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Tag Archive: Jake Johnson


Review by C.J. Bunce

If you try to get a modern generation of moviegoers to explore the entertainment of the past, you may learn quickly it often just doesn’t work out.  One of the entertainment realms of the past that successfully spanned multiple generations is the Universal Studios monster film series.  The “Universal Monsters” began in the 1920s and stretched into the 1950s, beginning with The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera and continuing on into the “modern” technology of 3D in 1954 with The Creature from the Black Lagoon (reviewed here previously at borg.com).  Kids who grew up in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s continued to watch and re-watch the film series years later.  As the horror genre is concerned, it doesn’t get more “classic” than the Universal Monsters.  Now that we’ve entered the month of Halloween, it’s time to start binge-watching the best of the horror genre, and for audiences of all ages the Universal Monsters is a good place to start.  But for the younger crowd not willing to go for the classics, especially black and white classics, you may want to give the new Universal Studios reboot a try–the new “Dark Universe.”  The introductory chapter to the Dark Universe, this summer’s The Mummy starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella, is now streaming on multiple platforms and available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD

The Mummy won’t be for everyone.  Purists loyal to the classic films are the first group that may not go for it–it doesn’t adhere very much by way look or feel to Boris Karloff’s 1932 original version, although the core concept is similar: resurrecting an ancient Egyptian royal entombed without being mummified, followed by a pursuit to resurrect The Entombed’s lover after The Entombed is brought back to life by an archaeologist.  The other group that may pass on the new film are fans of Universal’s more recent decade-long film series that originally starred Brandon Fraser and Rachel Weisz (and later Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), which spanned seven films in all and an animated television series between 1999 and 2008.  Ultimately the best audience for this year’s version of The Mummy will be audiences looking for a new film to rent or stream during this holiday season with a horror flavor.  The Mummy isn’t a romp like the recent film series or memorable like the original, but it is light as horror goes, full of action and plenty of monsters (actually zombies) without much actual gore, and overall it’s a fun way to step into the Halloween zone for general audiences.  And who doesn’t like a zombie movie?

The Mummy stars Tom Cruise as adventurer/soldier Nick Morton (along the lines of Matt Damon in The Great Wall) who, along with another soldier played by Jake Johnson (New Girl), tries to find buried treasure after Nick romances and steals a treasure map from an archaeologist named Dr. Jennifer Halsey, played by Annabelle Wallis (X-Men: First Class, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword).  Not among Cruise’s top films (see last week’s review here of American Made for that) fans of Cruise movies will still find this in the realm of his Mission: Impossible roles.  The mummy of the title is a woman in this incarnation of the horror tale, Princess Ahmanet, played by Sofia Boutella, in a performance that becomes the best aspect of the film.  As with her several recent performances (Atomic Blonde, Star Trek Beyond, Kingsman: The Secret Service), it’s always exciting to see Boutella immerse herself into a role.  The actress who gained early fame as a dancer in Madonna and Michael Jackson music videos seems to easily take on the physical coordination required for this first monster of the Dark Universe.  One of Ahmanet’s powers is raising the dead into zombie defenders, and in several key action sequences the film becomes a full-scale zombie horror flick.  The zombie factor, plus big-budget production value and stars Cruise and Boutella may be enough to satisfy a broader audience’s desire for something new this Halloween.

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We’re at the beginning of something potentially exciting for moviegoers.  The release of the new Universal Pictures movie The Mummy is just the beginning.  Instead of rebooting or adding another sequel to the trilogy of movies from the most recent Universal series titled The Mummy beginning back in 1999, Universal is taking the lead of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and creating a new franchise of interconnected movies.  Beginning this year with The Mummy co-starring Star Trek Beyond’s Sofia Boutella, Tom Cruise, and Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll, the classic “Universal Monsters” will be resurrected (literally and figuratively), including Frankenstein’s monster, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, and Bride of Frankenstein.  Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll represents the first step in that crossover networking of characters across movies that Marvel does so well.

Cruise and Crowe are bringing the star power to ignite this franchise, with Boutella, the latest and greatest kickass action heroine actress, playing a role that evokes for us the power and energy of the DC Comics character Enchantress (who appeared as the villain in last year’s Suicide Squad).   In the latest trailer for the film, released this week, Cruise is clearly in his signature Mission Impossible mode, and the entire trailer has a Raiders of the Lost Ark vibe.  The movie has received buzz for Cruise continuing to rack up performances doing his own stunts, this time in an actual Zero G environment for the airplane attack scenes.

Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, known for rebooting and remaking anything and everything they can get theirs hands on, are part of the team putting this new universe together.  Kurtzman will direct The Mummy.  Speaking of the Marvel universe, the music for the film will be created by Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: The Dark World, and Iron Man 3 composer Brian Tyler, also known for music in several franchises including The Expendables, Now You See Me, Fast and the Furious, and Final Destination series, plus Rambo, Sleepy Hollow, Aliens v. Predator, and Star Trek Enterprise. 

Check out the new trailer for The Mummy:

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mummy-boutella

The release of Universal Pictures new movie The Mummy is already off to a bumpy start, with its release date already bumped a few times.  Instead of a reboot or sequel to the trilogy of movies from the most recent Universal series titled The Mummy beginning in 1999, Universal is branching out to have a go at something like Marvel Comics and DC Comics franchises of sprawling films.  The classic “Universal Monsters” will be resurrected (literally and figuratively), including Frankenstein’s monster, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, and Bride of Frankenstein.  The go-to producer team for every genre remake these days–Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, is being tapped to put this new universe together.  Kurtzman will direct The Mummy.

Tom Cruise headlines the new film in his next Mission Impossible-style action role, along with Russell Crowe, whose role sounds even more interesting.  He will play Dr. Jekyll.  Star Trek Beyond star Sofia Boutella is the mummy of the title.  The movie co-stars Annabelle Wallis (X-Men: First Class), Jake Johnson (New Girl, Jurassic World), and Courtney B. Vance (The Hunt for Red October, Terminator Genisys).

the-mummy-reboot-poster

Sean Daniel, who produced the most recent Mummy trilogy, is also a producer on the reboot movie.

Check out the above poster released this week, and this first teaser for The Mummy:

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Sphere car

Review by C.J. Bunce

In simplest terms, Jurassic World is simple entertainment on a big scale–a feast for the eyes.  But for all its incredible special effects and fantastic futuristic technology, Jurassic World proves the maxim George Lucas laid out in reference to the success behind the original Star Wars–“Special effects are a tool, a means of telling a story… A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.”  And that sums up Jurassic World, as a film and a 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD, and digital release–the umpmillionth variation on the Frankenstein how-not-to-build-a-monster story, and the latest twist on Michael Crichton’s original look at a theme park gone bad in his movie Westworld.

Touted in its marketing as the #1 movie of the year, and proven out at the box office, in many way Jurassic World is a remake and certainly an homage to the original Jurassic Park.  More than twenty years after the devastation caused in Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully realized, fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by Richard Attenborough’s John Hammond.  You’ll experience deja vu several times as these new characters, and one from the original, fail to learn the lessons of history.  Didn’t the production team watch The Lost World (Jurassic Park II) and Jurassic Park III?  The new theme park is built over the old park where so much went wrong and so many died, including leaving the original park all derelict and intact as it was in the last scene of the original movie, including leaving old Jurassic Park jeeps around for a modern, distracted teenager to magically restore to driving condition in a single scene.  Dinosaur battle shots mirror those from the original, including the finale, although despite new technology the dinosaurs don’t seem as “real” here.  Jurassic World seems to repeatedly search for a scene to match that “objects in mirror are closer than they appear” scene in the original.  Michael Giacchino’s score misses the wonder and excitement of John Williams’s original themes.  Although the effort is there, no single scene in Jurassic World captures the startling jumps and wows of Jurassic Park.

JW blu-ray 3d

With four script/story writers for Jurassic World, it’s obvious why the story failed to deliver.  Although we note above that George Lucas knows storytelling, he is also now famous for the stilted dialogue of his Star Wars prequels.  The story team in Jurassic World offers up similarly strange words from the mouths of its actors–things no one would possibly say.  And we can’t believe these dinosaur monsters are scary when the cast bounces back from each near-death experience so quickly.  Even the worst of the characters, the youngest boy (who is a walking disaster) seems barely affected by the death going on around him for half the film.

The real conflicts within the script can be found in the strange parallels and inconsistencies.  For one, director Colin Trevorrow has been quoted as saying his inspiration for the film was an image of a little girl texting in front of a T-Rex behind her.  The corporate bad guy theme that underlies the plot is that no one cares about dinosaurs anymore, they are old news, and audiences needs something bigger and better.  You can just see Trevorrow and executive producer Steven Spielberg laughing all the way to the bank over the irony here.  The message, as delivered in the climax, is “bigger isn’t always better” and that often the original, the classic, offers up the best experience.  Yet Jurassic World hammers into us the over-sized fantasies of Godzilla and King Kong instead of the science-fictional world that made a success of Jurassic Park.

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