Capsule Reviews: THE MUMMY and DESPICABLE ME 3 | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Capsule Reviews: THE MUMMY and DESPICABLE ME 3

Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) unleash hell in THE MUMMY (2017)

Three years ago, Universal Pictures attempted to kick-start their very own shared universe with DRACULA UNTOLD. Unfortunately, that movie turned out to be a dud and any hope of continuity are dashed. Still, the studio refuses to give up as they made their second comeback by reviving their shared universe -- now officially known as Dark Universe -- with a modern reboot of THE MUMMY. In fact, they even go as far as enlisting big-name stars including Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe to entice more mainstream audiences. While it does work to a certain degree (as proven with Cruise's star power in the international market), the movie itself is sadly dead on arrival. Let's start with Cruise. He's committed as always, at least when he plays a physically demanding role. His highly-publicised zero-gravity stunt during a plane crash sequence alone reportedly took an incredible 64 takes, a notable achievement for an actor who is already 54 years of age. But that alone is barely enough to justify his role here as Nick Morton. Problem is, he tries to be both funny and serious but his thinly-written role is awkwardly misplaced. Even his usual charm feels stale this time around. The rest of the actors are equally disappointing, with Annabelle Wallis neglected to a typical damsel-in-distress role while Russell Crowe's Nick Fury-like Dr. Henry Jekyll role is merely introduced to deliver expository voiceover and dialogues. Then there's Sofia Boutella, whose antagonist role as a female mummy is supposed to bring a fresh angle to the otherwise traditionally male monster character. But her role is largely sidelined as a stereotypical villain with little personality. Finally, Alex Kurtzman's direction is bland while the screenplay -- credited to David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman -- should be mummified and buried deep inside the tomb.

It's Gru meet Dru in DESPICABLE ME 3 (2017)

After the Minions took centre stage with their very own spin-off in 2015, the DESPICABLE ME franchise is finally making a comeback following a four-year hiatus since the 2013 sequel. This time, the third instalment introduces Gru's (Steve Carell) twin brother Dru (also Carell) as they make up for lost time together. The prospect of having Gru and Dru as two siblings with different personalities can be potentially fun, given its obvious inspiration from Mad magazine's Spy vs. Spy angle. But Steve Carell's dual performances are stretched too thin since the movie is more interested in throwing loads of slapstick gags than developing reasonable character arcs between Gru and Dru. Even most of the gags miss the mark or dare I say, creatively bankrupt. It's like as if the filmmakers behind DESPICABLE ME 3 believes that simply bringing back Gru, Minions and other beloved characters like Lucy (Kristen Wiig) and Agnes (Nev Scharrel) are more than enough to satisfy the die-hard fans and audiences alike. Sure, DESPICABLE ME 3 still benefits from its fast-paced rhythm packed with colourful visuals alongside a retro-cool '80s soundtrack. Then again, after all these years, I'm sure the filmmakers can do better than just rolling out a strictly formulaic animated feature?

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