Okay, it’s well and truly here, the 2017 Blockbuster Season, the time when the big studios release their tentpole summer movies in the hopes of bagging massive box office returns, and if they’re lucky, some long overdue critical approval. The movies that have been given the biggest push through trailers and promotional tie-ins and targeted social media outlets. The movies with the biggest budgets and the biggest stars. And the movies that roundly and soundly let us down. Each. And. Every. Year.
If you begin with Logan (released back in March), and if you treat it as a blockbuster, then the following movies all fall into the same category: big movies given big releases after big advertising spends have been pretty much exhausted. And those movies are: Kong: Skull Island, Beauty and the Beast, Power Rangers, Ghost in the Shell, The Fate of the Furious, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Alien: Covenant, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Baywatch, Wonder Woman, and The Mummy. Not one of these movies is an original. They’re either a reboot, a remake or a sequel. Most of them have made a shed load of money already, and two of them have made over $1 billion. But can anyone say, hand on heart, that any of these movies have been so good that the anticipation built up by the studios was entirely justified? I don’t think so. To put it bluntly, none of them were that good.
So, still to come we have: Transformers: The Last Knight, Despicable Me 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming, War for the Planet of the Apes, Cars 3, Dunkirk, The Dark Tower, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle. More heavy doses of fantasy and action, and another round of movies that we’ll all hope will be better than we think they’ll be. But how is it that we always fall for this “false advertising”? How is it that we always fall for the same build-ups and the same claims that Movie X will be amazing/fantastic/mind-blowing/the best thing sliced bread? Are we that numb to the continual failings of the big studios to provide audiences with movies that they can actually engage with on an emotional and intellectual level? And can we not just say No to over-hyped movies and their dire content? The people that make these movies are all highly regarded and all highly talented, but they make the same mediocre/rubbish/moronic (I’m talking about you, Baywatch) movies over and over. And we all rush to see them (and before you say, “yes, and so do you”, my excuse is that I’ll watch anything – I’m a movie addict).
This is a concern that I’ve raised before on thedullwoodexperiment, and I have no doubt that I’ll be raising it again in the future (probably next year). But before I do, think about it like this: the big studios tell us that their summer blockbuster movies help subsidise the smaller, more intimate movies that they also make. But even with that, aren’t we entitled to spend our money on seeing a tentpole movie that really does move us – and not to ennui?
D: Alex Kurtzman / 110m
Cast: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari
The first in Universal’s Dark Universe series of movies featuring all the old horror villains from the Thirties and Forties – Dracula Untold (2014) can be ignored – The Mummy arrives with all the hoopla and advertising overkill of a movie designed to put as many bums on seats in its first week before audiences realise just how much they’ve been duped into thinking it might be any good. There were clues in the trailers, but nothing as bad as the finished product, a dispiriting mishmash of better ideas already well executed elsewhere, and lesser ideas propped up by a script that needed three screenwriters to work on it. If this is an example of what we can “look forward” to, then it would be best if Universal gave up now and saved us all the pain and anguish of further entries.
The main problem with The Mummy is that it’s clearly not a horror movie, and it’s just as obvious that at no point have Universal ever considered making it into one. Rebooting those movies from seventy, eighty years ago isn’t such a bad idea, but at least those outings for Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolf Man were meant to be horror movies. This is a bloodless, scare-free action adventure movie that pays lip service to its series tagline “Welcome to a world of gods and monsters”, and relies on big CGI-enhanced action set pieces to provide what little entertainment it can muster. Somehow, the big studios have decided that these big set pieces are what audiences want, but that’s just wishful thinking. What audiences want are stories that make sense, characters they can relate to or sympathise with, moments that make them sit up and take notice, or any combination of all three. What audiences don’t want is to be force fed the same tired, formulaic rubbish over and over.
The Mummy arrives at a point in the year where the annual blockbuster season is well under way, but there’s very little chance that this is going to be as successful as Universal may have hoped. The presence of Tom Cruise (in another franchise role) would normally help sell a movie, but here he’s playing the same kind of cocky, rule-breaking maverick that he’s been playing for the last thirty years. As a result, his character, a US army sergeant called Nick Morton with a sideline in stealing antiquities, looks and feels tired right from the start, and Cruise is unable to inject more than a basic energy into his performance. He’s not helped by the script, which requires him to look puzzled, confused, bewildered and all the way back to puzzled with each and every scene once Sofia Boutella’s evil Egyptian princess, Ahmanet, is freed from her ancient prison.
