Lightning Review: The Mummy (2017)

The Mummy (2017) movie posterSynopsis
Nick Morrison (Tom Cruise) and his friend Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) accidentally uncover the tomb of Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an ancient Egyptian princess who had been buried for fear of her supernatural powers. When Ahmanet’s powers begin to return, Nick is chosen to finish the ritual Ahmanet started before she was entombed and he is thrust into an unknown world of monsters and dark creatures.

Review
As a cinefile, it is usually very easy to say whether or not I liked a movie but sometimes it can be hard to determine the why. This is the case for me with The Mummy. On the surface, it has many elements that I like in a film. Tom Cruise brings excitement to the action scenes. Jake Johnson, one of my favorite actors from New Girl, is a good comedic relief character, even if he does seem slightly out of place. The gorgeous Sofia Boutella as the titular mummy has an air of terror around her and gives a horror factor to the movie. So there are all these film elements that I enjoy, so why didn’t I enjoy this one? Maybe the issue is that I didn’t know what kind of movie I was watching. There were action pieces, humorous moments, and horror situations. There were all of these components that I couldn’t figure out what this movie was trying to do. Was it trying to be exciting? Scary? Funny? Individually, these parts are good and enjoyable here but when put together, they lose their strength and make for an inconsistent experience.

I thought The Mummy was OK 😐 When I hear “The Mummy,” I always think of the 1999 Brendan Frasier version. What keeps bringing me back to that version is it is adventurous and fun and cheesy and it knows it and embraces it. This movie tries to incorporate some of that but also tries to go back to its horror roots of the 1930s original. The final product is a movie that doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to be and it hurts the overall experience.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Alex Kurtzman – Director / Story
David Koepp – Screenplay
Christopher McQuarrie – Screenplay
Dylan Kussman – Screenplay
Jon Spaihts – Story
Jenny Lumet – Story
Brian Tyler – Composer

Tom Cruise – Nick Morton
Annabelle Wallis – Jenny Halsey
Sofia Boutella – Ahmanet
Jake Johnson – Chris Vail
Russell Crowe – Dr. Henry Jekyll
Courtney B. Vance – Colonel Greenway
Marwan Kenzari – Malik

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Fast & Furious 6 Review

Fast & Furious 6 movie posterSynopsis
After their successful heist in Rio, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Mia (Jordana Brewster), Han (Sung Kang), Gisele (Gal Gadot), Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), and Tej (Ludacris), have all gone into hiding. Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is investigating the destruction of a Russian military convoy, brought down by Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Hobbs approaches Toretto and asks for his help. Dom initially refuses but reconsiders when Hobbs shows him a recent photo of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) , currently a member of Shaw’s crew.

Review
The Fast & Furious series has been an interesting one. It started out alright in The Fast and the Furious, then took a dive with 2 Fast 2 Furious, but has slowly grown in quality since Tokyo Drift, culminating in the fantastic Fast Five. Fast & Furious 6 maintains most of the elements that made Fast Five so entertaining while taking the franchise in a slightly new direction.

Most Fast & Furious movies have done well setting up the rest of the movie with the opening scene. This film starts with a montage consisting of scenes from every previous movie in the franchise. This does great to give you an idea of the history of the series, but also becomes more fitting as the movie goes on because every previous Fast & Furious movie is referenced. For those who have watched them all, it’s very gratifying. Even if you haven’t seen the other films, the story is still easily followed, you just won’t have the same rewarding experience.

Gibson has been the comedic relief of the series since he first appeared in 2 Fast 2 Furious. He had a few funny moments in Fast Five but mostly when he was bantering with Ludacris. However, he steals the spotlight this time around. He had many one-liners that were hilarious, particularly during the first half of the movie. Johnson was more humorous, too.  Johnson can be funny as long as he has someone to play off of, which was missing in Fast Five.  Now that he had Gibson opposite, he is much better.

For a series whose original premise was car racing and chases, Fast & Furious 6 has really moved away from that focus. There are still car chases (it wouldn’t be an action/Fast & Furious movie without them), but definitely fewer and more spaced out. The action is balanced between several types of action scenes, instead of mainly cars. Car sequences are used as a tool, rather than the central focus.

The climactic scene is one epic set piece. Few scenes come to mind that are as intense as cars chasing a plane on a runway while several fights are happening inside the plane’s cargo bay. On a side note, I know that movies tend to exaggerate, but if that runway existed in real life, I’m pretty sure it would have stretched from one end of Europe to the other.

Hobbs was such a great adversary for the gang in Fast Five. He had both the resources and stature to be a valid threat to the entire team, particularly Brian and Dominic. But as an ally, he doesn’t have the same appeal. It was great because Johnson and Gibson could riff off each other, but other than that, the character wasn’t as interesting when he is working with Dom and his crew rather than against them.

