Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Mummy (2017)

I admit, I sometimes come into the movie with an angle for the review, and the one I came in this time is still true: A Mummy reboot feels weird because it doesn't seem like the series with Brendan Fraser was really ever done; sure, it's been almost ten years since The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, but, honestly, you'd have been just as down for Fraser dealing with mummies in South America as Cruise dealing with them in London, right? It wouldn't have seemed surprising or like they were pulling something old out. Heck, Fraser's younger than Cruise!

But, that's not going to get a new shared universe started unless you were doing something Captain America-like (and, to be fair, you could have Rick mummified for sixty-odd years, or go the legacy-quel route), and presuming everyone involved wants a fresh start, okay. And, honestly, I see a ton of potential in Dark Universe - if they keep the tone along the same lines as this movie but clean up the plotting, it can be a lot of fun, and it seems like they've seeded something potentially cool ideas. In my head, this is all being built around some Lovecraftian horror trying to force its way into our world (from a "dark universe", if you will), with Set being the first manifestation. Heck, if you build this to actual Lovecraft, with Guillermo Del Toro directing, a certain segment of fandom would go absolutely berserk.

The Mummy (2017)

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 9 June 2017 in AMC Boston Common #2 (first-run, Imax 3D)

It's fitting that Russell Crowe's Dr. Henry Jekyll is set up to be the Nick Fury of Universal Pictures' "Dark Universe" franchise, because the version of The Mummy that kicks it off has a heck of a split personality: not great, perhaps, but plenty of fun when it stays in its lane with mummies serving as a means to zombie-movie mayhem and the sort of big, fancy action sequences that star Tom Cruise dives into like few others. It can be a real downer when it tries to set up something larger, enough to sabotage what works and maybe make a viewer resent the world-building.

After a bizarre, disconnected London prologue splitting time between the middle ages and today, the action moves to Iraq, where American soldiers Nick Morton (Cruise) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) have gone off-mission in search of antiquities, as is their wont, only to find something truly incredible after an airstrike: An Egyptian tomb built like a prison, with a sarcophagus smothered in mercury to prevent its contents' escape. Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), the historian from whom Morton stole the map leading him to the tomb, reads the hieroglyphics to discover that this is Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an Egyptian princess who made a bargain with Set, the god of death, after her path to the throne was blocked, killing her family and being sentenced to being mummified alive and interred far from home. Some sort of strange power still surrounds her, allowing Morton to miraculously survive when the plane bringing them back to England crashes. Fortunately, this happens to be the home base of the Predigium, and organization dedicated to fighting supernatural evil headed by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe).

The first part lifts from a lot of things, perhaps most surprisingly and notably An American Werewolf in London, but mostly from pulpy material. As they bring mummy movies into the present day, director Alex Kurtzman and his five credited co-writers see a line between the slow-moving mummy of the 1932 original and modern zombies, and following that line gives them things that hit a sweet spot between classic, modern, and inventive, as Ahmanet's draining the life force from others gives her an army of shambling corpses, and an early comment about London being one large cemetery certainly pays off nicely. It's fun when Kurtzman can just mess things up with some good mummy action as a lot of punches getting stuck in decaying corpses, and the bigger showpieces are a kick as well.

Full review on EFC.

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