Tag Archives: mythaken identity

Gods of Egypt (2016)

What's a Stargate?
What’s a Stargate?

“The Battle for Eternity Begins”

Directed by Alex Proyas
Starring Nikolaj Coster-Walder, Gerard Butler, Brendon Thwaites, Elodie Yung, Chadwick Boseman, Courtney Eaton, Rufus Sewell and Geoffrey Rush

In Ancient Egypt, the gods live alongside humanity, but a little above, being as they are about twelve feet tall. When beloved commie monarch Osiris (Bryan Brown) retires and passes the crown to his son Horus (Coster-Walder,) the ceremony is interrupted by the desert god Set (Butler), who wrecks Horus in a fight and rips out his eyes. Set declares himself king and announces that he will be monetising the afterlife and throwing out Osiris’ ‘give what you can afford’ policy on offerings, enslaving the human population, including petty larcenist Bek (Thwaites) and his beloved Zaya (Eaton).

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Werewolf: The Beast Among Us (2012)

Sadly, only about half of these characters have a substantial role in the film.
Sadly, only about half of these characters have a substantial role in the film.

“There wolf! There castle!”

Directed by Louis Morneau
Starring Ed Quinn, Guy Wilson and Stephen Rea

A family is attacked by a werewolf. The young son is the sole survivor, and years later is a hunter of werewolves with his own team of Transylvanian steampunk Expendables. Charles (Quinn) and his crew have put down dozens of beasts and have a fearsome reputation when they are called on to hunt a particularly dangerous foe; a beast with all the power of a werewolf, three days in which to hunt, and all the intelligence of a man.

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Pegasus vs. Chimera (2012)

EPIC!
EPIC!

Directed by John Bradshaw
Starring Sebastian Roche, Nazeen Contractor and Rae Dawn Chong

The would-be Emperor Orthos (Carol Rota) has his court warlock summon the Chimera to be his instrument of destruction. Blacksmith Belleros (Roche) and Princess Philony (Contractor, which I want to believe is an occupation name denoting a long line of senior site managers), seek the aid of the witch Mayda (Chong.) Mayda summons the Pegasus from the heavens to aid them.

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Hercules (2014)

hercules-dwayne-johnson-600x271
The Expendables 800BC

“A man with a cause can be stronger than a god!”

Directed by Brett Ratner
Starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Reece Ritchie, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Aksel Hennie and… well, a whole mess of people

Hercules (Johnson) is a legend in his own lifetime; the son of Zeus, slayer of monsters, and now a sword for hire… for the right cause.  He travels with his prodigiously skilled companions, a best of list of supporting heroes: Amazon archer Atalanta (Berdal), knife-man Autolycus (Sewell), war-scarred berserk Tydeus (Hennie), Amphiaraus (McShane) the hardest seer in all Greece, and Hercules’ nephew Iolaus (Ritchie), who tells the stories. Hired by the King of Thrace (Hurt) to bring down a rebel, they turn a band of farmers into an army, matching their myth-making against a cavalry force who convince their enemies they are centaurs. But Hercules has his ghosts, and he is a man that empires would follow, and that sort of man is guaranteed to fall out with kings.

What’s wrong with it?

Hercules is directed by Brett Ratner, of X-Men: The Last Stand infamy, and Rush Hour 1-3. It’s basically The Expendables if it was set in classical Greece with a bunch of European b-listers in place of the great action heroes of the 80s. There is no way this film ever had a chance of working.

Atalanta’s skimpy battle armour is a bit… well, I would say a bit much, but a bit little.

What’s right with it?

And yet, it is fucking glorious!

Come on; it’s The Expendables in classical Greece, with John Hurt and Rufus Sewell and Ian McShane as a crazy battle seer, and Joseph Fiennes popping in as the weak king of Athens that you know is going to show up later ’cause, hey, Joe Fiennes right?

I don’t forgive Brett Ratner for X-Men III, but I’m happy to say that he’s paid his dues now.

Even the end credits are awesome, showing the ‘real’ story of some of the labours, with Team Hercules working together to bring down monsters which are less supernatural than they at first appear.

How bad is it really?

GLORIOUS!

Best bit (if such there is)?

Amphiaraus stands ready to receive the flaming spear he has forseen will kill him, but Hercule catches it.

Amphiaraus: Excuse me! That was my moment! My fate!
Hercules: You’re welcome.

What’s up with…?

