Catholic INitiative for Enlightened Movie Appreciation

CINEMA: WATCHING FILM FROM A GOSPEL POINT OF VIEW . *** For inquiries, please EMAIL: cbcpcinema@gmail.com *** CALL or TEXT: (02) 664 5886 *** WRITE TO: CINEMA, Episcopal Commission on Social Communication, CBCP Compound, 470 General Luna St. Intramuros, Manila *** THANK YOU!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

CINEMA takes a look at real life apes

A gun-toting chimp: fiction today, tomorrow a reality?
CINEMA thinks the Planet of the Apes trilogy may bring to focus the implications of real life scientific research utilizing primates, as its plot revolves around the scientists’ search for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease that created instead an ape with human-like intelligence.
It’s a fact that primates are being experimented upon by humans for medical purposes.  According to US-based PETA—People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—“over 105,000 primates every year are imprisoned in US laboratories… abused and killed in invasive, painful, and terrifying experiments…”  (See https://www.peta.org/) Primates are prime targets for experimenters because they share important biological and psychological characteristics with humans, such as sensitivity and intelligence.
In July 2011, as Rise of the Planet of the Apes hit the theaters—showing, among other images, a chimpanzee that fired an AK47 towards humans—the Academy of Medical Sciences of Britain (AMSB) said the dangers of disturbing animal-human experiments are real.  In a hard-hitting report the academics warned that research is close to pushing ethical boundaries and urged the government to create tough new rules to prevent such a scenario (of gun-toting primates) from becoming a reality.  Professor Martin Bobrow, a medical geneticist at Cambridge University and lead author of the report, said society needed to set rules before scientists began experiments that the public would find unacceptable.   Three particularly “sensitive” areas in animal research, the report stated, are cognitive, that of reproduction, and creation of visual characteristics that would make them see themselves as human.  Relating to reproduction, the report recommended that animal embryos produced from human sperm or eggs do not develop beyond a period of 14 days.
Furthermore, the AMSB report called for a ban on extreme attempts to give laboratory animals human attributes—such as injecting human stem cells into the brains of primates—and called for a closer monitoring of the experiments by a new body of experts.  “If a monkey that received human genetic material begins to acquire capabilities similar to a chimpanzee, it’s time to stop the experiments,” said Bobrow.  A co-author of the report, Professor Thomas Baldwin, said: “The fear is that if you start putting very large numbers of human brain cells into the brains of primates suddenly you might transform the primate into something that has some of the capacities that we regard as distinctively human—speech, or other ways of being able to manipulate or relate to us. These possibilities that are at the moment largely explored in fiction, we need to start thinking about now.”

Spiderman: Homecoming

Running Time: 133 minutes; Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey, Jr., Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei; Direction: Jon Watts; Story:  based on Spiderman by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko; Screenplay: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, etc; Cinematography: Salvatore Totino; Editing: Dan Lebental, Debbie Berman; Music: Michael Giacchino; Producers: Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal; Genre: Action; Location: New York; Distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing
Technical assessment: 3.5
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V14
After the victory of the Avengers against Loki and the Chitauri invasion, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) is initially commissioned to clean up the city. However, their operation is taken over by Stark’s Department of Damage Control (DODC) and in retaliation and to salvage his investments, Toomes keeps portion of the Chitauri to create advance weapons to sell to petty crooks. Eight years after, 15 year old Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is drafted by Starks (Robert Downey, Jr.) to help them settle a dispute against Captain America (Chris Evans) but is asked to return to his normal life as he is not yet ready to be a full pledge Avenger. Peter, however, dreams to be an Avenger and devotes his entire time and energy to stop petty crimes within his neighborhood. Accidentally, he discovers Toomes—who has transformed himself into the metal-winged Vulture—and his dealings, and attempts to end it himself, although unsuccessfully most of the time. All the while, Tony Starks monitors his activities and intervenes when necessary until he decides to confiscate the Spiderman suit. Peter, upon learning both the true identity of Vulture and his ultimate plan, makes a final attempt sans the Spiderman suit to thwart his plans and rescue DODC’s plane.
The 3rd reboot of Spiderman offers a fresh insight into Peter Parker’s character—this time with an awkwardly fun and colorful coming of age passion to initially belong to a prestigious team and eventually to do what is right.  It is frustrating, though, how the movie tried too much to integrate his storyline into the Marvel Universe, ultimately giving too much screen time to Iron Man. The computer generated visuals balance the narrative and humor well. With three different treatments of three Peter Parker/Spiderman, the movie might appeal to some and bore others, depending on which personality they like better.
Adolescence is an awkward stage of confused assimilation—on the one hand, teenagers are so ready to be part of anything prestigious or popular, on the other hand, they do not always have the maturity to grasp the responsibility nor the patience to learn what is needed. However, if the heart and person of the young ones are formed well, the desire would be less to be part of what is popular than to be part of what is right and good. Here lies the role of mentors, role models and guides. As adults, these are what we are expected to be for our young ones.  To hold their hands until their steps are sturdy and straight, to shape their minds until their reasons are clear and righteous and to light their ways until their eyes can distinguish truth and justice on their own. Beautifully, Tony and Peter became poster children of adult-young mentoring.

