2017 Summer Movie Review: The Mummy

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Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) unveils something evil in the reboot of The Mummy. (Source: IMDb_

The Mummy has been around for a long time. Boris Karloff played the titular character in 1932, and became one of the most memorable horror movie villains. In 1999, it rebooted as a straight-up action-fantasy-thriller starring Brendan Fraser as the cocky hero embarking on a journey to rid the curse of an Egyptian tomb, while two sequels followed after that. Today, The Mummy is rebooted again as the first installment of a new cinematic universe featuring the Universal monsters. The “Dark Universe” is going to feature the Bride of Frankenstein, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Invisible Man, Van Helsing and Dracula, and the Wolf Man.

In the latest reimagining, The Mummy is a female instead of male. With Tom Cruise doing what he does best, he cannot save this shallow dud of a movie.

Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) is a soldier-of-fortune looking for ancient artifacts to sell at a black market. In Iraq, he and his friend Chris Vail (Jake Johnson, who plays one of the most annoying characters in cinema) discovers a tomb of an Egyptian princess. Her name is Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who is betrayed by the Pharaoh and is buried alive. Thousands of years later, her spirit returns with a vengeance. After surviving from a plane crash (don’t ask), Nick wakes up in a London morgue, and learns that he is cursed by the princess (again, don’t ask). Along with archeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis, Annabelle), Nick must “outwit” Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe), and rid Ahmanet’s curse once and for all.

Cruise has starred in some bland movies. However, this is the first movie of his I genuinely hate. Along with director Alex Kurtzman and screenwriters David Koepp and Christopher McQuarrie, the movie is fascinating within the first thirty minutes explaining the backstory of Ahmanet (which makes the audience ask more questions). Then, it all goes downhill with Cruise and the gang wrapped in (no pun intended) a ridiculous script with plot holes big enough to ride a bus through. None of the characters have any charisma whatsoever; making it damn near impossible to care on what’s going to happen next. While the humor feels forced and the movie takes itself so seriously, it does have its fair share of unintentionally goofy moments. For instance, whenever Nick and the Mummy go head-to-head, she would smack him upside the head and send him flying. And also, Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll (horribly miscast, by the way) must have been added in the movie as a build-up to a possible standalone film in the franchise. This is not a good start for the Dark Universe. I highly doubt it will get better in the future.

1/4

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2015 Summer Movie Review: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) rides a motorcycle again in "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation"

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) rides a motorcycle again in “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”

In 1996, an action hero has been introduced. His name is Ethan Hunt. An agent working for the IMF (Impossible Mission Force); going on one impossible mission after the next. Each mission has been fun despite hitting a few bumps in the road. In Mission: Impossible, he’s a slick, sophisticated agent. Hunt gives a different side in Mission: Impossible II as more of a James Bond playboy. Then he goes back to being the cool agent as he ever was. In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, he takes part of the most impossible mission of his career.

There is an international threat called the Syndicate. A network of highly skilled operatives setting terrorist attacks who intend to take down the IMF. Meanwhile, CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) stands in front of the judge to disband the IMF. Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team – old pal Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), field agent Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) – join forces with agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) who may or may not be on Syndicate’s side. Their mission – which they accept – is to take down the Syndicate.

Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher, writer of Edge of Tomorrow) provides enough laughs, action, thrills, and exposition into this incredibly ambitious flick. Like before, the movie shows how hard the mission is with things going wrong in the process.

Cruise embraces the action movie role. If you thought Tom Cruise climbing the Burj Khalifa in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was insane, he does plenty more death-defying stunts in Rogue Nation. At one point, Hunt is hanging on the side of cargo plane (which took eight takes). The next point he is swimming underwater – in a quiet and terrifying sequence – without an oxygen tank. He and Dunn drive through Casablanca from motorcyclists. With surprises along the way, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation puts you on the edge of your seat until the very end. Pitch-perfect summer movie entertainment!

4/4

Movie Review: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) climbs the tallest building in the world in "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol". Yes, Tom Cruise did his own stunts.

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) climbs the tallest building in the world in “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”. Yes, Tom Cruise did his own stunts.

Brad Bird, known for his work for The Incredibles and Ratatouille, gives an impressive live-action debut with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. He literally brings the series to a whole new level.

After escaping from a Moscow prison, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) joins his new team of IMF agents – field agent Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), and agent Jane Carter (Paula Patton) – to stop Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), a Swedish nuclear activist. They enter the Kremlin. Hunt and Dunn hide behind a projector in a hallway to find the archives of Hendricks. Halfway through the mission, a bomb destroys the Kremlin. Hunt is accused of the attack. The President initiates “Ghost Protocol”, which allows the IMF to be disavowed. In order to clear their name, they must track down Hendricks to prevent him from starting a nuclear war.

Out of all of the movies, Ghost Protocol is easily the funniest, the most exciting, and the most entertaining. The scenes in which Hunt climbs the Burj Khalifa (“Your line’s not long enough!” “No shit!”) and chases Hendricks through a sandstorm are action-movie gold. It’s insane how Tom Cruise can do what no other actor can do: performing stunts. Throughout the series, Cruise performed most, if not, all of his own stunts. He’s probably the best action hero. His chemistry with his teammates are excellent, especially with Simon Pegg who have some really funny parts together. The characters have some great back-stories.

This movie actually proves how impossible the mission can be. For instance, when Hunt wears a special type of gloves that can stick to any surface. When the light shines blue, it sticks (Blue = Glue; Red = Dead). His gloves start to malfunction. It makes the scene all the more suspenseful. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is, in my opinion, the best of the series.

