The latest incarnation of The Mummy is thankfully not connected to the horror-comic series that featured Brendan Fraser. Instead, this is the first offering from the so-called Dark Universe franchise, a proposed film series in which classic monsters such as The Mummy, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the Invisible Man and Frankenstein’s monster are repackaged for a modern action cinema audience. The old monster movies worked because they mixed low-key, low-budget charm with a touch of creepiness and existential dread. Almost none of this is apparent in the new Mummy. Instead, it’s an overblown, cgi-saturated action film with a few supernatural elements thrown in. While not a complete dud this film, which stars Tom Cruise, is a disappointing start to the series.
Cruise plays what is supposed to be a caddish soldier and relic Hunter Nick Preston who, along with sidekick and alleged comedy relief Chris (Jake Johnson), uses the Iraq conflict as cover for his artefact thieving activities. When they and archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) unearth an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus that has mysteriously found its way to Iraq, the trio inadvertently release upon the modern world its demonic inhabitant, the Mummy of evil Egyptian Princess Ahmanet (Sophia Boutella). Pursuing the marauding Mummy is the old sinister secret organisation who have a nefarious interest in the powerful supernatural being, they’re led by none other than Dr Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe).
This is a pretty silly film. It’s mainly a series of loud, at best moderately exciting action scenes loosely connected through a murky plot and mythology that requires Dr Jekyll to explain what’s happening like Basil Exposition in the Austin Powers movies. Disturbingly, in the current political climate the film dubiously portrays ancient Middle Eastern culture inflicting itself on the western world.
Cruise seems a little out of place in this role, he pulls off the physical scenes but doesn’t have the roguish charisma of a Harrison Ford so he doesn’t convince as the reckless adventurer. Also, he doesn’t have particularly good chemistry with Wallis who is otherwise fine in her role as the sensible voice of science. Russell Crowe gives an amusingly pompous performance as Jekyll although it’s not interesting enough to have audience salivating for the Jekyll/ Hide movie. Fortunately, Sofia Boutella does fine work as the sultry and sadistic Ahmanet.
Director Alex Kurtzman doesn’t seem sure which direction to take this film as it awkwardly stumbles from violent action movie to horror to campy adventure. He should have had a few more viewings of Raiders of the Lost Ark because that’s a film that combines all those elements in brilliantly cohesive fashion. The Mummy also lacks the kind of historical intrigue and tantalising mythology we saw in Raiders or even the National Treasure films.
In the end this film jettisons any notion of being a clever reinvention of The Mummy and merely succumbs to the modern-day specials effects action formula.
Nick’s rating: **
Genre: Horror/ action/ adventure.
Director(s): Alex Kurtzman.
Release date: 8th June 2017.
Running time: 110 mins.
Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM. Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show
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