Transformers: The Last Knight

DIRECTOR:  Michael Bay  LEAD CAST:  Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock  SCREENWRITERS:  Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Ken Nolan  PRODUCERS:  Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Ian Bryce  EDITORS:  Roger Barton, Adam Gerstel, Debra Neil-Fisher, John Refouga, Mark Sanger, Calvin Wimmer  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Steve Jablonsky  GENRE:  Science Fiction, Adventure  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Jonathan Sela DISTRIBUTOR:  Paramount Pictures  LOCATION:  England, Scotland, Ireland, California, Arizona, Michigan  RUNNING TIME:  149 minutes
Technical assessment: 1.5
Moral assessment: 2
CINEMA rating: V14
MTRCB rating: PG
The fifth installment of the Transformers franchise, Transformers: The Last Knight retells the history of the series in a different light. The film opens in England in the Dark Ages, amidst a battle involving King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, establishing that once upon a time, the wizard Merlin was handed-over a powerful staff by the Transformers that time—which was instrumental in King Arthur’s victory over invaders. Hundreds of years later, the evil sorceress Quintessa sends the dark Transformer Megatron to find the staff, casts a spell on Optimus Prime so it would turn against mankind. In the present day, Transformers are being hunted down by the government, and Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is protecting the good ones like Bumblebee and the Autobots. Yeager eventually becomes involved in the hunt for Merlin’s staff, meeting Viviane Wembly ( Laura Haddock) and Sir Edmond Burton (Sir Anthony Hopkins) who both lead him into the discovery of his significant role in finding the staff –on which,  the final fate of the Earth and all humanity lies.
The film runs for two-and-a-half hours of convoluted plot without a sense of centrality and purpose as it jumps from one subplot to another. The explanation of the back story has taken more than half of its running time so nothing much is left for meaningful characterization, or at least a central tension to look forward to besides the motherhood doomsday sci-fi stereotypical of a plot. The film is nothing but a two hour and half full of ear-splitting noise and senseless battles. It seems that the filmmakers are themselves hardly convinced that alien robots would have a significant role in human history that it would really need a lengthy exposition enough to suspend disbelief of the audience. The fans of the series may not really care that much for as long as the high-tech visual effects (VFX) are shown along with all the spectacles expected of a Transformers franchise. But even the VFX scenes and transitions do not make so much of an impact—quite apparently in the heat of battle scenes, there is no single shot of both humans and VFX character in one frame. The two worlds and their spatial relationship are not clearly established.  so as to create the logical tension between the two. The alien robots who are supposed to be the titular protagonists and antagonists stay in the background with the humans at the center and heart of the story who are given more active participation in pushing the plot forward. Transformers: The Last Knight fails in its entirety for the lack of soul and focus.

