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Weekly Recap: Wonder Woman Soars, The Mummy Unravels

Will you look at that!  It turns out WB can make a good movie based on a DC Comics superhero.  It just took a woman’s touch.  Wonder Woman, that is.  Diana Prince’s solo adventure took the top spot at the box office for two weeks in a row which is convenient for me because I missed the weekly recap while I was out of town last Sunday.  That makes this week’s recap a not-quite double-sized affair.  While it’s covering two week’s worth of material, the weeks in question were a bit light on content given my absence.  So before we jump into the recap, I want to give an extra big shout out to all the contributors who made sure there was something here for you guys to read.  Take a bow Jestak, Daffy, Jeffthewildman and Kevthewriter.

Since we’re talking box office figures, let’s talk just a bit about the movie Wonder Woman beat in its second week.  Universal has been trying for years now to launch a Marvel-style cinematic universe around their classic monster properties.  There are a few problems with that the first of which is that it is a terrible idea.  The minute Frankenstein meets Dracula, you have an Abbott and Costello movie.  Or Van Helsing.  But Universal keeps on trying.  Their relaunch of The Mummy starring Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible mode is supposed to kick off the studio’s Dark Universe brand.  But American audiences are missing Brendan Fraser like never before.

The new Mummy movie was directed by Alex Kurtzman.  Never heard of him?  He and his frequent collaborator Roberto Orci are proteges of Michael Bay with a little tutelage from JJ Abrams thrown in the mix.  Let’s take a look at some of Kurtzman’s credits: Mission: Impossible III, Transformers, Star Trek, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Cowboys & Aliens, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  This is the guy Universal is entrusting with a massive multi-picture franchise.  Lucky for them, overseas audiences don’t really care about lousy scripts as long as there are explosions.  Despite tanking here in the US, The Mummy is doing quite well in parts of the world that don’t speak English.

Okay, enough box office talk.  Let’s look at what’s been going on here at Le Blog for the last couple of weeks.  The easiest place to start is with the site’s most consistent feature.  We’ve got fourteen days of celebrity birthdays for a total of twenty-eight headliners from Jetsak.  Let’s check ’em out:

Week One

Week Two

One of our headliners was cast as Catwoman, but had to back out after she became pregnant.  And no, it wasn’t the one and only Adele Dazeem.  Colin Farrell menaced Ben Affleck’s Daredevil and Clint Eastwood debated a chair.  I actually saw Marilyn Monroe while I was on vacation.  In fact, it may have been on her birthday.  Ooops.  I didn’t get her anything.  I hope she’s not mad.

Mark Wahlberg is going to cash a big fat Transformers paycheck that could have been Shia LaBeouf’s if he hadn’t lost his mind.  If you’re a Marky Mark fan, he’ll be showing up in an interview from the Movieline archives next week, so make sure you check that out.  Liam Neeson has a special set of skills that somehow made him an action star surprisingly late in his career.  Johnny Depp, like Tom Cruise, is enjoying robust international grosses for a movie that disappointed domestically.  You can start the countdown for Pirates 6.  And I can’t end the birthday recap without a shout-out to Dorothy.

I also can’t end the birthday part of this recap without another shout out to Jestak who just keeps on delivering the goods day after day and week after week.  He’s closing in on a full year’s worth of articles without having missed a day.  I take the family to Florida for a week and I can’t even squeeze in a recap.

Speaking of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and recent birthday boy, Johnny Depp, I ranked the Pirates movies from Worst to First before I left for vacation which means you guys got to do the same.  This week, we reviewed the reader rankings of the series which basically matched my own.  Jeffthewildman kicked off a Worst to First on the X-Men movies.  If you haven’t already ranked them yourself, be sure to do so as soon as possible.  Reader rankings to come next week.