  • The film’s wishy-washy attitude to gods? Amphiaraus seems to genuinely see the future, and Hercules is supernaturally strong, yet the demigod rumours are firmly poo-pooed.
  • Atalanta’s battlekini? The rest of the costumes maintain a pretty consistent feel of classical Greece, but she gets two bits of leather. In the film’s defence, she does nonetheless get to kick actual arse and even pull out some saves on Herc, rather than going all damsel.
  • King Eurystheus’ pack of wolves? They’re there to tie to Hercues’ Cerberus visions, but it’s a wicked overcomplicated way to bump off someone’s family.

Ratings

Production values – Pretty top drawer, really. The scenes of the legends have pretty impressive monsters, even if they are then shown to have been less than supernatural. 4
Dialogue and performances – Aside from a slightly cheesy ‘we’re family’ moment, the dialogue is pretty good, and the cast… The weakest is Berdal, and a couple of Thracian officers for whom English is not the first language, but even so it’s nothing dire. 7
Plot and execution – Hercules tells a coherent, consistent story, with stakes and consequences and everything. A couple of scenes are kind of cookie cutter (Hero gets mad at the boss; check. Heroes get captured and taunted; check) but it holds together nicely. 5
Randomness – For a film that is basically as mad as a bowl of cuckoo’s nest soup, Hercules keeps its crazy in check well. One bonus point for mentioning steel in the Bronze Age. 4
Waste of potential – By all indicators, this should have been complete shite. 2

Overall 22%

Well… this is embarrassing. Apparently this film isn’t bad enough to go on the Bad Movie Marathon. I guess I should take it down in case the boss… Oh, wait! I am the boss! I guess it stays!

Wyvern (2009)

Wyvern_Film_DVD

“Ancient Evil has Come to Feed”

Directed by Steven R. Monroe
Starring Nick Chinlud, Erin Karpluk and Don S. Davis

The melting of the polar ice caps releases the Wyvern, an ancient dragon from Norse mythology. Flying south, the beast makes a nest near a remote Alaskan town and begins to feed on the population, leaving the survivors – led by ice trucker Jake (Chinlud) and cafe owner Claire (Karpluk) – to try to fight back.

What’s wrong with it?

The Wyvern itself is a pretty cheap piece of CGI, although that is nothing to the final truck explosion or the gore splatter deaths. The town is pretty much populated by stereotypes – the redneck, the hillbilly, the curmudgeonly old lady, the city slicker doctor – but no-one below the age of twenty-five, and the absence of schools and public play areas suggest that there have never been any children here.

What’s right with it?

The cast are pretty game, especially Don S. Davis in what was virtually his swan song (the film is dedicated to him).

How bad is it really?

As cheap and cheerful SyFy monster movies go, it’s actually pretty good.

Best bit (if such there is)?

The hillbilly’s account of the Wyvern’s origins is hilarious.

“The Nordic peoples spoke of a dragon so fierce, so nasty, it was rumoured to be birthed by Hel herself. That’s Hel with one ‘L’; the goddess of the Norse underground.”

What’s up with…?

  • The town of single, adult stereotypes? Is Beaver Mills a dumping ground for cliches?

Ratings

Production values – The Wyvern is okay, but clearly ate all of the budget and any effects surrounding it are cheap as anything. The film is basically well made apart from that. 12
Dialogue and performances –  The cast are competent-to-good, but given little to work with. The characters are pretty stock and the dialogue poor, but not actively bad. 11
Plot and execution – The plot is pretty much cookie cutter monster movie. 13
Randomness – In its defence, the film pretty much sticks to its guns. 6
Waste of potential – It’s a fine example of a piss poor genre, or maybe it’s just that the last film I saw was Sharknado5

Overall 47%

From the Archive – The Mummy Returns (2001)

Mummy

“The most powerful force on earth is about to be unleashed by the two people who should know better.”

Directed by Stephen Sommers
Starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Oded Fehr, Patricia Velasquez and The Rock

In the dim and distant past, a mighty warrior named the Scorpion King (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) sells his soul to the god Anubis (in this film, very much playing the part of Satan), and leads an army of jackal-warriors to conquer the known world.

Back in the now, Rick and Evie O’Connell recover the Bracelet of Anubis, which affixes itself to their son, Alex (Freddie Boath), and grants him a vision to lead him to the secret Oasis of Am-Sher where the Scorpion King and his treasure lie. They are attacked by forces working for the evil Curator of the British Museum (Alun Armstrong) and the reincarnation of Imhotep’s (Vosloo) lost love, Ankh-su-namun (Velasquez), who seek to resurrect the Mummy so that he can go to the Oasis, defeat the Scorpion King, gain command of Anubis’ army and destroy the world.

