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‘The Mummy’ (2017, review)

Produced by Alex Kurtzman, Chris Morgan,
Sean Daniel, Sarah Bradshaw
Screenplay by David Koepp,
Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman
Story by Jon Spaihts,
Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet
Directed by Alex Kurtzman
Starring Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella,
Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson,
Marwan Kenzari, Courtney B. Vance
,
Javier Botet, Russell Crowe

 

The latest reboot of The Mummy opens the crypt into Universal Pictures’ new monster-centric franchise, Dark Universe. This solid start stars Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari and Russell Crowe.

Cruise plays soldier of fortune Nick Morton and is working in Iraq for the US government with his sidekick Sergeant Chris Vail (Johnson), when they steal a map from archeologist Jenny Halsey (Wallis). By unleashing an air strike on a small village, they uncover the tomb of Ahmanet, daughter of the Pharaoh cursed for taking revenge on her family and making a deal with the dark god Set.

When the tomb is extracted and headed to London for further examination, Ahmanet takes over Chris and starts to down the plane. Here we get Tom Cruise at what he’s best at, an over the top plane crash scene with incredible stunts! While saving Jenny, it appears that Nick went down in the wreckage, but he finds himself alive in a morgue, unscathed. If you have been dying to see an older Cruise shirtless since Jack Reacher, here is your chance.

In all, The Mummy origin and reveal in the modern age is, believe it or not, a fresh take on the not-so-fresh embalmed corpses. Ahmanet has regenerative powers by sucking the life our of the living and she can control the undead, which she does frequently! Her army of undead walkers are fast and strong, in contrast to the meandering brain-hungry zombies on TV. Also, a key part of the story are the unearthed tombs of Christian crusaders in London who come alive in the third act and can even swim!

One of my compatriots at the screening put it best, if you like 1999’s The Mummy, there is a lot to love here. Dropping in some humor and jump scares, this year’s movie does hide some easter eggs from the previous franchise but sets itself apart by setting its own style and look. Jake Johnson (Nick from New Girl, confused me ever time he called Cruise, ‘Nick’) plays his atypical role and lightens the load by dropping in some jokes and ‘reluctant sidekick’ banter.

Halsey and Nick also seek the help of Dr. Henry Jekyll (Crowe), medical expert of all things occult, bump-in-the-night and evil. I hadn’t done too much research into the movie beforehand, so I was surprised they went with Jekyll and not Van Helsing (he’s coming later). Crowe is particularly paternal in this role, as the good doctor who has it all figured out. But watch out, if he doesn’t have his treatment he may let the other guy out!

To be honest, coming off of a Wonder Woman weekend, I was happy to take a break from Marvel and DC Universes for a bit and revisit the original movie crossover universe. My fascination with Wolf-Men, Franken-steens and Draculas is undead and undying.

Launching Dark Universe with The Mummy and stars like Crowe and Cruise was spectacular choice and with upcoming players including Javier Bardem, Johnny Depp, and a rumored Angelina Jolie, monster mania might be headed back into popular culture.

There film’s patina was less colorful than Marvel or DC’s current offerings, the special effects were decent with some minor exceptions (yes, Virginia, there is a screaming cloud scene!) and plenty of action from the get-go.

In retrospect, Suicide Squad‘s Enchantress was aiming for the target (slight miss) at what we get here from Sofia Boutella’s Mummy. At no point in the 1 hour 50 minute movie was I ever bored, wishing for the story to get on with itself, or have any confusion as to what was happening. That’s not to say the movie was spoon-feeding the plot, it just meant it didn’t meander or take long to make it’s key points. Pacing was right on.

My criticisms are few, mostly with some CGI decisions when practical effects would have ‘fit’ the look of the movie a bit better. Look and design of main villain and undead characters were pretty great actually, and the large scale effects including the plane scene were exciting and scary.

Alex Kurtzman’s sophomore effort directing (following 2012’s People Like Us) delivers. Fortunately, Kurtzman will continue to add credits to his IMDb page by helping construct further installments of the upcoming Dark Universe releases.

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