Monday, July 24, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok Trailer - Review and Reaction

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We have our latest trailer of the next Marvel Cinematic Universe offering - Thor: Ragnarok.

Taika Waititi (Boy, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) takes the directorial duties for the first time in MCU and looks to have done a great job. In addition to the  regulars (Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Jaimie Alexander, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson), we have a few newcomers: Cate Blanchett as Hela, Karl Urban  as Skurge and Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie.

Check out the trailer below:

The trailer succeeded in selling the movie as a colorful and fun joyride with characters we are familiar with. The color palette looks very similar to Guardians of the Galaxy. This is a movie I would spend money to watch in the theaters.

There is no grim mood or overly serious faced actors populating the screen. Plus the movie is shot in glorious colors that prevents the movie from being an eyesore. In short, this is NOT a DC Films movie.

Speaking of colors, the movie sports a strong hue of green. Hulk is not getting his standalone movie - Mark Ruffalo confirmed this recently. So Marvel Studios decided to make what should have been a solo Thor adventure into a Thor/Hulk buddy movie. Marvel Comics fan would be able to identify the “Planet Hulk” storyline. 

An animated movie of the same name was also released in 2010. That movie was fantastic and if this movie is even half as entertaining as the animated version, then Marvel has a huge winner on their hands.

Chris Hemsworth is his usual self as the never-too-serious but noble God of Thunder. Towards the end of the trailer, Thor looks like Raiden (with his white eyes) from the Mortal Kombat game. Raiden himself is based on Raijin, the Japanese God of Thunder.

Cate Blanchett seems to be having fun as the villain. And she has the reliable Karl Urban in sidekick mode. If this is not enough, Loki is back and this time Loki has not only applied his usual hair gel but also some kind of facial lotion that make his face look weird.

The movie introduces another character: Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson. Tessa shot to prominence after her performance in Creed. No doubt, Valkyrie will play an important part as the events unfold in the movie.

Yet another character of note is Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Though not featured in the trailer, I am sure he will make an appearance since his magical powers will fit in nicely within this universe of Gods and Monsters.

The special effects are done well. In a nutshell, this is the typical Marvel movie that respects the source material and gets the much deserved love from fans and critic alike.

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Image Sources: Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Justice League Comic Con Trailer - Review/Reaction

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Warner Bros. has released a sneak peek of the upcoming movie that unites the DC Comics superheroes.

Directed by Zack Snyder (Man of SteelBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), the movie stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa as  Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash and Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg.

Newcomers include Amber Heard as Mera, J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon and Kiersey Clemons as Iris West.

Check out the trailer below:

This trailer is not much of an improvement over the previous trailer that debuted a few months ago. Since then, we have had rumors about Ben Affleck wanting to leave the franchise completely. He has officially stepped down as the director and Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes) has taken over the duties. Zack Snyder lost his daughter and has moved away from the production.

Joss Whedon (Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Avengers) is currently overseeing the post production work and has also reportedly done extensive reshoots. Joss was originally hired by the studio to write, direct and produce Batgirl.

Snyder had already completed shooting by the time Whedon took over. We all know Snyder's capacity to deliver a good superhero movie based on his previous two attempts. Snyder's movies boast of great visuals (specifically 300) but severely lack good character development, plot and dialogues. This movie also looks to suffer from the same drawbacks.

The actors strike all types of action figure poses and give reaction shots. The comedy looks forced, which is a surprise given Whedon's natural talent for writing witty dialogues/quips in his movies especially The Avengers. But Even Whedon can only do so much with this sub-standard material that has been forced on him. 

The special effects in this trailer look better than what we saw in the earlier one. Still some do look like taken straight out of a video game. No wonder the movie characters are also two dimensional.

Perhaps, the future of DC Films lies in female superhero led movies. Wonder Woman has been a hit both critically and commercially. Provided the studio does not interfere too much, Whedon will knock it out of the park with Batgirl.

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Image Sources: DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Dune Entertainment (as RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC), Lensbern Productions, Warner Bros.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Mummy (2017) - Review

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The movie starts with a prologue set in England in 1127 A.D. -  A body is buried in a coffin along with a red gem/ruby/some sort of movie guffin.

