“The Mummy” May Not Have Been Worth Resurrecting for Universal
By Scott Kurland
Film: The Mummy
Starring: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, and Russell Crowe
Director: Alex Kurtzman
Why, Universal? why? There is simply no need to redo your Universal Monster films. You’ve attempted it so many times in the past. Just do yourself a favor and let sleeping dogs lie! These were just a few of the thoughts that filled my mind when I heard Universal Studios was rebooting their classic monsters like “Frankenstein”, “Dracula,” “the Wolfman”, and “the Mummy.” It was only after viewing the trailer for this week’s film “The Mummy” that I found myself slightly on board with the idea of these reboots. Then, when it was announced that Russell Crowe would play Dr. Jekyll and Javier Bardem would play the creature in the “Frankenstein” reboot, I was not only on board but standing on the prow of the ship like Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. However, after actually sitting through “The Mummy,” I was left with a feeling of... "meh". Let’s find out how underwhelming “The Mummy” is shall we?
“The Mummy” is the story of Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an Egyptian princess and future Pharaoh... that is until her father produces a male heir. Needless to say, the loss of her promised title drives Ahmanet to insanity. She makes a deal with Seth (pronounce Set) the Egyptian God of death. In exchange for eternal life and power, she will become his bride. Ahmanet is, of course, caught and mummified alive. Pan forward to present day Iraq where her tomb is at last unearthed. This discovery is all thanks to Nick Morton (our hero, I guess). Turns out Nick is a bit of a scoundrel and a tomb raider. Nick awakens Ahmanet with the help of his friend Vail (Jake Johnson) and a boring damsel-in-distress name Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis). Now, Nick is cursed. He and Halsey are trailed by Ahmanet who want to turn Nick into a vessel for...oh why even bother? This movie is boring.
My problem with this version of “The Mummy” is simple: why pick this franchise to kick off your reboot? Yes, the 1999 remake with Brendan Fraser was a cash cow, but its no secret that the sequels failed horribly. Was it because, of all the Universal monster flicks, “The Mummy” has the most movies to its name? Well, if that's the case, its a horrible strategy. The original "Mummy"came out during the 1930’s. Back then “The Mummy” was as scary as you could get! Of course it was a huge success! However, with movies like “Get Out” and “It Follows,” fear now comes in the form of social thrillers.
Director Alex Kurtzman is known for having misfires on his hands. He wrote “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” and not one but two “Transformers” movies (one of them being “Revenge of the Fallen”). Yes, the man who gave us the robot anti-Christ gives us a hot mummy. Speaking of which, the casting of Sofia Boutella brings me to the main issue of the film. I cared more about Ahmanet and her reign of destruction than I did for Tom Cruise's mission to protect the world and his love interest (Halsey). Boutella clearly dove into the role of
Wallis as Halsey was a bit of a wet blanket and the constant damsel-in- distress. I’m guessing these two women were supposed to mirror one another, but it failed hardcore.
Cruise on the other hand, was severely miscast. I can understand the choice to bring him into the Universal Dark Universe; but not in “The Mummy.” Make him “The Wolfman,” or Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Hell, make him “Dracula” considering he played Lestat in “Interview With The Vampire.” “The Mummy” wastes the talents of the man who gave us “Edge of Tomorrow: Live. Die. Repeat.” I could easily see him as “The Wolfman” because this entire film is basically “An American Werewolf in London.” Jake Johnson is the Griffin Dunne comedic role and Cruise is the David Naughton "cursed soul" role. I liked that aspect of “The Mummy” and you can do that….but make it “The Wolfman.”
There’s so many problems with “The Mummy” and I haven’t even mentioned Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll. Everything in this movie is wrong. It’s all boring, the action is barely passable, the monsters aren’t scary and, most importantly, everything takes place in present day. I like the 1999 version of “The Mummy” because it was set in the 1930's. If they’re going to redo the Universal Dark Universe, set it in the 1940's or 1950's. Add some stylized effects like film grain and make it look almost black and white like what the Coen brothers did with “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou.” This is a film to skip. No to the damsel-in-distress, and HELL NO to the film's twist ending. I saw it coming a mile away. I was praying they wouldn’t stoop so low but they did. This film is garbage, but I’m giving it a higher rating because Boutella is amazing as Ahmanet. So instead of an F it gets a D+. Save your money. Skip “The Mummy.”
REVIEW RATING: D+