“The Mummy”

Studios are banking off of the MCU with their own movie universes. First, Warner Bros started the DCEU and then the Monster Universe shortly after. Now Universal has started the Dark Universe with “The Mummy” as their first installment. I’ll stick to the 1999 Brendan Fraser version, thank you.

U.S. Military officer Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), his partner Chris (Jake Johnson), and archeologist Jennifer Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) discover a secret tomb in Iraq. When they bring the mummified corpse of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) back with them, they unintentionally unleash hell on earth as Ahmanet comes to life and goes on a rampage. Nick, however, discovers he might be the only thing that can stop Ahmanet.

I’m a Tom Cruise fan and was intrigued after learning he was starring in “The Mummy.” Partially because it’s his first horror film (if you can call it horror) and partially because I wanted to see what death-defying stunt Cruise was going to perform next. Aside from a terrific plane crash sequence and an insane bus stunt, the action is lackluster.

“The Mummy” is 107 minutes of Tom Cruise running and screaming, Jake Johnson yelling, “I’m gonna die,” Russell Crowe delivering exposition-fueled monologues, and Annabelle Wallis playing damsel-in-distress. This results in a rather dull summer movie. I wanted to like “The Mummy,” but I found it underwhelming.

Sofia Boutella is a talented actress, but she’s underused in her role as Ahmanet. She isn’t terrifying or menacing (Arnold Vosloo is superior in the 1999 “Mummy”) and has little to do, despite wearing wicked makeup. In terms of villains, Crowe’s Henry Jekyll steals a few scenes.

Watching Cruise and Crowe banter is one of the movie’s few treats. Cruise’s boyish charm perfectly matches Crowe’s stern, deadpan delivery. They both are clearly trying and easily carry the movie, despite the weak script.

The script suffers from some serious tone inconsistencies. We get some darkly hilarious hallucination sequences reminiscent of “An American Werewolf in London,” but they don’t mash well with lame jump scares or the movie’s adventure tone. Also, it’s insulting that the movie’s six screenwriters don’t trust the viewers enough to figure things out for themselves.

“I drove back to her,” Cruise says as he obviously drives back to Boutella, attempting a getaway.

I’m a fan of the classic Universal monsters, but this is a disappointing start. Hopefully they find their footing in future installments.

Grade: C-

Top 10 Hated Movies

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So, I learned recently that everyone was curious what my favorite hated movies were. Man, I had to think about this long and hard because I rarely find a movie that I hate. Let the comments and backlash begin because here are my top 10 favorite hated movies!

SOME SPOILERS REGARDING ENTRIES.

10) Pacific Rim (2013) – People were expecting more depth to Pacific Rim, given Guillermo Del Toro matched style with substance in Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). They didn’t want cheese action movie one-liners or cliched voiceover narrations, but have they seen giant monster movies? Monster movies are meant to be cheesy and Del Toro embraces the cheese factor, delivering one badass and visually stunning monster movie. Seriously, why was The Lone Ranger (2013) nominated for visual effects and not this?

9) Funny People (2009) – With Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen acting alongside each other in a movie about stand-up comedy, there was hype. Audiences were ultimately disappointed when they got a drama about a cancer-diagnosed narcissist; the 2 1/12 hour-running time didn’t help either. This is Adam Sandler’s last good movie and one of his best. Yeah, there are times it feels like we’re watching Adam Sandler, but we’re mostly watching a guy who doesn’t know how to be a good person. Judd Apatow also wrote the script as a tribute to his and Sandler’s friendship, resulting in a very personal movie.

8) Licence to Kill (1989) – Back then, no one liked the gritty and realistic Bond movies because of how unconventional and hapless they were. Licence to Kill is no exception, as we follow the polarizing Timothy Dalton seeking revenge against a drug cartel for maiming his best friend. This is one of the best Bond movies because he doesn’t rely on gadgets or liaisons. He relies on his wit and charm, going undercover as an assassin for Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi), the cartel leader. Also, that final showdown between the two shows how capably ruthless Bond is, which is the best kind of Bond.

7) Vanilla Sky (2001) – Everyone saw Vanilla Sky because it had Tom Cruise, but it left critics and audiences shrugging their shoulders. Guys, Vanilla Sky is fantastic. Cruise delivers one of his most convincing performances as a playboy who loses his mind, Cameron Diaz gives her best performance as Cruise’s stalker, and the surreal imagery, soundtrack, and Sci-Fi twist result in one crazy nightmarish experience.

6) Titan AE (2000) – Titan AE bombed in the box office and critics felt the story of an orphan searching for his lost father in the galaxy was too generic. Well, duh! Star Wars made that plot generic. But between the traditional animation blended with CG and the Dredge aliens’ design, it’s quite an experience. Plus this movie has a lot of heart, which is hard to find in genre movies these days.

5) Shutter Island (2010) – I remember posting my praise for Shutter Island on Facebook after seeing it in theaters and how everyone was telling me I was wrong. Either horror fans were disappointed in the slow-burn character study, or Scorsese fans felt it was too conventional and predictable for a Martin Scorsese picture. For me, it’s all about how you interpret the ending. If Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) was crazy all along, then yeah, that’s a let-down and cliched ending. But what if he was sane and the hospital staff manipulated him, then it’s quite a mind-trip.