Daffy and I have been following Showtime’s revival of Twin Peaks.  Have you?  It’s been a weird trip so far and I don’t think either Daffy or I have fully made up our minds about it yet.  I covered Parts 3 and 4 (which aired as a two-hour block) and while I was away Daffy grappled with the mysteries of Part 5.  Thanks for filling in, Mr. Stardust!  On a programming note, I have not been recapping Fear the Walking Dead which also runs on Sunday nights, but I have been watching.  Those recaps will resume following the completion of Twin Peaks.  In the meantime, just assume the characters on the show did something stupid and yet somehow survived (except Travis, but that dude lived a full two seasons longer than he should have).

Daffy also took a vacation relatively recently.  After several weeks of videos, he finished chronicling his Spring Break trip.  But never fear.  He’s going back soon which will surely mean more videos.

Kevthewriter asked why Men in Black 3 bombed.  I have to admit, I wasn’t aware that movie performed as poorly at the box office as it did.  I watched it on cable after the disappointing second movie and was very pleasantly surprised.  If you haven’t seen it and you like Men in Black, check out the third movie when you get a chance.  He followed that up with a comparison between two dark and gritty superhero tales, the craptacular Batman V Superman and the solid Netflix series Jessica Jones.  Bottom line, one of them was directed by Zack Snyder and one of them was good.  (Yeah, I don’t feel good about making that joke after hearing about Snyder’s personal tragedy.  Kidding aside, my heart goes out to him as a human being.  I’m also a lot more stoked about Justice League than I was a month ago.)

Let’s wrap things up with some articles from the Movieline archives.  Heather Graham talked about her supporting role in Boogie NightsPhillip Noyce breathed a sigh of relief that he got to direct Harrison Ford instead of Alec Baldwin in Patriot Games, Eric Stoltz discussed his “method” for playing a paraplegic in The Waterdance  and Faye Dunaway refused to answer any questions about Mommie Dearest.

Next Week: I’m working on a trip report for our Universal Orlando vacation, but I’m not sure if I’ll have it done next week.  I will be recapping whatever happens on tonight’s episode of Twin Peaks.  I’m willing to bet it will be weird.  We’ll have another Worst to First and reader rankings on the X-Men movies.  If you have been craving some Alien-related articles following the release of Covenant, we’ve got that covered too.

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Posted on June 11, 2017, in Weekly Recap. Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. “On a programming note, I have not been recapping Fear the Walking Dead which also runs on Sunday nights, but I have been watching.”

    You’re more of a trooper than me. Ain’t watchin’, ain’t writin’ ’em up. Alas, I now have a group devoted to TWD/Z NATION. Last week, FTWD came back, I forgot to set up a response thread and no one else had anything to say about it! lol. How do you make a show even worse than TWD? Remake TWD on a smaller budget.

    “In the meantime, just assume the characters on the show did something stupid and yet somehow survived”

    That’s every episode of FTWD and TWD; you could just cut-and-paste it from week to week.

    “But American audiences are missing Brendan Fraser like never before.”

    That’s a terrible, terrible thought. It looks like THE MUMMY is on track for a $30 million opening domestically, which is a disaster (but when you say it, you have to explain to people why foreign box-office is so much less important than domestic–ugh). Look for it to be crushed under the wheels of CARS next weekend. In a way, it’s unfortunate that WONDER WOMAN is being so well-received. If it’s a good movie, it would be nice to be able to be pleased by this but what it really means is that this awful, awful DC cinematic universe that needs to simply die will continue. The positive reviews of it are all similar; everyone says it’s a by-the-numbers superhero story that takes no chances on anything but is exceptionally well executed and only falls apart in the big over-emoting-CGI-fest finale.

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  2. I’m glad “Wonder Woman” has done well; it was a property that hasn’t been exploited to death (more than anything it’s probably been neglected & underused), and I think audiences were really looking forward to it, so it’s cool that it’s worth the time.

