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The Mummy – Movie Review

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The Mummy – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Pictures

The concept of the shared universe has become so connected to massive blockbusters, studios start building and preparing them before the first film in a potential franchise has been released. The Mummy mostly keeps to being its own self-contained adventure, but as it goes on, it feels more intent on establishing the larger world and its inhabitants. This seriously affects the third act of the piece as it throws in other elements and pushes the titular Mummy to the wayside. This can’t be put entirely on the blame of director Alex Kurtzman and the six credited screenwriters. The Mummy, while mostly pure escapist entertainment, feels much like a product made by committee.

Tom Cruise’s Nick Morton is the main star and focus of The Mummy, rather than Sofia Boutella’s evil Egyptian princess risen from the dead. Cruise is one of modern cinema’s best action heroes, so that’s hardly a bad thing as he brings the proper cockiness to the role. However, it’s a shame Boutella is given little to do as she is the best part of the entire film. The first half of the movie, when she initially wrecks havoc, provides the groundwork for some impressively mounted action set-pieces. Boutella is definitely enjoying herself as she snarls and gives victims the kiss of death. Crash McCreery, credited as creature designer, has come up with a great look for this Mummy and the makeup artists apply it with panache.

There is some solid humour early on, mostly thanks to Jake Johnson’s antics. If one wants to pretend Johnson is playing his character from New Girl, that only makes his scenes funnier. Unfortunately, Annabelle Wallis’s archeologist mostly exists to provide exposition about the mummy. The film already opens with a prologue about her back story, rendering any further information largely unnecessary. Jenny is merely a tag-along for the adventure and for Nick to continue saving. Russell Crowe’s role as Dr. Jekyll is the big connecting tissue with the rest of this “Dark Universe” and most of his dialogue is also given as exposition.

The last third starts to get rather tiring, as the script becomes busy and the studio clearly tries to set-up future films. Instead of focusing primarily on the mummy, we are treated to an action scene with Jekyll making his famous transformation. It feels like an entirely different movie has been spliced into this one. Eventually, the finale descends into a bunch of special effects. The Mummy is a rather short film by modern blockbuster standards, but it would have been nice if they had put a break on setting up future monsters and allowed their current titular villain more time to shine.

There is some escapism to be had early on, with Ben Seresin’s cinematography being quite stunning. Going purely for a horror approach mixed with the action also allows this Mummy to differentiate itself from the popular Stephen Summers films from a decade ago. However, there needed to be a smoother transition to the larger universe building going on. They obviously want to follow the Marvel model, but that comic book movie studio eased audiences in and this wants to get right into the world as soon as possible. Thankfully, there is room to grow from here and it will be interesting to see what later directors will do with the monsters handed to them.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE


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