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Tag: Tom Cruise

News

Was It Really That Bad? The Mummy (2017)

October 28, 2019

In the wake of the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, studios saw the huge amounts of money it was making, then went through their back catalogues to see what they could make their own shared universe out of. Soon, everyone had a shared universe. The MCU, The DCEU, the Monsterverse, and The Dark Universe.

The Dark Universe was to feature characters from Universal’s classic library of monsters, such as the Frankenstein, the Invisible Man and the Creature From the Black Lagoon. The first entry was The Mummy (After a failed start in 2014). It is also the only entry to have been released. 5.5 IMDb rating too harsh? Grab your map, get your notebook and ask whether The Mummy was really that bad…

“A new world of Gods and monsters”

Sofia Boutella is excellent as the Mummy, both in performance and design. (Universal, 2017)

This version of the Mummy switches out Brendan Fraiser for Tom Cruise, which, while not a bad thing on paper, turns this from a fun Indiana Jones- lite adventure flick, into Mission Impossible: Ancient Egypt. Cruise is playing Tom Cruise and all of the charm that comes with it. His character is amusingly outmatched, ill-prepared and mostly disinterested in the history and lore the film attempts to set up.

Sofia Boutella is also great as the eponymous mummy, and gives a stellar performance despite all the prosthetics and dodgy CGI surrounding her. Cast after her role in Kingsman, she is clearly the star of the show here. It’s a genuine shame she is sidelined as much as she is.

The rest of the supporting cast doesn’t really make much of an impression. Even Russel Crowe, as Dr Jekyll (yes that one) looks like he’s confused and bored by most of the exposition he gives. Crowe’s character is arguably the biggest problem, as his character bears little weight on the actual story, and exists simply to set up other films. What Marvel did in a post credits scene is instead done halfway through the action. It’s almost the cinematic equivalent of pausing the film, looking up the next few films, then pressing play again.

“Where’s your sense of adventure?”

's
Tom Cruise defines this film, in both a good and bad way (Universal, 2017)

The Mummy could be a solid, if generic, action flick. Some of the set pieces, including the infamous plane scene featured in the trailer, are genuinely impressive. But as reviewers have pointed out, the film is largely too unfocused, not knowing what it wants to be. Forcing it to rely on Cruise’s star power and the faint promise of more to come.

As some more generous reviews point out, there are some good points. The film sets up the protagonists as morally ambiguous originally, with no one entirely trusting each other, but this never really goes anywhere.

The film is largely a Frankenstein of several different ideas wrapped together. It’s horror routes are acknowledged, but not present enough to actually scare. It’s not as campy as the 90’s version, but the action is serviceable if uninspired.

Really That Bad? Yes

Cruise is game as always, and The Mummy herself is great, but there’s nothing here that is particularly memorable or noteworthy. The whole thing just feels rather soulless. It’s best ideas are used either in the first thirty minutes or not explored enough.

Also Read: Was It Really That Bad? Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

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Editorials

Your Favourite Movies DeepFaked

September 21, 2019
The Shining DeepFake

It’s likely you’ve heard the term “deepfake” if you’re keeping up with the latest advances in digital wizardry. The idea is basically photoshopping someone’s face onto another person, by using a computer to scan and map their faces on top of the other. Sounds like something out of science fiction! It has many scary “fake news” applications already, but like most things, it can be used for good as well as evil. Well, maybe not good, but fun and entertaining at least. Like the Chinese app Zao, which allows anyone to upload their face onto a clip from a film or TV show. Here are some of the most interesting deepfakes of famous faces, as well as the reasons behind them.

Spider-Man – Tobey Maguire as Tom Holland/ Tom Holland as Tobey Maguire

Spider-Man has appeared on our screens several times since his big-screen debut in 2002. During that time the franchise has been rebooted twice, with a possible third on the horizon. Each reboot brings with it a different take on the character, as well as a new actor suiting up as the hero. These two videos place Tom Holland’s youthful, cheerful, Peter Parker in Spider-Man 3 with the black suit and New Goblin drama. Meanwhile, Tobey Maguire battles the Elementals and meets Mysterio. Maybe this is all just one big Mysterio illusion?