Away from the action and the garbled storyline, it falls to Crowe’s role as Dr Henry Jekyll, head of the Prestigium (“We recognize, examine, contain, destroy.”), to provide a link to any future Dark Universe movies. But instead of keeping Dr Jekyll in the forefront, and Mr Hyde under wraps until a potential solo movie, The Mummy takes a detour around the halfway mark and reveals Hyde in all his ashen-faced, grumpy glory, and with a horrible Cockney accent to boot. It’s a prime example of the makers not knowing how to maintain a consistent tone. There’s much more that doesn’t make sense, or feels as if it wasn’t fully explored or worked out ahead of shooting, but the movie doesn’t concern itself with telling a coherent story, or treating its audience with respect. This is a big, dumb action movie with mild horror moments that are about as scary as watching Sesame Street. The next in the series is meant to be Bride of Frankenstein (2019), with Bill Condon in the director’s chair. Let’s hope – if the movie goes ahead as planned – that he has better luck than Alex Kurtzman in creating a world where gods and monsters really do have an impact that goes beyond massive indifference, or exacting criticism.
Rating: 3/10 – meh, meh, meh; the movie equivalent of oxygen – colourless and odourless – The Mummy is yet another abject blockbuster lacking a heart, a soul, and a sense of its own stupidity, and is a waste of its cast and crew’s time and effort – with the same going for its audience as well.
Beverley D'Angelo, Chevy Chase, Chris Hemsworth, Christina Applegate, Chug run, Comedy, Ed Helms, Griswold Springs, John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein, Leslie Mann, Reboot, Remake, Review, Road trip, Seal, Sequel, Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins, The Griswolds, Walley World
D: Jonathan M. Goldstein, John Francis Daley / 99m
Cast: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisondo, Steele Stebbins, Chris Hemsworth, Leslie Mann, Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Charlie Day, Catherine Missal, Ron Livingston, Norman Reedus, Keegan-Michael Key, Regina Hall
Q: When is a movie a remake, a sequel and a reboot all put together?
A: When it’s Vacation!
With movie franchises being extended or rebooted at every turn, it was only a matter of time before we started to see an influx of movies made from comedies out of the Eighties (there’s a Police Academy reboot in the works, and Kevin Smith is still keen to make another Fletch movie). But while we anxiously await the arrival of a further Lemon Popsicle or Porky’s installment, we have this latest attempt at producing a contemporary version of a much-loved comedy favourite.
The set up is clever enough: now grown up, Rusty Griswold (Helms) has a family of his own: wife Debbie (Applegate), teenage son James (Gisondo), and pre-teen son Kevin (Stebbins). Each year he takes them all to the same cabin in the woods that everyone except Rusty is tired of. But when he overhears Debbie complaining about it to one of their friends he realises he needs to come up with a different destination this year. Remembering the trip he took to Walley World with his dad Clark (Chase), mom Ellen (D”Angelo) and sister Audrey (Mann) when he was a kid, Rusty decides the best way to get his family to be more excited about going away is to plan a road trip to the theme park that he recalls so fondly.
It’s at this point that the movie casts a knowing wink at the audience, and does its best to sound cleverer than it actually is. In response to James’s statement that he’s “never heard of the original vacation”, Rusty replies confidently, “Doesn’t matter. The new vacation will stand on its own”. It’s a bold though far from oversold moment, and one that will have fans of the original saying to themselves, “Really?” And that particular word will be one that viewers will come back to time and again as the Griswold family road trip unfolds from Chicago to Santa Monica with all the grim inevitability of an influenza outbreak in an old folks’ home.
With the original framework firmly in place, Vacation relies on a mix of modern day gross out humour, old fashioned puerility, and laboured jokes to provide the comedy while asking its cast to take a back seat and not do anything too funny. It’s a strange circumstance, but watch the movie closely and you’ll find that Helms, Applegate et al aren’t that funny in themselves (or as their characters), and that the script by Goldstein and Daley has the Griswolds acting largely as observers of their own road trip. On the few occasions when one of them is directly involved in a comedic situation, such as Rusty helping Stone Crandall (Hemsworth), his sister’s overly endowed husband, to round up some cows, the initial joke of his killing one is outdone by the one that follows, when one of the other cows chows down on the remains (yes folks, it’s a movie first, cannibal cows).