Transformers: The Last Knight is a vague spectacle. So vague that even its moral underpinning is buried deep in the grandeur of its VFX minus a compelling story to ponder on. The film’s theme remains in its usual territory—the battle of good vs. evil. This time around, it is not only humans who are capable of goodness but alien robots as well. In essence, both humans and aliens are capable of being either good or evil. In the movie, the two forces unite to save the Earth from total destruction. It is inherent for humans to save humanity but for aliens to have a deep concern for humanity is not quite believable. However, the Transformers portrays it as possible—these robots, though non-humans have also the capacity to reciprocate goodness and fight dark forces if need be. The strange action of Optimus Prime at the start confuses the audience of its allegiance but the revelation towards the middle part explains it thoroughly. Although alcohol consumption is shown infrequently, it is taken lightly at the opening scenes, with Merlin the wizard babbling with inebriation. There are also highly suggestive shots of the young girl Izabella with her low-neckline shirt when she was running and a high-angle shot of her showing her legs spread and again the low-cut of her neckline. These scenes are unnecessary to the plot development and may leave a not-so-good impression on the very young.  The movie is not for very young audiences because of the use of vulgar language and graphic violence, so CINEMA deems it fit only for audiences 14 and above, preferably still with parental guidance. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes

DIRECTOR:  MATT REEVES   LEAD CAST: ANDY SERKIS, WOODY HARRELSON, STEVE ZAHN, KARIN KONOVAL, AMIAH MILLER  SCREENWRITER: MARK BOMBACK, MATT REEVES  PRODUCER: PETER CHERNIN  EDITOR:  WILLIAM HOY, STAN SALFAS  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  MICHAEL GIACCHINO  GENRE: SCI-FI ACTION ADVENTURE  CINEMATOGRAPHER: MICHAEL SERESIN  DISTRIBUTOR: 20TH CENTURY FOX  LOCATION:  UNITED STATES  RUNNING TIME:  2 hours 27 minutes
Technical assessment:  4
Moral assessment:  3.5
CINEMA rating:  V14
MTRCB:  PG
Enhanced primate Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless renegade colonel (Woody Harrelson).  After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both of their species and the future of the planet. (mrqe.com)
After Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), War for the Planet of the Apes which is derived from Pierre Boulle’s novel (1963) begins two years after humans and primates fight for existence.  With characters created by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, the film is scripted by Mark Bombeck and director Matt Reeves as a character-driven action adventure.  Award-winning actor Serkin’s performance resulting in motion-capture visual effects is flawless.  Serkins as Gollum in Lord of the Rings is unforgettable; as Caesar here he stirs human empathy.  The colonel himself (Harrelson’s character), in an eyeball to eyeball scene with Caesar, says of the ape’s eyes “They’re almost human”.  Of course, Serkin didn’t do it alone—credit also goes to the team of effects artists who create the digital characters from the computerized 3D images of their actions and facial expressions.  Thanks to Seresin’s evocative cinematography and the stirring musical score by Giacchino, the total product is so convincingly real that only the most skeptical would doubt the story’s probability. 
