"Wonder Woman" broke records last week and blazed a new path forward for the super-hero genre, on its way to over 100 million at the domestic box office. Will the new Tom Cruise led "The Mummy" remake have the same sort of success? It is this weekend's widest new release, but not its only one: Kate Mara stars in the title role of "Megan Leavey," a film about a military woman and her combat dog, and the new horror/thriller "It Comes At Night" opens as well.
So what did we think of all of these new releases? Here are reviews for the films opening on Friday, June 9:
"The Mummy" has been getting an early pounding from critics, with a pretty stinky 17% "Fresh" rating on RottenTomatoes.com at the time of this writing. Other than its title, it shares no other connection to the recent "Mummy" movies, that starred Brendan Fraser and that were overall, pretty well-received by critics and movie-goers alike. This newest version acts as a "kick-off" to Universal Pictures' "Dark Universe" franchise, which is their attempt at "world-building" a movie franchise in the style of the connected Marvel and DC Universes of recent years. The idea reeks of commercialism - a choice that clearly is centered more around making money than on artistic merit - and there are several more big-budget "Dark Universe" pictures in the works that look to duse off the archived monsters that have been stowed away in the back of the Universal library. Yes, The Invisible Man, Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, and more...all of these monsters are on the docket for remakes in the coming years, to exist in a connected movie universe (one can only hope that these all lead into a rebooted "Monster Squad" flick at some point).
But back to "The Mummy" for a moment: Don't believe the hype. It's not a ground-breaking, earth-shattering introduction to this new monster-movie universe, but there's no denying Tom Cruise's star power. He does a great job of quipping his way through this film about ancient Gods and curses that smartly doesn't take itself too seriously. Russell Crowe shows up in an interesting role (that will likely act as a bridge between films) and there are some nice action pieces here, namely a plane crash that is as good as anything a "Mission Impossible" movie might throw at us. Sure there is a lot of hokey stuff that goes on here, and not everything makes sense, but this film does something that many recent big-budget movies have failed to do: It has fun. Isn't that all we can ask of a movie such as this? Critics aren't wrong in pointing out its many flaws, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested and curious as to what the Dark Universe might become. Grade: B-.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy. Run Time: 1 hour 50 minutes. Rated PG-13. Starring: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance. Directed by Alex Kurtzman ("People Like Us").
“It Comes At Night”
"Krisha" was writer/director Trey Edwards Shults' first film, and to say it was an impressive debut would be to sell him short. "Krisha" was probably the best movie that you never heard of last year, but it made critics take notice, and anxiously anticipate hiw follow-up film. Well, it is here and it seems to arrive with an air of disappointment...maybe because of the high expectations placed on it but maybe also because its just not a complete film. The movie is "It Comes At Night," a horror movie that is the kind of horror movie that goes for more of an eery feel than it does flat-out scares...although it has a few of those as well. Joel Edgerton lives in the woods with his wife (Carmen Ejogo) and her son (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and right away we know something is very, very wrong. The grandfather looks to have some sort of disease, and the family says their good-byes to him while wearing gas masks...he is then dragged out to the woods and shot, before being thrown in a hole. Wow. Yes, it is some sort of post-apocalyptic future where some disease - or some thing - seems to have infected much of the world. Edgerton and his family are waiting it out in the woods, but when they come across another family (with a dad played by the wonderful Christopher Abbott), everything is thrown out of whack. Shults brought tension and purpose to every frame of "Krisha," but here its as if he didn't know wherer to end up. The movie just...ends...and the mysteries he had weaved just don't pay-off. Still, the film is an effective example of how to build mood...and it will keep you uneasy and on the edge of your seat throughout. Grade: B-.
Genre: Horror, Mystery. Run Time: 1 hour 31 minutes. Rated R. Starring: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough, Kelvin Harrison Jr. Written and Directed by Trey Edward Shults ("Krisha").
"Megan Leavey" is based on the real-life Marine corporal who befriends and bonds with a mility dog, Rex, while in Iraq. Kate Mara stars in the title role, and while obviously taking nothing away from the US Marines, or even dog-lovers everywhere, this movie lacks bite. Mara gives a good performance of a socially-awkward girl who enlists and then finds her way to Rex, before being separated from him and discharged. It succeeds in pointing out that there is more than just one species that sacrifices their lives for a greater good. Rex is undoubtedly a war hero and the bond between human and animal is real. Anybody who owns a pet - let alone goes through combat with one - can attest to this. But Hollywood is still searching for the definitive "human/dog bonding" movie, and to say that "Megan Leavey" is leaps and bounds better than this year's earlier effort, "A Dog's Purpose," isn't really saying all that much. It is a giant step forward from that film, but Leavey - and Mara - are just plopped into a thinly-sketched world...nobody other than the title character feels real, and many, like Edie Falco as Leavey's self-absorbed mother, are sadly one note. Mix that in with Leavey's stand-off-ish persona, and the result is a hero whose bond we can respect, but whose story in this film just falls flat. This take on her tale would be unispired for even a TV-movie, let alone a big-screen treatment. What a dog. Grade: C.
Genre: Biography, Drama, War. Run Time: 1 hour 56 minutes. Rated PG-13. Starring: Kate Mara, Ramon Rodriguez, Edie Falco, Common, Bradley Whitford. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite ("Blackfish").
All of these movies open locally on Friday, June 9, 2017 (check for show times).
Next week reviews include: "Cars 3" and "All Eyez On Me."