It took us over ten years, but hell, we finally got a great live action “Transformers” movie. The only thought that came to mind while I was watching the opening ten minutes of “Bumblebee” was: Why didn’t we get this in the first place? Why did Sony opt for such a moronic, nonsensical, incoherent mess of a franchise, rather than deliver what is easily the best live action representation of the franchise I’ve seen so far. Everything in “Bumblebee” is the antithesis of what Michael Bay’s movies were, right down to the lack of racial stereotypes, and the jingoism. Granted, there is a meat head military hero with John Cena, but that’s a miniscule nitpick in a movie that’s just such a great experience from beginning to end.
The only studio that’s managed to build an interesting cinematic universe beside Marvel is Warner who’s “The Conjuring” cinematic universe has been a long stretch of movies varying in quality. The interconnected movie verse takes Valak the horrific nun from “The Conjuring 2” and gives her own film. What should have been an easy scare fest lending a spotlight to one of the most memorable monsters in “The Conjuring 2” ends up as yet another miss like “Annabelle.” I don’t know why it’s so tough for the producers of the “Conjuring” cinematic universe to produce spin offs for their series’ monsters.
“The Conjuring” cinematic universe kind of snuck up on the horror community over the years, prompting a series of movies that have been hit or miss. While I think “The Conjuring” cinematic universe has a ton of potential to be fantastic, at its current state, there’s still a lot for the studios to learn from the previous films. On its own, “The Nun” is a perfectly fine bit of gothic horror that’s sadly mostly half baked, and under developed. It’s saved by the small cast’s strong turns, and the dazzling imagery that successfully channels the old Hammer films. “The Nun” sets out to build a different energy from the rest of the movies in “The Conjuring” franchise, and for better and for worse, it accomplishes that.
2014’s “Annabelle” should have been an easy win. Take one of the most frightening elements from 2012’s “The Conjuring” and give her her own spooky tale about where she comes from and you have another hit. Sadly, “Annabelle” was an ill conceived and silly movie that is given a second chance with another prequel “Creation.” This film goes even further back before “The Conjuring” to where the doll was merely a dormant spirit lying and waiting for fresh souls to exploit.
I, for one, quite loved the big screen reboot of “Casper” with Christina Ricci. As a kid I loved its human elements and fun atmosphere. And then they kind of ruined it with a bunch of direct to video sequels and prequels that stunk. “A Spirited Beginning” is one of many that completely copies the formula of the original movie, with performances that are oh so much worse.
I’ve come around on “The Purge” movies in 2018. What I once thought of as goofy exploitation movies, are now goofy exploitation movies with a point. They’re exploitation we need right now, they’re kind of angry diatribes about society that I’ve come to respect. Stuff about the white privileged banking off of the purge, the purge becoming an industry on to itself, “The Purge” posing as an alternate universe tale where the female candidate for president reigned supreme, and now where “The First Purge” begins as an “experiment.”
I’m usually very rough on video game inspired movies because—well—pretty much all of them suck. Save for “Mortal Kombat,” which is kind of fun if you’re in the right mood. After two goofy attempts to adapt the iconic adventure video game series “Tomb Raider” to the big screen, Warner reboots the movie series by—adapting the reboot of the video game from 2013. While I’d be hard pressed to call Roar Uthaug’s cinematic take on Lara Croft a masterpiece, I had a really good time with “Tomb Raider,” and that’s all I wanted in the end.
The problem with prequels is that you already know what you’re getting, because you already know what’s going to happen to certain characters within the canon, so, “Solo” doesn’t pack much surprises. I will say though for arguably safe genre entertainment, it’s exciting and also delivers some well timed twists within its narrative. After the much ballyhooed problems during the making of the film, “Solo” ends up being a surprisingly competent popcorn movie that keeps a brisk pace, and channels the original tone of the episodes IV-VI better than the previous prequels/mid-quels (?).