The Mummy (**1/2) guesses wrong…a lot

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The Mummy – 2017

Director Alex Kurtzman
Screenplay  David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman
Starring  Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Russell Crowe

Every summer, there is at least one movie that misses on an approximation of what a movie should be. Sahara is a great example of this. This year’s example might as well be The Mummy. Kurtzman’s bloated estimate of a movie doesn’t know if it’s an adventure movie that needs to be funny, or a comedy that needs to have adventure. If you throw an overarching drama in there, then you really got a mess. Wait, isn’t this supposed to be horror?

The film starts off with two adventurers who awkwardly end up finding an ancient tomb of an Egyptian princess (Boutella) who’s been erased from history because she wanted to rule a little too soon. This results in one of the adventurers (Johnson) becoming zombified and killing his commander (Vance) while en route somewhere with the casket of the princess. Then the plane they’re on crashes…man I am getting bored even recounting this…leaving the main adventurer (Cruise) dead after saving the life of science girl (Wallis). Then the real crazy stuff begins.

The rest of the first two acts finds Cruise and Wallis running around ancient Oxford England, among other places. They are trying to avoid the reconstituted princess and her zombies (including Johnson, who becomes some sort of Griffin Dunne American Zombie in London). They quickly realize that Cruise is not only hard to kill, but he is drawn to the mummy Boutella. Tough as he is, he still can’t beat her with a stick.

Enter Russell Crowe and his merry band of secret society soldiers. Crowe, whose name is Dr. Henry Jekyll. His main job is to give Cruise’s Nick Morton a bunch of exposition which translates into a welcome into the Universal Monster franchise, which he calls Prodigium.

One really hesitates to blame Cruise for the ineffectiveness of The Mummy. He gives it the old college try, even if he never quite fits into the role as a lovable rogue. The movie throws him around like a rag doll and gives him little motivation or character beyond being tethered to The Mummy. Anyone who’s hated Cruise might like this film, because he gets the unholy hell beaten out of him.

Wallis is the girl who gets to be smart and vulnerable. She runs along side Cruise for as long as she is able. As we know, no one can out run him, even if he does have tiny legs.

Who knows what Johnson is supposed to be. He’s a discipline, but he’s a buddy, and he’s also kind of a bad guy. In every iteration, he is more annoying than funny. That’s too bad.

Fortunately, as Ahmanet, Boutella at least feels like she has a plan. Hers is not exactly a menacing Mummy, but she is driven to succeed. So she’s got that going for her.

What is the point to a franchise of classic horror villains? We can’t let them win, but can’t exactly kill them off. So everything leading up to the end is just stuff that happens while we wait for the next film. At least in the Marvel Universe, we can kill off the bad guys once in a while. We can give points for originality here, but it sure doesn’t feel like a victory.

This film is messy, but it’s not a complete disaster. It guesses a lot and most of those guesses land awkwardly. One can wonder if that good line was by McQuarrie, or if the bad plot line was Koepp. Or if it would have been better but for second time director Kurtzman. The film is passable, but in no way can we consider it the solid basis for the Dark Universe franchise. The sense of adventure exhibited in this film could lead to something better. It’s a long shot, though.

(**1/2 out of *****)

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