Is it possible for an animal to have scruples, like human beings?  In War for the Planet of the Apes, we see an ape with a conscience and a human being without a heart.  Have man and ape switched roles?  No, and neither is depicted to be judged harshly, for the plot and the dialogue clearly unveil where each is coming from.  In this installment, Caesar is drawn to the dark depths of his heart, wanting revenge more than anything else—but has the discernment to realize that he is becoming more and more like the human-hating ape Koba (Toby Kebell).   The colonel wears a cross and a brown scapular around his neck, displays a small cross on his wall, and yet remains conflicted.  This thought provoking movie offers many topics for discussion, such as leadership, animal rights, compassion, loyalty, friendship, and vengeance as the result of being wounded (whether human or ape), etc.   While plumbing the depths of simian and human creatures, the movie also provides comic relief  through the antics of the zoo chimpanzee self-named “Bad Ape” (Steve Zahn), CINEMA—with due respect to MTRCB’s rating of PG—thinks that’s not enough to let your young children watch it.  The theme and its accompanying violence might scare and scar more than entertain them.
CINEMA TAKES A CLOSER LOOK AT REAL LIFE APES
CINEMA thinks the Planet of the Apes trilogy may also bring to focus the implications of real life scientific research utilizing primates, as its plot revolves around the scientists’ search for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease that created instead an ape with human-like intelligence.
It’s a fact that primates are being experimented upon by humans for medical purposes.  According to US-based PETA—People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—“over 105,000 primates every year are imprisoned in US laboratories… abused and killed in invasive, painful, and terrifying experiments…”  (See https://www.peta.org/) Primates are prime targets for experimenters because they share important biological and psychological characteristics with humans, such as sensitivity and intelligence.
In July 2011, as Rise of the Planet of the Apes hit the theaters—showing, among other images, a chimpanzee that fired an AK47 towards humans—the Academy of Medical Sciences of Britain (AMSB) said the dangers of disturbing animal-human experiments are real.  In a hard-hitting report the academics warned that research is close to pushing ethical boundaries and urged the government to create tough new rules to prevent such a scenario (of gun-toting primates) from becoming a reality.  Professor Martin Bobrow, a medical geneticist at Cambridge University and lead author of the report, said society needed to set rules before scientists began experiments that the public would find unacceptable.   
Three particularly “sensitive” areas in animal research, the report stated, are cognitive, that of reproduction, and creation of visual characteristics that would make them see themselves as human.  Relating to reproduction, the report recommended that animal embryos produced from human sperm or eggs do not develop beyond a period of 14 days.  The most controversial field, according to the report, deals with animals with “uniquely human” characteristics; the report called the experiments here “Frankenstein types with humanized animals”.  Thus, the AMSB report called for a ban on extreme attempts to give laboratory animals human attributes—such as injecting human stem cells into the brains of primates—and called for a closer monitoring of the experiments by a new body of experts.  “If a monkey that received human genetic material begins to acquire capabilities similar to a chimpanzee, it’s time to stop the experiments,” said Bobrow.
A co-author of the report, Professor Thomas Baldwin, said: “The fear is that if you start putting very large numbers of human brain cells into the brains of primates suddenly you might transform the primate into something that has some of the capacities that we regard as distinctively human—speech, or other ways of being able to manipulate or relate to us. These possibilities are largely explored in fiction, but we need to start thinking about them now.”