Tobey Maguire as Tom Holland (Credit: Aldo Jones)
Tom Holland as Tobey Maguire (Credit: Aldo Jones)

The Matrix – Will Smith as Neo

One of the most famous Hollywood “what if’s” is Will Smith as Neo in The Matrix and it’s sequels. Smith was approached for the role before Keanu Reeves, but he turned it down, after not understanding the pitch. He went on to make Wild Wild West, which was critically panned. Smith has gone on record saying it was a mistake, but also that he “would have ruined it” and that Reeves and Laurence Fishburne “killed it”.

Will Smith as Neo (Credit: Sham00k)

The Shining – Jim Carrey as Jack Torrance

The Shining is regarded as one of the greatest horror films of all time and Jack Nicholson’s performance is one of the reasons why, along with Stanley Kubrick’s direction, of course. Author Stephen King infamously disagreed with the casting, wanting more of an “everyman” quality to make his descent more disturbing. But if the film were made in the 90’s, who would have been cast? It’s impossible to know for sure, but this deepfake is a compelling case for Jim Carrey to take over the role, maybe if Nicholson doesn’t want to do any flashbacks for Doctor Sleep?

Jim Carrey as Jack Torrance (Credit: Crtl Shift Face)

Terminator 2 – Sylvester Stallone as the Terminator

Another film full of great casting “what if’s” is The Terminator. The studio originally wanted Arnie for the role of Kyle Reese. Which in turn meant someone else was needed for the killing machine, who could outmatch Arnie himself. Some of the studio’s choices were Mel Gibson, O.J Simpson (who they struggled to see as a killer) and Sylester Stallone. Obviously things changed and Schwarzenegger was cast in the title role, but for those wondering what Sly would have looked like as another famous 80’s killing machine, it might have looked something like this.

Sylvester Stallone as the Terminator (Credit: Crtl Shift Face)

Iron Man – Tom Cruise as Tony Stark

While nowadays it is almost impossible to imagine anyone else in the role other than Robert Downey Jr. For several years, rumours persisted that Tom Cruise came close to playing the role. Cruise was apparently “not close” to playing the character and “can’t imagine anyone else in that role” just like the rest of us. Putting an end to the rumours hasn’t stopped the internet though and this deepfake goes one step further, with a very convincing impression to offer us a look at this alternate casting.

Tom Cruise as Ironman (Credit: Collider Videos)

Bonus – Nicholas Cage as… Everyone

Arguably one of the first viral attempts at deepfakes involves Nicholas Cage and casting him as.. well any role you can think of. The Oscar winner has certainly proved he has range throughout his actual career, but these edits go the extra mile, putting him in several iconic roles, including Tyler Durden, Neo and Thanos.

Nicholas Caged deepfaked (Credit: Derpfaked)

Also Read: Breaking Through The Box Office

Reviews

Retro Review: Eyes Wide Shut

April 17, 2019

Stanley Kubrick is one of the most revered film directors of all time. His films were championed as art which displayed the power of cinema. And many are held as some of the greatest movies ever. However, his final film Eyes Wide Shut has often slipped through the cracks.

Many critics were left disappointed when the film came out. Which is understandable. When the film was released Kubrick hadn’t made a film in 12 years. And with his great track record, many were probably expecting a masterpiece. With such high expectations, it’s understandable why the film didn’t fare well upon initial viewing. But with the film celebrating it’s 20th Anniversary this year, today we will be looking back to see if Eyes Wide Shut deserves its reputation as Stanley Kubrick’s worst film.

