The Mummy (2017)

  • Time: 110 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy
  • Director: Alex Kurtzman
  • Cast: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis

Storyline:

Though safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient princess, whose destiny was unjustly taken from her, is awakened in our current day bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.

3 comments

  • Must everything be part of a universe now? Take The Mummy, the official first installment in Universal’s Dark Universe (2014’s Dracula Untold was intended to kickstart the franchise, but its connection to the shared universe has since been downplayed). On its own, The Mummy functions well enough as the latest version of the studio’s classic horror film, but tends to falter when establishing pieces of the overall cinematic world.

    Not that one can blame Universal for getting into the arena. With the MCU, DCEU, and the MonsterVerse all in play and raking in serious profits, why wouldn’t Universal plunder its own archives and revive classic horror characters such as the Mummy, Bride of Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein with superstars like Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe, and Javier Bardem attached? That in and of itself is not a bad idea, but to interconnect them may be questionable. When these films came out between the 1920s and 1950s, they were often stand-alone films and even when they combined for a series, installments did not necessarily hark back to previous entries. They were serials, episodes featuring the same characters but not containing any continuity or throughline.

    Continuity, tenuous and otherwise, is the name of the game in The Mummy which, in addition to Sofia Boutella’s skimpily bandaged, resurrected Egyptian princess Ahmanet, introduces viewers to Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (The way the film gives weight to this reveal is so ludicrous it may as well have blared the character’s name in neon letters.) Crowe is a secondary player here as Cruise’s Nick Morton is the main hero. It’s a slightly odd choice for Cruise. On the one hand, Nick is a typical Cruise character – a cocky charmer with maverick ways – but it’s also a character that feels dated, at least the way it’s written. This is a role Cruise could have done 30 years ago; at a youthful-looking 54, the boyishness of the performance feels strained.

    Nick and his sidekick Chris (Jake Johnson) are treasure hunters working with the U.S. army and archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis, who gives good gasp). After surviving a firefight and a bickering session with Jenny, from whom he stole a map after spending a night together, Nick stumbles upon an enormous sinkhole in the sand. Exploring it leads to the discovery of the tomb of Ahmanet, who was mummified alive after murdering her father and infant brother so she could claim the throne. The awakened Ahmanet is determined to find the ceremonial dagger in order to carry out her part of the bargain with the evil god Set so that he can take on human form. Of course, the dagger is in the possession of Nick and his team and, naturally, Nick has been targeted by Ahmanet to be the human sacrifice.

    The film’s marketing has highlighted the “zero gravity” action sequence to no end and, indeed, it is a thriller. The plane carrying Ahmanet’s tomb is attacked by a swarm of crows, and Nick and Jenny pinball from one end of the plane to another, desperately trying to reach a parachute, as the plane careens towards the ground. And yet…did Cruise not perform a variation of this stunt in more outstanding fashion in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation? Not only that, but this scene actually feels out of place in The Mummy because, though Cruise is the headliner, this is very much not a Tom Cruise vehicle in the usual sense of the word. It definitely does not meet the usual standards of quality in most of Cruise’s work. Deliberately or not, The Mummy seems intent on putting Cruise through his paces – trapping him in a crashing plane, throwing him out of a moving ambulance, swarming him with rats and, most hilariously, constantly getting slapped away like a mere ant by the formidable Ahmanet.

    The Mummy does have its moments when it replicates the high spirits and lightheartedness of 1999’s The Mummy. A chase through the woods, during which Nick and Jenny’s vehicle are attacked Ahmanet’s undead minions, combines action, comic banter, scares, and a certain tongue-in-cheek self-awareness that this is all just silly fun. And that’s the thing: this is all meant to be silly fun with some scares here and there. Yes, the original 1932 version had a quiet dread, but it also didn’t take itself too seriously. This latest version of The Mummy is distracting enough entertainment, but it in no way whets the appetite for what’s to come in the Dark Universe.

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  • (RATING: ☆☆ out of 5 )

    GRADE: C-

    THIS FILM IS NOT RECOMMENDED.

    IN BRIEF: In this dumb fantasy adventure, a woman isn’t the only one scorned. (So is its movie audience).

    SYNOPSIS: The mummy returns and she is one really angry woman.

    RUNNING TIME: 1 hr., 50 mins.

    JIM’S REVIEW: Be forewarned: Stay in the safety of your homes, dear moviegoers! The pestilence has arrived. Pandora’s Box has been opened and it released The Mummy, a 2017 reboot of of the 1999 reboot of the the old Boris Karloff 1932 original film. Old legends die hard. Yes, there are some new twists in this updated version and lots of CGI to mask its flaws (of which there are many). Unintentionally, this is a horror movie in many ways.

    This time around, Tom Cruise is our swashbuckling hero, Nick Morton. Now Nick is a handsome daredevil type and he stumbles on an ancient tomb and accidentally unearthed the body of Princess Ahmanet, the Pharoah’s evil daughter. In this version, this mummy has transgendered into a female force to be reckoned with (and I don’t know if that is really a step forward in gay terms). Sofia Boutella is that evil force, who somehow has a deep crush, bordering on obsession, on Nick, who has a deep crush on an pretty archaeological assistant, Jenny Halsey, played by Annabelle Wallis, who feels a similar reaction as well. One can’t blame either dame as Mr. Cruise still possesses the fit body of a 30 year old, even though he is nearing his mid-50’s. Why, any evil-deadly deity or live female could go stark raving mad over him! Can you blame them? But Nick is of stoic stock and resist he will. The entire movie is spent on this ill-matched relationship and the havoc it causes. (Match.com could have easily solved this dilemma.)

