Very early in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, as Doc (Kevin Spacey) sketches out the plans to a heist on a chalkboard, he explains to his crew that the driver “Baby” (Ansel Elgort) has tinnitus and chooses to drown out the constant hum by listening to music. Once he’s done with the obvious exposition, he puts down the chalk and exclaims, “Wow, I drew this entire map while explaining that. I’d say that’s pretty fucking impressive!” Thus Wright places his tongue firmly in-cheek, and we immediately understand the tone of the film: weird, energetic, and not taking itself too seriously.
There’s an off-hand moment early on in The Mummy when Egyptologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) draws attention to the importance of the discovery that she and Nick Mortion (Tom Cruise) have made by referring to the age of the sarcophagus: 5,000 years. Trouble is, Wallis clearly mouths “three”, not “five”. Oh well, ADR happens. Maybe there was a re-write where they realized that 3,000 years wasn’t enough for the Egyptian period they wanted. So they fixed it. That’s fine, if a bit distracting. Later, Tom Cruise calls “the chick” 3,000 years old. They left that one in. Maybe Tom Cruise is too busy to do ADR. Maybe no one caught it. Maybe no one cares.
Ladies and gentleman, this is The Mummy in a nutshell: falling over its own presumed intelligence, never paying enough attention to what it is doing for it to matter.
It seems folly to discuss Wonder Woman outside of the greater context of the DC Extended Universe, but Patty Jenkins’s film begs to be discussed in isolation – it’s simply in another stratosphere. So, that’s it; that’s all the comparison to the DCEU that will be contained in this review. The rest of the time will be spent heralding Wonder Woman as a superhero film that knows precisely how to tell a refreshing origin story, establish stakes and pathos in a fantastic world, and champion a powerful theme of heroism, strength, and love. With a stunning performance from Gal Gadot, a brilliant fish-out-of-water skeleton, and action sequences that contain spectacle and depth, Wonder Woman is potent storytelling.
In a strange paradox, executing a proper farce demands preternatural planning. Stray but a little from the knife’s edge, and the tone can spiral out of control as the conflicting elements of the film separate like a broken sauce. Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire suffers such a fate, though it isn’t for lack of effort or a gripping central idea. The film tries to position some idiosyncratic characters in a bottle, shake everything up, and let them shoot guns at each other for 75 minutes, but too many of these elements are just a bit off the mark. The characters and the performances mostly hit, and the inciting event feels reasonable, but the organization and the length of the fight strains comprehension and ends up being to repetitive to hold the spectator’s interest. Free Fire does a better job than most genre-bending farces, but ultimately it just feels too boring for a movie centered around a free-for-all firefight.
The Terminator (1984) is a better film than Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). The three other movies in the franchise are utter garbage and will not be discussed further. And, if you’ll lower your pitchforks for long enough, this piece will provide several arguments asserting the superiority of The Terminator. I’ll compare three aspects of the films and explain how The Terminator bests Terminator 2 in each: 1.) The overall plot-theme of the story, 2.) The structure, pacing, and the effectiveness of the storytelling, and 3.) The characters and their respective arcs. I will show that the first film showcases a stronger and more original plot, streamlined structure, and more interesting characters. After remarking on the sequel’s deserved accolades, the stark verdict will follow: Terminator 2 is exemplary, but The Terminator is the greater film.
The sequel to the wildly surprising gun-fu action flick John Wick picks up right where the original left off, both in terms of plot and aesthetic. The signature stylistic elements of the original are all here: extensive worldbuilding, lengthy camera shots, and heavily-choreographed fight scenes more reliant on stunt work than on CGI. The sequel extends these elements, but also has some unique ideas as well. The locations where John Wick fights are far more varied in the sequel, and which not only makes the background more colorful and interesting, but indicates John Wick’s own personal struggle in the film. John Wick: Chapter 2 is a thoroughly successful continuation of the series, remaining true to the magic of the original, and expanding upon it in intelligent ways.