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    • I am very heartened by Wonder Woman’s success. For one, I love the character and it is always rewarding to see one of my favorite fictional characters treated properly on the big screen. I’m also a big DC Comics fan, so Wonder Woman gives you hope that maybe they can right the ship. But more importantly, if Wonder Woman had failed it would have been one more argument against making movies about women or letting female directors like Patty Jenkins helm these kinds of movies. I see Wonder Woman as a big fat win.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The real reason The Mummy flopped at the box office

    http://www.looper.com/69674/real-reason-mummy-flopped-box-office/

    Universal plans to launch a monster movie universe with Tom Cruise’s The Mummy, a reboot of the studio’s classic scary movie franchise and a re-reboot of the late ’90s Brendan Fraser trilogy. However, despite the lofty expectations surrounding the film, the attachment of a huge star in Cruise, and the name recognition of the titular monster, The Mummy wasn’t able to scare up viewers in its opening weekend, debuting to an underwhelming $32 million domestic gross.

    The disappointing start for the thriller likely won’t unravel the Dark Universe, but it still spells trouble—and it also represents another failure for a bumpy summer box office. Although Universal was certainly hoping for a less terrifying opening for The Mummy, there were actually quite a few warning signs leading up to its debut. Here’s why The Mummy was DOA.

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    • I wrote a piece about it this weekend. Universal is trying to repackage these iconic characters again while avoiding what has kept them around: their status as HORROR icons:
      http://cinemarchaeologist.blogspot.com/2017/06/horrible-isnt-horror.html

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      • I saw your piece but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I think there are legitimate ways to interpret these characters that are not pure horror. While I didn’t care for the Sommers Mummy movies, they certainly found an audience. Where I think Universal’s concept is fatally flawed is when it comes to the “shared universe”. There is just no reason to ape Marvel on this. Every studio is trying to take that template which worked for Marvel and find some way to shoehorn their intellectual property into it. But the truth of the matter is that the reason Marvel’s universe works is that cross-overs have been inherent in the source material since the very beginning. Having Captain America meet Iron Man feels natural. But there’s not a lot of reason to have the Wolf Man meet the mummy. Historically this sort of thing has been a sign of creative bankruptcy. The Dark Universe concept just reeks of desperation. Universal should make use of their classic monsters, but don’t force them into a shared universe model just because it works well for superheroes.

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        • jeffthewildman

          In a lot of ways, this is reminiscent of what happened after the original Batman in 1989. A lot of studios thought that pulp heroes like Dick Tracy and The Phantom were the same as superheroes like Batman and the X-Men and could have major success with them. Problem was, as has been noted here previously, most of those pulp characters didn’t have the same name recognition as Batman and so that played a role in why they didn’t become mega franchises.

          A shared universe makes sense for Marvel and even for DC. But putting together The Mummy and the other classic monsters is more reminiscent of the failed 2003 movie adaptation of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen than it is of The Avengers.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I hadn’t thought about the “pulp heroes” movies of the 90’s, but you’re right. It’s another classic example of the studio types just trying to swipe the surface elements of a successful formula without actually trying to figure out what made the original successful in the first place. It happens with everything, so I’m not at all surprised other studios are trying to duplicate Marvel’s shared universe. The thing they don’t realize is that it’s a model that is very specific to comic books. And even then, it can’t be applied to all superhero properties. Sony’s attempts at building a universe around Spider-man are destined to fail.

          Since you brought up League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I will just say that the comic book that movie was based on was brilliant. But there was virtually no chance Hollywood was going to adapt it correctly. The concept of mashing up all the Victorian era characters was not flawed, but the execution sure was. Having read the books, I pretend the movie never happened.

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    • Did Tom Cruise Have Too Much Creative Control on The Mummy?

      http://www.denofgeek.com/us/movies/tom-cruise/265739/did-tom-cruise-have-too-much-creative-control-on-the-mummy

      A new report claims that Tom Cruise had “excessive” creative control on The Mummy.

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  4. You’ll probably get this question a lot but are there any new WTHH articles coming up?