Friday, July 21, 2017

Bloody Crayons

DIRECTOR: Topel Lee  LEAD CAST: Janella Salvador, Elmo Magalona, Sofia Andres, Diego Loyzaga, Jane Oineza, Maris Racal, Yves Flores, Empoy Marquez, Ronnie Alonte  WRITERS: Carmel Josine Jacomille, Rogelio Panahon Jr., Justine Reyes de Jesus, Kenneth Lim Dagatan, John Paul Abellera  SCREENPLAY: Quark Henares  BASED ON: Bloody Crayons by Josh Argonza  PRODUCERS:  Charo Santos-Concio, Malou Santos  GENRE: Suspense-Thriller  CINEMATOGRAPHY: Zach Sycip  PRODUCTION  COMPANY: ABS-CBN Film Productions, Inc.  DISTRIBUTED BY: Star Cinema COUNTRY: Philippines  LANGUAGE: Filipino,English  RUNNING TIME:  110 minutes 
Technical assessment: 4
Moral assessment: 2.5
CINEMA rating: V14
MTRCB rating: R13
Dumating sa isang ilang na isla ang grupo ng mga kabataan para sa shooting ng kanilang film project  Titira sila pangsamantala sa lumang bahay na pag-aari ng pamilya ni Olivia (Jane Oineza).  Masaya ang lahat sa pagdating sa isla, subalit bago magdilim ay magkakaroon ng tensyon dahil  sa mga isyu ng love triangle  sa pagitan nina Marie (Sofia Andres), Kenly (Diego Loyzaga), at Olivia, at ang maapektuhan ang matalik na pagkakaibigan ng huli kay Eunice (Janella Salvador) dahil sa paglilihim nito sa kaibigan.  May mabubuo ding isyu sa sarili ang direktor ng grupo na si Kiko (Elmo Magalona) dahil sa makikita nya na pagiging malapit ni Eunice kay John (Ronnie Alonte).  Hindi nila kaklase si John, isinama lamang nila marahil para makatulong sa project.  Sa akalang huhupa ang nabuong tensyon sa mga kasama ay naglaro sila ng Bloody Crayon kung saan bilang mga manlalaro ay sasailalim sa confessions, rules at consequence na pag-inom ng pinaghalo-halong inumin sa bloody mug. Sa larong ito unang namatay ay kanilang kasama na si Marie dahil sa pagkakalason sa ininom na tubig pagkatapos uminom ng laman ng parusang bloody mug.  Susunod ang isa-isang pagkamatay ng magkakasama.  
Malikhain ang kwento ng Bloody Crayons na pinatingkad ng ginawang trato ng direktor upang mapuno ng suspense  mula sa simula hanggang sa resolusyon.  Epektibo ang pagpapalitan ng mga eksena ng shooting at aktwal sa paghahatid ng tensyon.  Maganda at masining ang mga kuha ng kamera sa iba’t ibang anggulo ng isla, ng dagat at talampas, ng loob at labas ng lumang bahay, at ng kagubatan.  Maayos ang mga komposisyon katulad ng mga eksena ng pagtatampisaw ng mga tauhan sa dagat, pag-uusap nina Eunice at John sa balkonahe na lihim palang nasasaksihan ni Kiko, ang pag-iisa ni John sa loob ng patibong na may daanan palabas sa dalampasigan, atbp.  Ang mga inilapat na tunog, musika at ilaw ay pawang mga akma sa hinihingi ng eksena at kabuuang istorya. Gayundin ang disenyo ng produksyon, kasuotan  at make-up. Tama lamang at kapani-paniwala ang pagganap ng mga kabataang artista sa kani-kanilang karakter. Gayunpaman, medyo nakakabagot ang pinatagal na eksena ng habulan nina Olivia at Eunice sa kagubatan at ang mahahabang usapan sa mga sitwasyong puno ng tensyon.  Sa kabuuan ay mahusay ang teknikal ng aspeto ng pelikula.


Mga kabataan, bilang mga mag-aaral na nagnanais kumpletuhin ang school requirement  upang makapagtapos ng kanilang kurso, ang itinampok sa pelikulang Bloody Crayons. Napadpad sila sa malayong isla dahil dito. Bilang mga responsableng mag-aaral ay ginagawa ang lahat upang matapos ang kailangan sa paaralan.  Subalit kung may mga isyu sa bawat isa ay mas mabuti na ayusin muna  bago pumalaot  bilang magkakasama.  Ang mga nabunyag na paglilihim ang naging mitsa ng pagsambulat ng galit at pagiging mapusok ng mga tampok na kabataan sa pelikula.  Dalawang gintong aral ang dapat tandaan ng isang tao upang mas maging maayos sa buhay: una, “ang katotohanan ang siyang nagpapalaya”; ikalawa, “walang lihim na di nabubunyag”.  Ang mga ito ang hindi isinaalang-alang ni Eunice dahil sa pagnanais niya na protektahan at huwag masaktan ang matalik na kaibigan. Ang inaakalang simpleng film project ay nauwi sa patayan at tuluyang pagtuldok sa mga pangarap na makapagtapos ng kanilang kurso.  Nakakahindik na magagawang patayin ng isang kabataan ang mga kaibigan dahil sa kabiguan sa pag-ibig, pagtataksil ng kaibigan, paglilihim na ginawa siyang tanga. Maaring labis ang sakit na dulot ng ganitong karanasan pero may paraan upang malampasan ito ng isang tao sa pamamagitan ng tamang proseso at paggabay. May pananagutan ang mga magulang at paaralan sa mga ganitong sitwasyon.  Ang pagsisisi ay palaging nasa huli.  Maliban sa pagpatay ay lumutang din ang temang pre-marital sex, pagtataksil at paglalasing sa mga ikinumpisal sa larong Bloody Crayon na siyang pinagmulan ng simbuyo ng mga damdamin sa mga tauhan ng kwento.  Maseselan at nangangailangan ng proseso ang mga temang ito at nangangailangan ng hinog na isipan ng manonood.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Ang Pagsanib kay Leah de la Cruz

