Tag Archives: Marwan Kenzari

Black Adam (2022) Review

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Black Adam

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, horror scenes & content may disturb
Cast:
Dwayne Johnson as Teth-Adam/Black Adam
Aldis Hodge as Carter Hall/Hawkman
Noah Centineo as Albert “Al” Rothstein/Atom Smasher
Sarah Shahi as Adrianna Tomaz
Marwan Kenzari as Ishmael Gregor/Sabbac
Quintessa Swindell as Maxine Hunkel/Cyclone
Mohammed Amer as Karim
Bodhi Sabongui as Amon Tomaz
Pierce Brosnan as Kent Nelson/Doctor Fate
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

In ancient Kahndaq, Teth Adam was bestowed the almighty powers of the gods. After using these powers for vengeance, he was imprisoned, becoming Black Adam. Nearly 5,000 years have passed, and Black Adam has gone from man to myth to legend. Now free, his unique form of justice, born out of rage, is challenged by modern-day heroes who form the Justice Society: Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Atom Smasher and Cyclone.

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I was somewhat interested in Black Adam. I had been liking the DCEU, but have been losing interest with some more recent decisions. Black Adam looked like it had potential however, it had a cast which included Aldis Hodge and Pierce Brosnan, and was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Additionally, it would be focussing on Black Adam, who’s known as a Shazam villain. Ironically the part I was most sceptical about was the actor who has been attached to play the title character since 2007, Dwayne Johnson. Still, I got around to watching it, and I had fun with it.

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The writing is definitely the weakest part of Black Adam. The plot doesn’t seem to that matter much, and the story itself is overly familiar and dull (especially within the superhero genre). There’s really only one or two moments that you could really spoil in this movie. The opening 20 minutes are pretty rough and dull, from a generic retelling of the legend of Black Adam, to focussing on some human characters trying to find a magic relic. Once Black Adam is awoken the film picks up, and it picks up further when the Justice Society is introduced. There’s a lot of one liners and humour, they fall flat most of the time and are too prevalent in the movie. Funnily enough, the Justice Society was the most interesting part of the movie, and their scenes were a lot of fun. Black Adam’s story definitely had the potential and they put together a decent enough backstory for him, but it almost feels on autopilot and generic. I liked the conflict between Black Adam and the Justice Society but there was some wasted potential there. You quickly lose track of how many times the JS fight Black Adam to stop him from killing people. In fact, the sole point of conflict is that Black Adam kills his enemies, which isn’t as interesting as the movie thinks it is. Because besides him openly killing enemies, Black Adam pretty much acts like every other superhero. So it would’ve been great if they had more of a difference between them, whether it be ideology or methods of protecting. The storyline following the human characters and the villains just wasn’t interesting, particularly with everything surrounding this powerful relic which everyone is after. It just felt like they needed some McGuffin for everyone to chase. The third act is pretty much just full on action, thankfully it succeeds in that department. However it felt like a paint by numbers climax, and the terrible villain deflates it a little. The mid credits scene is definitely worth sticking around for, in some ways it overshadows the rest of the movie.

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I was very sceptical about Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam. Not that I don’t think he can’t act, but in almost everything he acts the same way, and the worst part is that it seems to be a deliberate choice from Johnson. He deliberately plays likable and lighter leads and now he’d be playing an anti-hero/villain with Black Adam, and I didn’t think that he would have it in him. For what its worth, I do think he was better in this role than expected. I do wish that he went a little darker, and he definitely has some obligatory ‘The Rock’ moments. Even if you got a better actor for this however, the performance probably wouldn’t have been that much better than what Johnson did here. I haven’t read any Black Adam stories, but this does seem to be how the character acts, so that’s something at least. The Justice Society was a little less generic and were enjoyable, their powers are fun and it was cool to see them on display. Aldis Hodge and Pierce Brosnan are the standouts as Hawkman and Dr Fate respectively (Brosnan was particularly great casting), whereas Quintessa Swindell and Noah Centineo are fine as Cyclone and Atom Smasher, but don’t have much screentime or material to work with. The human characters really weren’t anything special, the main kid was a bit annoying. While his acting was a bit rough, it was more that this movie kept forcing a connection between him and Black Adam with all their interactions, by trying to coach him on catchphrases and how to be a hero, etc. The villain in Black Adam however is quite possibly one of the worst comic book movie villains I’ve seen. I get that next to Black Adam and the Justice Society, the villain is not going to be someone too major. However, it literally felt like the villain here was autogenerated, beyond the generic plot, he was a big reason why I just couldn’t care about the stakes.