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    • The short answer is yes. The longer and more detailed answer is that I have been rethinking my approach to the series. When I bring it back, which I definitely want to do, I am looking towards shorter, sleeker articles. In a way, I’m thinking about a more back-to-basics approach to the series that would focus more on the big moments than the minutia. That’s where my head is anyway. I know it’s the site’s most popular feature and people do ask about it relatively frequently so I do want to bring it back as soon as possible. I just want to make sure that when it comes back, it’s as good as it can possibly be.

      Liked by 2 people

      • A big part of the fun is that you usually cover every film, even de most obscure ones. So don’t hold back on my account ; )
        But I’m sure the new one will turn out to be a fun read in either form.

        I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a WTHH article myself but I’ve come to realize that my English is not good enough to write an entire engaging article to be posted on LeBlog. Perhaps in the future… : )

        Either way, keep up the good work!

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      • I don’t mind reading 12-14 pages worth of material, but yeah, I think the better play for you (and any other contributors that tackle the series) is to trim the fat, just to save yourself some time and not make the articles such a project. You could list or link the lesser films or whatever; I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

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        • That’s a part of it too. Shorter articles are less of a chore. If I don’t need to devote six weeks to WTHH to Kelly McGillis, I can turn out multiple articles in that time. It would mean skipping over some of the direct-to-video stuff and the guest appearances on procedural crime shows, but I think that’s a trade-off worth making.

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        • I think in a way or a certain extent, it depends on the subject and how “entertaining” their respective career arcs (both the good and the bad) may be. I think that it’s harder for somebody with considerably “LONG” careers but nothing outwardly controversial (like for example Kurt Russell, Michael Keaton, Sylvester Stallone, Kevin Costner or the even the late Robin Williams or on the female side, Lea Thompson or Elisabeth Shue). Or people who are still for the most part “relevant” (in that they still get regular work) and whether or not they’er still technically “A-list” is up for serious debate like Nicole Kidman or Reese Witherspoon.

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        • I don’t necessarily mind a longer article if the subject is considerably notorious. For example, anybody who is better known for their “difficult” to work with reputations or messy personal lives (e.g. Val Kilmer, Sean Young, Wesley Snipes, Steven Seagal, Debra Winger, Kim Basinger, Chevy Chase, Demi Moore, Edward Norton, etc.). Maybe I get a big kick out of the supposed “train-wreck” element I know that this isn’t necessarily a gossip blog per se, but we naturally have to regardless, pin-point when and how things started to “go wrong” for one particular movie star or another.

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        • I think that the movies or any other acting stuff should be “milestones”. What I mean is instead of given a lengthy detail of literally every acting job said WTHHT subject ever had, how about just focusing on the ones that had the most immediate impact or effect on their careers (bot negative and positive). In the case of Kelly McGillis, of course you would have to focus more heavily on the three biggest (or “buzz-worthy moments”) movies of her career: “Witness”, “Top Gun”, and “The Accused”.

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  5. jeffthewildman

    As we’ve discussed before over the last couple years, the days of star driven movies or more specifically, stars that would draw audiences to movies are over. Franchises like Pirates, Bourne and Mission Impossible are successful because they have built in audiences.

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    • How Tom Cruise became so hated in Hollywood

      http://www.nickiswift.com/34655/tom-cruise-became-hated-hollywood/

      Over the course of more than 35 years, Tom Cruise has evolved from a floppy haired heartthrob into one of the most powerful and polarizing figures in Hollywood. He flew straight into the hearts of female viewers the world over as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in aerial romance Top Gun (1986), and he won the male vote as Ethan Hunt in the stunt-laden Mission: Impossible franchise (1996-), gradually building a reputation as one of the film industry’s genuine megastars. But somewhere along the way, the love Cruise had grown accustomed to began to fade, and the public’s perception of him changed drastically. Once the man that every guy wanted to be and every girl wanted to be with, the name Tom Cruise has since come to mean something completely different on both sides of the gender divide, but why? This is how Cruise became so hated in Hollywood.

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