Showing posts with label Tom Cruise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tom Cruise. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Mummy is a very bad movie

Image result for the mummy
A minor secret, not dirty at all, is that I've enjoyed Tom Cruise's late career situation as a wind-up action hero making flashy, well crafted smash and dash melodramas for the popcorn and blow job crowd. His participation in onerous spiritual platforms aside, he's a Hollywood Star, a man, in his mid fifties, who retains his boyish charm and good looks and  who demonstrates, from appearances, a remarkable athleticism for a man close to entering the last quarter of his years. Knight and Day, War of the Words, Edge of Tomorrow and, of course, the last couple of Mission Impossible installments,  show this man to be a aware of himself as a man   with attributes that won't remain there all that much longer and who is, understandably, eager to make as many solid actioneers as possible before flesh and spirit wane more than wax gloriously. 

That apology made, let me assure that the Mummy, his new film intended to kick start Universal's "Dark Universe" film  brand in which they make use of legacy monsters they have claim to and make films that highlight them terrorizing the world in a connected fictional globe, is in indeed as awful as the critics have reported. Nothing emerges above the noise and cluttered commotion this film puts forward; the story is a muddled execution of what might have been an intriguing variation on this movie's otherwise other tried premise of an ancient mummy returning to life, sort of, to convert the present world into idealized sphere where the traditions and spiritual /political ways of a fantastically fictionalized ancient Egypt become the way of all things. We may, to be sure, gag in response to how this new project continues and perpetuates the racist and xenophobic premises of this horror franchise in all its iterations, but that is another discussion, albeit a more important one than the testy protest I'm lodging here.

My point is about how abjectly irresolute this intended franchise kickstarter was; Cruise himself goes through his brash-boy mannerisms, schticks he normally deploys with an effective, if calculated charm in other films, but here seems distracted, distanced, seeming as unconvinced as he his unconvincing. Russell Crowe is a  variation of Dr.Henry Jekyll here, a scientist heading a secret organization with a nebulous mission to contain and control the hidden monstrosities that threaten the civilized world, and there is not much to recommend his performance other than come away with the impression that he realized how listless the script was and opted to enlarge his mannerisms to levels more suitable for old cartoons blaring away in a cold basement. Note that this film has five stated writing credits, seldom a good sign. That may explain why the movie does not give us the slightest reason to stop resisting the fantasy it offers, as there seems to have been no attempt to smooth over and blend one writer's ideas with that   of the others. 

The scenes change tone and intent with jarring effect, comedy in one instance, gruesome horror the next,  hammy emotionalism inserted through out. Bad films are normally things I disregard quickly after I leave the theatre, out of mind , into the dustbin. The Mummy is one where it's hard not to talk obsessively with how incompetent a film it turned out to be.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tom Cruise : under the surface, more surface

Tom Cruise continues to inspire wonderment and mockery  among the celebrity obsessed public at large, with the attending press coverage and think pieces continuing in the relentless attempts to pierce the impermeable membrane that surrounds the world's most quizzical movie star. Slate magazine has gotten into the act and  says that the real Tom  Cruise biography, the definite one, does in fact exist, in the form of the movies he has made. Not surprisingly,  Cruise's religion, the cringe inducing cult of Scientology, figures in the article's  research. There are, one reads, a plenitude of  movie plot points that reflect the tenets of the secret  theology of  founder  L.Ron Hubbard's  intriguingly  hodge podge of a faith.I'm not surprised that a good number the plot points in Cruise's movies echo themes that appear in the confounding mythology of his religion.

Certainly one could also harp on the Catholic themes in the novels of Graham Greene and yield a bounty of evidence ; we don't, however , tend to get bent out of shape over the religious overtones of the novels or their more sinister implications and instead prefer to enjoy a good yarn. Greene was good at writing good yarns.

The main concern with Cruise isn't whether his movies have a subtext endorsing a controversial cult, but whether Cruise is consistently adept at choosing good movies to star in. Like anyone else in the public eye and who stars in movies, his track record is uneven, although his batting average is better than Nicholas Cage's. For Cruise himself, he is a puzzling man in terms of his public persona, but my principle concern is if his movies are fully realized entertainments worth the money I work for. 

He is not my favorite actor,  although I think he's been decent in a couple of things, although I think his best performance, his most legitimately autobiographical (if there is such a thing) was as the quirky  hit man in Michael Mann's reasonably sublime. In a grey buzz coat and portraying a sociopath who assumes personalities and points of view whimsically , much the way people change shirts.I suspect Mann had Cruise in mind when he realized he had a character who was all mask and emotional subterfuge. I wonder if Mann's direction of his lead actor included the phrase "just be yourself".

