The Mummy (2017) review
Universal Pictures is in the middle of trying to bring back their classic monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, etc…) within a shared cinematic universe. It is a daunting task, but not impossible as the original Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr. creatures were in something of a shared world…loosely, but still shared to the point that it allowed crossovers. After a failed attempt to jumpstart the series with Dracula Untold, they had to go to the drawing board to see where they went wrong. A new plan is in play that is supposedly planned for a while, with the first movie being The Mummy.
Unlike Dracula and Frankenstein, which were based off of novels, the original Mummy had no source material and was produced at around the same time King Tut was unearthed and the idea of curses being scary. Though it was something of a remake of Dracula with mummies, it was a hit an spawned several movies, including the Brendon Frasier centered Mummy franchise. While none of them were really great, they had a lot of atmosphere and carried that mythical tone that the other Universal monsters had. With an all new The Mummy, we’ll see if is a good resurrection.
In present day Iraq, Nick Morton (played by Tom Cruise) and Chris Vail (played by Jake Johnson) are scavengers who raid to find ancient antiquities and sell them on the black market. The two accidentally stumble upon a tomb when an airstrike opens it. Nick, Chris, and archaeologist Jenny Halsey (played by Annabelle Wallis) explore it and discover that it’s a prison for ancient Egyptians, but mostly for the Princess Ahmanet. The military extracts the sarcophagus and everyone gets on a plane to London, but not only does Chris seemed to by possessed, but the mummy’s curse sends crows to take down the airplane.
Though Jennifer was able to get a parachute, Nick ends up going down with the plane, but he miraculously wakes up in a morgue. It’s discovered that Princess Ahmanet (played by Sofia Boutella) has awakened, is sucking the life out of people to make herself more human, and has placed a curse on Nick. Nick and Jennifer attempt to get away from this mummy, though are given help by a company called Prodiguim. Though Prodiguim’s leader Dr. Henry Jekyll (played by Russell Crowe) insists that Nick’s curse can be fixed, the mummy escapes and is intent on making the world hers again.
I love the idea of trying to make the Universal monsters relevant again, but with The Mummy, what a bad way to start things. My problems with it stem not with how the monster is portrayed, but with the people around her. It feels like that The Mummy was written as a Tom Cruise vehicle rather then a monster movie. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Mission Impossible franchise and a lot of his work, but not only is Cruise playing himself, but even he seems to be sidelined halfway for Dr. Jekyll.
It’s clear that The Mummy has no idea what kind of movie it wants to be; an adventure, a comedy, a horror, or fantasy. The comedy from the 1999 Mummy movie was campy, at least the whole movie kept a similar tone throughout. A character here might spout a joke while dark horror elements are going on. I wouldn’t be surprised if the film had been reshot several times. Going back to the tone, the film was actually the strongest when it was trying to be legitimately scary, with it’s use of shadows and dark corners. I respect that they tries to make the mummy a scary character again, but the film needed more focus.
I’ll give this movie credit for making the mummy the best character in the whole movie. She’s intimidating and her design looks good. Sofia Boutella might have given a performance that rivals Boris Karloff, had more attention been given to her. What’s weird is that we get a long backstory of her in Ancient Egypt and her rise to power and eventual mummification, but that all stops the moment when Russell Crowe comes in to build exposition for more monster movies…and it goes on for a half hour before The Mummy resumes its story.
I’ll give this two mummies out of five. While it’s not a disaster, its clear that The Mummy has too many cooks in the kitchen trying to make it several styles. If your looking for a simple action movie with horror elements, they are there, but its rarely consistent. Lets hope that Universal can find the right tone they need or there’ll be no monster mash in the future.