Film Review: THE MUMMY (USA 2017)

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the mummyAn ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.

Director: Alex Kurtzman
Writers: David Koepp (screenplay), Christopher McQuarrie (screenplay)
Stars: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Russell Crowe

Review by Gilbert Seah

When THE MUMMY’s opening credits begin, the words Dark Universe appears instead of the studio name Universal on the company logo. THE MUMMY launches the studio’s Dark Universe, a shared cinematic universe of classic movie monsters.

Tom Cruise takes over the leading role from Brendan Fraser and Dwayne Johnson in this MUMMY re-boot that does not do any justice to the franchise. Cruise plays rebel soldier Nick Morton who steals ancient artifacts, while dressed like Indiana Jones. This runs him into trouble with an old Egyptian curse that the film spends a whole 15 minutes of opening time explaining.

It all starts way back when, when really bad Egyptian princess Ahmanet (Algerian actress, Sofia Boutella) murders her father and infant brother to usurp the throne. As if this is not bad enough, she consorts with some demon that can give her everlasting life. But she is caught and mummified as punishment with her body banished from Egypt. The silly plot has the audience believe that she is put in a tomb and buried underneath London, England where she is dug up when building new tunnels for London trains, thus unleasing some curse. That is THE MUMMY’s humour. If that is not enough silliness, the demon later possesses Nick Morton when Nick Morton attempts to save the day. Tom Cruise as a demon possessed character means Tom Cruise in hyper-active mode.

The tie in of ancient times to modern day activities is laughable. Morton is a soldier in Iraq where the enemy wants their cultural monuments destroyed. The other tie in is the modernization of London’s trains resulting is uncovering the tombs.
The climax of the film requires the director to show that the possessed Nick Morton resurrecting Jenny (Annabelle Wallis from THE TUDORS) instead of the evil princess. This segment is done in the most sloppy way ever.

At a production cost of $125 million, THE MUMMY is a complete mess. The story, pacing, acting (Cruise desperately trying to show he still has the chops), dialogue are all less than memorable. Director Kurtzman who has never made a blockbuster special effects movie deserves some credit for two well executed action segments. The plane crash action set-up, after Morton fires bullets in a plane causing it to crash due to cabin de-pressurization is well-executed with bodies and debris flying all around. The other scene, an underwater segment showing the undead skeletons swimming after Morton is impressive and stunning.

The final ending is totally incoherent. The script requires the Russell Crowe character to explain what is happening. The next scene has Nick Morton and partner riding their horses in the desert with a voiceover promising another sequel soon in the making. What is all this about with the horses, Morton’s possession and evil returning and some saying that it takes a monster to kill a monster?

At least four more monster movie reboots have already been planned for Universal’s Dark Universe including BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE INVISIBLE MAN, VAN HELSING and THE WOLF MAN. Judging from this horrid first entry, the fate of the films might follow the equally horrid DC’s extended universe films MAN OF STEEL, BATMAN V. SUPERMAN, SUICIDE SQUAD and the mediocre WONDER WOMAN. It looks like the mummy’s curse desperately needs to be broken.


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