Release Date: May 1st, 2000 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Ridely Scott Written by: David Franzoni, John Logan, William Nicholson Music by: Hans Zimmer, Lisa Gerrard Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, Richard Harris, Tommy Flanagan, Ralf Moller, Omid Djalili
Scott Free Productions, Dreamworks Pictures, Universal Pictures, 155 Minutes
“[removes helmet and turns around to face Commodus] My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the TRUE emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next. [Commodus trembles in disbelief]” – Maximus
I’m pretty disappointed in myself for having not seen this movie in twenty years. I saw it in the theater, when it came out, and I also saw it on DVD when that was first released. While I’ve seen segments of it, over the years, it’s been two decades since I’ve watched the film in its entirety. Granted, I can’t believe that this movie is now that old. In my mind, it still feels fairly recent but we’ve already passed the 20th anniversaries for the Harry Potter movies and Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
As I write this, it also looks like it will be my final review on Talking Pulp, as I am now forced to use the Block Editor, which I loathe because it functions like a fucking redacted.
Any-fucking-way, this movie is a masterpiece. It’s pretty damn perfect.
It’s well acted, well directed, has wonderful cinematography, solid action, a story that hits any real man’s man in the gut and it’s meticulously crafted and superbly paced, even though it’s closer to three hours than two.
You’ve probably already seen this. You probably already love it. If you haven’t seen it, why? Get on it!
While I’d like to say a lot more about the film, I can’t stand using this fucking editor so I’m going to sign off.
Release Date: April 16th, 1999 (Portugal) Directed by: Stephen Sommers Written by: Stephen Sommers, Lloyd Fonvielle, Kevin Jarre Music by: Jerry Goldsmith Cast: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Jonathan Hyde, Kevin J. O’Connor, Oded Fehr, Erick Avari, Stephen Dunham, Corey Johnson, Tuc Watkins, Omid Djalili, Aharon Ipale, Bernard Fox, Patricia Velásquez
Alphaville Films, Universal Pictures, 124 Minutes
“I only gamble with my life, never my money.” – Rick
I was a big fan of this movie when it originally came out. However, in the years since, it’s kind of gone down the memory hole due to its sequels and spinoffs, which each seemed to get worse. Also, the more I saw from Stephen Sommers, the more I disliked him as a director.
However, I wanted to see this with pretty fresh eyes, as its been nearly twenty years since I last watched it and a lot of the details have been lost. Granted, these details came rushing back to me, as I watched the picture again.
I loved this so much in 1999 because of three reasons.
The first is that I had been yearning for something Indiana Jones-like since that series ended ten years earlier with 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
The second is that I have always loved the Universal Monsters franchise and this reboot of one of Universal’s classic monsters was something that got me really excited.
The third is that this starred Brendan Fraser as a lead in a blockbuster. I was a fan of the guy and loved watching him move up the Hollywood ladder since seeing him in the early ’90s in Encino Man and School Ties.
So seeing this now, I pretty much fell in love with it again. It also made me wish that Hollywood could just stop with the crap and make fun summer movies again. Sure, the occasional fun blockbuster comes out now and again but these things used to be really common and they were also made to entertain the audience and allowed them to get lost in the magic of Hollywood for a few hours. This reminded me of how big blockbusters coming to theaters were really big events in pop culture. It feels like that’s been gone for a few years and not just because of COVID; it started before that.
While I felt like the overall story, here, wasn’t particularly strong, it didn’t matter as much as the spectacle and scope of the film. This was ambitious for 1999 but it succeeded and probably much more than what was anticipated for it.
The special effects wowed audiences and they are mostly still good, even though some of it does look a wee bit dated. However, the big CGI heavy sequences still play well and nothing really pulls you out of the movie.
I really like the cast of this picture and thought that Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz were a good pairing with nice chemistry. I also thought that Fraser and John Hannah had solid camaraderie and it grows throughout the movie.
Arnold Vosloo was a pretty solid choice for Imhotep. He didn’t have to say anything but did a fine job acting with his facial expressions and body language. He was believable as an undead mummy trying to resurrect his long lost Anck-su-namun.
All in all, 1999’s version of The Mummy is much better than the recent Tom Cruise take on the franchise. I’m sure they’ll attempt yet another reboot in the future but this is a hard one to top outside of the 1932 original with the legendary Boris Karloff.
Also, this is the best movie that Stephen Sommers ever made, as everything went downhill from here.
Also known as: Mission: Impossible 5 (working title), MI5 (informal title) Release Date: July 23rd, 2015 (Vienna premiere) Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie Written by: Christopher McQuarrie, Drew Pearce Based on:Mission: Impossible by Bruce Geller Music by: Joe Kraemer Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris
“I can’t protect you, that’s why I need you to leave.” – Ethan Hunt, “That’s not your decision to make, Ethan! I am a field agent, I know the risks! More than that, I am your friend, no matter what I tell the polygraph every week! Now you called me because you needed my help! And you still do! So I am staying! And that is all we are gonna say about that!” – Benji Dunn
Man, I was a fool for quitting this series after the pretty terrible second film. Each movie since then has gotten better and better and frankly, I’m incredibly impressed by these stupendous movies! I shouldn’t have ignored the hype, I should’ve bought in and just enjoyed these on the big screen. Well, thankfully there are two more installments currently being filmed.
