchained, Annie) rises to power, literally. Peter’s problems only get greater as old friends and new enemies appear, all seemingly linked to the death of Peter’s parents (Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz) and his father’s connection to Oscorp. His relationship with the captain’s daughter Gwen (Emma Stone, The Help, Birdman) has progressed to a point where he must constantly fear for her safety. Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan, Chronicle, Life After Beth), an childhood friend of Peter’s shows up, wanting to cure a disease, but to do that, he needs too much from Spider-Man. Peter is further tested when his relationship with Aunt May (Sally Field, Forrest Gump, Lincoln) is strained by his hunt for the truth in his lineage.

This film dramatically improves on many of the faults and worries I had from the previous picture, while still having issues with pacing and tone. From a visual perspective, after 5 theatrical Spider-Man films, this one has a lot of nice work going on for us to watch. The camera knows when it has to focus and when it has to move. The effects are, in a word, stunning. I love the costumes here as well. For the fact that there are a lot of villains in this movie, each one, from the new to the recognizable, is an awesome costume which breathes life (or new life, in the case of one) into the characters. Garfield’s performance has improved as well. He isn’t as confused about where his character needs to be, emotionally, in each scene. Fresh faces Jamie Foxx and Paul Giamatti (Sideways, River of Fundament) as Alexsei Sytsevich, a russian gangster, provide something fun to play with. Foxx’s performance only kicks in as he becomes Electro, but when it does, he takes off.

I have to say this, the real win of this film is the mystery surrounding the deaths of Peter’s parents. This is something that we didn’t really have in the previous series, so it is a point that we as viewers didn’t feel like we had to compare.

The music choices surrounding Electro were interesting. Webb cast a musical group specifically for Foxx’s character, called the Magnificent Six. This works at times and fails as others. See what I meant by tone issues.

The ending is where this tonal confusion really gets notable. I won’t play with any reveals for you, but strictly speaking, things get much more serious than they have the entire film previously. So many important plot points jammed in there, and it just didn’t work.

Now, the open-ended set up for sequels worked fine, setting us up for a little Spider-Man Cinematic Universe feeling, and that excites me.

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I need to day that this film definitely isn’t the Spider-Man 2 we have seen before, and it isn’t as good as we deserved, but it is a ton of fun and a big step up from its immediate predecessor. Remember that, and enjoy yourself.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

So what did you think of The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Did you feel the electricity or was this a short circuit? Let me know!

 

For my review of The Amazing Spider-Man, click here.

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