LEAD CAST: Sarah Lahbati, Julian Trono and Shy Carlos DIRECTOR: Erik Matti  SCREENWRITER: Charlene Esguera  PRODUCER: EriK Matti & Katski Flores  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Francis de Vera  GENRE: Horror  DISTRIBUTOR:  Viva Films, Reality Entertainment  LOCATION: Philippines  RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes
Technical assessment: 3.5
Moral assessment:  2
CINEMA rating:  V18
MTRCB rating:  R13
Isang “inactive” na pulis si Ruth (Sarah Lahbatti), at namamahinga sa Barangay Dalisay.  Palaging laman ng isip ni Ruth ang kapatid niyang si Erik, as tila plagi niyang sinusulatan at inuunawa kahit hindi ito sumasagot.  Galing sa isang simbahan, lalapitan siya ng teenager na si (Julian Trono), at papakiusapan siya nitong tulungan ang kanyang malaking “crush” na si Leah (Shy Carlos) na tila sinasaniban.  Bagamat nayayamot sa kakulitan ni Gabriel, mapupukaw ang kalooban ni Ruth na dumamay nang masaksihan niya ang tangkang pagpapakamatay ni Leah na tatalon mula sa balkonahe ng kanilang bahay.  Kasama si Gabriel,   
Magiimbestiga si Ruth sa kaso nang malaman nilang sinugat-sugatan din ni Leah diumano ang yaya nitong si Rosario bago siya tumalon.  Lalawig ang pag-iimbestiga ng dalawa at may mauungkat sila tungkol sa isang kulto.  Ano ang kinalaman ni Rosario, ng isang pari, ng isang madre, sa pagsanib na nangyayari kay Leah?
Kahindik-hindik ang simula ng pelikula, at agad ay iisipin mong kakaiba itong horror movie—hindi nagtutumili, pero nakakakaba.  Magaling ang cinematropaphy, musika at editing ng pelikula, nagtulong-tulong sila upang mabuo ang “atmosphere”.  Dinala ng mahusay na pagganap ni Carlos, Lahbati at Trono ang kuwento mula simula hanggang katapusan.  Ngunit sa hindi matukoy na paraan, hindi mahawakan ng pelikula ang interes o simpatiya ng manonood sa kanyang kabuuan.  Maraming bagay na dahil salat sa katuwiran o lohika ay nakakawalang-gana nang sundan.  Maaaring humanga na lamang tayo sa galing mag-“emote” ng mga artista, pero ano ang saysay ng kuwento, at ng mga umano’y lihim na isinisiwalat ng ano man yaong espiritung sumasanib kay Leah? 
Maaaring gustong sabihin ng Ang Pagsanib kay Leah de la Cruz na ang mga kasawiang-palad na nangyayari sa tao ay nanggagaling din sa kaniyang sarili—sa kamangmangan o pagkukunwari—na ang isang tao ay “minumulto” ng kanyang lihim, maging ito man ay isang kasalananan o nakaraang hindi maiwanan.  Ngunit ang bagay na ganitong kalalim ay hindi matagumpay na mabibigyang katuwiran ng isang pelikulang gumagamit ng ideya ng “pagsanib” ngunit wala namang malinaw na iginagawad na paliwanag o lunas upang ang manonood ay maniwala sa katotohanan nito at mag-isip kung paano ito pupugsain upang ang manaig at lumutang ay ang likas na lakas ng loob ng tao na nilikhang kawangis ng Maykapal.  Gawa ng malagim na sinapit ng mga tauhan—kahit na ang inaakala nati’y “matibay” sa kanila—binigyan ng pelikula ng labis na kapangyarihan ang puwersa ng kadiliman.  Walang kapatawarang nasasalamin sa kuwento.  Hindi mabuting panoorin dahil baka paniwalaan ng mga murang isipan.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Mummy