Abducting the boy, Imhotep’s forces set out, pursued by the O’Connells, Evie’s still-dissolute brother, Jonathon (Hannah), the Medjay warrior – Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Many people watching the original heard ‘magi’, to the point that the Danish subtitles translate it as ‘wise men’ – Ardeth Bey (Fehr, whose character was only named in the credits of the first movie), and Rick’s former partner, Izzy, an aviator with a rocket-powered dirigible. Bey claims that a mysterious Masonic tattoo – which Egypt nut Evie has never apparently made anything of – on Rick’s wrist marks him as a Medjay; a holy warrior against darkness. The heroes track the bad guys to the Oasis, where Evie is killed and resurrected, so that she can battle Ankh-su-namun while her husband goes toe-to-toe first with Imhotep, then the Scorpion King – a big, bad CGI – and Bey and his fellow Medjay battle the ‘only kill them if you cut their heads off’ Anubis warriors. The heroes win, the Scorpion King and the Anubis warriors are dragged back to hell, and Izzy rescues the rest from the collapsing Oasis.

What’s wrong with it?

1999’s The Mummy was a superbly-crafted piece of action-adventure fluff, but despite reassembling the same cast and crew for the sequel, Stephen Sommers fails to recapture the spirit of the original. The plot winds with excessive complexity for its depth, and a lot of the best set-pieces are just recreations of scenes from the original, like the killer wave that is just a damp version of The Mummy’s sand wall. The pygmy mummies in the hidden Oasis are just plain random, and smell like velociraptors as they pursue hapless idiots through the long grass. There’s also just a whole bunch of crap that one feels might have come up during the course of the first movie.

The end credits kind of sum up the film’s failings. Where The Mummy closed with a gentle, dignified tune, and the credits fading in and out on ancient walls, the sequel ended with a mess of flashing screens and over-zealous music. Also, Alan Silvestri’s score just falls terribly short of Jerry Goldsmith’s original.

What’s right with it?

Some of the set pieces are very nice, and there is some good action going on. The performers are all pretty decent, and even the sproggly Boath isn’t too annoying. Oded Fehr as Ardeth Bey once more snags the ‘coolest moment in the movie’ award for the flying scimitar Anubis warrior decapitation.

How bad is it really?

The Mummy Returns falls firmly into the category of ‘not bad, but could do so much better’. The plot is convoluted in a way that only detracts from the film’s highlights, landing this effort with a ‘could do better’.

What’s up with…?

  • Rick and Evelyn still doing the Tomb Raider thing? Do they not learn? Still, at least this is done knowingly.
  • The sudden appearance of a tattoo which marks Rick as a Medjay? OK, I checked, and he does have that wrist covered all through the first film, but still…
  • The pygmy mummies?
  • The Scorpion King’s astounding crapness? The rest of the SFX is pretty solid, but he just looks like a big plastic scorpion. Actually, a Ray Harryhausen big plastic scorpion might well have looked better.
  • The rocket-powered dirigible? I mean, normally I’d be all in favour of rocket-powered dirigibles, but this one felt a little gratuitous (and may in fact have been a blimp after all).

Ratings:

Production Values – Generally speaking, pretty damn good; which just makes the Scorpion King look that much lamer by comparison. 7

Dialogue and performances – The problem with the script of this film is not in its dialogue, which is generally speaking pretty snappy. The actors also do the lines justice, giving credible and charismatic performances. Given that pretty much everyone was reprising a role they had played before, it is perhaps unsurprising that they seem very comfortable with their characters and relationships. 5

Plot and execution – The Mummy Returns has a major plot problem. Not that there’s too little, but that there’s too much. The movie dashes around from place to place, and in the first viewing at least is actually pretty confusing. The basic gist is simple enough, but it rambles so much that you get lost, and at times just stop caring. 13

Randomness – Sacred tattoos, pygmy mummies, rocket-powered dirigibles. Yeah, this film has some randomness. 16

Waste of Potential – As the sequel to a far superior film, The Mummy Returns clearly wastes some potential, but this is somewhat alleviated by the fact that it is struggling against the law of diminishing returns. Besides, at least it did not try to be a sequel with none of the original cast. 10

Overall 49%