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Jaume Collet-Serra has made a wide range of movies, from horror films with Orphan and The Shallows, to action movies like The Commuter and Jungle Cruise. He’s clearly made better movies than Black Adam, but his work here is still pretty solid. The visual effects are pretty good, I like the visual style and how the powers were showcased (particularly Dr Fate). The costume designs were also really good. The action scenes are fun, it does aim for Zack Snyder-esque action, though it doesn’t succeed as well. On one hand I do like how fast and powerful Black Adam is, reminiscent of Superman’s speed and power (especially in Man of Steel). However, they overuse the slow motion to a rather cartoonish degree, like they actually were trying to out slow-mo Snyder. Lorne Balfe’s score is a shining point in this movie, especially in the action scenes.

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You can probably watch the trailers for Black Adam and predict exactly the kind of movie that you’ll get here. I’m not sure I would call it a good movie; the script is a mess and doesn’t really take advantage of its potential. Despite the marketing attempting to make the lead character stand out from the other superhero movies by making him an anti-hero, Black Adam is one of the more by the numbers superhero films I’ve seen in recent years. Still, with the entertaining action and some solid performances (mainly from Pierce Brosnan and Aldis Hodge), I enjoyed it.

Aladdin (2019) Review

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Will Smith as Genie
Mena Massoud as Aladdin
Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine
Marwan Kenzari as Jafar
Navid Negahban as The Sultan
Nasim Pedrad as Dalia
Billy Magnussen as Prince Anders
Director: Guy Ritchie

Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is a lovable street urchin who meets Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), the beautiful daughter of the sultan of Agrabah (Navid Negahban). While visiting her exotic palace, Aladdin stumbles upon a magic oil lamp that unleashes a powerful, wisecracking, larger-than-life genie (Will Smith). As Aladdin and the genie start to become friends, they must soon embark on a dangerous mission to stop the evil sorcerer Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) from overthrowing young Jasmine’s kingdom.

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I missed 2019’s version of Aladdin in cinemas, and I’ve only recently caught up on. I really didn’t know how I would feel about it leading up to its release. I like Naomi Scott and Will Smith, and I’ve liked most of director Guy Ritchie’s movies I’ve seen. However certain parts of the trailers I weren’t really feeling, not to mention I’m not that hyped for live action Disney remakes in general, even if a couple are decent. It looked like it could be a real mess, but nonetheless I gave it a shot, and hoped that I would somewhat like. I was actually surprised at Aladdin 2019, it’s not anything great but it was quite entertaining.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve watched the original Aladdin, so I can’t remember exactly how similar in plot the new movie is to the animated version. From what I can tell, largely plotwise it’s the same, however certain plot points and moments were handled differently. Having forgotten how the original movie did certain things, I don’t think I have a problem with how they handled the plot in this version of the story (except for maybe Jafar, which I’ll get to in a bit). It is a little long at 2 hours and 10 minutes. Not that it dragged or anything, just feels like it is a little stretched out. I think it’s like 50 minutes into the movie when Aladdin encounters the Genie for the first time. Maybe 5-10 minutes could’ve been shaved off the first act but it’s not a big deal. While it does some different things with the plot, it’s basically just the same plot, so there aren’t any surprises. So as the movie is progressing you’re just waiting for certain plot beats to occur. I’m not quite sure I’d call the movie ‘soulless’ (like most of the other Disney remakes have been called), but that let’s just say I was mostly just watching the movie go through the motions and wasn’t actually invested in the story.

Mena Massoud plays Aladdin and he did a pretty good job in his role. Same goes for Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine, her singing was particularly good (they even give her a new original song for her to sing, that wasn’t in the original movie). Following Robin Williams’s work in the original Aladdin as The Genie is not easy by any means, he’s solidified that as one of the best animated voice performances. Will Smith however managed to have his own take on the iconic character, which was really the only thing that he could’ve done. He’s by far the standout in the whole movie and he improves every scene that he’s in. Even though I like other aspects of the movie as well, I really don’t think I would’ve liked this movie as much without Smith’s Genie. Probably the weakest link of the main cast however is Marwan Kenzari as Jafar. I don’t think it’s necessarily his acting ability that’s the problem. He’s much less over the top in this version, and instead they try to have a much more serious take, which is fair enough, they actually went all in instead of having a half measure of both the original and the new take. With that said it didn’t really work out, he’s not threatening, he’s not interesting, he’s not memorable, he doesn’t even convey any kind of presence at all. Whenever he came on screen, he just seemed like some random guy who I guess was the villain, rather than the powerful and dangerous Jafar. Supposedly there’s going to be an Aladdin sequel based on the sequel to the original animated movie titled Jafar’s Return. If that’s the case, then they are going to need to change a lot with this version of Jafar in order for him to make it work, because after seeing him in this movie, it doesn’t sound appealing at all.

