The seeming collapse of Universal’s Dark Universe cinematic universe should maybe be seen as a blessing in disguise.
Keep in mind Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy earned over $409 million on a budget of $125 million, which isn’t a terrible outcome (though promotional costs, which I haven’t seen, are important) and indicates an interest in the concept.
Interestingly, NOT casting Tom Cruise might have better shown how much interest there was in The Mummy–and by extension their Dark Universe–and likely would have cost less to produce, which could mean the movie would have had a better chance at profitability.
What Universal needs to do is to go back to the original movies–and for a start emphasizing horror, as opposed to action– and put Jason Blum at the helm because if he and his Blumhouse Pictures production shingle–conveniently at Universal as well–has proven anything, it’s that he knows how to make extremely profitable horror movies at minimal cost.
By way of illustration, Blum’s The Purge cost $3 million and Insidious cost $1.5 million and earned $98 million and $97 million, respectively.
Which is exactly what Dark Universe needs right now.
2013’s The Purge was always a guilty pleasure of mine, despite that if you take away the fascinating concept of a 12-hour period once a year in which you’re free kill whomever you want, you’re left with what is a simple home invasion thriller.
With the 2014 sequel, The Purge: Anarchy the concept began to move away from its humble origins, becoming more overtly political.
And that’s okay, because otherwise the sequels would have been essentially remakes of the original movie.
Though change, like anything else, brings risk.
In this particular instance, for me it’s that the series has been building to a story about–potentially–the fall of the government in the United States that supports and promotes the Purge (after they attempt to use it to cover an assassination attempt on a Senator).
As I said, change is necessary, though I am not crazy about the direction; though I expect it to do quite well because they’re releasing it July 4th–Independence Day in the United States–which is more than a little bit brilliant.
You can’t say that James DeMarco’s Purge movies aren’t ambitious. The first in the series was essentially a high-concept home invasion thriller with horror overtones.
The sequel, The Purge: Anarchy took the home invasion idea, and introduced it into a city-sized canvas. This was the movie where you can see inklings of a political consciousness to the barbarous kull coming to the fore.
And with The Purge: Election Year events come to a head as the political system that spawned the monstrous assault on flesh and civil liberties, itself comes under assault.
That being said, I hope the movie uses its more overtly political thrust to to satirize some of our current politicians, which would not only could be fun, but add an extra layer of interest.
By the way, why is it that online dictionaries don’t have the word ‘kull?’ I know it’s a word, but apparently few other people do.
Update: The reason the dictionary doesn’t have ‘kull’ is because it’s traditionally spelled ‘cull.’ Duh.
This trailer for Bong Joon Ho‘s Snowpiercer turned up on the Interwebs a few hours ago, and it’s interesting for what it doesn’t show more than watch it does.
By which I mean, action is emphasized heavily in virtually every scene and very little else (though the actress whom I assume is Tilda Swinton with false teeth is interesting in and of itself).
I hope that the storyline involving halves and have-nots hasn’t gone under the Weinstein’s knife because without the philosophical underpinnings it’s nothing more than The Purge aboard a train.
And that would be a shame because I think movies like Snowpiercer have a lot to tell us about ourselves, which is never an easy thing.
I went into the first ‘Purge’ expecting a subversive commentary on American mores, coupled with an ample helping of cathartic violence. Instead what I got was little more than a home invasion thriller, with barely a pinch of anything wholesome or nutritious.
And while I can’t necessarily judge the upcoming sequel by the teaser trailer, I am getting the feeling that expecting more from this series isn’t going to get me anywhere.
And I have questions, such as: How did a future America get this way? How could our political process, which is currently barely functional, gather the wherewithal to launch such a sweeping, drastic change?
Does everyone agree with The Purge? If not, where are these people? And assuming that some sort of opposition exists, where are they? Is there an Underground Railroad to help people escape, if they are targeted?
What group bears the brunt of twelve hours of anarchy? African-Americans? Hispanics? Whites? Men? Women? Children?
What happened to the homeless population of many major American cities? Were they killed off in a Purge? Is it being used as an instrument of government, to get rid of “undesirables?”
There are so many fascinating questions that could be asked, but–as I implied earlier–I am getting the feeling that his sequel will involve little more than two people running around a city for half a day, trying to stay alive.
Kind of like Walter Hill’s “The Warriors,” minus that film’s intriguing premise.