American vs Turkish Cinemas: A.L Fox recalls her Summer Experiences

Hello readers,

This is another post by A.L. Fox, my talented guest writer. This time she has written about three different cinemas in two different countries she has visited this summer.

Happy Watching

Robyn ūüôā

There’s more to the cinema experience than simply absorbing the themes and colours that stimulate the senses from the screen, and hopefully stir our emotions – in a good way.¬† Many of us still visit the cinema to watch a film even though we can generally view most films from the comfort of our own homes.

So why do we continue to go out to see a film?

Often, it is to be sociable and share an experience with friends or a loved one or sometimes, that we want to be the first to see a new blockbuster release or, on occasion, to be challenged by new worlds and ways of seeing. There are many demands on our leisure time these days, and we have screens wherever we go, whether it’s a phone, a tablet, or a laptop but we still go to the cinema. In this century, around 150 million people still visit the cinema every year in the UK. Of course, this is a considerable drop from the 1.5 billion that went in the heyday of the Second World War. But now there are so many different ways of watching a film.

With so much competition for our eyes, cinemas have become much more than just a screen; they are places where you can eat, play video games – and eat mountains of popcorn. Most are multiplexes offering 3D and a very different experience from the cinemas of old. Now you book online, choose a seat, collect your ticket from a machine and don’t have to speak to anyone. It’s not quite the same everywhere in the world, though.

America is the home of cinema and there will probably be as many different cinemas as there are States but going to the cinema in New York is like stepping back in time. We were in the Big Apple when Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again opened so, naturally, we had to go. Bizarrely, the weather wasn’t as hot as we’d been led to believe; it rained and so that was another factor in our decision. The AMC chain is the biggest US cinema chain but the one on W 34th St felt as though it remained untouched since it opened in the 50s. First, we had to get to the 4th floor; there were the usual food stalls – and popcorn but also, gambling machines. We bought our tickets, and chose a seat; on the screen there were gaps between the seats – and, in the cinema,¬† the seats were in pairs with a large table – for the food, between them. Sitting down, there was another surprise for there were acres of room between the rows. People were able to walk without asking others to move. Unsurprisingly, people didn’t stop eating throughout the film and American audiences aren’t exactly quiet; they do like to voice their opinions, or add their viewpoint to the action.

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AMC Cinema on W 34th St, New York City, USA

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For the record, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again was enjoyable – the beginning was a little flat but once the cast hit their stride about 30 minutes in, it became more like the first film – and that’s exactly what audiences were expecting. The film delivered but it wasn’t quite a match for the original. Now that sounds like a criticism, but it’s not meant as one. It is simply that the first film was so iconic. A special appearance by Cher was successfully woven into the plot and she provided enough glitz to offset the absence of Meryl Streep, although there were some scenes featuring Streep, so she wasn’t entirely missing.

Most of the other main characters from the first film had major roles in this one with the addition of a young Donna (Lily James) and her Dynamos (Alexa Davies and Jessica Keenan Wynn) plus younger versions of Sophie’s three dads (Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan and Hugh Skinner).

Now, talking of original – the Regal, the second cinema we visited in New York, on W 42nd St was definitely like stepping into the 50s again. Here, the seats were black leather armchairs that extended to support your feet, almost to the point of becoming a bed. The carpets had the letter of the rows woven into it and the decor hadn’t been touched for decades. Here, we saw Incredibles 2; a film that had been on general release for some weeks so it wasn’t busy. We did get the noise of audience participation once again, and it was loud¬† – the sound turned up to echo over the comments.

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Regal Cinema W 42nd St, New York City, USA

Samuel L. Jackson, Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Brad Bird, Sarah Vowell, Eli Fucile, and Huck Milner in Incredibles 2 (2018)

As for the film itself, it was definitely worth watching. It had all the impact and colour of the first film with an updated plot to reflect changes in society. This time, it was Elastigirl or Helen Parr’s time in the spotlight. She went to save the world while Mr Incredible became a stay-at-home dad. As ever, the action was fast-paced and attention-grabbing for both children and adults. The animation was brilliant and shows that Disney Pixar is not just for kids.

Both experiences were good; if you get the chance to visit either of these cinemas then take it; a different experience but a good contrast and it makes you appreciate the relative quiet of British audiences – unless, you’re unfortunate enough to sit next to the person who never stops eating. There are people who believe calories consumed in the dark don’t count as they munch continuously for the length of the film and that can be a big distraction but then, it’s all part of the cinema experience.