4) The Cable Guy (1996) – I hope people still don’t think The Cable Guy killed Jim Carrey’s career. If anything, this movie showed Carrey had range! The Cable Guy was misunderstood due to its dark tone, mean-spirited nature, and Carrey playing a psycho stalker. The main issue was it was ahead of its time. Carrey is brilliantly creepy and darkly funny as the titular character, combining meta humor with pop culture references and physical comedy. Also, the satirical subplot with Ben Stiller as the celebrity accused of murdering his twin brother that everyone is watching on TV: genius.

3) The Fountain (2006) – Critics laughed at The Fountain, finding it pretentious. Audiences said aloud, “What the hell?” The Fountain is unrestrained at times (especially in its last twenty minutes), but the anthology of a man (Hugh Jackman) searching for immortality through three life spans kept me intrigued until the end. Especially with Present Jackman and Future Jackman’s stories because we get the impression they’re the same person. If you like hard sci-fi like I do, give The Fountain a shot.

2) Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom (1984) – I find it hard to believe people rank Crystal Skull over Temple of Doom. Yes, Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) is a terrible and sexist character, Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan) is a caricature, but he’s still a badass sidekick, all things considered! Driving Indiana Jones out of gunfire? Saving him from possession? Also, Temple of Doom has a more grounded story than Crystal Skull and doesn’t feel like a cop-out in its revelation like Crystal Skull. Plus the tunnel chase and bridge showdown are still thrilling today as they were when I was six!

1)  Watchmen (2009) – Too violent? Too long? Too faithful to the comic? Well, Alan Moore’s classic graphic novel is a dark and epic tale that demands length and faithfulness in an on-screen adaptation. Zack Snyder reaches Kubrick levels of showmanship with his cinematography, fight scenes, and music choices. The opening credits is still one of the best opening credits sequences to date, and almost every cast choice (excluding Matthew Goode) was perfect, especially Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach.

Honorable mentions: Prometheus (2012), Tomorrowland (2015), Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990), Starship Troopers (1997).

I know you’re all wondering now what acclaimed movies I disliked. Well, stay tuned for my top ten overrated movies!

Top 5 Summer Movies of 2015

I’ll keep this very brief, but here are my picks for the top 5 summer movies of this year.

5) Jurassic World – I know a lot of people disagree with me here, but it’s two hours of nostalgia at its finest. Funny and suspenseful, Jurassic World keeps me invested as a fan of the Jurassic Park franchise.

4) Trainwreck – I’ll ask this – why hadn’t I heard of Amy Schumer before seeing Trainwreck?! She’s fucking brilliant!

3) Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – Tom Cruise hangs on the side of a plane, nearly drowns, crashes a car, and chases bad guys in a high speed motorcycle chase in the best installment of the franchise.

2) Inside Out – You know you found a special animated film that depicts the highs and lows of growing up while paying tribute to abstract art and disaster movies.

1) Mad Max: Fury Road – It’s the action movie no one expected to like then went back to see it three more times! Why? Because it’s a groundbreaking, beautiful, and thrilling spectacle.

Where’s my worst? Well, it’s no competition with “Fant4stic”, ladies and gents!

“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”

Tom Cruise is a maniac. Does he have a death wish when he swims under water for several minutes with no oxygen tank? Is he trying to gain attention by hanging on the side of a flying cargo plane? All I know is I respect the crap out of him for his commitment to his work; especially in the “Mission: Impossible” movies.

“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” is the fifth installment in the “M:I” franchise and has Cruise returning as Ethan Hunt, alongside Jeremy Renner’s Brandt, Simon Pegg’s Benji, and Ving Rhames’s Luther. The plot is fairly similar to the first and fourth installments since Hunt and his team are evading officials while tracking down a terrorist organization known as The Syndicate.

I’m a big fan of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise and grew up watching these movies. I watched “Mission: Impossible” (1996) several times when I was a kid, “Mission: Impossible 2” (2000) is a stupid-yet-enjoyable sequel, “Mission: Impossible III” (2006) is the best revenge spy thriller since “License to Kill” (1989), and “Ghost Protocol” (2011) is a brilliant spectacle piece that had audiences taking Tom Cruise seriously again. Cruise once again proves in “Rogue Nation” why he’s one of the best action stars of all time.

Cruise keeps us on the edge of our seats between his aerobics, stunt driving, fight sequences, and his motorcycle chase. We all know about that now iconic plane stunt from the trailers, but the best part is, that’s not even the BEST action sequence! I won’t tell you what is because it’s too hard to choose!

The film is also suspenseful without action sequences and at times feels like the first “M:I” movie as characters betray each other, and bypass high-tech security systems. Remember that scene in this year’s spy tribute “Kingsman” where Colin Firth and Samuel L Jackson discuss spy movies? Where Firth says the old spy movies had sillier far-fetched plots while the newer ones are more serious? “Rogue Nation” is equally measured in silliness and intensity.

We also get dramatic scene-stealing work from Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson is the strongest female character we’ve gotten in this series as a femme-fatale rogue operative, and Sean Harris (one of the dummies who gets killed in the cave scene in “Prometheus” (2012)) plays a subtle and menacing villain.

I recommend everyone should see “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” if they like action-packed sequels that nearly outdo their predecessors.

Grade: A