4/4

Movie Review: Mission: Impossible III

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Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team in “Mission: Impossible III”

Now we’re back on the right track with Mission: Impossible III. J.J. Abrams brings the series back into its full glory with actual spy stuff.

Retired from the IMF, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is now married to Julia (Michelle Monaghan). However, he gets assigned by John Musgrave (Billy Crudup) to save IMF trainee Lindsey Ferris (Keri Russell). She has been kidnapped by an evil arms dealer named Owen Davien (the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Once Ethan and his team – his old pal Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), Declan Gormley (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Zhen Lei (Maggie Q) – save Lindsey, a tiny bomb that is implanted into her skull detonates. When the team abducts Davien in the Vatican, he mentions a nuclear device called the Rabbit’s Foot. Then, Davien escapes and captures Julia, which leads them all the way to Shanghai. For his theatrical debut, Abrams knows what made Mission: Impossible a great movie. Ethan Hunt, again wonderfully played by Cruise, going back to be the spy he used to be, not a 007-esque playboy. Hoffman is an excellent villain, even though there is minimal background of his character. The action, especially on the bridge, is suspenseful. Everything looks real. The series seems to be getting better and better!

3.5/4

Movie Review: Mission: Impossible II

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) rides through the flames in "Mission: Impossible II"

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) rides through the flames in “Mission: Impossible II”

Take out the brains, the mystery, the wit. And add in some over-the-top fun. You get Mission: Impossible II, directed by John Woo.

We introduce Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) rock climbing in Utah. His mission is to destroy a deadly virus called “Chimera”. Meanwhile, a group of terrorists led by Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) are after the virus so they can get rich for infecting the world. He relies on his fellow hacker Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and international thief Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton) for help. Since there is a cure called “Bellerophon”, Hunt must get rid of “Chimera”. All this leads to an awesome action-packed finale. Mission: Impossible II isn’t necessarily a spy film rather than a straight-forward action flick. This is definitely a John Woo movie. We have slow-mos, doves, and handguns. This is also more of a James Bond movie. Instead of a slick, sophisticated spy, Ethan Hunt is more of a playboy. There are times where the movie becomes too silly. Nevertheless, it’s a fun movie.

3/4

Movie Review: Mission: Impossible

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) breaks into the vault in

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) breaks into the vault in “Mission: Impossible”

One of the rarest qualities in any summer blockbuster is to allow the audience used their brains. That is the case for Brian De Palma’s 1996 adaptation of the TV show Mission: Impossible. Tom Cruise stars in a compelling performance as Ethan Hunt, a sophisticated spy for the IMF (Impossible Mission Force). He and his fellow teammates are assigned by Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) to retrieve a cover list in Prague. The mission goes horribly wrong. Ethan goes on the run as a fugitive, and he gets help from computer hacker Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and helicopter pilot Franz Kreiger (Jean Reno) to prove his innocence. As he goes on this seemingly impossible mission, mysteries behind the failed mission begin to unravel. Featuring exciting missions, great action (the scene on top of the train), and excellent performances, Mission: Impossible might be too complex. But it’s still a fun ride. That scene in the vault of the CIA building is freaking tense!

3.5/4

2014 Summer Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise goes through a time-loop in "Edge of Tomorrow"

Tom Cruise goes through a time-loop in “Edge of Tomorrow”

Edge of Tomorrow made it to the silver screen on June 6th. In this case marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day, which is very fitting. Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) captures the year’s most gripping action set piece as a metaphor for the attack on Normandy. Both of them taking place on a beach with enemies on different sides, and fighting until one is left standing. That’s only the beginning about this year’s best action film.

Based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel All You Need is Kill, the movie takes place in the not-too-distant future where aliens (known as Mimics) are at war against humanity. Every military unit has been trying to fight them off for five years. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is summoned to London to meet up with General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson). Brigham forces him to be with the military unit after showing him a map in which the Mimics are invading Europe.

Cage is sent to the base where he will deploy the following morning. With absolutely no combat experience, Cage must follow  to follow orders by Sgt. Farell (Bill Paxton). When he lands on beach, he gets killed within minutes. He wakes up at the same place, the same day, and the same time. Realizing he is caught in a time-loop, Cage gets help from Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a Special Forces warrior, to increase his combat skills and therefore saving humanity for good.

Even though it has a similar concept to Groundhog Day, screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie uses it in a different approach. Thus, making Edge of Tomorrow complex, smart, action-packed, and surprisingly funny at times. Of course, it might sound like the perfect concept for a video game; not to mention the movie’s tagline (“Live. Die. Repeat”). I forgive McQuarrie because that’s what makes the movie fun. With a complex story featuring impressive effects (i.e. the Mimics), it’s fair to pay full attention to what’s going on while Cage is in a time-loop. Even how Liman sums the story up is quite satisfying.

Almost hitting the age of 52, Tom Cruise can succeed in portraying just about anybody. In his career, he has played a vampire, a secret agent, a rock star, and a man with an older autistic brother. There is one gifted talent that he can do that most actors cannot; that is to perform his own stunts. Whether if it’s rock climbing in Utah or climbing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Cruise can literally push the boundaries. In Edge of Tomorrow, he never seems to run out of breath with co-stars Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton (up to par with R. Lee Ermey from Full Metal Jacket), and Brendan Gleeson. This is one of 2014’s best films.

4/4