And what’s still part of the cinema experience in Turkey is – the intermission. Yes, they have a break in the middle of the film! We were watching Mission Impossible – Fallout 3D – and, at a particularly tense moment in the action, the screen went dark. An electrical fault? No, it was an interval. People went out and returned with more food, it may even have been a break for the smokers but it was only one hour into the film and it did break the flow.

Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Angela Bassett, Ving Rhames, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson, and Simon Pegg in Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)

The MI films are all fast-paced with plenty of action; there are no slow sections where a break could be achieved without interrupting this flow so it did spoil the experience – for me, at least. We didn’t mind the subtitles – some Hollywood films are dubbed but most are shown in English – but that break did upset the concentration. However, even though this is the sixth film in the franchise, it still captured the hearts and minds of the audience with a good story, death-defying stunts and enough dialogue to explain the plot points. Tom Cruise playing the lead Ethan Hunt was brilliant as always and supported by a sterling cast featuring Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson and Alec Baldwin.

Three films, three different experiences; if you do get the opportunity to visit the cinema in another country then go Рit may even make you appreciate what you have at home. As for costs, in the US we paid about £10/£12 for each ticket and in Turkey, we paid a bit less but, in terms of comparable costs relative to the country, tickets are much the same price.

10 Years of Marvel: Infinity War Review and My Favourite Marvel Films

Hello readers,

I know Infinity War came out a while ago but as I want to do a post full of spoilers I was waiting until hopefully most people have seen it.

In this post, I’m going to talk about the last 10 years of Marvel and how I became a fan.

Infinity War

Image result for infinity war poster

This is the film that took 10 years and 18 films to make. The culmination of the Marvel story. I went to see the film on the opening night and really enjoyed it. Not only was it a great story full of twists and turns, it had shocking and funny parts as well. One minute, I was close to crying, the next laughing.

Some audiences and critics tend to dismiss comic book / superhero films but they are actually full of difficult themes: death, loss of loved ones, relationship struggles, betrayal, loss of identity, depression and of course, the villains.

Infinity War is essentially all the Marvel characters coming together to stop Thanos who is trying to collect all the Infinity Stones and destroy the universe. Sounds simple, but the interactions between The Avengers, Guardians and Doctor Strange add new dimensions to the story we haven’t seen before. Who knew Rocket and Thor would get along so well, or Shuri and Banner?

Tony Stark meeting Doctor Strange and Star Lord were some of my favourite moments along with Okoye, Black Widow and Scarlet Witch working together in the end battle.

The personal battle Banner had with the Hulk was a funny on going joke as was the conflict between Thor and Star-Lord.

The most shocking moments for me were Loki’s sudden death, Gamora being thrown off the cliff and Vision’s revival and second death by Thanos and of course when half of them disappeared.

My theory is that they are all in an alternate dimension and will all return safe and sound. I also hope that Gamora returns but I don’t have high hopes for Loki or Vision.

The cast is very long so I will just list the top 20 or so characters below:

  • Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/ Iron Man
  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor
  • Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / Hulk
  • Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America / Nomad
  • Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
  • Josh Brolin as Thanos
  • Don Cheadle as James Rhodes / Rhodey / War Machine
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange / Doctor Strange
  • Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man
  • Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther
  • Chris Pratt as Peter Quill / Star-Lord
  • Zoe Saldana as Gamora
  • Paul Bettany as Vision
  • Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
  • Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon
  • Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier
  • Tom Hiddleston as Loki
  • Karen Gillan as Nebula
  • Letitia Wright as Shuri
  • Danai Gurira as Okoye
  • Dave Bautista as Drax
  • Pom Klementieff as Mantis
  • Benedict Wong as Wong
  • Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket
  • Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot

I give Infinity War 5/5.

My Favourite Marvel Films

Here are my top Marvel films, a couple of them I have only seen a few times as they are quite new, such as Black Panther and Thor Ragnarok but the others I have seen about four or five times and I think they are all amazing films.

The first Marvel film I saw was Iron Man around age 13. I was in awe of Robert Downey Jr. and his character, Tony Stark. I immediately loved the film. The second one was even better. I then branched out into the Avengers, Captain America and the Guardians of the Galaxy. I eventually watched every Marvel film and since Captain America: Civil War I have seen every new film in the cinema. Before Marvel Studios, I had seen the original X-Men trilogy and loved those too.