    According to this dim-witted plot, she is hellbent in getting Mr. Cruise’s character to reciprocate her fatal attraction. Nothing will get in her way…no London landmark…no thousands of tourists…no bad screenplay. Stand back world, she’s coming through…nothing can stop her now! And she’s bringing zombies too!

    The direction by Alex Kurtzman is barely adequate. The film is stunt laden and energy leaden. There is little suspense or scares, just lots of action that disappoints as it follows its overworked formula and digs itself deeper into a bigger hole of logic as the story goes on. The chase sequences are plentiful and the action is non-stop, from well staged stuntwork and good but unmemorable CGI, the best involving a tense plane crash and the worst (and I mean laughably bad) being an underwater chase with zombie Crusade soldiers that looked like a water ballet in slow motion. The special effects, for the most part, aren’t very special.

    Mr. Cruise is in typical action hero mode. Ms. Wallis plays another spunky damsel-in-distress. Only Ms. Boutella makes an impression…but when you are a sexy independent woman with tattooed hieroglyphics decorating your bluish skin, who wouldn’t! Also on hand are Russell Crowe and Jake Johnson. Mr. Crowe takes his melodramatic cues well and Mr. Johnson adds the comic relief.

    But the screenplay-by-committee of six, led by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, and Dylan Kussman is so dumb. It mixes monster themes and genres to create a “dark universe”, one that is being highly touted by the studios as its next big franchise. This may indeed lead to a Penny Dreadful mix, but this first entry is only dreadful. That this may be first of many is the film’s real horror.

    The movie ends on one of the most ludicrous and unsatisfying endings for any motion picture in recent years. Granted, an action fantasy film deals with the world of the unreal, but it still needs to make sense and follow a logical course as it goes from Point A to Point B. The movie is all over the place. The Mummy (2017) is D.O.A.

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  • Here is what might have went down during a meeting between some people involved with 2017’s The Mummy:

    Alex Kurtzman (director): Guys, I appreciate the opportunity to direct a reboot of The Mummy franchise. I’ve only made one film and it was a little-known drama but trust me, I’m ready to go the fantasy/thriller route.

    Production head for Perfect World Pictures: That’s the spirit Alex. We are with you 100%.

    Chris Morgan (producer): Wait. I’m not 100% on board with this thing. Those Mummy movies with Brendan Fraser weren’t that great to begin with.

    Kurtzman: True, but I have Mr. Tom Cruise as my lead. He’ll guarantee a box office hit.

    Production head for Perfect World Pictures: Cruise is dope.

    Morgan: I disagree. He was a box office champ maybe 15 years ago. I mean isn’t he a bit long in the tooth? And let’s face it, won’t he be labeled as miscast here? Cruise has never really done anything like this before. This ain’t Top Gun the mummy version people.

    Kurtzman: He’s Cruise and he’s still a darn movie star. As for his appearance, well he doesn’t look 54 since he’s been dying his hair.

    Production head for Perfect World Pictures: That should help since his female romantic interest is about 20 years younger than he is.

    Kurtzman: Oh and Tommy boy saw 1932’s The Mummy as a kid. He was inspired by it and showed interest in coming on board.

    Morgan: I don’t know guys. This might come back to bite us on the butt.

    Production head for Perfect World Pictures: Chris, it’s all good. We have $125 million in special effects and the PG-13 crowd will have their eyes popping out of their heads. Oh yeah, and we’re gonna make sure Cruise is running for his life like usual. Plus, Russell Crowe is on board as an Uber-villain. Alex, make sure we have Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe getting down and dirty in a fight scene.

    Kurtzman: You know it.

    Morgan: What about the script? I heard we’re using three writers. Isn’t that a bad omen in Hollywood?

    Kurtzman: We’ll be fine. Cruise’s screen presence is decent even though his acting has been paperweight ever since Magnolia. And wait till you see the CGI we’re throwing down. I’m talking camel spiders, rats, and crotchety zombies. A summer 2017 release will certainly help.

    Production head for Perfect World Pictures: Oh I forgot to tell you guys that Jake Johnson is being added to the cast. He’s Cruise’s comic foil and sidekick. Jake is excited.

    Kurtzman: He was funny in Let’s Be Cops.

    Morgan: I think he’s a little bland. I saw his Drinking Buddies and that film really stunk up the joint. What if he’s labeled as miscast too.

    Production head for Perfect World Pictures: Chris, you sure are in a negative frame of mind. We’re solid bro. Trust me.

    Morgan: Fine. So what is this new Mummy reboot gonna replicate? Are we going for a tongue-in-cheek Raiders of the Lost Ark?

    Kurtzman: Exactly.

    Production head for Perfect World Pictures: Yup.

    Chris Morgan: Sh*t. Okay, here we go. Let’s make a freaking movie.

    Rating: 2 out of 4 stars.

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