Directed by Nick Park Starring Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams and Timothy Spall
Somewhere around about the dawn of time, the meteor that killed the dinosaurs also carved out a sheltered, fertile valley, where a Stone Age tribe modestly prospered until the ruthless Lord Nooth (Hiddleston) and his Francophone, Bronze Age cohorts arrive to kick the out and mine the valley for bronze. Most of the tribe, led by their Chief, Bobnar (Spall), slope off into the volcanic badlands, but young Dug (Redmayne) follows the invaders to their city, where he challenges their champion football team, Real Bronzio, for the future of the valley.
This is a film about PT Barnum, with apparently no tagline; this feels wrong.
Directed by Michael Gracey Starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya
Tailor’s boy Phineas Barnum (Jackman, once he grows up) sets out into the world to make a fortune, so that he can support his childhood sweetheart Charity (Williams) in the manner to which, as the daughter of a great family, she is accustomed. After years of struggle and with two lively daughters to support, Barnum parlays a gift for flim flam into a museum of curiosities, which becomes a huge success after he hits on the idea of including a show featuring living, human ‘oddities’.
Directed by Armando Iannucci Starring Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Olga Kurylenko, Rupert Friend, Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin, Andrea Riseborough, Jeffrey Tambor
In 1953, an angry letter from concert pianist Maria Yudina (Kurylenko) precipitates a seizure in Soviet leader Josef Stalin (Adrian Mcloughlin). His sudden incapacity and death leaves a vacuum at the top of the party, with reformer Nikita Khrushchev (Buscemi) and secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria (Beale) courting favour with his deputy Georgy Malenkov (Tambor), and his most popular child, Svetlana (Riseborough).
Directed by Alex Kurtzman Starring Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Russell Crowe
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.
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.
The new version is the first film in the ‘Dark Universe’, Universal’s somewhat delayed (DraculaUntold 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.
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley
In Ancient Egypt, Pharaoh Seti I (Turturro) sends his son Ramses (Edgerton) and foster son Moses (Bale) to destroy a Hittite army massing near the border. In the battle, Moses saves Ramses’ life, completing the first part of a pre-battle prophecy that ‘a leader will be saved, and the saviour will one day lead’. Moses later visits the Hebrew slave works under Viceroy Ambiguously Queer Hedonist Scumbag (Mendelsohn; the character has a name, but names are actually pretty hard to come by in this film), and there learns from one of the elders (Kingsley) that he is in fact the child of a slave, floated down river during a cull of the slave population (and by ‘floated downstream’, I mean literally walked downriver into the hands of a childless princess by his sister.)
“1700 years to build. 5500 miles long. What were they trying to keep out?”
Directed by Zhang Yimou Starring Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau
In the 11th century, a band of mercenaries including the English (Irish? I’m not sure what he’s going for) William (Damon) and the Spanish (they keep referring to Spain, despite being some centuries before the formation of said Kingdom) Tovar (Pascal), is whittled down by bandits and finally all but the last two are killed by a beast which William kills, cutting off its clawed and scaled arm. Fleeing bandit reinforcements, the pair are suddenly faced with the Great Wall and its defenders, the Nameless Order, who ponder the possibility of killing them until they learn that he slew a ‘Tao Tei’ single handed.
Directed by Justin Kurzel Starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling and Michael K. Williams
In 15th century Spain, a group of Assassins set out to protect the son of the last Sultan of Granada, in order to prevent Torquemada, Grand Master of the Spanish Inquisition, extorting from the Sultan the Apple of Eden, which contains the genetic blueprint for free will. As their meeting is interrupted by the neighbours’ garage band rehearsing, we jump to 1986, where adventurous (we know this because he’s practicing some daredevil shit on his BMX) Callum Lynch finds that his father (Brian Gleeson) has murdered his mother. He flees as be-sunglassed goons converge on their home, and in 2016 is in prison awaiting execution.
We’re about five minutes in and we’ve already covered about five centuries.
Directed by Patrick Tatopoulos Starring Michael Sheen, Rhona Mitra and Bill Nighy
In ye olde Transylwherever (I’d say at least five centuries south of Captain Kronos, but it’s hard to say for sure,) the war between the savage werewolves and the corsetry-pioneering vampires wages on, despite the captivity of William, the first werewolf. Then the birth of an apparently human child to a captive werewolf leads to the creation of a new breed of immortal; the shapeshifting werewolves known as Lycans.
Directed by David Yates Starring Alexander Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Djimon Hounsou and Christoph Waltz
In order to gain access to the diamond mines of Opar and save his King from bankruptcy, ruthless Belgian civil servant Leon Rom (Waltz) promises to deliver the title card to Mbonga (Hounsou), chief of the Leopard Men. Rom arranges for the Earl of Greystoke and former Tarzan (Skarsgard) to be invited to visit the Congo. Greystoke is all ‘whatevs’, but US attache George Washington Williams (Jackson) persuades him to go in order to root out Belgium’s double-secret slave trade, and his wife Jane (Robbie) insists on coming along to visit old friends.
Directed by Peter Sohn Starring Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Sam Elliot, Frances McDormand and Jeffrey Wright
65 million years after a giant asteroid doesn’t hit the Earth, a family of apatosaurus headed by Ida (McDormand) and Henry (Wright) work a small family farmstead with Flintstones-style technology. Their smallest child is Arlo (Ochoa), a runt with out-sized feet, and Henry asks him to protect the grain silo from ‘critters’ to earn a sense of self-esteem. When he takes pity on the critter – a young caveboy (Bright) – Henry is killed in a flood when they pursue the boy.