Elsewhere we’re treated to a paedophile trucker, a side trip to Debbie’s old alma mater, the Griswolds bathing in raw sewage, a rental car called the Prancer that comes with a remote control that includes buttons labelled with a rocket and a swastika (wisely, Rusty never presses that button), Stone showing off his “six pack”, a love interest for James, a white water rafting trip that goes wrong thanks to just-jilted guide Chad (Day), and the sight of Kevin trying to suffocate his older brother with a cellophane bag – twice (though, admittedly, the timing of this makes it a whole lot funnier than it sounds). There are various subplots: Rusty and Debbie’s attempts to put the spark back into their marriage by having sex wherever and whenever they can; Kevin’s bullying of James; Rusty’s run-ins with rival airline pilot Ethan (Livingston); and the whole notion of a family trying to bond over a trip only one of them wants to make (again).
If you’re easily amused, and don’t mind how uneven the movie is, then Vacation will seem like a great movie to sit down with a few beers and watch on a Saturday night, but the reality is that it’s hard to tell if writers/directors Goldstein and Daley were either in a rush with the script, or felt constrained by having to follow the original in terms of the movie’s structure. Whatever the case, the movie coasts along without making too much of an impact, and mixes gross out humour with long stretches of quiet amiability, and some very awkward moments that can’t help but feel out of place e.g. Rusty’s uncertain knowledge of sexual matters leads to James wanting to give the girl he likes a rim job (he thinks it’s kissing with your lips closed).
The cast cope well enough, and it’s good to see Chase back as the Griswold patriarch, but equally it won’t be long before you’re wondering what’s happened to his eyelids. There are some cameos dotted here and there, and a certain singer appears in the closing credits, but there’s no standout character or performance. What this movie really needed was someone like Cousin Eddie to come along and really stir things up.
Rating: 5/10 – not as amusing as the original movie it tries to emulate, Vacation suffers from trying too hard to be funny, and not having the conviction to be as subversive as its predecessor (watch it again to see how dark it is); beautifully shot however, and with a great soundtrack that features Seal’s Kiss from a Rose, this is technically well made but not a movie you’ll want to watch more than once.
Drama, Jamie Bell, Josh Trank, Kate Mara, Marvel, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Mr Fantastic, Origin story, Reboot, Review, Sci-fi, Stan Lee, Superheroes, The Human Torch, The Invisible Woman, The Thing, Tim Blake Nelson, Toby Kebbell, Victor Von Doom
D: Josh Trank / 100m
Cast: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson
Telephone call from Fantastic Four director Josh Trank to Marvel head Stan Lee:
Trank: Hi, is that Stan Lee?
Lee: Yes. Who’s this?
Trank: Hi, it’s Josh Trank, I’m directing the new Fantastic Four movie.
Lee: How’s it going?
Trank: It’s going very well, very well indeed. I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised.
Lee: That’s good. I hear you’ve made some interesting casting choices.
Trank: That’s true, but I think Toby Kebbell will be the definitive Victor Von Doom.
Lee: Ah, that wasn’t what I meant… Anyway, what can I do for you?
Trank: Well, I was calling to find out when you can come out to Louisiana to film your cameo role.
Lee: I’ll need to get back to you on that. I’m really snowed under at the moment. By the way, can you let me see any footage if you have some?
Trank: Sure, we’ve got some great early footage of Reed and Ben as grade school kids, and then seven years later when they’re played by Miles Teller and Jamie Bell.
Lee: Seven years? Okay… Well, if you could let me see it, that would be great.
Trank: Okay, I’ll get it sent to you.
Lee: Great. And I’ll let you know about the cameo.
Trank: Terrific. Well it was great talking to you. You take care now.
Lee: You too. Bye.
E-mail sent from Stan Lee to Josh Trank six days later:
Dear Josh – Thanks for sending the early footage, it was… illuminating. I don’t think I’ll be able to find the time to film a cameo, though.
Rating: 3/10 – when your superhero team only works together as a team out of narrative necessity, and the actors portraying that team appear to have all the chemistry of fire and water, then you know you’re in trouble – unless you’re Josh Trank, writers Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg (and Trank), and the executives at Twentieth Century Fox, in which case you plough on hoping that no one will notice just how bad the reboot you’re making really is; an appalling mess that features a badly rendered Human Torch to add insult to injury, Fantastic Four is enough to make viewers pine for the 2005 and 2007 movies that should now be reassessed in the light of this movie’s failure to provide anything other than an incoherent plot, dreadful dialogue, even worse characterisations, and one of the all-time worst superhero movies ever (seriously, even Roger Corman’s 1994 version is more enjoyable than this farrago).
