Wednesday, 21 June 2017

'The Mummy' Review

 Originally, the new branded Universal Dark Universe was to be started off with 2014's 'Dracula Untold'. Due to negative reaction, the film seems to have been removed from the slate of Dark Universe films. If the same cruel fate was to be applied to 'The Mummy', we could expect another restart to this collective universe.

Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) makes a living selling off ancient artifacts on the black market to the highest bidder. Whilst under attack in Iraq, Nick and his partner unearth Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an Egyptian princess who was mummified alive and imprisoned for thousands of years after trying to take over the Egyptian empire. With Ahmanet now free, her powers are growing stronger as she looks to bring the God of Evil to life by using a human host. It is now up to Nick to stop her before the world feels her true power.

'The Mummy' currently sits at 16% on review site Rotten Tomatoes. To put that into perspective, that's lower than 'Dracula Untold' (23%) and lower than 1999's 'The Mummy' (58%) and 2001's 'The Mummy Returns' (47%). The fact that this reboot has done worse than the previous 'Mummy' films and the disowned 'Untold' is a damning indictment on the start the 'Dark Universe' has made. What was once a great series of horror monster films, now looks set to become a series of generic action films.

The film does get off to a fairly good start, doing a good job of establishing the mythology surrounding Sofia Boutella's Ahmanet, showing the evil the princess possessed whilst making motivations clear. Unfortunately, less than 5 minutes later, Tom Cruise jumps in to turn this into another generic action film. Cruise, stunts, and explosions soon become the main focus for the film which ultimately is the downfall of the film. John Landis was quoted as saying " As soon as you announce that Tom Cruise is in 'The Mummy', you know you're not going to see a horror picture! It's not gonna be 'The Mummy', it's going to be the Tom Cruise show" and this definitely seems to be the case. In a film like this, the focus should be mainly with this character, making them be feared and truly a monster. This is the case even more so when you have someone as talented as Sofia Boutella as the titular character but she is criminally underused.

Boutella isn't given lots to do in the film as her character seems to suffer from what most Marvel villains do. The supposedly feared Ahmanet allows a large group of faceless henchmen to do most of the work, leaving her with less screentime as we hardly see her do anything. It also doesn't help that the film looks to get absolutely everything that Tom Cruise does into the final product as possible. There is a clear example of this in the film where Ahmanet approaches armed guards to get into a tomb and right before we get to see what she can do, it changes to a different scene with Tom Cruise. Boutella has shown her capabilities in films like 'Kingsman' and 'Star Trek Beyond', where both films utilized her skills to great results. Unfortunately, she was not used nearly as well in this film which is a huge missed opportunity. 

In all fairness, the film does have some exciting moments featuring good stunts and choreography. The plane scene where Cruise and co-star Annabelle Wallis are floating in zero gravity is quite marvelous to watch and is the kind of thing that Cruise excels at. Cruise's performance is what you can expect from him in any other film which does give it that feeling of being a generic action film. You could swap out Cruise for any of his other recent characters and there would be very little difference if any. When the character is facing off against supernatural presence, you'd expect a lot more fear from the character. However, Cruise never really seems fazed by this and just goes on as if it's an everyday encounter.

That is the main problem with the film as a whole. There are many moments that the film could take more serious to make it seem more dangerous or creepy but it is ruined by an out of place joke, One of the first encounters between Cruise's character Nick and Ahmanet is a sacrificial ceremony as she looks to execute Nick. For some reason, the creators felt it was a good idea to have moments where Cruise would be laughing throughout and then shortly placing a comedy moment in the same scene. The use of Jake Johnson in this film didn't help as he was this figment of Cruise's imagination and used solely for comic effect. Again, this felt so out of place especially when it is happening during the main attack from Ahmanet, who should be feared not treated as a joke.

'The Mummy' shows just how a big budget movie can be a joy to look at with great sets and well-filmed action can still be a tonal mess with a weak story and poor use of talent. The decision to make this have more laughs and jokes really doesn't help a franchise where you look to build monsters. We don't need another generic action franchise. The Dark Universe can and should be so much more different to anything else as it has such great characters to use. There is nothing from 'The Mummy' that suggests the 'Dark Universe' is heading in a different direction and due to that, I can't say I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of these films. Boutella is underused, the Mummy isn't the main attraction, there's very little horror and threats are treated like a joke. A huge missed chance and an even bigger disappointment.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'The Mummy'? If so, what did you think of the movie? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the movie. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor