Quick Hit: Full of loving gothic imagery, the CGI violence goes a bit too far to be stellar.
I actually vividly remember when this came out. I was really into monsters, and the fact that it was a contemporary remake of my favorite Universal film was really cool. And surprisingly, compared to Dracula Untold and The Mummy (2017), it’s actually pretty good.
That’s because first – they set it in the correct period, which is something that Dracula Untold actually got right. Second, they embraced the fact that the story is better when it takes its time. It’s quite a bit of time before we actually see the Wolf Man – which is the way it should be. When you give away the monster within the first minute or two, it’s really not much fun. We get teases, and the imagery around these teases is fantastic.
Set in the English countryside, there is nothing around the Talbot mansion. Sure, there is the town within riding distance, but otherwise, they’re alone out there. That, coupled with the fact that despite gas lamps being extremely common, the man of the house (Anthony Hopkins, in a role that I still hear him say “Lawrence” from in my dreams – or nightmares) makes due with candles. The house is dilapidated, leading to a haunted feel instantly from when young Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) returns after being beset by the fiancée (Emily Blunt!!) of his now dead brother.
The performances are actually pretty good, IMO. When the movie came out, a lot of people said that Del Toro was too varied, and that Hopkins was a bit odd. I can’t see it really. Del Toro gives a performance that does a young Larry Talbot justice, because he plays him tragically. Indeed, the first time we see him, in an excellent piece of foreshadowing, he’s playing in Hamlet – THE tragedy. When the movie progresses enough that Hugo Weaving shows up, your All-Star cast grows even further (though I couldn’t help but draw a comparison from Mister Talbot to Mister Anderson in his voice and tone at times).
Honestly the only thing keeping me from giving this movie a full endorsement is the overuse of CGI. Like so many movies in this decade, the CGI keeps the movie from feeling real in any sense of the word. When the monster emerges, the violence is incredible and vicious, as it should be, but it’s also over-the-top. The transformation, which is pretty good, also forgoes the practical effects in a way that is really unfortunate. When you compare the transformation in say, An American Werewolf in London to this one, the practical effects are obviously superior. Do they take longer and are more expensive? Yes. Would I prefer them as a moviegoer? Yes.
Overall, as far as staying true to the tone of the original and making an entertaining film, I’d say that Joe Johnston (director) had a winner on his hands. It’s disappointing more people didn’t think so. I’m giving this one a “B+”.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: Nothing to write home about, but the first solid American Godzilla movie.
There are a lot of Godzilla movies, but not that many American ones. Most of them come from Tojo, which is a Japanese movie studio. The only other time an American company has produced a Godzilla movie was the absolutely horrendous movie in 1998 – which most of the monster movie community has now deemed “Zilla” because it would have been a fine movie if it wasn’t a Godzilla movie. So it is kind of a good thing that American audiences finally have a movie that did most things right and will hopefully get people excited about the film and movie monsters in general.
This movie has some star power attached to it, and the human side of the film is pretty well developed. It unfortunately takes out a character that is the most interesting too quickly, turning the human side into a boring slog of things. It’s disappointing, because I was really into the start of the film, and liked how it likened back to the original Godzilla series.
The movie takes a long, long time to tease out Godzilla. This is good… to a point. But eventually, I think that the tease plays out a bit too long. There’re clips here and there of body parts, and when you eventually see Godzilla, you see his face and it cut to a different scene pretty quickly. That kind of movement was what hurt this film the most. I was disappointed with the editing style.
Another thing that disappointed me a little bit was the creation of the other monster that Godzilla fights. It looks like the monster from Cloverfield. It’s a bit disappointing, because I feel like the monster design is something we’ve seen before. If you want a monster, there are tons of monsters that Godzilla has fought in the past. I’m not sure if they were saving for future installments, but the inclusion of this Clover look-alike was disappointing.
That being said, the effects were pretty good. The setting was a little disappointing, because it was almost like they were trying to hide the effects. Godzilla is often surrounded in fog, but the times it’s not foggy, it’s nighttime! We’ve come so far with effects, just use them. But at least the sound of his roar was on point, and he at least breathed fire, which was cool.
In the end, I was happy with it, but it left a bit to be desired. For something that made me feel a bit better, check out Shin Godzilla (or known as Godzilla Resurgence). For this film, I’m giving it a “B-“.
This Godzilla will be back!
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: Heavy on the action, but at times terrifying, this Indian Jones knock-off deserves a second look.
The only things I remembered about The Mummy from 1999 were that it made an awesome video game, the Mummy himself gave me nightmares due to his taking of people’s organs, and that it starred Brendan Fraser before he went really weird with the movie Monkeybone. So it was kind of a pleasant surprise when I saw a young Rachel Weisz, along with seeing the butler from Richie Rich and the real Jumanji (Johnathan Hyde) pop up in another 90s treasure.
I actually really enjoyed watching the movie again. I was rarely bored, I laughed, I was horrified, and I left the movie entertained. Even with its knock off sets and its B-movie plot, I couldn’t help but leave the film with a smile on my face and a longingness to watch the sequel.
Honestly, probably the best part of the movie is Brendan Fraser. People forget that for a time period of four to five years he was one of the most charming leading men in Hollywood. He shows it here – quick with a quip and full of wit, he still manages to portray a convincing action hero. He has a credible romance with Weisz, and they have good chemistry, because they’re both a little bit goofy. It just works.
The special effects, which must have taken forever and cost a fortune in the late nineties, hold up ok. There are a few moments that look pretty cheesy, particularly with the scarabs, but they still bring a chill. Some of the most effective scares, like the reveal of a man whose tongue and eyes have been pulled out, still hold extremely well. That’s what gave me nightmares then, and still gave me the heeby jeebies now.
Another thing that I particularly liked was the fact that it blended the original movie with a new set of ideas and times. It was set in the 20s, but still featured Imhotep, and his girlfriend. It still featured the Book of the Dead, and it still featured his desire to bring his love back to life. There are even some shots that are reminiscent of the original movie, and I liked that quite a bit as well. But there is plenty of new information, new scenes, and new ideas, like the character Brendan Fraser plays. It’s a nice blending of how to remake a movie without making it an exact copy, or diverting too far from the original.
Overall, I was happy with the way the movie turned out. Is it the best movie out there? No, but it’ll entertain you. So ride out the plagues of Egypt and enjoy the sandstorm. I’m giving this interpretation of The Mummy a “B”.
For more than this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"