D: Camille Delamarre / 96m
Cast: Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Loan Chabanol, Gabriella Wright, Tatiana Pajkovic, Wenxia Yu, Radivoje Bukvic, Noémie Lenoir, Yuri Kolokolnikov, Lenn Kudrjawizki, Samir Guesmi, Anatole Taubman
Comments made following an advance US screening of The Transporter Refueled:
“When did Jason Statham get a facelift? Damn, he looks good!”
“Why was Florida full of French people?”
“Where can I learn to drive like the transporter?”
“Why was the transporter’s dad such a manwhore?”
“Who’s Ed Skrein?”
“A roundabout with four conveniently placed fire hydrants – what are the odds?”
“What a great idea to have the final showdown take place on a boat. Well done!”
“The four women looked really good after being prostitutes for fifteen years. What was their skin care regime?”
“It was good that the Russian bad guy and the English good guy had served in the same army at some point.”
“Will the next one be called, The Transporter: Are We There Yet?”
“Shouldn’t it be spelt refuelled?”
Rating: 4/10 – for a fast-paced action movie, The Transporter Refueled is instead quite sluggish, and easily the least of the four movies so far; Skrein doesn’t have Statham’s intensity (or his moves), and the plot – as usual – relies on far too many things falling conveniently into place for comfort, leaving the viewer with the feeling that the three screenwriters weren’t interested in scripting a movie that might have had audiences on the edge of their seats.
D: Gary Shore / 92m
Cast: Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon, Art Parkinson, Charles Dance, Diarmaid Murtagh, Paul Kaye
Set in the Middle Ages in Eastern Europe, fealty to the Sultan of Turkey is observed by the giving of a thousand boys to be trained in his army. Such is the early fate of Vlad Tepes (Evans), who grows up to be a fierce warrior and friend of the subsequent Turkish ruler, Mehmet (Cooper). Turning his back on war, Vlad returns home to rule his people. He marries Mirena (Gadon) and has a son, Ingeras (Parkinson). After years of peace, Vlad is alerted to the presence of Turkish scouts in his homeland. He tracks them to Broken Tooth Mountain, where in a cave that reveals itself as a slaughterhouse, Vlad comes face to face with a monster (Dance). He escapes, but not before two of his men have been claimed by the creature. Returning home, Father Lucien (Kaye) advises Vlad of the creature’s origins, and its vampiric nature. They decide to keep their knowledge a secret between them.
A Turkish envoy, come to collect his master’s tribute, tells Vlad the Sultan wants a thousand boys for his army. Vlad wavers over doing his duty to the Sultan and doing what’s best for his people. When the Sultan’s envoy adds that Mehmet wants a thousand and one boys, and the extra boy should be Ingeras, Vlad is even further torn. But at the point of giving his son to the envoy, Vlad makes a fateful decision: no boys will go to the Sultan. War is inevitable, but Vlad seeks a way to avoid his people being decimated by the Turkish hordes. He returns to Broken Tooth Mountain where he confronts the vampire and asks to share in his power. The creature agrees but stipulates that if Vlad is to drink any human blood in the next three days then he will be cursed as a vampire forever, and unable to be fully human again.
When the Turks march on Castle Dracula, Vlad goes out to meet them alone… and he decimates their forces. With a greater army on the way, headed by Mehmet himself, Vlad orders his people to move to a monastery high up in the mountains, somewhere it will be difficult for the Turks to attack directly. A surprise attack leaves Mirena and Ingeras in peril, but Vlad saves them using his newfound powers. The next day, at the monastery, suspicions over Vlad’s new powers leads to him being attacked by his own people. He survives to rebuke them, telling them that what he has done is because of them, and that they should be concentrating on Mehmet’s approaching army.
Arriving just before dawn, the Turkish forces are met by Vlad but they prove to be a decoy for a smaller force that gains entry to the monastery and targets Mirena and Ingeras. With their fates intertwined with his, Vlad is forced to make a decision that will affect all their lives, and bring him face to face with his boyhood friend.
