Category Archives: 51-60%

Guardians (2017)

“Squad of Soviet Superheroes”

Directed by Sarik Anreasyan
Starring Sebastien Sisak, Sanzhar Madiyev, Anton Pampushnyy, Alina Lanina, Valeriya Shkirando, Stanislav Shirin. Vyacheslav Razbegaev

When Soviet scientist August Kuratov (Shirin) is passed over in favour of a more successful colleague, he steals that colleague’s supersoldier research and uses it on human subjects while also continuing his own project, Module-1, a sort of universal control for all machines. Decades later, he steals a set of military robots and unveils an army of clones, prompting the Russian military to task Major Elena Larina (Shrikando) with assembling the nigh-immortal subjects of his experiments under the umbrella of ‘Project Patriot’ to hunt him down.

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Tomb Raider (2018)

“Her Legend Begins”

Directed by Roar Uthaug
Starring Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu and Kristin Scott Thomas

Following the disappearance of Lord Richard Croft (West), his daughter Lara (Vikander) scrapes a living as a bike courier, since claiming her inheritance would involve legally recognising his death. Given a puzzle box by his lawyer (a wasted Derek Jacobi), she follows a trail of clues to a secret room under the family crypt, and a message from her father. After her mother’s death, he went all Arthur Conan Doyle and searched the world for evidence of the supernatural and life after death, leading at last to the Mother of Deaths.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017)

In a flip of the usual, the UK title is lame.

“All Pirates Must Die”

Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg
Starring Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally

Henry Turner (Thwaites) is obsessed with saving his father from the curse of The Flying Dutchman. Carina Smyth (Scodelario) is obsessed with uncovering the location of the Trident of Poseidon to validate her faith in the father who abandoned her as a baby, with nought but a diary to her name. As the trident can raise any curse of the sea, these two quests coincide, but not before Henry has run afoul of the British, and of the spectral pirate-hunter Salazar (Bardem), who sends him out with a message to Jack Sparrow (Depp) that he will be coming for him when his curse breaks, which, despite the fact that Salazar has been champing at the bit for this for decades, happens almost immediately.

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

“A universe without boundaries needs heroes without limits.”

Directed by Luc Besson
Starring Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer

A paradisiacal world of blue-skinned, pearl-fishing humanoids is destroyed by a rain of destroyed spaceships, but their princess is able to send a telepathic message which reaches Valerian (DeHaan), a happy-go-lucky agent of the United Human Federation with serious boundary issues, as seen in his relationship with his professional partner Laureline (Delevingne). He also appears to have some concentration problems, blowing an undercover op when two of the blue people show up while he is retrieving a Mul converter – an organism which replicates matter, and was native to the planet he dreamed he saw destroyed – from a black market trader.

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King Kong Escapes (1967)

“Two King Kongs Fight to the Death!”

Directed by Ishiro Honda
Starring Akira Takarada, Rhodes Reason, Mie Hama, Linda Miller, Hideyo Amamoto

Do you know what I haven’t had in a while? A proper bad movie night. Well, that’s what I could have answered yesterday.

UN Kongologists Carl Nelson (Reason) and Jiro Nomra (Takadara) are exploring the waters near Kong’s home on Mondo Island (Skull Island’s post-rebrand nomenclature, I guess,) in a submarine, accompanied by ship’s nurse Susan Watson (Miller). Meanwhile, the diabolical Dr Who (Amamoto) is building a robot Kong based on research stolen from Nelson, bankrolled by a never-specified Asian state which is represented by rubbish secret agent Madame X (Hama, whose character is apparently also known as Madame Piranha), who want him to use the robot to dig up a vast quantity of Element X to kickstart their nuclear programme.

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The Dark Tower (2017)

“There are other worlds than these.”

Directed by Nikolaj Arcel
Starring Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Claudia Kim, Fran Kranz, Abbey Lee, Jackie Earle Haley

Troubled New York teen, Jake Chambers (Taylor), dreams of a strange pyramid, where teenagers from a weird little model suburbia deal are used to power Starkiller Base and attack the colossal Dark Tower. Convinced that his dreams are true, Jake flees from representatives of a sleep clinic and finds his way to an abandoned house with an interdimensional portal in the basement. This catapults him from Keystone Earth to Mid-World, and into the conflict between Jerkass-Good last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Elba), and the Affable-Evil immortal devil sorcerer Walter Padick (McConaughey), aka the Man in Black.

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Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)

“For one world to live, the other must die.”

Directed by Michael Bay
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Laura Haddock, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Hopkins, Santiago Cabrera and Peter Cullen

In the wayback, King Arthur and his knights triumph over the Saxon hordes when the ‘wizard’ Merlin (Stanley Tucci) brings a group of twelve Autobots to join them in the form of King Gidhora.

