Dir: Seth Gordon
*ing: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra, Kelly Rohrbach
It’s not entirely impossible to successfully adapt cheesy old television shows for the big screen – witness 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street or even the first Charlie’s Angels. But it’s almost as if the people behind the big screen adaptation of Baywatch didn’t think that there was anything worth mining in the original material (the movie even moves the setting from California to Florida) so they didn’t even try. There is some self-referential satire but the comedy falls almost completely flat (note to would-be Hollywood writers: the “F” word is not – repeat, NOT – a substitute for wit and ingenuity) and the script is reduced to tired crudity revolving around penile and scrotal “humour.” Even the obligatory cameos from a couple of the original cast members – no prizes for guessing which ones – have zero thought put into them.
The plot – for what it’s worth – has an unscrupulous land developer trying to buy beachfront property on the cheap but the intrepid lifeguards of Baywatch aim to thwart these nefarious plans. It’s all entirely ridiculous and the quality of the script sinks steadily until it drowns. Just about the only positive thing I can say about the movie is that the cast is easy on the eye.
Cut to chase: Barely watchable.
The Mummy ** ½
Dir: Alex Kurtzman
*ing: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe, Jake Johnson
The last time Universal Studios revived their venerable horror property, The Mummy, they managed to spring a rather pleasant surprise with the Brendan Fraser-Rachel Weisz starrer. The 1999 version nicely balanced action and humour with a Raiders Of The Lost Ark vibe. Sadly, the 2017 version has none of its predecessor’s charm or even the iconic horror imagery of the Boris Karloff 1932 original. Instead it’s a mish-mash of horror movie tropes weighed down by Universal’s desire to create its very own interconnected blockbuster movie franchise (a ka the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the DC Extended Universe). So here we have the first entry in what Universal has dubbed the “Dark Universe” series which is intended to incorporate its library of horror movie characters – The Mummy, The Wolf-Man, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, etc. Unfortunately, it’s not a very auspicious beginning.
The movie’s not entirely unwatchable and the plot – an ancient, mummified Egyptian queen (Sofia Boutella) is unwittingly brought back to life when a pair of morally malleable treasure hunters (Tom Cruise and Jake Johnson) discover her hidden crypt in the deserts of Arabia and she immediately sets about trying to bring her paramour, the Egyptian god of death, Set, into this plane of existence – is serviceable. Yet the set pieces (and special effects) never really go beyond the expected or the familiar. Cruise’s character is drawn in (very) broad strokes and his relationship with the fetching Egyptologist played by Annabelle Wallis never really convinces. That’s a weakness that is hard to overlook because the climactic scenes are heavily dependent on that very relationship. Russell Crowe’s character – even when you discover his true identity – doesn’t persuade either. In fact, both Cruise and Crowe aren’t able to bring anything extra to the table – you can’t help but feel that the movie could have been equally well (if not better) served with names of lesser marquee value.
Cut to chase: Has its moments but never really comes to life.
Kmumtaz1@hotmail.com; Twitter: @KhusroMumtaz
Rating system: *Not on your life ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection