Before your cinematic universes and extended galaxies and interconnected constellations, there were the Universal Classic Monster movies. A loose confederation of sequels and spinoffs, they were the biggest motion picture events in the early life of cinema. The 1920s kicked things off with The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera before the franchise moved into its 1930s golden era. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Invisible Man all released between 1931 and 1933, and they remain masterpiece staples of the horror genre.
In the 1940s, Universal ramped up production, frequently outpacing quality control. Among the sequels was the introduction of The Wolf Man in 1941, as well as Universal’s turn to self-parody with the arrival of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. The comedy duo would Meet Frankenstein in 1948, carrying well into the mid-’50s. Creature from the Black Lagoon was the final hurrah for the original line of Universal monster movies.
In 1999, The Mummy was revived in the summer blockbuster era, bringing in enough fans young and old to encourage two sequels. Van Helsing and The Wolfman also arrived in the decade or so after the Mummy relaunch, though the lackluster returns on those meant Universal was ready to try something new (read: what Marvel was doing).
2014’s Dracula Untold was to be the start of a so-called Dark Universe of connected monster movies. After that movie failed to draw much blood out of the box office, 2017’s The Mummy was going to be the “new” new start of the Dark Universe. Until that movie also bombed spectacularly.
And so we arrive at 2020’s The Invisible Man, which reportedly cost 30 times less than The Mummy to make, and with no aspirations to be tied to any larger universe. Now, we rank all Universal Classic Monster movies by Tomatometer!
(Photo by Universal / courtesy Everett Collection)
All Brendan Fraser Movies, Ranked by Tomatometer
Like a defrosted caveman, Brendan Fraser arrived out of nowhere when he starred as the titular Encino Man in 1992. The Paleolithic cult movie is a prototypical ’90s comedy: It’s broad, goofy, and Pauly Shore is never more than 10 feet away off-camera. Airheads and George of the Jungle were more in that ’90s style, while 1998’s Gods and Monsters showed off Fraser’s range. (Though School Ties, released the same year as Encino Man, had already proven some dramatic chops.) The Mummy turned Fraser into an international star, with the 1999 blockbuster remembered fondly today.
But flops began to mount (Monkeybone, Dudley Do-Right, Looney Tunes: Back in Action), and though Fraser was in Best Picture-winner Crash, so was half of Hollywood. Even The Mummy unraveled: The box office returns for Returns were good, but the Rachel Weisz-less Tomb of the Dragon Emperor bombed, killing the franchise in 2008. By 2010, we were witnessing Fraser getting blasted by skunks in Furry Vengeance and yelling ‘Miley Cyrus!’ as an expletive. After 2013’s Gimme Shelter, Fraser seemed to be no longer cast in movies.
At the end of the decade, Fraser’s voice was being heard again. He was Robotman in DC Comics’ series Titans. Well-received by fans, Robotman got upgraded to main status in spin-off Doom Patrol. Along with a recurring role in The Affair‘s third season, Fraser’s re-appearance made audiences wonder about the likable, genial actor’s long absence. The question was answered in a 2018 GQ interview, where Fraser alleges he was sexually assaulted in 2003 by Philip Berk, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and was subsequently blacklisted by the industry for speaking out.
From this revelation (and more, like a contentious divorce, surgeries from doing stunt work, and the death of his mother), Fraser has emerged as a populist figure in the celebrity world, one whose fans are drawn to because of his survival through mistreatment and struggle. Like Britney Spears (whose conservatorship battle is documented in Framing Britney Spears), Fraser was once mocked and laughed at, but is now generating easy and eager goodwill after cultural re-examination of victimhood and predatory showbiz behavior. Directors seem glad Fraser’s around again: Steven Soderbergh put him on-screen in No Sudden Move, Fraser’s first Certified Fresh movie in 17 years. And the comeback continues with his casting in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale and Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon.
Now, we’re ranking all Brendan Fraser movies by Tomatometer!
Critics Consensus: Hampered by an unlikable central character and source material stretched too thin to cover its brief running time, The Nut Job will provoke an allergic reaction in all but the least demanding moviegoers.
Synopsis: After he accidentally destroys the winter food supply of his fellow Liberty Park residents, Surly (Will Arnett), a squirrel, is... [More]
Critics Consensus:Encino Man isn't the first unabashedly silly comedy to embrace its stupidity and amass a cult following, but whether or not it works for you will largely be determined by your tolerance for Pauly Shore.
Synopsis: California teen Dave Morgan (Sean Astin) is digging a pit for a pool in his backyard when he happens upon... [More]
(Photo by Universal/courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail image: Sony Pictures, Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection.)
All Dwayne Johnson Movies Ranked by Tomatometer
If we had known that The Rock was indeed cooking a biggest-star-in-the-world movie career, we would’ve stuck our noses up in there a lot sooner. Yes, we would have sniffed up those early stinkers Doom and Be Cool, because at least nestled somewhere in there was The Rundown, which featured peak Seann William Scott and a cameo from Arnold Schwarzenegger passing the action torch to this upstart, the man who would be Dwayne Johnson. And indeed Johnson was the action man of the mid-aughts, tacking on the likes of Walking Tall to his brawny resume. And like his action forebears, he made a curve into family comedy, releasing The Game Plan, The Tooth Fairy, and Race to Witch Mountain to the delight, we assume, of some people. On a scale between Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot to Kindergarten Cop, we rate Johnson’s comedy career detour Top Dog.
But things turned around in 2010. That’s the year he jumped face first off a building into the pavement. And thus was born a new action/comedy classic: The Other Guys. Meanwhile, ’70s-style throwback Faster showed a leaner, meaner Johnson back in a hard-hitting groove. He was invited into the Fast & Furious family, helping turn Fast Five into the franchise’s first Certified Fresh entry and a global phenomenon. San Andreas, Rampage, and Skyscraper turned him into the master of disaster, while Moana and Fighting With My Family, which he also produced, are among his highest-rated movies.
Central Intelligence was the first collaboration Johnson had with Kevin Hart, which was merely the opening for the main course: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, the unlikely reboot-sequel that connected with audiences and critics worldwide. He, Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan all came back for Jumanji: The Next Level, and we’re taking a look back on all of Dwayne Johnson’s movies ranked by Tomatometer!
Critics Consensus: Dwayne Johnson brings the full force of his charm (and his appropriately pale chompers) to the title role, but flat direction and a committee-written script render The Tooth Fairy unacceptably dull.
Synopsis: Rough-and-tumble hockey player Derek Thompson (Dwayne Johnson) is a terror on the ice, earning the nickname "Tooth Fairy" by separating... [More]
Critics Consensus: The role of probation officer Sean Porter fits Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson like a glove; however, the execution is so cliched, the youths' stories (based on real events), fail to inspire.
Synopsis: A counselor (The Rock) at a juvenile detention facility decides to turn the young inmates in his charge into a... [More]
Critics Consensus: Though it features one of Dwayne Johnson's more thoughtful performances, the presentation of Snitch's underlying message is muddled by lackluster storytelling and some tonal inconsistencies.
Synopsis: At 18 years old, Jason receives a mandatory 10-year prison sentence after being caught with a package that contained illegal... [More]
Critics Consensus: A clever parody of cop-buddy action-comedies, The Other Guys delivers several impressive action set pieces and lots of big laughs, thanks to the assured comic chemistry between Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.
Synopsis: Unlike their heroic counterparts on the force, desk-bound NYPD detectives Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) garner no headlines... [More]
Critics Consensus: With a title character as three-dimensional as its lush animation and a story that adds fresh depth to Disney's time-tested formula, Moana is truly a family-friendly adventure for the ages.
Synopsis: An adventurous teenager sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty... [More]
Universal Studios may be chasing contemporary trends in launching its Dark Universe with the Tom Cruise-starring Mummy reboot, but Universal Monsters have been around for long before all this MCU, DCEU, DDS stuff…near 100 years, in fact! In this week’s gallery, we’re sorting every Universal Monster movie that has at least 20 reviews (qualifying it for a Critics Consensus, included with each image), ranked worst to best by Tomatometer!
Ouch! Who would have thought that The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor would get downright embalmed by critics? And will the scribes vote fresh or rotten for Kevin Costner’s goofy charm in Swing Vote? Find out all this and more, and recap our costumed exploits at last weekend’s Comic-Con, in this week’s Review Revue!
Well, it looks like another big weekend for The Dark Knight. Unless, that is, if Brendan Fraser has anything to say about it! Fraser faces off against the undead for another sequel in the popular Mummy franchise, but judging from its early Tomatometer he should have joined Mummy and Mummy Returns co-star Rachel Weisz and conscientiously objected to a third adventure.
Meanwhile, Kevin Costner goes for simple, all-American laziness as the nation’s most ill-prepared voter in Swing Vote. Released curiously during a lull between Obamamania and the November elections, can Swing Vote turn rampant voter apathy into widespread ticket-buyer enthusiasm?
This week, we dispense with the news and cut to the chase to bring you two huge new gift sets timed perfectly for this summer’s Bat-mania. What will earn you more geek cred: whipping out the Batman flash drive or watching the Dark Knight prologue in high definition, awash in the glory of Blu-ray?
The Batman Begins Gift Set: It’s Christmas In July!
July 18 is right around the corner, which means you’ll soon see plenty of Batman merchandise coming your way (look for the animated Batman: Gotham Knight to hit shelves this week). But if you want a sneak peek at the upcoming sequel The Dark Knight, you can have it with the Batman Begins Limited Edition. Both the 2-Disc Standard and Single-disc Blu-ray releases feature the main attraction: a sneak peek at Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight! (Edit: The six-minute opening prologue originally screened in front of I Am Legend IMAX is only available on Blu-ray; a two-minute sneak peek accompanies the standard release.)
As a refresher, said prologue opens The Dark Knight with one of many sequences shot in IMAX: a full bank heist scene. We won’t spoil it here, but there are robbers with clown masks, plenty of double-crosses, and your first extended look at Heath Ledger‘s critically acclaimed performance as the Joker.
Each version also comes with its own set of goodies, so you have a choice to make. In the standard disc release, find five collectible postcards, printed key art, $7.50 towards seeing TDK in theaters, and a 128MB branded Batman flash drive. In the Blu-ray release, you’ll get lenticular 3-D art, a comic book adaptation of the TDK prologue, and a booklet detailing the making of the TDK prologue. Our advice: given the choice, opt for Blu-ray — if only to watch the TDK prologue in as close to its intended IMAX glory as possible.
Bat-alternatives: Make it a Mummy Week
But Batman’s not the only superhero making a push on DVD this week to build buzz for his summer adventure. Get a sneak peek at The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor before it hits theaters this August by picking up the newly restored The Mummy and its sequel, The Mummy Returns. (Those cheeky folks at Universal are also releasing a special edition of Boris Karloff‘s 1932 classic, The Mummy, with a handful of commentaries and featurettes by the likes of Rick Baker, a documentary on the legacy of the Mummy, and another doc about Universal monster movies narrated by Kenneth Branagh.)
In addition to their own respective bonus materials (a combination of previously released cast and crew commentaries, plus new storyboard-to-film comparisons and features) both The Mummy and The Mummy Returns include the three-minute Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Sneak Peek.
Horror fans with green thumbs might be doubly delighted by this tale of four American coeds terrorized by — yup — killer plants high atop an ancient Mayan temple. With all the tired ghost stories, J-horror remakes, and psychopaths-with-knives in recent memory, homicidal vines and makeshift amputations in a gory R-rated flick like this are almost a breath of fresh air! But while The Ruins scored surprisingly high considering its genre, anyone but true horror mavens are likely to be turned off.
If The Ruins even remotely appeals to you, then opt for the Unrated Edition for gorier scares and an alternate ending (Duh duh duhhhhn!). Featurettes on the handsomely constructed ruins set, the killer vines effects, and a feature-length commentary provide insights into the making of a modern day horror film, and a taste of the classic exploitation films that influenced the filmmakers.
Director Kimberly Peirce made her feature debut with the Oscar-winning Boys Don’t Cry; nine years later, her long-awaited sophomore effort focuses on another hot-button issue: the military practice of returning soldiers to duty after their contract has ended. Theatrically, Stop-Loss made less than half of its $25 million budget, but critics agree that the film and its controversial topic deserve further discussion, one likely to be had in a second life on DVD.
In addition to a making-of featurette and a peek into the boot camp experience of star Ryan Phillippe and his fellow cast members, Peirce lends her thoughts to 11 deleted scenes and a feature commentary (with co-writer Mark Richard) that offers further insights into why she made Stop-Loss.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s another spoof movie, from the mind behind such previous spoofs as Scary Movie 4 and Scary Movie 3. This time, writer-director Craig Mazin serves up an unfunny cocktail of the expected lame pop culture jokes and genre gags that we all see coming as soon as each “Fill in the Blank” Movie is announced. Shockingly, even the participation of producer David Zucker (Airplane!) can’t make the sight of Leslie Nielsen dry-humping a corpse hilarious.
As if we needed more Superhero Movie, the DVD comes in an Extended Edition that also proclaims itself “Longer, Funnier, and More Outrageous.” We’re sure it’s longer; it may be even more outrageous. Just don’t count on it being funnier.
Before she melted geek hearts the world over with her pregnant teenage one-liners, Ellen Page filmed this experimental Canadian indie by film and television vet (and sometimes-Degrassi director) Bruce McDonald. Watch her wander the streets of Toronto wearing a shower curtain, losing her mind and manipulating yours in the twisty, non-linear psychological drama.
Watch the making-of featurette (a film-school lesson in itself, considering McDonald combines non-linear storytelling, flashbacks, and literal fragments on the screen) and interviews with MacDonald and Page, plus entries from the Tracey Re:fragmented contest, where contestants could download and remix footage from the film with their own, or re-edit the film itself.
Jet Li‘s “last” martial arts epic opened to modest success in 2006 and may already occupy a spot in your video collection, but there’s a new reason to seek it out this week on DVD: the Director’s Cut features 30 more minutes of footage, including scenes with Michelle Yeoh that were deleted from the original release cut. Li plays Huo Yuanjia, the real-life martial arts master who took on the world’s best fighters, helped revive the practice of wushu in turn-of-the-century China, and whose life gained mythological status long after his death.
Three versions of Ronny Yu‘s film come in the new release: the original U.S. theatrical cut (104 minutes), an internationally-released version (110 minutes), and the full director’s cut featuring scenes with Yeoh and Thai fighter Somluck Kansing (140 minutes).
If you were watching television in 2002, then you might remember the series Fastlane. If not, here’s the premise: two hotshot cops (Peter Facinelli and Bill Bellamy) are recruited to bring down bad guys in L.A. with the help of a smokin’ supervisor (Tiffani Thiessen) and a “candy store” of impounded cars, guns, and cash — Miami Vice meets The Fast and the Furious. With creator McG (Charlie’s Angels) to guide it, how could this show go wrong? (Cut to the end of Season One, when the show was cancelled. I guess huge car chases, elaborate sets, and over $2 million an episode was too rich for WB and Fox’s blood.)
Thanks to a report posted at Movieweb yesterday, we were alerted to a new entry in Cohen’s blog, which shares a few details from the set, including the following:
Tomorrow begins the big ten-day count-down to finishing the first half of the shoot, our sojourn here in Montreal. We then move to the desert north of Beijing to shoot the epic ending battle where the Terra Cotta Army takes the field once more. There are over 700 visual effects shots in the film and a good percentage of them will take place in the last twenty minutes of the movie.
