Wonder Woman – Ares Emerges
Demonstrating that not everything here needs to be an easy target, we now have a film that a lot of people quite liked.
Indeed, Wonder Woman did plenty right over the course its 140 minute runtime and yet in the end, it still succumbed to many of the same problems that have affected other DCEU films. Chief among these pitfalls was the end set-piece, which took the form of yet another sloppy CGI boss fight, complete with wonky green-screen effects, weirdly blurry destruction and lame, generic energy blasts. In what feels like a drastic, last-minute makeover, the film suddenly adopts a dreary brown aesthetic, and begins pummeling the audience with meaningless pyrotechnics. And like that, we are dragged right back into the murky quagmire of Suicide Squad and Man of Steel.
Though this comparison may seem a tad harsh, it does get dangerously close to Fan4stic territory, especially when we’re finally introduced to the truly awful villain. It was all going so well until Ares, the God of War himself, was revealed to be a crusty old British man with a twee moustache. He looks utterly ridiculous from the off, but once he gets involved in the action and dons his video-game power-up armour, then everything just falls apart, resulting in a fight that looks like a really rough bit of pre-vis.
Granted, all of this criticism could equally apply to Justice League’s cartoonish finale, but that didn’t feel quite as jarring and out of place as this did. Nor was it as disappointing.
The Dark Tower – The Final Confrontation
Another denouement, this time from the ill-fated Dark Tower adaptation.
From minute one, this is an impotent mess of a film, one that skims over all its intriguing content in order to accommodate a needlessly restrictive runtime. Nothing is spared from the narrative compression, to the point where you begin to wonder why they bothered doing anything at all. Whatever defines The Dark Tower as a series, whatever its core appeal is supposed to be, it is surely the victim of indiscriminate butchery here. The end result is a vague sparknotes summary usurping the place of an actual story.
As you can expect, trying to figure out the filmmakers’ intent is beyond futile, because they cannot afford to focus on anything for longer than a minute. All they can do is worry about getting from one scene to the next as quickly as possible. So everything feels insubstantial and rushed, leaving the audience to ponder exactly what they are supposed to care about.
As far as I can tell, the closest the film gets to a narrative focus is probably the feud between Roland and The Man in Black. Which is saying something, because it’s only developed in one elliptic flashback and a few throwaway lines here and there. Nevertheless, if we interpret this conflict as the main narrative drive (which is generous) then that does at least makes some sense, as the finale brings the two rivals together for one last showdown.
Given that this is the only discernible narrative through-line, you’d think that it would therefore be concluded with some sense of occasion and ceremony right? Don’t be so stupid! This is The Dark Tower! The fate of the world hangs in the balance, our hero is at long last face-to-face with the man he has been hunting all these years, it’s what we’ve (kinda) been building towards and… it’s all wrapped up in about 20 seconds. Anti-climax doesn’t even begin to describe it, it’s such a non-event.
They don’t even do anything cool with the meagre time that they do devote to the fight. One guy shoots another guy in a dingy corridor and then some bullshit happens. The end. You have a legendary sharpshooter and an evil, inter-dimensional wizard… person (as you may have gathered, the film doesn’t offer much explanation) and that’s the best you can come up with? I guess the magic man caught a couple of bullets midair and flicked them back at the shooty man. But that just looked like something from The Naked Gun, it wasn’t befitting of an”epic” duel.
I cannot begin to imagine how Stephen King fans must have felt walking out of this. These people had been waiting years for The Dark Tower to make it to the big-screen and the end result of all that hype was this. They didn’t even get a cool fight scene, just a brief snippet that, like the rest of the film, feels rushed, undernourished and obligatory.
The Mummy – ”Your Good Friend Eddie Hyde”
Honestly, The Mummy isn’t really that bad. If someone tries to tell you that it’s the worst film they’ve seen this year, then I truly envy them. Because presumably they haven’t seen Baywatch. Or The Dark Tower. Or Underworld: Blood Wars. Or Bunnyman-fucking-Vengeance. If you’d seen more of than a handful of 2017’s releases, particularly some of Netflix’s more questionable offerings, then The Mummy wouldn’t even crack your bottom 10.
Having said that, some of it is genuinely poor. For example, the awkward tussle between Tom Cruise’s Nick Morton and Russell Crowe’s Dr Jekyll, which feels more-than-a-little undignified, thanks to its tepid choreography and risible dialogue. For all its supernatural pomp and circumstance, it ultimately comes down to just two guys grappling, tossing each other around the room like belligerent drunkards outside a pub. In fact, it bares a passing resemblance to the deliberately embarrassing fight from The Inbetweeners Movie.
What makes this worse is that it’s effectively the first taste we are given of the ”Dark Universe” and also serves as an introduction one of its key players, Mr. Hyde. It’s supposed to be the moment that sells us on how cool this concept could be and how enticing it is to watch these classic monsters interact and go toe-to-toe. That’s how the filmmakers envisioned it anyway, seeing it as a tantalising appetiser for future crossovers. And in that respect, it fails dismally.
The only morsel of enjoyment you can take from this sequence is Russell Crowe’s amazing cockney accent.