The Mummy Review
The Mummy should have been left locked away for another thousand years… at least.
The Mummy is the first instalment of Universal’s Dark Universe films but sadly promises a lot more than it can deliver.I can just about remember The Mummy from 1999 led by the likeable Brendan Fraser and with Rachel Weisz by his side. I remember it being a fun and reasonably light-hearted watch that didn’t take itself too seriously. Now, eighteen years later we have yet another Hollywood reboot, eighty-five if you count the Boris Karloff original, and one that it set on creating its own franchise in a similar vein to that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe called The Dark Universe.Reviving iconic monsters from literature and cinematic history, The Dark Universe plans to bring back figures such as The Invisible Man and Frankenstein amongst others in an effort to compete with the ongoing spate of superhero movies. The Mummy directed by Alex Kurtzman marks the beginning of this venture into The Dark Universe and with a screenplay from six different writers the chances of it being pulled in six different directions are quite high.
The film kicks of with Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his sidekick Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), both U.S soldiers, but actually spend most of their time acquiring ancient artefacts to sell on the black market – justified by Nick as ‘liberators of precious antiquities’. On what was supposed to be a reconnaissance mission in Mesopotamia (Iraq) they happen to stumble upon an ancient tomb that houses Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) – an Egyptian princess who made a pact with the evil God Set. Completely unaware of what they have discovered, it falls to archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) to shed some light on the situation and she quickly deduces that it is not in fact a tomb, but a prison.
Not willing to let any sort of Egyptian mythology get in her way, which you might assume she would be slightly cautious of, Jenny, with the help of Nick and Chris, exhume the sarcophagus. However, having awoken a dark force the plane carrying them all makes an unexpected stop in Surrey, England. And so begins a battle against the evil Ahmanet and her zombie like minions. But Nick and Jenny are not alone in their fight, aided by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) who runs the Prodigium organisation – an institute designed to recognise and combat various evil forces – they must try to contain Ahmanet’s power and prevent her from bringing the evil Set into the world through her chosen one.
There is a lot going on in The Mummy on the surface which is clearly designed to detract from the lack of actual substantial storyline. Combined with the fact that it doesn’t seem to know which direction it wants to go in, it mostly feels like a jumbled mess in places. The pacing throughout is fairly steady and works just enough to keep you engaged but it never feels like it’s living up to its potential, almost as though it’s holding back for some unbeknownst reason. I can imagine seeing this in 3D would add a certain impact and enhance the few action sequences there are but I doubt that even that would ultimately make up for what it lacks.
Tom Cruise just about manages to keep things moving along but like the Mummy, he’s showing signs of wear and tear
The comedy relief, predominantly from Johnson, spoils any attempt at creating anything ‘dark’ and for the most part feels tagged on and out of place. There is minimal character development and almost no effort to make any of the characters likeable. From Nick’s feigned interest in the possible end of the world to Jenny’s strained desire to help stop it. I personally am not a huge Tom Cruise fan, but even if I was, I don’t think he delivers anything memorable here at all. Likewise, Wallis is as stiff as the mummified corpse of Ahmanet and the attempt to create a love story between Jenny and Nick is laughable for all the wrong reasons. Crowe as both Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde combination had the potential to be quite good but the brief glimpse we get seems more like the emergence of the nasty side of a cockney drunk than anything from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella. Boutella as the Egyptian princess is probably the only decent part of the film, but even she isn’t given much of a chance to really shine which is shame considering she is the namesake of the film.
Left half heartedly open for a sequel and with The Bride of Frankenstein planned for 2019 one can only hope that any subsequent films from The Dark Universe will only get better. The Mummy isn’t an entirely bad watch but it definitely isn’t a film that leaves any lasting impression.
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