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Mummy, The (2017)

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Score: 2/10

Genre: Adventure and Supernatural Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.

Release Date: June 9th, 2017 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Alex Kurtzman Actors: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance

A

s sole heir to the Pharaoh, Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) seems destined to become a queen and to attain power over all of Egypt. But when the Pharaoh’s wife unexpectedly bears him a son, Ahmanet sees her fated fortunes quickly slipping from her grasp. Determined not to allow anything – or anyone – alter her path, she makes a pact with the God of Death, and then proceeds to murder her father and brother. Moments before completing the ritual that would incarnate the demonic deity, Ahmanet is captured by the Pharaoh’s guards and buried alive in a heavily fortified crypt.

5,000 years later, Army reconnaissance specialist and treasure hunter-for-hire Sergeant Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) steals a map from archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) that leads him straight to the Egyptian tomb. Unwittingly releasing Ahmanet from her underground prison, Morton begins seeing visions of the princess’ ghastly plans to finish what she started so many centuries ago. Now, with time running out and Ahmanet’s strength steadily returning, Nick and Jenny must attempt to stop their sadistic pursuer and break the curse that binds the soldier to the Mummy.

The nine-year gap between mummy films released by Universal Pictures should have been enough of a reason to revisit the franchise. But the filmmakers behind this latest iteration weren’t content with simply utilizing the advancements in technology and special effects and makeup to bring the legendary monster to a new generation of audiences. Instead, they had loftier aspirations, hoping to combine multiple horror properties to jumpstart a multi-feature series along the lines of Marvel and DC’s superhero universes. So it’s particularly unfortunate that this inaugural entry is so lackluster in so many areas.

The premise itself is nothing new, though the setting has shifted from Egypt to Iraq (bringing the inhabitants into more modern times), and the mummies have gone from stumbling, bandaged corpses to speedy, crusader knight zombies (moving with twitchiness like something out of “Silent Hill” and offering helpful undead visitations like something out of “An American Werewolf in London”). The gods are back, as are the accursed rituals (always done in the nude), the martial arts with staffs/scepters, and the bugs (hairy camel spiders make for a decent substitution for scarabs). But the hero here is also bestowed with the familiar invincibility that Brendan Fraser and company were granted during their former theatrical endeavors. “Where’s your sense of adventure?” Yet with a continual imperviousness to harm, the adventures are never genuinely suspenseful.

To its credit, “The Mummy” does adopt a darker tone than before, beginning with a “Prometheus”-type exploration of underground ruins (complete with a complex pulley system that still works perfectly after millennia of disuse) before reverting to its horror movie roots through creepy character designs and slow stalking by its witchy villain (the comic relief has also decreased substantially). Blood, gore, dead bodies, jump scares, nightmarish imagery, and wandering around in the dark with piercing flashlight beams are prevalent elements, making this much more of a horror venture than the previous, action-based pictures. However, there are still a number of impressively-designed stunts (they look great but are of questionable execution, especially as so many components can be computer generated these days), even if the attention is focused on the sudden, unnerving, spasmodic movements of zombie antagonists and the flesh-sucking capabilities of the main mummy (like the baddies of “Lifeforce” or “Hellraiser”). Sadly, many of the fight sequences are so chaotic that they conceal the nature of the choreography.

But the most disappointing twist – by far – is the inclusion of Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe). It’s such a strange, practically comical addition that one can’t help but to hope that it’s a joke. Surely the story wasn’t so desperate for fresh material that it needed such an unusual tangent to generate relevancy or drama for the target demographic. It’s such a tremendously terrible notion, in fact, that even the few inspiring moments – like turning glass architecture into a sandstorm, or combating underwater mummy knights, or comparing an ancient curse to a pathogen aching for a cure – can’t redeem the colossal failure of attempting to wrap incompatible tales into an origin story for numerous other, forthcoming monster movie properties.

– The Massie Twins

 

 



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