The Mummy Review: A Flawed but Fun Blockbuster
Well, here it is folks, the first film in Universal’s the new “Dark Universe” to hit the big screen. That film is, of course, the not so highly anticipated reboot of The Mummy. When I first saw the initial trailers for this reboot, I admit I was more than hesitant. The word “cash grab” was the first thing that came to mind, with Tom Cruise as the leading man. While The Mummy is not a particularly good movie by any means, it’s certainly not a terrible one either.
Though safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), whose destiny was unjustly taken from her, is awakened by Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) in the present day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.
To be frank, reviewing The Mummy is quite difficult, as I feel the film itself isn’t sure what tone to stick with. At one point, it’ll be a straightforward action flick, with Tom Cruise running effortlessly for miles (literally). The next scene will be horror-infused, with creepy imagery, as well as a full blown comedy sketch that’s gone on for far too long. That would be great, if only the movie didn’t take itself so damn seriously.
Let’s get this right out of the way. However you may feel about him, Tom Cruise is, without question, the definition of a movie star. The man has great screen presence, and obviously can handle just about any action scene thrown at him. There are quite a few spoilers believe it or not, (considering this is the “Iron Man”of this Dark Universe) but the arc of his once selfish, turned not as selfish character did surprise me. Cruise is an animated actor, and everyone knows him from the numerous action franchises of which he’s still a part. Luckily, Cruise brings some acting chops to the character of Nick that helped the narrative for the better.
Russell Crowe chews up his limited screen time as Dr. Jekyll. He was funny, unpredictable, and just a very fun character to watch on screen. With a film that has such bad comic relief, it was nice to see someone getting into their character in a campy and fun way. The same can’t be said about Sofia Boutella as the ancient Ahmanet. For a film called The Mummy, there wasn’t a whole lot of ‘mummy’ in it. Don’t get me wrong, Boutella is great in the role, it’s just unfortunate that all she does for 80% of the runtime is move around like a spider. Those scenes with her screaming and moving sand in the trailers are terribly mis-marketed, considering those scenes only last about 2 minutes in total.
The scenes filled with the evil spirits (zombie mummies?) are well shot and executed. The plane sequence is one of the best scenes in the film, and to the marketing teams defense, the trailer only teased how that full scenes play out. Set pieces that involve a beautifully terrifying car crash/chase, some under water monster and a standout fist fight scene, which involves two actors giving it their all.
The biggest issue for me was the lightning fast tonal changes in the narrative. The first act suffers the worst due to this. Cruise is riding on horseback man with his friend (Jake Johnson) who is one of the worst comedic relief characters that I’ve ever witnessed. After that half hour, it turns into a horror/action flick staring Tom Cruise, featuring a mummy.
Thing start to get interesting once they make their way to Dr. Jekyll’s secret monsters hideout. If you know the story behind Jekyll and Hyde, then fans will be pleasantly surprised with what they see in The Mummy. The foreshadowing to Universal’s “Dark Universe” is mostly subtle, minus a few key scenes, which was a surprise. They made the film more of his own story, rather than the prequel to the Monster Squad.
Yet, I can’t help but feel disappointed by how the creative team on this project decided to take it down the path it eventually goes down. The cliches are all there, but I can’t help but think how much more fun this movie would’ve been if it was self-aware. The Mummy is too self-serious to allow the genuinely fun aspects of the film to reach a level where the audience can really enjoy and appreciate it for what it is.
I would still say to check out The Mummy, at a matinee price. Some of the sequences are genuinely terrific and some scenes truly did stand out to me. The action was great and the sound design and mixing were absolutely phenomenal. Trust me, when Tom Cruise gets thrown against the wall, you feel it. The Mummy isn’t a strike out by any means; it’s more like a pop-foul that has the opportunity to learn to make this new universe a more entertaining and fun ride.
The Mummy opens on June 9th, 2017