The Story

Bill (Tom Cruise) and Alice Harford (Nicole Kidman) are a well-regarded New York City couple. Bill has a good job as a doctor, the couple has a child together and is very active in high society. But after a series of intimate flirtations with other people at a Christmas party, they begin to have doubts about how secure their relationship is.

After Alice admits to having sexual fantasies about another man, Bill embarks on an odyssey around New York to find out more about himself. His curiosity leads him to several encounters that will test his commitment to his relationship. Eventually causing him to cross paths with a secret society who don’t take kindly to strangers.

What did I like?

If you are a fan of cinema Eyes Wide Shut delivers something truly unique. It uses its basis as an erotic thriller to ask some interesting questions about relationships. What does marriage mean to people? Is it possible to truly know someone? And does true love really exist? And these interesting thematic points are accompanied and conveyed through great performances and a confident script.

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s performances are some of both actor’s best work. They have fantastic chemistry, which makes the films questions about relationships more impactful because theirs feels so genuine. They were of course dating at the time. Tom Cruise being Hollywood’s go to charming leads makes Bill easy to like. But he’s equally effective when the film shifts and shows him in more vulnerable or compromising positions. And he makes each character shift work by wholly committing to the emotion required from the role. And Kidman shows her strong dramatic capabilities and how committed she can be. She’s willing to commit to nudity and brings dramatic weight to her simplest actions. The scene where she and Cruise discuss their relationship is incredibly powerful, because of her performance. And all the supporting performers although given limited screen time, manage to make their characters feel like fully rounded people.

The script is also one of Kubrick’s best. It creates a seamless world that blends both the real and surreal perfectly. The dialogue between the characters all feels natural. It doesn’t seem pretentious or forced. It feels like these are characters voicing their opinions, and aren’t just actors reciting dialogue. Even the exposition, although there can sometimes be a lot, fits what the characters are going through. And it allows room for interpretation, with so much being left unexplained for the audience to interpret. While also being a complete narrative. With all of the major characters arcs completed in a natural way.

And the cinematography is some of the best of Kubrick’s career. Cinematographer Larry Smith makes every scene look like a painting come to life. The colourful lighting and smooth tracking shots make the film a joy to look at. And he creates a palpable atmosphere through adding a haziness to many of the shots. Making the film feel like a dream. Which makes the more surreal frightening parts of the film all the more plausible.

But there are still elements that may bother viewers especially those unfamiliar with Kubrick’s work.

What did I not like?

Firstly, the slow pace that favours character interaction, mood and visual metaphors over an efficient, traditional narrative can make the film a chore for people simply wanting to watch a story unfold rather than trying to decode what the movie means. Many will also be dissatisfied with the directions the story takes. The payoffs to many of the story’s arcs happen off-screen and are explained away in dialogue or favour intimate images over big spectacle, which can make some audience members feel cheated.

The direction doesn’t help. Kubrick’s films often lack intimacy. Favouring wider shots over close-ups and cold/washed out colours, which keeps the audience at a distance and inspires a depressing feeling. Coupled with the actors slower, more methodical delivery, this can make the film seem stagey and un-real. Which may keep you from becoming engaged with the drama.

Alternately there are times when some might feel that the movie is patronizing them. Some scenes literally vomit dialogue about what has occurred. Which is necessary for the characters but not for the audience. The pool scene being the worst offender.

Finally, it is easy to see some take against the portrayal of women in the film. Many may feel the film paints all women as being obsessed with sex and are portrayed in an enticing way for the male viewer. Which is not an inaccurate conclusion. Though it is worth pointing out that the film does hold Bill’s character accountable for his chauvinist views. And many of the films male characters are controlling, manipulative and driven by self-interest (though they have significantly less nude scenes).

Verdict  

Twenty years after it’s release, it’s easy to see why some audiences took against Eyes Wide Shut. Because it favours atmosphere over tight narrative structure. Goes in directions that many may not expect. While also offering up a possibly unflattering view of women and to those unfamiliar with Kubrick’s style it can seem alienating and hard to read.