Fast & Furious 6 steps even further away from the series thin plot roots and offers a more character-centric story. Gibson shines as the comedic relief and Johnson’s humor is better since he can go back-and-forth with Gibson. Hobbs was much better against the team than with them. The final, climactic scene was one of the largest in recent memory and is an explosive ending befitting any great action movie. Fast & Furious 6 shows that it isn’t afraid to move away from the series simple origins and offers an experience unlike any in the series.

Rating
3.5/5

For the rest of the Fast & Furious franchise, check out my reviews for The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and Furious 7.

Fast Five Review

Fast Five movie posterSynopsis
After Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) break Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) out of a prison transport bus, they rendezvous with Vince (Matt Schulze) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There, they are hunted by Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), one of the FBI’s toughest agents. At the same time, the most ruthless crime lord in Rio, Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), is looking for Dom and Brian. In order to gain their freedom, they call in some old friends to pull of one last job: a heist worth $100 million.

Review
I was skeptical to see Fast Five. The previous movie, Fast & Furious, started to show the potential of what the series could be. It gave a shot of adrenaline into the franchise, so what I was interested in seeing was if this film could carry the momentum started in Fast & Furious. I’m glad I didn’t give up on the franchise after 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift, because Fast Five was more than I anticipated and kicked the franchise into a whole new level.

Dwayne Johnson is a strong addition to the cast. There is an underlying humor when he delivers his lines that makes it very enjoyable to watch him on screen.  However, he doesn’t have anyone to play off of like in some of his other movies, so some of playfulness fades quickly.  Hobbs as a character is a great adversary for the gang. He is physically strong and can match Dom punch for punch, and a federal agent, to make it personal against Brian. Add in Johnson’s wit and charm and you have one of the best antagonists in the series.

One of my favorite aspects of this film is how well the character relationships were displayed. The best moments were when Tej (Ludacris) and Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) were bantering. Tego (Tego Calderon) and Rico (Don Omar) had some great back-and-forth moments too.  What wasn’t explored that well were the relationships between characters that haven’t interacted before. Tej and Roman were together in 2 Fast 2 Furious, and Tego and Rico were part of Dom’s crew in Fast & Furious.  Other than when the entire group was together, characters from the different movies rarely interacted one-on-one.  I think this was a missed opportunity and could have made for some of the more interesting moments in the movie.

I think what really made this movie for me was that at Fast Five maintains the essence of The Fast and the Furious, but it is primarily a heist movie. In the end when they finally do the heist, it is probably one of the greatest robbery chase scenes I have seen. Dom and Brian are towing a vault behind their cars. It made for a wild ride and some pretty serious destruction.

Most of the more memorable characters from the previous Fast & Furious movies return in Fast Five. One of the characters who returned didn’t have much screen time and seemed to disappear during most of the movie just as quickly as they appeared. Then, they became a casualty to give the team some more motivation. It felt like the death was unnecessary. I loath when characters are killed off simply to give gravitas to the situation. The character could have remained alive without greatly affecting the story.

Fast Five continues the energy that began in Fast & Furious. Johnson is a great addition to the cast and offers up humor to the character and a great foe for Dom and Brian. The character relationships were fleshed out, but only among those who appeared together previously. Fast Five is a great heist movie, but at its core, it still has all the elements that made the original The Fast and the Furious so entertaining.

Rating
4.5/5

For the rest of the Fast & Furious franchise, check out my reviews for The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7.

 

Fast & Furious Review

Fast & Furious movie posterSynopsis
Five years after leaving Los Angeles, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is hiding in Panama City after his new crew, which included Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Han (Sung Kang), Leo Tego (Tego Calderon), Rico Santos (Don Omar), and Cara Mirtha (Mirtha Michelle), disbanded. However, when his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) tells him Letty has been murdered, he returns to LA to find the killer. Meanwhile, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), now an FBI Agent, is tracking down a mysterious drug lord known as Braga. Toretto’s and O’Conner’s searches bring them together once again as they travel to Mexico to bring down Braga.

Review
I have stopped having high hopes for the Fast and Furious franchise. The first movie was good, but the second and third installments I found lackluster. They had the cool car sequences that mad the The Fast and the Furious so enjoyable, but they lacked anything worth caring about. However, Fast & Furious looks like the franchise is back from its slump.

For one thing, there is an actual resemblance of a plot this time around. Although it is still just used as an excuse to show off fast cars and furious driving (heh, I made a funny), there was less focus on the cars and more on the characters. There were a few parts where I had to think about what was going on, something I didn’t expect I needed to do with this movie, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Fast & Furious goes back to its roots and begins with an exciting highway heist. This explosive opening set the tone for the rest of the film, just like in The Fast and the Furious. I think the absence of a thrilling starting sequence in 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift failed to set the tone they were looking for, so the expectations were set low early on. However, you know right away the mood for the rest of this film.