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Don Cheadle, Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2 (2010)

This film has many great things about it: Formula 1, War Machine, Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell and of course, Robert Downey Jr. I think the plot is good to follow, shows how people can become villains at the hand of heroes and why mankind deserves saving. It is also a film I watch if I need cheering up or a good laugh.

The main cast are

  • Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark / Iron Man
  • Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
  • Don Cheadle as James Rhodes / Rhodey / War Machine
  • Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman / Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
  • Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer
  • Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
  • Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson
  • Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan
  • Paul Bettany as the voice of JARVIS

Overall I give Iron Man 2 5/5.

Captain America: Civil War

Don Cheadle, Robert Downey Jr., Paul Bettany, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Chadwick Boseman, and Sebastian Stan in Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Many people said that this film feels like an Avengers film as most of the Avengers are featured but the core focus is on Captain America trying to protect his friend Bucky Barnes so I feel that it is right to call this a Captain America film.

I think the best lines go to Hawkeye in this one such as ‘I’ve been retired five minutes’ ; ‘I was gonna take the kids water skiing’.

Paul Rudd is also a stand out as Ant-Man especially when he meets Team Cap.

This film is more about politics than the Avengers films as were the other two Captain America films. The Government gets involved with detaining Bucky and wants the Avengers to sign the Accords to only ‘avenge’ when the UN says so.

The villain of the film, Helmut Zemo whose family were killed in Sokovia (in the last Avengers film in 2015) is trying to reactivate the Winter Soldier as revenge, an emotion we can all relate to.

The scene where it is revealed that Bucky as the Winter Soldier killed Tony’s parents was heart-breaking and the subsequent fight where Steve then gives up his shield feels very much like the end of the Avengers.

Peggy Carter’s funeral, an essential plot point, also struck a chord with me as a fan of the Agent Carter series and the first Captain America film.

In this film, we first meet Black Panther and Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU for short)

I like the drama and action scenes in this film with many amazing stunts and fights and also comic timing by Robert Downey Jr., Jeremy Renner, Tom Holland, Anthony Mackie and the others.

The main cast for this film is similar to Infinity War but with a few missing:

  • Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America
  • Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man
  • Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
  • Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier
  • Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon
  • Don Cheadle as James Rhodes / Rhodey / War Machine
  • Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton / Hawkeye
  • Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther
  • Paul Bettany as Vision
  • Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
  • Paul Rudd as Scott Lang /Ant-Man
  • Tom Holland as Peter Parker / Spider-Man
  • Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter / Agent 13
  • Daniel Br√ľhl as Helmut Zemo

I give Captain America: Civil War 5/5.

Black Panther

Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Isaach De Bankolé, Martin Freeman, Michael B. Jordan, Andy Serkis, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o, Daniel Kaluuya, and Letitia Wright in Black Panther (2018)

I have already talked in depth about this film over on my Cannes blog post last week but here I will mention some of my favourite parts.

The scene and car chase sequence in South Korea was amazing and also had some great lines, especially by Okoye and Shuri.

The introduction of Erik at the art gallery was clever and shone a light on racism.

The reveal that T’Chaka killed his own brother and left Erik in Oakland was very shocking and added a new dimension to the story.

Some favourite lines are ‘What are those!’ by Shuri; ‘If you say one more word I’ll feed you to my children… I’m kidding, we’re vegetarians’ by M’Baku; ‘Is this Wakanda?, No it’s Kansas’ by Shuri; ‘Guns… So primitive!’ by Okoye; ‘Does she speak English?’ ‘When she wants to’ by Okoye; ‘Nakia… hi’ ‘You froze’ by T’Challa and Okoye.

The cast are listed below:

  • Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther
  • Michael B. Jordan as Erik Stevens / Killmonger
  • Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia
  • Danai Gurira as Okoye
  • Letita Wright as Shuri
  • Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi
  • Winston Duke as M’Baku
  • Martin Freeman as Everett Ross
  • Angela Bassett as Ramonda
  • Forest Whitaker as Zuri
  • Sterling K. Brown as N’Jobu
  • Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue

I give Black Panther 5/5.