To present day in England, these coffins have been discovered. Dr Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) gives us a quick rundown about Princess Ahmanat (Sofia Boutella), who is ruthless and beautiful. Ahmanat's dreams of succeeding her father on the throne are dashed when her mother gives birth to a boy. Ahmanat strikes a deal with Set, the God of Death. She kills her family members and is about to transfer Set's spirit into a human body when the process is interrupted. Ahmanat is mummified and then buried in then Mesopotamia (today known as Iraq).

We are then introduced to Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his friend/sidekick, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson). Nick and Chris specialize in stealing rare artifacts and selling them in the black market. But this time things take a bad turn and Nick and Chris are in mortal danger. Chris calls in an airstrike (much against Nick's wishes) and unwittingly sets in motion the chain of events that will change both of their lives forever.

The airstrike unearths the aforementioned tomb of Ahmanat. Turns out that Nick had stolen a map from Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), an archaeologist with whom he had an one night stand. Jenny is furious at the deception and further warns Nick to leave Ahmanat's coffin alone.

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Like any self-respecting and self-assured blockbuster movie male lead, Nick proceeds to ignore her and does the exact opposite. The next is the plane sequence featured in the trailer. Chris is bitten by a spider. If this had been a superhero movie, he would have become Spider-Man. But since this is a horror movie, he becomes the undead and is forcibly shot dead by Nick.

The plane crashes and Nick is killed. He wakes up in the mortuary and is surprised to see Chris walking around advising him. If this reminds you of the Max Landis werewolf classic (An American Werewolf in London), then you are a certifiable horror movie geek.


Jenny deduces that Ahmanat has chosen Nick for some specific purpose. Ahmanat is sucking the life force out of people and creating her own army of zombies. She also has mind control over Nick and almost captures him after an inane action sequence.

This is where we meet Dr Jekyll makes his re-entrance in the movie. His team rescues Nick and Jenny and captures Ahmanat. This is when the movie starts losing momentum. Crowe's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde brings the whole movie down. Crowe looks bored in the role and Hyde's “transformation” is so inane that it has to be seen to be believed.

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Universal Studios makes no pretensions about it's plans for a new movie franchise to rival that of Warner Bros. and Disney. But this would-be franchise starter is even worse than Man of Steel let alone be half as good as Iron Man. RDJ is perfect casting for Tony Stark and his alter ego. Henry Cavill is a bland Superman and an OK Clark Kent. But Cruise is thoroughly miscast in the role. He looks lost for the most part and his attempts at comedy fall flat.

Plus he looks too old to play the leading man. The makeup applied to make him look younger often distracts us from everything else on the screen. At 54, he is more than twice the age of his co-star Jake Johnson who plays his buddy character. Annabelle Wallis is 22 years younger than Cruise!

The movie is confused as to whether it is a Tom Cruise vehicle or is it a part of horror movie franchise. Director Alex Kurtzman seems to be part of the problem as Cruise seems to have had a free hand in the production. If this were Mission Impossible 6 or the next Jack Reacher movie, that would not be a problem. But a Mummy movie needs to be focussed on the Mummy. Brendan Fraser was able to do this successfully - he was a strong lead but at the same time did not hog all the limelight like Cruise does here.

The movie does not have fun factor of the Stephen Sommers/Brendan Fraser 1999 movie. Director Sommers made an enjoyable popcorn movie which I can rewatch any number of times. Unfortunately, sitting through this movie even once is a chore.

Rachel Weisz gave us one of the most memorable female leads in the form of Evelyn Carnahan. She also had a good chemistry with Fraser's Rick O'Connell. In this movie, Annabelle Wallis' character has no chemistry whatsoever with Cruise's Nick.

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Sofia does her best with a role that despite being titular is forced to play second fiddle to Tom Cruise.

Brian Tyler's score makes no impression at all. The action sequences are boring. We have seen similar scenes executed much better in other Tom Cruise movies.

Coming back to the plot of the movie, Cruise acquires superpowers of Set, destroys Ahmanat and rides into the desert with Chris. No one expects Cruise to leave this franchise anytime soon.

Only time will tell if the next movie will be a Wonder Woman and save this Dark Universe or will it be like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and sink the ship further.

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Image Sources: Universal Pictures, Dark Universe, Dentsu, Perfect World Pictures,  Sean Daniel Company, Secret Hideout