Brightburn – Review

Let me get this out of the way before we start: I think Superman is a wet fart. He’s all powerful, like a god so should never actually struggle. He’s an annoying Goody Two-Shoes. I see him as a snowflake’s wet dream. But stripping away the poor execution, the dude has a cool origin story. There’s solid potential.

Why all this talk of Superman for a horror movie review? I hear you ask. It’s because the creators of Brightburn must also feel the same way about Supes. Sure, the premise is good, let’s just give it some beef. This leads to a cooler version of the Kents. Elizabeth Banks (fitter than any version of Martha Kent) plays the surrogate mother to the crash-landed alien. Brandon Breyer is our new Clark Kent, played by a Jackson A. Dunn you wouldn’t trust watering your plants.

He’s a creepy little shit, and his step-dad twigs on which leads to trouble in the family home. Not as much trouble as what’s heading the way of anyone who Bad Breyer takes a dislike to. His landing pod keeps attempting to make contact with him, sending spooky alien messages while he’s sleeping. Unlike the Krytonians, the planet Brandon’s from wants world domination.

Full props to the movie makers for producing this on such a tight budget. There is a fair amount of CGI but it never looks poor. The horror won’t have you jumping or squirming, it’s a little by-the-numbers but it’s a good alternative take on a superhero trope.

Director David Yarovesky is up next for DC, presumably making them reluctant to start lawsuits for a blatent ripoff of their leading property.

It’s worth checking out, if only because it serves as proof kids become a pain in the arse once they hit puberty.

7/10

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Venom – Review

It’s quite fitting that the first movie I review here is about a guy coping with multiple personalities while running around in a mask. One that suspiciously looks like Spider-Man headwear. Okay, before we dive into the Venom review, we need to address the Spidey Elephant in the room. Venom without Spider-Man is like The Joker without Batman. Well, they’re gonna do that soon enough so we can try our best to move past it.

Let’s face it kids, if a person like me who has spent large chunks of his adult life wearing modified Spider-Man masks can get over the altered origin story, you should try too. But I’ll not lie, the film was always going to struggle with such constraints. The problem is Sony losing its balls. Their best Spider-Man was the amazing Andrew Garfield. Had they carried on with those movies, this Venom could have been the proper version.

Instead, we relocate to San Francisco but retain Eddie Brock as a New Yorker. He had to move to get away from some trouble. You know, the trouble of your origin story joining the MCU without you. Thankfully the strong chemistry between the leads, Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams, means we soon forget about webslingers.

What we have is an alien symbiote that needs a host. Evil baddie Carlton Drake is trying to assimilate humans and the aliens, Venom – as he becomes known to us – escapes and chooses Eddie. What follows is decent action and a fun ride. Picture The Mask but with adult violence, superheroes and a good love interest.

It deserves a sequel and hopefully some Sony exec will grow a pair and bring the best Spidey back for a showdown.

7/10

Justice League – Review

“You can’t save the world alone.” Great tagline. You might not be able to save the world alone, but you can destroy the universe (in this case, the DC Extended) by not having a singular vision.

DC’s problem with this shared movie experiment has been having the confidence to stick to its guns. Batman v Superman wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Fine, that’s what makes the world go ‘round – differences.

Marvel has its successful onscreen identify, DC used to have one too.

Justice League begins with the promise that Zack Snyder has mastered the darker but deeper roots of his characters. The Batman scenes work especially well and when the team are finally assembled there’s a Watchmen feel, which is no bad thing.

But there’s no getting away from the cut-and-shut feel of having two directors helm the movie. It’d be unfair to assume Joss Whedon tried to shoehorn his Avengers style on a near-finished product. The meddling obviously came from the studio.

We’re left with an opening that retains the best parts of Dawn of Justice, with the new members adding the correct amount of light. Ezra Miller’s Flash being the standout find. His humour is always on point, his quirkiness the balance the squad needs. Wonder Woman has been the world’s favourite new hero this year – Flash is the best.

It all starts well, from recruiting a reluctant Cyborg (Ray Fisher has his work cut out bringing this character to life), to the grisly and instantly at ease Aquaman. His backstory is teased in preparation for the solo movie and Jason Momoa looks more than capable of carrying that flick.

Gal Gadot is excellent again and acts as the light to Batman’s darkness (a role usually reserved for Superman). She’s the heart in what becomes a big soulless action mess.

The plot is Wonder Woman in style. We’re dealing with hidden boxes of godlike power that are being targeted by intergalactic CGI-baddie Steppenwolf. It’s pretty weak and lacking depth for a DC movie, and the CGI is terrible, but it’s okay. It’s all okay, until…

Superman returns. This is when a great movie with seeds planted in Batman v Superman (remember that Bruce Wayne/Flash “dream” sequence where he saw the world run by an evil Superman?) absolutely bottles it.

A hint of the Superman befitting with the plot is quickly discarded, the rewrites harder to hide than the poor CGI.

Cinematographer Fabian Wagner has admitted he even filmed shots with Henry Cavill in the famous black Supes outfit. It should have been a different return to the blue suit than a quick tantrum and a creepy scene with Lois Lane in a field.

If Superman was unlikable compared to Ben Affleck’s Batman in the previous meeting, he’s a complete turnoff now. The movie sinks the second he appears.

After a good build, fans are left with a sham of a movie. Neither taking the best of the previous instalments or becoming a copy of its rival.

This should have been a part one of two and was silently cut down to one movie. At this rate, Warner Bros. will call time on the whole botched affair and return to making successful and critically acclaimed stand-alone movies.