Thor: Ragnarok

Jeff Goldblum, Anthony Hopkins, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Mark Ruffalo, Karl Urban, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, and Tessa Thompson in Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

The third in the Thor series, Thor: Ragnarok directed by Taika Waititi is one of the funniest Marvel films so far. There are so many little jokes paired with physical comedy and facial expressions from the cast that had me laughing out loud in the cinema. It is a refreshing new take on Thor and the comic book genre.

Chris Hemsworth who plays the protagonist Thor, stated that he was doubtful of doing a third Thor film until he read Waititi’s script. Thor was given a funny side, jokes were made by him and not just at his expense. The film still had a villain, Hela: Thor and Loki’s secret sister and darker themes such as betrayal, grief, depression, death but the comic timing and humour that Waititi injected into the film kept it light and entertaining for audiences.

Favourite parts of mine are Hulk and Thor’s interaction “Hulk like fire. Thor like water”; the ‘Get Help’ plan “A classic”, “I still hate it. It’s humiliating”, “Not for me, it’s not” and “This team of yours got a name?” “Yeah, it’s called the … uh… Revengers!”

Two hilarious characters that are new to the Marvel franchise in this film are the Grandmaster played brilliantly by Jeff Goldblum and Korg, a creature made out of rocks voiced by the director himself.

The surprise appearance of Doctor Strange as Thor and Loki look for Odin on Earth made a great scene.

The cast for Thor Ragnarok are:

  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor
  • Tom Hiddleston as Loki
  • Cate Blanchett as Hela
  • Mark Ruffalo as¬† Bruce Banner / Hulk
  • Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie
  • Idris Elba as Heimdall
  • Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster
  • Karl Urban as Skurge
  • Anthony Hopkins as Odin
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange / Doctor Strange
  • Taika Waititi as Korg (voice)
  • Rachel House as Topaz

I give Thor: Ragnarok 5/5.

The Avengers

The Avengers (2012)

The first group film, the Avengers remains one of my favourites even though the Marvel storyline has moved on significantly with Infinity War. The first outing of the six original Avengers contains key bonding moments between the six and Nick Fury. We also see the first major disaster on Earth that the Avengers fight as a team.

The actors and characters seem so young and innocent to me, the only thing they have to worry about is Loki and the Chitauri. However, Thanos is briefly introduced a plot point that won’t be answered for another six years.

This is also the introduction of Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner and Hulk: I think he does a great job and his character develops from a timid scientist to a fighter in Infinity War.

The Avengers don’t gel together right away, Iron Man and Thor’s fight at the beginning is one example as is Tony and Steve’s constant arguing. They do however come together to fight the enemy: the aliens.

Some of the best lines are “Have a care how you speak! Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard and he is my brother!” “He killed 80 people in two days” “He’s adopted”

“What’s the stat, Rogers?” “It seems to be powered by some sort of electricity!” “…well, you’re not wrong”

“This is just like Budapest all over again” “You and I remember Budapest very differently”

Essentially this is first film we see the Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes working together as a team and trusting each other.

The main cast are:

  • Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man
  • Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America
  • Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / Hulk
  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor
  • Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
  • Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton / Hawkeye
  • Tom Hiddleston as Loki
  • Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson
  • Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill
  • Stellan Skarsg√•rd as Erik Selvig
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
  • Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
  • Paul Bettany as Jarvis (voice)

I give the Avengers 4/5.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Sebastian Stan in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

To many people this is one of the best Marvel films to date. It has a different tone to the other films. Captain America becomes a fugitive and is on the run from SHIELD, the organisation that helped him find his feet in the 21st century. He works with fellow Avenger, Natasha Romanoff and new recruit, Sam Wilson to defeat the Winter Soldier and Hydra who have infiltrated SHIELD. The film has a strong undercover spy thriller vibe which is unique to other Marvel movies.

The introduction of Sam Wilson helps show Steve Rogers as a leader, Sam follows Steve on every command and it shows how experienced Steve and Natasha really are.

They also uncover an enemy Steve fought 70 years ago and foes who they thought were on their side. Overall a very entertaining film.

Some of the best lines include “41st floor! 41st!” “It’s not like they put the floor numbers on the outside of the building”

“It was not my first kiss since 1945. I’m 95; I’m not dead”

“Where did Captain America learn to steal a car?” “Nazi Germany. And we’re borrowing. Get your feet off the dash”

The excellent cast for this film are:

  • Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America
  • Scarlet Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
  • Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon
  • Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce
  • Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes / the Winter Soldier
  • Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill
  • Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow
  • Maximilano Hern√°ndez as Jasper Sitwell
  • Emily VanCamp as Kate / Agent 13
  • Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter

I give Captain America: The Winter Soldier 5/5.

Thanks for reading and here’s to another 10 years of Marvel!

Happy Watching

Robyn ūüôā

My Weekly Recommendations 19th November

Hello readers,

I know I missed last week but I thought I would catch up with my thoughts on films I have seen this week.

Cinema:

Borg vs McEnroe (2017)

This film about the Men’s Wimbledon Final in 1980 was a great in depth look at how competition and the media affected the players involved. Bj√∂rn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason), a Swedish tennis player trying to break the record for 5th consecutive Wimbledon title is up against John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf), a US player known for his quick temper trying to win Wimbledon for the first time. The film follows their journey from childhood as young tennis stars to the final. The actors truly commit to the role and embody their characters not just by looking like them but by being them. I was shocked at how emotional and heart warming the film was, Borg had to deal with his extreme fame and how he cannot even walk down to the street without people running up to him chanting his name and McEnroe has to try and show the media and the world that he is good enough to beat the 4 time champion and not loose his temper. This film also stars Stellan¬†Skarsg√•rd (Thor) as Borg’s coach, an ex-Wimbledon quarter finalist who has backed him since he was a teenager, Robert Emms (War Horse) as Vitas Gerulaitis, an American tennis player and Ian Blackman (Hail Caesar!) as John McEnroe Senior. The actual match played between Borg and McEnroe was an amazing sequence, the whole film had been leading up to this match and you want both players to win. Overall I give Borg vs. McEnroe 5/5.¬†

Amazon Prime:

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

This film is a 90s rom com classic and I don’t know why I haven’t seen it before. The story follows Kat played by Julia Stiles (Bourne Ultimatum) and her sister Bianca played by Larisa Oleynik (The Babysitter’s Club). Bianca really wants to date the cute, popular guy Joey (Andrew Keegan) but her dad says she cannot date until her older sister Kat does. New boy at school Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) also wants to go out with Bianca but when he learns of her dad’s rule he conspires with new buddy Michael (David Krumholtz) to get Kat a boyfriend. Enter Patrick, a cool, clever, school-hating bad boy with a motor cycle played by the young Heath Ledger (Batman Begins). He starts dating Kat for a price paid by Joey. Kat and Patrick get closer but will she discover their relationship is all a sham? Based on Shakespeare’s play, The Taming of the Shrew, this is an American teen movie with a twist. Also starring Gabrielle Union (Bring It On)as Bianca’s best friend; Larry Miller (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) as Kat and Bianca’s dad; Daryl Mitchell (Galaxy Quest) as Kat’s crazy English teacher and Allison Janney (American Beauty) as the guidance counsellor who likes to write erotic novels. Overall I give 10 Things I Hate About You 5/5.

Box of Broadcasts

Deux jours, une nuit (2014)

I saw this film via a streaming service provided by my university but it is available on DVD and possibly other streaming services. This film is different to most films in the cinemas because it wasn’t made on a big budget and most of the actors were not professionals with dozens of credits. It shows a woman, Sandra played by Marion Cotillard (Inception) one of the few names in this film, as she goes around her small French town trying to convince her co-workers to vote for her to keep her job rather than their bonuses. She had a long period of leave due to depression but she feels better and wants to go back to work. The only thing standing in her way are her colleagues. Whilst this film is realist, showing ordinary activities like making dinner, buying food, travelling in the car it has a pull to it that makes you feel for Sandra and you hope she succeeds in her mission. Also starring are Fabrizio Rongione (Rosetta), Catherine¬†Sal√©e (Blue is the Warmest Colour). All the other actors and actresses are virtually unknown. The Dardenne Brothers who directed this film like their films to be realist and full of people we don’t recognise so that the audience is more invested in the characters and setting and not thinking where they know each actor from. This film really struck a chord with me and showed how vulnerable yet strong women can be. Overall I give Deux jours, une nuit 4/5.¬† ¬†

I hope reading these reviews inspires you to check out these films or maybe some of the actors in them. This is my weekly selection. I have watched a few others this weeks that deserve a mention: No Strings Attached (2011), I Am Not A Witch (2017), The Bad Education Movie (2015), Bring it On (2000) and The Mummy (2017).

Happy Watching,

Robyn