I am still on schedule, which is as much a miracle to me as to the studio brass. There have been many days of elation and many moments of pain but, overall, it has been a shoot of smooth flow and meticulous detail. I’ve been editing behind myself because in a large VFX movie like this, I have to turn over sequences to Digital Domain and Rhythm & Hues, our two VFX houses, before the whole film is cut, or shot for that matter, just to make the delivery date in early July.
Yes, he did say “Terra Cotta Army.” From the film’s synopsis:
Rob Cohen (XXX) directs this sequel that fast forwards the archaeological action of THE MUMMY RETURNS to 1946. Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn (Maria Bello in the role originated by Rachel Weisz) may have retired to England, and their now-grown son (Luke Ford) is following in their footsteps. But it’s the resurrection of China’s ten-thousand-strong terra cotta army that brings the adventuring couple back into the action.
For more behind-the-scenes info on the latest chapter in the Mummy saga, click on the link below!
As it turns out, all the rumors regarding Bello taking over the role of Evelyn O’Connell from Rachel Weisz were accurate: When she was asked why she’d dyed her hair dark brown, Bello replied, “It’s for Mummy 3, and I love it,” before providing a few details about her character’s evolution. As Sci Fi Wire quotes Bello:
“She has the same name, but she’s a very different character than Rachel played…she’s a bad-ass action chick. I had to train a lot. I had to do wushu, a martial-art form, some kickboxing, swordfighting, rifle training for a couple of months before we even started shooting. It’s the role of my dreams. It is just a blast.”
Bello and her Mummy 3 co-stars, Brendan Fraser and Jet Li, are scheduled to spend two months shooting in China. The film is slated for an August 1, 2008 opening.
Planned as a live-action film, G.I. Joe will be produced by Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, who also produced Hasbro’s Transformers. Although IMDB lists G.I. Joe due in 2010, IGN reports that production may begin soon to avoid an impending Hollywood strike.
I think it’ll feel a little strange with Maria Bello replacing Rachel Weisz in “The Mummy 3: Curse of the Dragon,” but hey at least John Hannah is returning to play Evie’s goofball brother.
According to Bloody-Disgusting.com, not only will John Hannah be returning to reprise his role as silly John Carnahan, but a big handful of new faces have recently joined the production.
Joining Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, and newcomer Luke Ford will be Alex Pettyfer, Anthony Wong, and Isabella Leong. But c’mon, really. The big news of the day is the return of John Hannah. Right?
Production on The Mummy 3 is scheduled to run until November. The flick will hit screens next summer. (When else?)
Remember when everyone was wondering why Rachel Weisz declined to be in the third "Mummy" movie? Here’s why.
Peter Jackson‘s been planning to turn Alice Sebold’s "The Lovely Bones" into a movie for quite some time now, and it looks like he’s going to start shooting in October. Variety reports that Oscar winner Rachel Weisz has signed on to star in the DreamWorks / Paramount production.
A few weeks back I expressed some skepticism that Universal would re-cast Rachel Weisz‘s "Mummy" role with a new actress. Looks like I was wrong.
According to one very reliable source, it looks like Maria Bello will be stepping in to play the character made famous by Rachel Weisz: Evelyn O’Connell, wife to Rick O’Connell, as played by Brendan Fraser.
Universal and director Rob Cohen must be really in love with the screenplay by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. Usually in a case like this they’d hire a new actress for a new role and explain Evie’s absence with some off-hand remark in the film’s opening scenes.
Here’s an updated plot synopsis, by the way: "The film brings the O’Connells and their full-grown son (Luke Ford) to the forbidden tombs of China and the Himalayas, where they battle a shape-shifting mummy, a former Chinese emperor (Jet Li) cursed by a wizard (Michelle Yeoh). This second sequel will arrive in theaters next summer.
Rachel Weisz has pulled out of "The Mummy 3," reports say; but just as the sequel loses a mother, it looks like it’s gaining a son — and a strapping athletic teen super spy son, at that.
As reported by TMZ.com, Rachel Weisz will not be reprising her role as the stunning Egyptologist Evelyn Carnahan O’Connell in the upcoming second sequel to 1999’s "The Mummy." Sources speculate a handful of reasons for Weisz’ departure from the franchise, including her participation in as many as four other acting gigs, her recent Oscar win, and caring for her nine-month-old son (with "Fountain" director Darren Aronofsky.)