However to those looking for something different or are familiar with the directors work the film delivers a one of a kind experience. It asks big philosophical questions in a way that allows the audience to think and come up with their own conclusions while still functioning as complete narrative. The characters are memorable and interesting. All of the actors commit themselves in ways that are very admirable and play to and against their strengths. And the film is a feast for the eyes with a vibrant colour scheme that attracts and repels at the same time.

It’s a hard nut to crack. But once you have, it is a rewarding experience and a worthy swan song for one of cinemas greatest voices.

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Reviews

Review: Mission Impossible Fallout [Spoiler Free]

August 15, 2018
Mission Impossible Fallout

Mission Impossible Fallout is the best film in the series, and one of Tom Cruise’s best movies to date.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be.

Cruise is famed for his unrelenting desire to perform many of his own stunts on set, most of which would be highly dangerous for even the most capable stuntman. The Mission Impossible series has seen the American actor free-climb a cliff face in Utah, scale the tallest building in the world, and cling to the outside of a plane during takeoff. And Fallout is no exception, featuring (among others) a halo jump from 25,000 feet and a breathtaking motorcycle chase through the streets of Paris.

The scale of these stunts, along with the general cinematic ambition displayed throughout the series, have catapulted almost all of the MI films to the top of the must-see action movie list (almost all, because MI:2 isn’t great). And they simply keep getting better.

Another impossible mission

 

Fallout picks up two years after the events of Rogue Nation and the capture of antagonist Solomon Lane. Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is tasked with intercepting three stolen plutonium cores before the ‘Apostles’ (a new terrorist organisation reformed from Lane’s ‘Syndicate’) can sell them to the mysterious fundamentalist John Lark. However, things don’t go according to plan, and Hunt is forced to team up with the CIA to retrieve the plutonium before it can be used to power nuclear weaponry in the hands of the Apostles.

Plot-wise, that’s all you need to know, from this review anyway. The resulting narrative takes Hunt and fellow long-standing agents Benji and Luther (Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames) on a non-stop thrill ride from Paris to London and eventually to Kashmir, where the dramatic finale takes place. For me, the most interesting location used in the film is Belfast (more of a cameo that was probably shot on a sound stage, in all honesty) as I live just outside of it, though I doubt anyone else will be quite as impressed!

Keeping pace with Tom Cruise

 

The film is directed impeccably by Christopher McQuarrie (also responsible for Rogue Nation) and he does an astounding job here. I was struck by how effectively McQuarrie balances the pace of the film with its huge action sequences – at no point do you find yourself glancing at your watch wondering when a section of dialogue will pass, or puzzling over a missed plot point in a confusingly-overstuffed action scene. Hunt is on a journey – a very fast one with bullets, fist-fights and explosions – but the audience is right there with him every step of the way, even as Tom Cruise, a man in his mid-fifties, sprints across London rooftops and leaps over gaps between buildings (yes, he did it for real, and yes, he did break his ankle doing it, for real). It has a 147-minute runtime and it feels like half that.

Familiar faces

 

The casting in the movie is solid. It’s great to see Pegg and Rhames back in their supporting comedic roles (very measured, of course), as well as Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Monaghan and Alec Baldwin. Henry Cavill is a suitable if a slightly-wooden-at-times addition to the cast and Sean Harris is a thoroughly sinister foil to Cruise’s protagonist. Cruise is, of course, charismatic in the extreme, and continues to be the reason why these movies endure. Mission Impossible wouldn’t be the same without him, and will certainly lack some appeal when a studio inevitably reboots it sometime down the line.

The bottom line

 

I’ve very little to say about Fallout that isn’t positive. I loved every second of it, more so than all of the previous instalments, which were themselves fantastic. I don’t know if Cruise will want to carry on for a seventh movie in the franchise, or if McQuarrie will return for a third go, but I’ll be first in line at the box office if they do.

Go see Mission Impossible Fallout on the biggest screen available while you still can.

Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)