Yep. That just happened.

Centuries later, Optimus Prime (Cullen) is drawn back to Cybertron, where his mission to destroy his creator is interrupted as Quintessa (Gemma Chan), self-styled ‘goddess of life’, delivers the bitch-slap of obedience and tasks Prime to retrieve her staff of power, given to Merlin long ago.

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Rebourne: The Mummy (2017)

“Welcome to a New World of Gods and Monsters”

Directed by Alex Kurtzman
Starring Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Russell Crowe

The Original

Boris Karlof. Not an Egyptian.

The first Mummy movie – and, as the original Universal Mummy, the direct ancestor of this current version – was The Mummy (1932), starring Boris Karloff as Imhotep, an Egyptian priest, mummified alive for the blasphemy of trying to restore his girlfriend Ankh-es-en-amon. Restored to life by someone carelessly reading aloud from a scroll, Imhotep seeks forthe reincarnation of his love, intending to kill and mummify her, so that Ankh-es-en-amon can be returned as an immortal mummy. In the nick of time, the girl in question remembers enough of her past life to call on Isis, whose statue ends Imhotep’s unlife with a god laser to the magic scroll.

There have been roughly a shit-tonne of mummy movies since, including a Hammer Horror series, beginning with The Mummy in 1959 which featured Christopher Lee as the title character, Kharis.

Ladies.

The Hammer series wrapped up with Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb in 1971, a rather histrionic adaptation of Bram Stoker’s ‘Jewel of the Seven Stars’ which featured a rare instance of a female Mummy (Valerie Leon).

The next major entry – as opposed to direct to video efforts – was Stephen Somers The Mummy, a 1999 super-loose remake of the 1932 film, but bigger, dumber and just… a whole lot of fun. Featuring Brendan Fraser as adventurer Rick O’Connell and Rachael Weisz as librarian Evelyn Carnahan, this version was a rollicking adventure with an emotionally tough heroine who displayed genuine agency. It was followed by the vastly inferior The Mummy Returns (2001) and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), which had an interesting idea, but poor execution and a marked lack of Weisz (Maria Bello stepping into the role with an iffy accent.) It also span off the Scorpion King series, so there’s that to thank it for.

Not going to lie to you; I missed these guys.

The Remake

The new version is the first film in the ‘Dark Universe’, Universal’s somewhat delayed (Dracula Untold was intneded to be the first, but has since been detached from the franchise) attempt to get on the expanded universe gravy train.

In 1197, a group of crusader knights bury their comrade with a significant red gem. In the present day, the tomb is discovered by Crossrail excavation and taken over by a mysterious group of archaeologists in black, led by a man we will later learn to be Dr Henry Jekyll (Crowe), who proceeds to translate and narrate the story of Ahmanet (Boutella), an Egyptian princess of the New Kingdom who responded to being disinherited in favour of her infant brother by murdering her father, stepmother and the baby after making a pact to bring the god Set into the world. Prevented from completing the ritual, she is mummified alive and buried far from Egypt.

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Allegiant (2016)

Sure glad this poster doesn't make our action heroine look passive.
Sure glad this poster doesn’t make our action heroine look passive.

“Break the Boundaries of Your World”

Directed by Robert Schwenke
Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Zoë Kravitz, Maggie Q, Bill Skarsgård, Octavia Spencer and Naomi Watts

Having overthrown the fiendish academic oligarchy of Jeanine in Divergent and Insurgent, Tris (Woodley) and Four (James) find the city in the grip of a mania for frontier justice led by Four’s figuratively trigger-happy mother, Evelyn (Watts) and her literally trigger-happy goon Edgar (Jonny Weston), and opposed by almost-literal Earth mother Johanna (Spencer). Instead of signing on with the new order or attempting to moderate it, they opt to break out of the walled city of Chicago to accept the invitation left for them in the Divergent Box.

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London Has Fallen (2016)

london_has_fallen_ver7

“Prepare for Bloody Hell!” (Because that’s how the British swear, you see.)

Directed by Babak Najafi
Starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman and Alon Moni Aboutboul

After well-meaning, but entirely inept Western intelligence agencies drone-strike a wedding based on a single, uncoded text message and somehow spectacularly fail to kill any of their actual targets – arms dealer Aarmir Bakawi (Aboutboul) and his sons – Bakawi launches a spectacularly audacious plan for revenge which appears to begin with either infiltrating or radicalising the Coldstream Guards (should have pushed that Prevent training, Lieutenant General Sir James Bucknall, KCB, CBE) and coordinating a series of dazzlingly precise bombings and shootings during the State funeral of the surreptitiously assassinated British Prime Minister. Fortunately, US President Benjamin Asher (Eckhart) has nails hard one-man-army and not-at-all-a-Scot, Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Butler) at his side.

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