Dracula Untold is yet another reboot of an established and well-defined character that seeks to make them look less like a monster and more like someone who has to be bad in order to do good (this year’s Maleficent is another example). It’s a strange phenomenon in the movies these days, almost as if moviemakers feel they have to apologise for these characters’ behaviour. It also ends up rendering them relatively anaemic (excuse the pun) in comparison to their original incarnation. And so it proves with this reimagining of the Dracula story.
While the initial idea is sound – show how Vlad Tepes, Transylvanian prince and hero to his people became Dracula, bloodthirsty monster feared by all – the movie fumbles its way through its attempts to create an origin story partly based on historical fact and partly on romantic fiction. Vlad is shown as a peaceful man reigning in a vicious, cruel capacity for violence but even though we see the the results of his warlike nature – the infamous impalings on the battlefield – it’s hard to associate the two differing temperaments. As played by a suitably brooding Evans, Vlad is a bit of a wimp in the opening scenes, browbeaten by the Turkish envoy and then dismissed by Mehmet in a scene where Vlad pleads for clemency in relation to the thousand boys. Vlad doesn’t appear the proud leader of men he’s meant to be, but more an easily cowed man with no stomach for a fight. It’s only when he saves his son and kills some of Mehmet’s men that he shows some mettle.
It’s here that Dracula Untold finally becomes a vampire movie, reintroducing Dance’s withered creature, and setting up a future storyline if the movie is as successful at the box office as Universal hope it will be (they have a modern Monsters Cinematic Universe in mind). The bargain is made, allowing the inevitable tragedy of such a bargain to begin playing out. Vlad tries to deny his thirst for blood while Mirena marvels at the disappearance of his battle scars. And in a scene of limited ferocity and actual bloodshed, Vlad takes on a thousand Turks and kills them all. But it’s all done at a remove, with the intensity of the situation dialled down a notch or two, and Vlad’s predicament reduced to the level of suffering occasional stomach cramps. From here, the movie picks up the pace but it’s at the expense of time-related logic and dramatic credibility.
With Vlad needing to defeat Mehmet and his army within three days, the Turks’ ability to travel huge distances in such a short space of time goes unquestioned, while Vlad creates a vampire horde of his own to take them on (would a ruler who truly cares for his people do such a thing even if they were on the verge of dying?). And the script tries for an ironic twist – Vlad’s fate is sealed by the one person he loves most – that feels hackneyed and short on originality.
Muddled though the movie is for the most part, it’s stronger in its performances. Evans brings a brutish physicality to the role that suits the warrior Vlad, and he dominates scenes just by being present. He’s a more thoughtful actor than you might expect from his resumé, and he does his best to offset some of the more florid dialogue in the script, as well as making Vlad a more rounded character. Gadon also gives a good performance, matching Evans for intensity in their scenes together and making Mirena slightly more than the wife who waits anxiously at home while her man goes off to battle. Dance radiates a cold disdain as the trapped “master vampire” though his voice retains too much of its recognisable charm to make that disdain truly chilling. Parkinson proves an adequate match for the demands of a role that could so easily have been more stereotypically presented, while Kaye as Father Lucien has a small but pivotal role that he acquits himself well in (even if some audience members will be saying to themselves, “but that’s Dennis Pennis”). The only disappointment is Cooper, once again confirming his limited range as an actor, and making Mehmet look and sound like an arrogant jerk.
In the director’s chair, Shore (making his feature debut) uses his experience working in high-end commercials to provide some impressive visuals – one shot shows Vlad taking on the Turks as reflected in the blade of a sword – and shows a confidence that bodes well for the future if it’s combined with a better script. He’s clearly comfortable directing actors as well, and the performances are as much to his credit as to theirs. The photography by John Schwartzman is predictably gloomy, though it avoids the steely gray-blue aesthetic of the Underworld series, and there’s a dramatic if occasionally intrusive score courtesy of Ramin Djawadi that is used to good effect throughout.
Ultimately, Dracula Untold is a bit of a mixed bag, its historical pretensions never fully reconciled with its need to reinvent its title character. The script – by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless – remains jumbled throughout and it’s this lack of focus that hampers things the most. As an entreé into the revamped (excuse the pun) world of Universal’s collection of classic monsters it’s maybe not quite the start the company were looking for, but it’s also not as bad as it could have been.