I generally like Guy Ritchie and most of his work here is pretty good, definitely not one of his best movies though. The visuals are bright and overblown, which could be too much for some people, but I’m at least glad that they went all out instead of just replicating exactly what the animated movie did. The CGI mostly worked, but occasionally it had some really fake looking moments. Whenever it came to the Genie however, the CGI actually worked really well, and complemented Smith’s performance nicely. The editing could be a little off at certain points, especially near the beginning. There’s a chase scene that also had some singing and it was really rough. Thankfully the direction of the singing scenes improved later on. The singing itself was mostly fine, though most of it really sounded like it was autotuned and that really took me out of it.

Aladdin 2019 was pretty decent, although it’s got its issues, it’s entertaining, and Smith, Massoud and Scott worked well in their roles. I’m still not on board with these Disney Animated remakes, and just the very idea of them still feels like soulless cash grabs to me. I will say though, at least with Aladdin, they attempted at changing some aspects to have an ‘updated’ take on the story, even if it doesn’t completely work. If you’re the least bit curious, check it out, but if you’ve hated all of Disney’s live action remakes, then Aladdin isn’t going to change your mind.

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Adult Themes
Cast
Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot
Tom Bateman as Bouc
Penélope Cruz as Pilar Estravados
Willem Dafoe as Gerhard
Judi Dench as Princess Dragomiroff
Johnny Depp as Samuel Ratchett
Josh Gad as Hector MacQueen
Derek Jacobi as Edward Henry Masterman
Leslie Odom Jr. as Dr. Arbuthnot
Michelle Pfeiffer as Caroline Hubbard
Daisy Ridley as Mary Debenham
Marwan Kenzari as Pierre Michel
Olivia Colman as Hildegarde Schmidt
Director: Kenneth Branagh

A lavish trip through Europe quickly unfolds into a race against time to solve a murder aboard a train. Everyone’s a suspect when Detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) arrives to interrogate all passengers and search for clues before the killer can strike again.

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I was curious about Murder on the Orient Express, I had never read the original book or watched any adaptations. It was the cast and crew involved that had me interested, especially with Kenneth Branagh directing and starring. As someone who hasn’t seen any version of the story beforehand, I ended up thoroughly enjoyed Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express. The performances (particularly from Kenneth Branagh) and the direction really make this movie. It does have some issues (particularly with its characters) but its good elements far outweigh the weaker elements overall.

I can’t comment on any similarities and differences between this and the original book or other adaptations, so I’ll just treat it as its own thing. It’s not a flashy typical Hollywood whodunit, it is slower paced and feels restrained. I can see a lot of people getting bored of this movie so if you’re going to see it just know that it is very slow paced. The pacing didn’t bother me personally, it felt just right. I was quite intrigued throughout the whole movie, my attention didn’t waver once. This movie has a surprisingly amount of effective humour, especially from Branagh’s Poirot. One issue that I had is that there is so much going on that at times it is hard to follow. At the end, even though I understood most of what happened, I had to look up the plot to clarify certain things. You have to be paying close attention or you could miss details, I know because I was paying attention and I didn’t pick up all of it. The second problem and probably the biggest problem is the handling of the supporting characters. The supporting characters aren’t developed or fleshed out that well. You might be able to remember some aspect about them (like in terms of the actor or the character’s job) but that’s about it. So when names are being thrown all about by Poirot as he theorises what happened, it’s a little jarring and at times hard to follow what’s going on. Its hard to remember these supporting characters, I can barely remember any of the supporting characters’ names, save for a couple.

This movie has a lot of A list actors but the true star of this movie is Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot. He is a little over the top but it works, Hercule is a quirky and likable character and its basically worth watching the movie for this performance alone. Also he manages to sell that over the top handlebar moustache. We have a large and talented supporting cast with Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, Leslie Odom Jr., Johnny Depp and others. For many of those who have had long careers like Judi Dench and Willem Dafoe, their performances here aren’t going to rank up as one of their best but they play their part well, in fact everyone plays their parts rather well. A stand out to me was Josh Gad, who surprised me, he’s usually known for comedic roles in movies like Frozen and Beauty and the Beast. But here he proves that he is really good in a dramatic role. Even Johnny Depp was good, granted his performance was one of the weaker performances and he doesn’t have a massive amount of screentime. As I said, the actors played their roles well, it’s just that the characters really weren’t that fleshed out that well aside from Hercule. I have no issues about the acting however.

Kenneth Branagh directs the film very well. The cinematography is truly great, it’s beautiful looking. The long takes also help show just how big of scale everything is. It makes use of its locations very well. The editing also was top notch and worked well, especially in the scenes where Poirot is piecing together what happened.