The initial report was later confirmed by Variety, who also reports that Weisz co-star Brendan Fraser inked his return for an undisclosed "top-of-the-food-chain money deal." Not bad for the guy who made "Monkeybone" only six years ago!
Also figuring into the production may be British teen actor Alex Pettyfer, who made his feature film debut in last year’s "Stormbreaker." Pettyfer — who just turned 17 years old – proved his action-adventure chops in that film as the teenage superspy Alex Rider.
If casting rumors prove true, Pettyfer may take on the role of Alex O’Connell, the son of Rick and Evy who we last saw as a young boy in 2001’s "The Mummy Returns." Per IGN Movies, the character of Alex will be now in his late teens to early twenties and a younger version of his adventurer dad:
"The roguish Alex has been through nine schools in three years, plays poker and has gotten into trouble before with a headmaster’s daughter. He is resourceful and wily, and is essentially Rick 2.0. Alex also mentions at one point that he digs up relics, so it can be assumed he is an archaeologist or treasure hunter of some sort."
"Mummy 3" may also focus more on Alex, with Fraser’s Rick serving as a secondary character. New director Rob Cohen ("xXx") is at the helm.
The script is being revised by screenwriters Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, but it’s already got one bad guy. Jet Li is on board to play a mummy — ostensibly that of the Chinese Qin Emperor, whose tomb is famously guarded by an 8,000 strong terra cotta army.
So when will we see this long-awaited sequel? Production should begin this summer, with Universal eyeing a summer 2008 release.
It’s official: Jet Li has signed on to play a villain in Universal’s second sequel to "The Mummy." And no, there’s still no word on whether or not Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz are coming back.
Sources indicate that the studio is keeping the plot under tight wraps, although it seems that the flick will open in Ancient China before jumping ahead to a post-WWII setting. Hm. The screenplay comes from "Smallville" creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, and (has been reported numerous times) Rob Cohen is taking over the directorial reins from producer Stephen Sommers.
Apparently at least one scene in the flick will deal with the legendary "terra cotta warriors," which might be pretty nifty to watch. Regarding Mr. Li, it looks like he’s still "in negotiations" with the studio, but it’s probably a done deal by this point. Raise your hand if this sequel sounds like a good idea.
Ali Larter ("Heroes," "Final Destination") and Oded Fehr ("The Mummy") were at WonderCon to promote their latest film, but soon questions began to fly regarding their involvement in "Heroes," "The Mummy 3," and of course, "Resident Evil: Extinction."
Larter said she and Fehr tried to do as many of the action scenes as possible while enduring "120 degree, hot, and sweaty" conditions for "Extinction." She also joked that by trying to do her own stunts, she was presented with a "good opportunity to shoot guns." Both agreed that despite the heat, they both enjoyed the challenges that came with working on the set.
Every mention of the television series "Heroes" was met with an eruption of cheers from the audience. Larter said that when "Heroes" goes on hiatus during the summer, she plans to start going over scripts for her next movie project.
Oded Fehr, who starred in "The Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns," said that while he has spoken with "The Mummy 3" director Rob Cohen, he will not be appearing in the series’ third installment. Nonetheless, Fehr praised the series, which gave him his big break. "It holds a special place in my heart," he said. "[It was] apart of me being an actor." For more information regarding Fehr’s involvement, click here.
As the panel came to a close, audience members were surprised with a special clip prepared specifically for WonderCon. As the clip started rolling, a big box appeared in the middle of the desert. All of a sudden, the box opened and an army of zombies ferociously started running towards Alice (Jovovich) and her team, including Carlos (Fehr) and Claire (Larter). The zombies were of human form, but horrifically disfigured as though drenched in acid. Following the zombies release, we were met with a lot of running. Running and shooting to be exact. Oh and did I mention the shotguns, handguns, and boomerang knives?