Rating: 5/10 – despite some occasionally severe deficiencies in the script, Dracula Untold is a solid, unpretentious reintroduction to the world’s most (in)famous vampire; a good mix of the epic and the intimate also helps but the characters remain at too much of a remove to make us truly care what happens to them.
D: Zach Lipovsky / 90m
Cast: Stephanie Bennett, Andrew Dunbar, Melissa Roxburgh, Brendan Fletcher, Dylan Postl, Garry Chalk, Teach Grant, Bruce Blain, Mary Black
Backpacking through Ireland, two young American couples – Sophie (Bennett) and Ben (Dunbar), Jeni (Roxburgh) and David (Fletcher) – are heading for a mysterious village that has a standing stone on its outskirts. At the inn, the friends get talking to Hamish (Chalk), a local who appears friendly and welcoming, and when he learns they are interested in the village’s history, he offers them the chance to stay overnight in a cabin just outside the village. The friends take up Hamish’s offer, and though the cabin isn’t exactly comfortable, they settle in for the night. Some time later, Jeni hears a noise outside.
The four friends soon realise there’s something “out there” and that it wants to get in. When it does, the quartet escape the cabin only to discover that Hamish has set them up to be sacrifices to a creature they call a leprechaun. Horrified to find that the legend is real, the four now find themselves having to defend themselves from the murderous attacks of the leprechaun, but also from a determined Hamish and his son, a more sympathetic Sean (Grant). As the leprechaun picks them off one by one, it becomes clear that the only way to survive the night is to reach the standing stone, which not only marks the village boundary but is the point beyond which the leprechaun cannot go.
It was perhaps inevitable that, in the wake of all the other horror reboots that have been foisted on us over the last six or seven years, the Leprechaun series would be dusted off and given the update treatment. However, the only thing this particular remake/reboot/reimagining proves is – once again – that some movies shouldn’t be made, especially when there’s as little imagination and skill involved as there is here. The original sextet of Leprechaun movies may be fondly remembered for their cheesy humour and semi-inventive killings, and they may have made Warwick Davis even more well-known than his turn as Wicket in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, but they still got worse as they went on until the last entry, 2003’s Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood, had all but jettisoned the horror in favour of infantile humour. With that in mind, the producers’ decision to go a different route is to be applauded. Alas, it’s the only thing they got right.
They say it’s easy enough to make a horror movie, but on this evidence, the adage should read: it’s easy enough to make a terrible horror movie. Because Leprechaun: Origins is exactly that: a terrible horror movie. It features by-the-numbers, uninspired plotting that sees the four friends running from one building or vehicle to another ad nauseam; phoned in performances from a cast who give new meaning to the word insipid; direction that distracts due to its waywardness and lack of cohesion; dialogue that sounds like it was dictated through hidden earpieces and repeated by the cast; the by now obligatory Canadian locations that are blandly photographed (by Mahlon Todd Williams); a score by Jeff Tymoschuk that does little to increase the minimal amounts of tension created by Harris Wilkinson’s unimaginative script; a creature that is supposed to be single-minded in its purpose but which pauses/hesitates/suspends its attempts to kill everyone when the script requires it (and whether they have gold on them or not); a special effects budget that limits itself to one (admittedly effective) kill shot; and the entirely predictable post credits scene that sets up an equally predictable sequel (though hopefully this outing will do so badly it won’t happen).
With the movie looking so much like a drab, lacklustre slasher movie – though without the benefit of having an actual slasher in it – the casual viewer might expect the leprechaun itself to be more effectively realised than the Gollum/Orc-style creature presented here. Worse still is the movie’s advertising, which heavily promotes WWE “superstar” Hornswoggle (aka Dylan Postl) as the leprechaun. It’s a bit of a cheat on WWE’s part to do so as Postl is unrecognisable beneath the layers of leprechaun make up, and has no lines either (though this is probably a good thing). Literally anyone could play the role in these circumstances, and while it’s always been the case that WWE tailor their “superstars” movie roles to their experience/acting skills, it doesn’t say much for Postl that he’s buried so completely in the part.
And lastly, a quick mention for the deceptive running time. The end credits (including the post credits scene mentioned above) run for a full twelve minutes, so the movie is, in real terms, much shorter… but it still drags like watching a balloon slowly deflate.
Rating: 3/10 – woeful from start to finish, Leprechaun: Origins screams “cheap and nasty rip off”; with cast and crew displaying a bare minimum of commitment or creativity, this is one reboot that has little or no chance of striking gold.