I’m not sure how much you’ll like 2017 Murder on the Orient Express. I think you will at the very least appreciate and enjoy Kenneth Branagh’s performance and his direction. Personally, I really liked it, with the acting (especially from Kenneth Branagh) and the direction and the plot which is mostly done well. There are some aspects that didn’t quite work in terms of some of the characters but for the most part this movie does everything right. Branagh has mentioned that he was interested in doing more films with the character of Poirot and I am completely on board for that. I’d love to see him make a return.

The Mummy (2017) Review

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains supernatural themes & violence
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Nick Morton
Annabelle Wallis as Jennifer Halsey
Sofia Boutella as Princess Ahmanet/The Mummy
Jake Johnson as Sergeant Chris Vail
Courtney B. Vance as Colonel Greenway
Marwan Kenzari as Malik
Javier Botet as Set
Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll
Director: Alex Kurtzman

Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) is a soldier of fortune who plunders ancient sites for timeless artefacts and sells them to the highest bidder. When Nick and his partner (Jake Johnson) come under attack in the Middle East, the ensuing battle accidentally unearths Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), a betrayed Egyptian princess who was entombed under the desert for thousands of years. With her powers constantly evolving, Morton must now stop the resurrected monster as she embarks on a furious rampage through the streets of London.

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I had no idea what to expect from The Mummy. It looked entertaining and I was curious about this ‘Dark Universe’ that they are creating, where all of Universal’s monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Dr Jeykll and Mr Hyde, etc) exist in the same universe. However the movie didn’t look spectacular. Even though a lot of people really didn’t like The Mummy, I saw it out of morbid curiosity, something I’ve been doing a lot recently and once again I was pleasantly surprised. This is by no means a great movie, the writing isn’t the strongest, you’ve seen this type of movie before. But the film is entertaining, and not in a guilty pleasure way, I found the movie very enjoyable and it’s starting to get me on board with this unique universe that they are creating.

This movie is at a good runningtime, 1 hours and 50 minutes. It’s difficult to be bored, it is paced well, it doesn’t linger too long on scenes unnecesarily. This movie does 2 things, the story with The Mummy and also the development of the Dark Universe with this group called Prodigium, led by Russell Crowe’s Dr Henry Jeykll (yes, as in Jeykll and Hyde). I thought both were done well and worked together well. The Mummy storyline did enough to keep me interested, while the Dark Universe universe building got me on board with… whatever Universal are trying to do. Some of the writing does feel rather familiar, and a little cliché but I could get past it. Also, the third act does take a different direction which I really liked, it was a decision that I didn’t expect them to do and I’m even more intrigued to see where this will play in part with the Dark Universe. Tonally this movie isn’t always consistent. I’m not referring to the action and horror aspects, that was surprisingly balanced well. I’m talking about the comedic moments, during a big action scene or an intense horror scene, a joke might suddenly pop up and it often feels out of place. Then again it didn’t help that a lot of the humour wasn’t that good in the first place. Now as for the changes that the movie has made from the original Mummy (the horror movie, not the Brendan Frasier movies), I have no idea what it’s like as I haven’t seen it. It’s probably not very true to the original though, this movie is going on its own direction, and I was actually fine with that.

Tom Cruise is pretty good in this movie. However I do feel like he might’ve been slightly miscast, maybe that’s the writing though. I have the feeling that the character was meant to be a bit darker but either Cruise couldn’t express that (which he could, he’s shown in other films he can) or the writing wasn’t great enough. Russell Crowe is in this movie as Dr Henry Jekyl, he’s a big tie to the other movies in this Dark Universe. While I would’ve like to have seen more of him he was great. And yes, Dr Jeykll does have a Mr Hyde side, and that was so great to see. The supporting actors are fine, Jake Johnson is okay but his character really didn’t need to be in the movie. Annabelle Wallis is good in the movie, however the chemistry between her and Cruise didn’t always work as well as I think the filmmakers wanted it to. Sofia Boutella was great as the Mummy/Ahmanet. Most of the acting is physical and doesn’t have her deliver a lot of lines but she pulls it off excellently. She also does have great chemistry with Cruise.

I’ve not seen anything from director Alex Kurtzman until now, he did a pretty good job with this movie. The CGI isn’t spectacular, you’ve seen it before but it’s solid enough. The action sequences are very entertaining. There wasn’t really anything directionwise that I found particularly wrong with the movie. It’s just that it’s nothing that you haven’t seen before.

The Mummy was a lot better than I expected it to be. I was consistently entertained throughout with the solid direction, Cruise, Boutella and Crowe. The idea of the Dark Universe is still odd to me, it’s still not clear how the movies will tie in together and how much of a role the characters in this movie will play a part in the other movies. Still, The Mummy does enough to get me interested in these future movies, while being pretty decent itself as a movie.