Getting into this particular chapter of the franchise, all my favorite surviving members of the series are back and it’s great seeing them pick up where the fourth film left off while also adding in Alec Baldwin and Rebecca Ferguson, who I absolutely fucking loved in this. I’m glad they chose to let her stick around for more films after this one, as she hit it out of the park and became the best female in this series almost immediately. Although, I was curious about Paula Patton’s absence and hope that her character appears at some point again, in the future.
This chapter also establishes a great villain and villain group that our heroes have to face. It’s sort of like Ethan Hunt having to face his own version of James Bond‘s SPECTRE but a lot less hammy and a bit more scary, as these film’s tend to veer more towards realism than the classic SPECTRE stories in the earliest Bond movies.
And while this might easily be brushed off as a rehash of that idea or other similar stories with villainous, secret terrorist groups like Hydra or Cobra, this group feels more plausible in the real world.
As is customary with these awesome flicks, the movie is full of incredible stunts and action sequences. While I think the previous film edges out this one in that regard, this is a slightly better movie, overall. That has a lot to do with the story but also in how this expands the mythos in a cool new way while building up from the franchise’s very strong foundation (excluding M:I-2 of course).
In the end, this was near-fucking-perfect for what it is. It gives me hope for the sixth film, which I still haven’t seen, as well as the two sequels yet to come. If the series maintains its quality beyond this chapter, it may become my favorite franchise of the modern era, post-2000.
Rating: 9.5/10 Pairs well with: the other Mission: Impossible films.
Also known as: The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (original title), Orson Welles’ Othello (Germany) Release Date: November 27th, 1951 (Turin premiere) Directed by: Orson Welles Written by: Orson Welles Based on:Othello by William Shakespeare Music by: Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, Alberto Barberis Cast: Orson Welles, Micheál Mac Liammóir, Suzanne Cloutier, Robert Coote
“Oh beware, my lord, of jealousy. It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” – Iago
Othello is one of my favorite plays by William Shakespeare and over the years I’ve seen several adaptations of it. I have to say though, this one is probably my favorite.
While it does alter the story somewhat, the gist of the story is here. I just feel like it’s condensed with some alterations just to keep it at a reasonable running time. But it was also filmed in segments over several years, so the pace of the production could’ve also had an effect on the finished product and the creative liberties it took.
But I think that Orson Welles truly respected the material and tried to do the best adaptation he could. He certainly didn’t fail and the end result is pretty exceptional.
Although, Orson Welles was a true filmmaking auteur and a remarkable actor. So whether he is behind the camera or in front of it, it’s near impossible not to be captivated on some level.
While this isn’t as famous as his pictures Citizen Kane or The Magnificent Ambersons, it employs a lot of what he learned on those films.
Welles is a maestro of mise-en-scène and he goes to great lengths in his shot framing, cinematography and lighting to make something so rich and alluring. Hell, just the opening sequence of robed silhouettes walking for five minutes in high contrast chiaroscuro is visually striking and sets the tone for the narrative, as well as the ocular allure.
Welles plays Othello and while in modern times white actors playing roles in blackface is considered highly offensive, it was a product of its day when this was made. That doesn’t make it right but for anyone trying to adapt Othello, this is a challenge that they had to deal with. And it wasn’t because there weren’t talented black actors, it’s due to the fact that there had to be interracial exchanges of romance, which wasn’t allowed by Hollywood in 1951.
In fact, 1957’s Island In the Sun is said to be the film with the first interracial kiss but it actually isn’t. The kisses that were shot were edited out and the filmmakers only gave viewers a passionate dance and a romantic embrace. The first actual interracial kiss didn’t come until 1967’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and even then, it was obscured and shown in reflection.
The point is, Welles’ Othello predates Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner by 16 years. Had Welles cast a black actor, this is a real issue he would have had to deal with in how the picture was filmed and ultimately, in how it would have been received by audiences and within his own industry, who were still not willing to get past their own bigotry.
I think that the point of the Othello story is its examination of racism. Regardless of how Welles had to present his vision, the film still carries that message and frankly, it’s films like this that helped eventually open some of the doors in Hollywood. I think that Welles knew this and he acted out the role of Othello with real passion. And it’s hard to deny the level of craftsmanship he put into the film as the visionary behind it.
Besides, it was Welles himself who wrote in a 1944 issue of Free World magazine that, “Race hate must be outlawed.” He would also go on to star alongside Charlton Heston (in brownface) in 1958’s Touch of Evil, a film-noir dealing with racial tensions in a California/Mexico border town.
Getting back to the film itself, I’d say that the only thing that somewhat hinders the picture is the rest of the cast. It’s not that they are bad or incapable but next to Welles, they seem out of their depth and overpowered. While Welles certainly won’t downplay his performance, his best films are well cast with other players who can hang with him and enhance his scenes. For instance, the aforementioned Charlton Heston, as well as frequent collaborator Joseph Cotton and his wife of four years, Rita Hayworth.
Now while I feel that the pace and running time were fine, I was actually so into this that I wouldn’t have minded if Welles took this motion picture to the three hour mark. I think it would have made the production more difficult than it already was but with Othello, he crafted a silvery and majestic film that carried a strong, worthwhile message.
It does what it sets out to do within 90 minutes, though. So I’ll take it and appreciate it.
Rating: 8.75/10 Pairs well with: other Orson Welles films, specifically Macbeth and Chimes at Midnight.
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