Direction: Alex Kurtzman; Cast: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Russell Crowe; Screenplay: Davif Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman Story: Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet; Editing:  Paul Hirsch, Gina Hirsch; Producer: Alex Kurtzman; Music: Brian Tyler; Genre: Adventure, Horror; Distributor: Universal Pictures; Location: Middle East and USA  Running Time: 107 minutes  
Technical assessment: 2  
Moral assessment: 2.5 
CINEMA rating: V18 
An underground construction team unearth a graveyard of 11th century knight crusaders somewhere in London. A mysterious man, who says he is authorized to investigate the scene, narrates the story of the ruthless Egyptian Princess Ahmanet (Boutella) Ahmanet was to succeed her father until her stepmother gives birth to a boy and strips her of her birthright. She murders her family and makes a pact with the Egyptian god, Set, and tries to sacrifice her lover to give his spirit a human form. But the Pharaoh’s priests mummify Ahmanet live and sentences her to a mercury-surrounded prison. In present day Iraq, soldier-of-fortune Nick Morton (Cruise) accidentally frees the tomb while investigating the area with his partner Chris Vail and one-time lover archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Wallis). Ahmanet feeds on humans to regenerate her body and summons her power to possess those around her so she can capture Nick whom she has chosen to be Set’s human vessel. Meanwhile, Edward Hyde (Crowe) intervenes and reveals his mission to rid the world of evil by capturing and experimenting on them. Ahmanet, however, frees herself and recovers the dagger and stone necessary to complete the ritual. In the final struggle, Nick succumbs to Ahmanet and is possessed by Set but regains control when he sees the dead body of Jenny. He kills Ahmanet and resurrects Jenny before disappearing into the darkness.  
This Mummy franchise is by far the most ambitious failure. The storyline erupts with mindless cliché and poor interpretation of themes you've seen elsewhere. There are moments of lightheartedness and enjoyable action but these do not compensate for the muddled plot and characters. This is technically impressive with all the meticulous work in recreating ancient times, modern zombies and a creepy lab fighting evil. But without a solid story, the storytelling tools are useless. The biggest problem with the film is Cruise himself who continuously lives that self-absorbed man stuck in juvenile mode who by some epiphany realizes that selflessness alone can save the day. He is either too old or not believable enough to pull it off. There is absolutely no chemistry between him and Jenny, and not enough reason for us to root for Morton to stay alive and for Cruise to do a sequel. 
A real hero is a hero by choicenot by fate. Almost every movie about the history of a superhero shows us how ordinary people are transformed into superheroes not by physical abilities or supernatural power but by their character that makes them worthy to receive the special gifts that will make them “supers”.  But heroes need not be super (or come with superpowers) because a hero just needs to see what he or she has within. A special talent, a competence, a passion or just the very self. And when that is strengthened, that becomes the power. Now, that power is revealed when they face a critical or life-and-death situation wherein they need to choose between themselves and others, between protecting their interests or that of the common good. We see also how a selfish, immature or lawless person transforms and reforms to be selfless, responsible and upright when they understand love and sacrifice. And this makes an ordinary person a hero. In principle, The Mummy wanted to show how Nick is transformed into a herowhether it was successful or not is another question. And with the aggressive action sequences, sexual innuendos and adult themes present, the movie is preferable for the older audiences.