Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Mummy review

Before The Mummy was released this month, I can imagine this conversation at Universal headquarters. Executive One says, "Just saw The Avengers box office profits for Disney. What movie franchise characters do we have? That guy that looks like a bat?" Battyman." Executive Two replies, "Batman. He belongs to Warner." "Damn." "The Funky Four?" "The Fantastic Four. Fox has that until their license runs out." "Frak." "Sir, we do have E.T." "Does E.T. have superpowers and can cause things to explode?" "No. But he's cute with big eyes and long fingers. He's really good with plants." "Never mind. Get me our monsters. The Mummy, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula and Frankenstein. And let's put Frankenstein and Dracula in one movie." "Um, sir. We did that in 2004. Van Helsing starring Hugh Jackman." "How did it do?" "Got killed by the critics. But made a nice profit." "Well, we need to trick the kids that our monsters are like Marvel and Batman. Hmm. Marvel Cinematic Universe. Dark Knight. I got it. Our franchise of movies will be called "Dark Universe". Don't just stand there. Get me Ted Cruz." "The right-wing nut from Texas?" "No. The one in that crazy cult that jumped on Oprah's couch." "Tom Cruise." "Right. Now, move. Time to make a billion bucks."

The Mummy
stars out in modern England where ancient artifacts of the crusaders and some Egyptian hieroglyphics are found. The scene moves to Iraq where two soldiers Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) are trying to loot a village for the antiquities. They are stopped by Jenny halsey played by the lovely Annabelle Wallis. They stumble upon the tomb of and evil Egyptian royalty, Princess Ahmanet played by the sultry Sofia Boutella. (Star Trek: Beyond) They transport tomb and mummy of Ahmanet aboard a plane to Great Britain. Unfortunately, the Mummy comes alive and causes the plane to crash in England where the Mummy will rise and wreck havoc. The protagonists will need the help of the mysterious Dr. Henry Jekyll. (Russell Crowe) Yeah, the one of Jekyll and Hyde fame.

One reason I wanted to see this movie was the team of excellent writers. Here's is the list of people who were responsible for the screenplay, David Koepp (Mission Impossible) , Oscar winner Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects). Dylan Kussman,and the story, Jon Spaihts (Doctor Strange) , Director Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek) , and Jenny Lumet. (RRachel Getting Married) Now in writing a comedy, you might want a bunch of writers to bounce jokes off each other since getting laughs is subjective. Unfortunately, this movie has all the signs of too many cooks in the kitchen.

The Mummy can't decide what kind of movie it is. Is it a comedy buddy movie? Nick and Chris start out this way. Maybe it's Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy. I mean Chris is turned into an undead like the poor saps bitten by a werewolf in An American Werewolf in London. He shows up to kind of help Nick and offer some comic relief. But it's not enough. Is this movie a zombie flick? There are zombies, but they are mere minions. Superhero adventure? Yeah, Universal wishes. Without giving anything away, there's not enough heroic feats shown for that class of movie. You would think due to its horror lineage that the movie would be a good horror film. But it is not scary enough for the horror genre. In this day and age, The Mummy could have been a lot more gory. But I suspect the need to keep it at PG-13 for the teens made the filmmakers from giving us some really icky effects.

Director Kurtzman doesn't help things. He's hampered by the script but he's also a writer. For example, he had to see that there is no chemistry between Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis. Their characters were supposed to have a relationship. They don't even kiss in the film. So by the time, Cruise is supposed to care about her in the third act, you as the moviegoer won't. Kurtzman also mishandles the action scenes. The dual sins of fast cutting and badly lit scenes lead to confusion. The movie also commits the biggest sin in the monster movie genre. Must show the monster. I'm not going to spoil it for you. But this movie ends with a large hint that there's going to be a sequel. There's a monster created at the end but we don't see what "it" looks like.

The Mummy suffers because it's all commerce with very little art. It's more product and not all that entertaining. The grade is C Plus.

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