That’s if there’s any justice in the world.

5/10

The Mummy (2017) – Review

If we gave awards out for trailers, Logan would win an Oscar, The Mummy wouldn’t even get a Golden Raspberry. Those responsible would be on criminal charges. The misrepresentation has doomed the franchise launch of Universal’s Dark Universe before it had chance to gain traction.

As we’ve said before here, these days you need a shared universe. You’ll be forgiven for missing the fact that The Mummy is a way to bring the classic monsters of the golden age of cinema back to life. Had this been pressed in the build-up to the release, people wouldn’t have written this movie off as Tom Cruise trying to reboot an average Brendan Fraser flick.

It couldn’t be further removed from 1999’s The Mummy. And there’s no danger of the next Dwayne Johnson pitching up in a sequel as the Scorpion King.

Before writing this review, a consideration was given as to mention the “reveals.” Failure to talk candidly would make Simms View as guilty as the poor marketing team. So, no secrets to be held back. Like: Russell Crowe is in the movie playing Dr Jekyll and – yes! –  Mr Hyde.

Full props to Universal, too. In this age of everything needing to be bigger to the point of ridiculous, and CGI’d to within an inch of its life (but beyond all credibility), his Hyde is how the character initially was conceived. Strong but still a man. Not some beast or monster.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We get to Dr Jekyll ­– who happens to running a modern-day London facility that captures, contains and studies the paranormal, bizarre creations and the facts within ancient mythology – by way of his assistant.

She is tracking Tom Cruise, known as Nick Morton, an American soldier in Iraq. On the side he is looking for buried treasures to capture in the war torn country and sell on the black market. He has a trusty sidekick, Jake Johnson’s Corporal Chris Vail.

Together they happen across a buried pyramid, we already know to be the tomb of Princess Ahmanet, who killed her own father and attempted to bring the spirit of Death alive in human form. A living god was her idea.

Thousands of miles away from Egypt, disposed of in Persia, the idea was to keep her buried. Instead Jekyll’s assistant Jenny Halsey – annoyed that Cruise seduced her and then stole the map to the location – decrees the mummy of the hidden princess is be brought home to London.

Cue massive plane crash, one that kills Morton but he somehow finds himself alive afterwards. As for the Princesses, her body goes missing . . . then walkabout.

Morton is conflicted about his perceived role. He has become the Princess’s new chosen one but this means he’ll be killed during a ritual. After which, he’ll have powers of a deity but be something else altogether – potentially the thing that ends mankind.

There are obvious jokes to make here how Tom Cruise started a franchise to reaffirm his position as a box office god. As if being an actual one within Scientology wasn’t enough.

He holds the movie together though, and deserves to head the new Dark Universe.

Universal have managed to tap into the spirit of the classic monster movies and still modernise them. There is a casual humour throughout and some people in the cinema even jumped in parts. It ticked all the boxes set out before it.

Bad press, which led to less word-of-mouth, has doomed The Mummy at the box office but it should, over time, garner enough praise and interest to keep the larger concept of the Dark Universe alive.

Worth checking out…

7/10

47 Metres Down – Review

Bit of confusion to clear up with this title’s title before we begin. Being English, it’s Metres, other territories have named it 47 Meters Down, and some of you purchased leaked DVDs with the title In the Deep. Maybe that name was dropped to avoid puns about the movie being shallow?

They needn’t have worried on that score. Okay, it’s played pretty simple on the emotional stakes – cheesy, even. But it’s a movie that wants to rely on the visual treats rather than build a character study with sharks in the background.

Jaws did that decades ago and it’ll never be surpassed.

Obligatory mention of Spielberg’s classic, because this is a killer shark movie, taken care of, let us take a look at Johannes Roberts’ attempt at a claustrophobic thriller.

It’s been billed as a horror but it really isn’t. Sure, there’s blood and some gore but the threat of not surviving is more psychological than monster lurking in the darkness chills.

The story centres (centers) around two sisters, Lisa and Kate. Lisa, played by Mandy Moore, is the dark-haired conservative type. They’re holidaying (vacation) in Mexico, Lisa is hiding a recent break up but finally confides in Kate.

Believing she was dumped for being boring, adventurous younger sis convinces her to kiss some Mexican boys and go cage diving with sharks. Like you do. Kate is played here by Claire Holt, proving to Maggie Grace that her younger self has been replaced.

Hopefully, Holt will go on to make more than a fleeting appearance in this generation’s Lost and Taken.

Obviously, the cage snaps with the two girls inside, otherwise the movie would be called 5 Metres Down (or 5 Meters Down, or In the First Bit of the Sea where You Can Still See the Boat’s Reflection).

Lisa’s fear of taking the dive is played up well and the director does will to avoid playing for lots of cheap jumps once they become stranded. This makes up for the dialogue that plays as poorly hidden commentary. However, towards the end, the sense of actual peril fades.

The girls are also told facts that we know must come into play or they wouldn’t get a mention. Hence, the penultimate scene could be seen by some as Jumping the Shark (see what I did there?).

Roberts can be forgiven for this. It still manages to work as a whole and with a movie clearly reliant on (subpar?) CGI, he appears to have made an effort to use tension rather than a series of further farfetched shark attacks.

Overall, a decent movie. The scale and budget means it was never aiming to be a massive blockbuster but it has already turned a tidy profit. It’s a top-level TV movie that deserves the chance to be seen in cinemas.

6/10