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Finally got a look at  Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and I will have to agree with what's been mentioned that the movie has no script, or even the semblance of a plot. What it seems to have, though, is an outline, a diagram of a sort, like a football plays scribbled on a notebook page; there is never a point where you didn't get the feeling that Cruise and the other performers--one hesitates to call what they do in this movie "acting"--huddled together between location shoots, breathlessly improvised the next improbable scenario and then frantically making it all happen, frantically.

The only thing I remember regarding the rhyme and reason of all this hustle and bustle were about the Kremlin blowing up, a rogue nuclear scientist/philosopher in possession of Russian missile codes, and the occasional speech from the same about how nuclear catastrophe has become part of the natural evolution of existence; complete devastation is needed for the planet to start new life from the burning cinders.  It would have been a clever and intriguing investigation to see the peace-on-earth paradigm reversal explored more thoroughly and cleverly, but that is a matter for another movie, a better script and a director who can balance brains with action. As is, though, this a fine series of brilliantly orchestrated action sequences, one unbelievable scenario, whether prowling through the bowels of the Kremlin, climbing up the side of the tallest building in the world in Dubai, or desperately trying to get the metal suitcase containing the said codes while combating the villain in a robotic parking garage in  India. I enjoyed it as pure spectacle, at the sacrifice of losing all impression of the film once the auditorium lights went on.

 There was a lasting image, though, that of the ever youthful Cruise looking his age; at 47 years old, the star remains fit, but there the evidence of the sort of body transformation that comes with increased years. The chest muscles sag, the gut isn't the toned washboard it used to be, one detects a hint of loose skin under the biceps that were formerly tight as drum heads. I mention only because Cruise wore wife beaters during the prison sequence when he first entered the film. This is the sort of extreme form fitting shirt that can flatter a physique that is fit and muscular in classical terms, or which can belie the wear, tear and aging a body has undergone.It was not flattering. Perhaps he thought no one would notice.

Tom Cruise remains what he has always been in his action films, a five foot something windup toy that springs into frenetic, limb-splitting contortions when the director blows his whistle. I liked it for the action set pieces, which were spectacular and truly awesome. The problem, though, is one that no can simply ignore, that that entire glorious spectacle is in service to making an aging narcissist look vital and youthful. Bruce Willis is more appealing as an aging action hero, especially in the Die Hard movies, because he feels pain, expresses trepidation as he goes into action, and is obviously tired, haggard and operating on reserves that are near depletion. Cruise wants to suggest that his energy is boundless, without end, and this becomes sad, very sad after a point. Even the flashiest editing and loudest car crash can't distract you from that. This movie was enjoyable as pure light show, a shadow play performed against white bedroom linen. It was, be assured, monumentally idiotic.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Has anybody noticed...

I was relieved to find out that I wasn't the only one who thinks Tom Cruise looks bizarre when he beats a hasty path. After seeing the new film Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, I came across someone who asked on Facebook if anyone else thought if Cruise ran funny, a stylized herky jerky scramble, very kinetic with the arms making piston like moves up and down. He makes me think of toy that had been wound up too tightly and was thrashing about until unwound, or the the spring snapped. The only thing missing was the key in his back. Cruise is a problematic actor , of   course, rigorously stylized, overly assertive with those gestures and quirks of the head: the laugh is too quick and barking, the smile is too fast to appear and too tight besides, the eyes are bright and attentive, but you cannot shake the feeling that he thinks you're a mirror he's staring into. 

Not that he doesn't try to do good work; his fans would cite  Eyes Wide Shut with director Stanley Kubrick. To tell the trurth, I didn't much care for Eyes Wide Shut, which I thought was a stiff , creaking attempt at necro-erotica. Cruise isn't the actor I would have cast for a role like this, but I think the main fault lies in what I suspect was the movies incomplete status. Despite what the studio and Stanley Kubrick's might claim, I doubt this film was finished. The editing is especially ragged and arbitrary, not something you'd expect from a Kubrick project. It was a supremely pretentious swan song from an already pretentious director.

Cruise's career work is slick, commercial and slick promotion, and it is one of the truly embarrassing things an audience member will ever have to do than to watch this two-dimensional action toy try to convey complex emotions or states ofmind. But he is, like a good many other screen personalities, effective as a presence if he is in the right project. The secret, I think, is to keep the story going moving along at a brisk pace that doesn't sacrifice coherence or allow Cruise the opportunity to get Hollywood on us. Spielberg, for all the griping one may do about him, knows how to keep a movie brisk and made Cruise the perfect protagonist in Minority Report. Interestingly enough, I think the pair also did good work in War of the Worlds.