Friday, June 9, 2017

Movie Review: "The Mummy" (2017)

Director: Alex Kurtzman
Year: 2017
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

U.S. military soldier and ancient treasure smuggler Nick Morton uncovers an ancient Egyptian tomb in Iraq. Inside is the mummified princess Ahmanet, who made a pact with Set in order to become an immortal queen. Upon being released from her tomb, she attempts to fulfill her deal with the god of the underworld and find him a mortal body to inhabit.

"The Mummy" is the first entry in what is supposed to be the expanded 'Dark Universe,' inspired by the old Universal monster movies of the 30's and 40's. It is directed by Alex Kurtzman, whose only other feature film directorial credit is the dramedy "People Like Us." This film is written by half a dozen people, including the aforementioned Kurtzman, as well frequent Tom Cruise collaborator Christopher McQuarrie. It stars Tom Cruise as Nick Morton, a soldier in the U.S. military who also dabbles in the stealing of artifacts to sell on the black market. He and his partner Chris, played by Jake Johnson, uncover an Egyptian tomb in Iraq of all places. The ancient Egyptians stuck the tomb in Mesopotamia because it contained a mummified Princess Ahmanet, played by Sofia Boutella. Ahmanet was passed over once a male heir was born, so she made a pact with the God of Death, Set, and killed her entire family to become an immortal queen. Once she gets released in the present day, Ahmanet must fulfill her pact and find a mortal body for Set. She has, of course, chosen Nick to fulfill this role. Joining them are Russell Crowe as an inexplicable, shoehorned in, and underwritten Dr. Jekyll, and Annabelle Wallis as the acting equivalent of an anthropomorphic tree stump named Jenny.

Well, here it is. Another unnecessary universe no one asked for. We can officially say the Dark Universe is off to a rough, rocky start. Since franchises are now the things that makes money for studios, studio heads scour their properties to see which can be turned into expanded universes. For Universal, they figured they could take their timeless and classic monster movies and update them with hundreds of unnecessary plot devices and loads of modern, cheap looking graphics in an attempt to extort moviegoers out of their hard earned dollars because, you know, no one wants to watch an old black and white movie anymore! The expansion of "The Mummy" property was done once before in a trio of films in the late 90's starring Brendan Fraser. Those behind the scenes clearly want 2017's version of the story to contain the same goofy jokes as the remake, but it also wants to take a more serious, horrific tone at the same time. Because it tries to do too much, and does it all poorly, this leaves the entire picture feeling unbalanced and unsure of what it wants to be.

With this first installment into their new universe, Kurtzman and co. opted to turn one of the best, most simple and effective horror films into a CGI heavy action flick with little to no horror and a thousand missed opportunities. This movie is a mess from start to finish. The lines of dialogue (or monologues, to be more accurate) mostly consist of heavy world-building exposition. Characters constantly spout off information to explain legends and myths, all in an effort to try and expand the Dark Universe. Nothing in "The Mummy" feels like it's there just for this one film; it only ever has the future in mind, which makes it very distracting to watch when it feels so unnatural. When the characters aren't espousing details that will be important in future films, they are either yelling, grunting, delivering misplaced quips, or screaming for help.

The acting isn't all that great, either. Most of the actors in this movie play strictly to type. Tom Cruise isn't given much to work with, and what he produces is the same thing we've seen from him a hundred times before. The one-liner jokes he is forced to deliver don't tend to land for us, and again, feel shoehorned in simply because they were in the 1999 version and audience members expect them to be there. Cruise is trying too hard to be a super relatable action star with all of the quirky, goofy traits of Brendan Fraser combined with (and what a shocker this is) the ~*running abilities*~ of Ethan Hunt or Jack Reacher. It just doesn't work. Cruise's part as Nick Morton is just like every other role he has taken in the last decade. Jake Johnson's Chris is mainly a comedic plot devise who pops up whenever it's convenient to point other characters in the right direction whenever they need it. Next. For the love of god, please stop trying to make Annabelle Wallis happen. Her character Jenny is only on screen to be a damsel in distress and give the aforementioned exposition. This is done with the stiffness, spice, and nuanced flavor of a plain rice cake. Sofia Boutella is decent choice to play the Mummy, but she isn't put to good use here. Most of her role consists of her striking a pose with her arms back and chest out, or with her arms out and her chest in while CGI chaos surrounds her. What a complete waste.

"The Mummy" is only concerned with being the biggest action flick possible, and what winds up on screen is an overload of special effects, sub-par acting, thinly written characters, and too much of an eye on the future of this (what we can only hope will never actually be a thing) Dark Universe. Universal has to realize what has made other franchises work so well is a combination of good characters, great effects, and even better story. "The Mummy" just doesn't have any of this and is a bit of a misery to watch unfold.

My Rating: 3.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 18%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

1 comment:

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