Brian O’Conner is the main focus of the movie. There is a lot more character work than I was expecting, which isn’t a bad thing. The film centers around the concept of is Brian a good guy disguised as a criminal or a criminal pretending to a good guy? It makes for an interesting dynamic in the film and is a much better character study for Brian than 2 Fast 2 Furious. Because there is more of a character focus, there aren’t as many car sequences as previous entries. There are still plenty, just not as much as frequent as before.

Fast & Furious brings the series out of its decline in quality. O’Conner’s character is at the center of the movie, which takes away from some of the action, but it’s a fair trade-off. An actual plot helps to set it above the previous films, and an exciting opening harkens back to the series’ past. The franchise is in good shape so long as it can continue the momentum started here.

Rating
3/5

For the rest of the Fast & Furious franchise, check out my reviews for The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7.

Lighting Review: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift movie posterSynopsis
After getting in trouble for street racing, Sean (Lucas Black) moves to Japan to live with his father (Brian Goodman). However, his obsession gets him involved with Tokyo’s underground world of drift racing. After getting horribly defeated by DK (Brian Tee), the best drifter in Tokyo, Han (Sung Kang) takes him under his wing and teaches Sean the art of drifting. He’s going to need all the help he can get when he falls for Neela (Nathalie Kelley), putting him in DK’s cross-hairs.

Review
After the dip in quality between The Fast and the Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious, I didn’t have high hopes for the series’ third outing. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift keeps with the quick action, great car sequences and shoddy acting. Honestly, I think my biggest problem with this movie is Lucas Black. He is monotonous and doesn’t show much emotion. The other actors, such as Sung Kang, Nathalie Kelley, and Brian Tee do much better, but when the lead actor is the weak link, your movie has a problem. The action sequences are still pretty good, especially a race throughout the streets of Tokyo between Han, Sean, and DK about two thirds through the film. It was refreshing to see a different setting, as well as a different style of racing. There is a cameo at the end that makes up for a lot of the missteps throughout the rest of the film. Tokyo Drift continues a series of fast action and thin plot, but has a different tone than previous entries, making it the most unique of the Fast and Furious films.

Rating
2.5/5

For the rest of the Fast & Furious franchise, check out my reviews for The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7.

2 Fast 2 Furious Review

2 Fast 2 Furious movie posterSynopsis
After the events of The Fast and the Furious, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) is on the run. He makes his way to Miami, where he makes friends with the street race organizer Tej (Ludacris), and fellow street racer Suki (Devon Aoki). Eventually, FBI Agent Bilkins (Thom Barry) finds and captures O’Conner and the two strike a deal: O’Conner must go back undercover and work with Customs agent Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes) to bring down the drug lord Carter Verone (Cole Hauser) in exchange for a clean record. In order to give his cover credibility, O’Conner gets the help of his childhood friend, ex-convict Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson).

Review
My expectations for 2 Fast 2 Furious weren’t that high. The Fast and the Furious was a fun film, but it’s focus on cars and the racing underground didn’t seem like it had the power to garner a strong follow up. Unfortunately, I was right. The result was a movie that attempted to develop the character of Brian O’Conner, but threw out any idea of a plot for fast cars and fast action.

As with The Fast and the Furious, the main focus of this film are the cars. Once again, there is an abundance of gorgeous cars. And there is a greater diversity than before, too. Not only are there compact cars, but there also are pick-ups and classic American muscle cars. It was enjoyable to see more variety.

In terms of acting, The Fast and the Furious didn’t set the bar very high. But 2 Fast 2 Furious doesn’t improve any, either. Paul Walker seems like he is trying to fit in somewhere he doesn’t belong. I just doesn’t work. Tyrese Gibson and Eva Mendes do well, even actually help Walker seem less awkward, but their performances are nowhere near their best.

I would say my least favorite aspect about this movie is the dialogue. It probably played a part in my feelings towards Walker’s character. He dropped “cuz” and “bro” way too often to feel natural. Most of the conversations between characters feel like they were written by a teenager. Only b-list monster movies have worse dialogue.

There isn’t much of a plot. Rather, there is the illusion of a plot in order to show off the nice cars. This is more of a cop drama and a character study for Brian O’Conner than anything else. However, the lack of a solid plot undermines any character development this movie is trying to accomplish. At some points, the plot doesn’t even make sense. This is a perfect example that sometimes it is better if you don’t think about it very much, nod your head and just go with it. It’s not like this film tries to be clever anyway.

2 Fast 2 Furious is a sequel that was not really needed. They took a movie that understood what it was and tried to make a follow up that ended up with an identity crisis. Some nice cars and quick action aren’t enough to make up for the mess created by some poor acting and weak dialogue.

Rating
2/5

For the rest of the Fast & Furious franchise, check out my reviews for The Fast and the Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7.