The Mummy – A Movie Review

I’m a sucker for the old Universal movie monsters.  I love them all.  When I heard Universal wanted to get into the shared universe game with their classic horror characters, I howled in delight.  They’re calling it Dark Universe and plan to release new, connected films featuring the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Van Helsing, Wolf Man, Bride of Frankenstein, Frankenstein, Dracula, the Invisible Man, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the Phantom of the Opera.

Their first outing?  The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise.

I had very serious concerns walking into The Mummy because it was not doing well at all on Rotten Tomatoes.  I tend not to put too much stock in reviews if I want to see the movie badly enough, but my concern regarded the future of my other Dark Universe movies.  I worried that if The Mummy floundered, Universal would abandon the Dark Universe initiative and I wouldn’t get to see my Invisible Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Bride of Frankenstein.  After all, this is exactly what happened with King Arthur: Legend Of the Sword.  (Yes, I’m still made about that.)

So here’s the thing, I saw it with three other guys, and we all liked it for various reasons.  Is it the greatest movie ever made?  No, not by a long shot.  But, it seemed like they put a lot of effort into it, Tom Cruise delivered a likable character, the special effects were cool, the action was great, and the movie generally entertained.  Yeah, there were a few plot holes.  Sure, parts of it we’ve seen before.  It even got a little confused at times as to whether it wanted to be a horror movie, a buddy action comedy, or a romance.  And the ending, well, somehow the ending came off both clichéd and vague.

But, like I said, it entertained throughout.  There were all kinds of visual hints and references to the other Universal monsters, and it actually had us chuckling more than we expected.  I would definitely consider it far more of an action thriller than a horror movie.  Cruise had great chemistry with his wingman in the film, Jake Johnson.

Tom Cruise played a man who is mostly a decent guy, but he’s also a little egocentric, a little bit of a thief, a little blockheaded, and, for quite a bit of the movie, very confused.  But, Cruise pulls all of this off with his usual charm and charisma.  And while there’s plenty of action, I wouldn’t call Cruise an action hero in this one.  He’s more often than not the victim of action and just trying to survive.

It was also a lot of fun to see Russell Crowe hamming it up as Dr. Jekyll.  He will supposedly be the connecting link between all Dark Universe films, and, like Cruise, he is a generally magnetic actor.  If you’re hoping for a Mr. Hyde appearance, by the way, you won’t be disappointed.  Of course, the transformation didn’t make a whole lot of sense.  We cracked a few jokes after the film about how he really needs to get one of the timers a lot of older folks use with their medicine, but that’s okay.

Actually, that’s my mantra for The Mummy — “That’s okay.”  I wasn’t expecting much, and it lived up to my expectations.  Were the female roles a little bland and shallow?  Yes.  Did the story itself never quite come together organically?  Yep.  Did parts of the movie look like they had been snatched right out of other films?  Absolutely.  Did the ending leave us generally confused?  Definitely.

But, even having said all of that, we had a great time.  We had fun.  Fun.  Let’s not disregard the importance of that word.  Sometimes we want to just go see a monster movie and have some fun.  That’s okay.

Cinderella Man – A Movie Review

When this film initially came out I thought it looked good, but it didn’t look good enough to spend my hard earned cash on.  I think this may have been the underlying problem when it came to this film’s promotion.  I now wish I’d trusted my instincts and gone to see this film on the big screen. 

Let me tell you this: If you decide to rent a movie soon, make it Cinderella Man.  I was blown away at the excellence of this film.  It’s the story of real life boxer James J. Braddock, a Depression era boxer who got a rare second chance at reaching the top of his profession.  James was a promising boxer in the late twenties, but when a string of losses occurred and the depression hit, he found he and his family living in a tiny apartment with no food and barely enough electricity.  But, James never gave up.  He kept his heart and his morals, and when his second chance came, he realized he wasn’t fighting for glory anymore, he was literally fighting for the milk his children so desperately needed to survive.  In his words, he now knew what he was fighting for.

Russell Crowe usually resembles something of a jerk in real life, but there is no denying this man is one of our greatest contemporary actors.  His Braddock is realistic and an everyman, and I dare all of you to resist cheering for him as he fights his way back to the top. 

Ron Howard, a man desperately underrated in my book, directs this film, and while it may not be well known amongst the masses of moviegoers, this film certainly deserves a best picture nomination, if not a win.

Renee Zellweger play Braddock’s wife, and she does an admirable job of it.  I had trouble buying her in this role, however.  She didn’t annoy me, but she just didn’t feel right.

Certainly the unsung hero of this film is Paul Giamatti who played Joe Gould, Braddock’s manager.  Like Braddock, he plays a man, a real man, and because he plays a real man with real ethics and loyalties, we can’t help but admire his heroicness.

The boxing scenes are realistic, not the sensationalized fair of Rocky, the tone of the Depression is spot on, and the acting and directing is superb.  This film will not disappoint.

3:10 to Yuma – A Movie Review

While the premise of this western is fairly straightforward, it is anything but simple thanks to two actors who give us their absolute best.

Russell Crowe, playing a role he was born for, is Ben Wade, a charming, debonair, magnetic thief and murderer.  Christian Bale plays Dan Evans, a dismembered Civil War veteran and small-time rancher on the verge of losing everything.  When the two men’s worlds collide, Bale has a chance at making some money if he can only get the captured Crowe on the 3:10 train to Yuma.

Though Crowe is technically the villain, you can’t help but root for him when he clashes with everyone but Bale, whose desperation to provide for his family and capture some self-respect in the process is heart breaking.  The audience can’t help but hope against hope that Bale becomes the man he so acutely wants to be.  At times it seems even Crowe’s character is rooting for Bale, thus making his role as “villain” all the more ambiguous. 

The sheer acting of these two men and the charisma they emit makes the movie speed along.  It has moments of terrible violence, light-hearted comedy, pure drama, and suspense that will make you feel as though someone is sitting on your heart. 

I completely recommend you watch this movie.  If you are a fan of westerns, Crowe, or Bale, you will not go disappointed, because 3:10 to Yuma is an example of the best of each.  If you’re a fan of none of those things, I dare you to check it out anyway, because I bet you’ll be won over by the time you’re finished.