Sunday, June 11, 2017

"MUMMY" FALLS APART



          Should have kept it under wraps.
          The strength of a slick trailer and Tom Cruise's name can't overcome the many flaws of The Mummy.
          When a forgotten Egyptian princess named Ahmanet (Boutella), in league with powers of darkness and herself basically a deity, is discovered and returns to life, disaster befalls all those in her path as she seeks the implements which will secure her power.
          The twist is that she isn't discovered in Egypt, but rather a thousand miles away in Iraq. And the one responsible for releasing her from centuries of imprisonment, a mercenary named Nick Morten (Cruise) who sells stolen museum antiquities on the black market, becomes in the eyes of the Mummy her partner bound with her in the afterlife.
          Those eyes, by the way, split into double-pupils. Pointlessly. And she's a mummy with barely any bandages who controls things that have nothing to do with mummies but which allow for big special effects, surprise surprise, like a sandstorm with a giant face inside.
          After Howard Carter discovered King Tut's tomb in 1922, it was a natural fit for Universal to capitalize on the interest in ancient Egypt in 1932 by essentially re-making the first one of their two successful new horror pictures from the prior year, Dracula, and by using the star of the other, Frankenstein. Boris Karloff's makeup as the Mummy was every bit as effective as that used in his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster--but for most of the movie he never wears it.
          In 1959 Christopher Lee played a vigorous version of the title role in the excellent Hammer films version, made with all the old Universal monster classics in color for modern audiences. And then in 1999 Brendan Fraser starred in the first of several outings in a mummy franchise content to make essentially light romantic-comedy adventures.
          Unfortunately this one leans that way, too.
          One has to wonder: why, if she is to be imprisoned forever, does the mummy's sarcophagus have an elaborate system of chains on it, ready to easily haul it up at any moment? Why not just bury it? At which point one realizes the filmmakers don't care about little details like that in their rush to cash in on a new franchise re-imagining all the old Universal characters in new ways. Beginning with a lame start.
          The film doesn't know what it wants to be. Ahmanet never looks like a mummy. Several of the characters are annoying. When Morten's dead partner Chris (Johnson) returns from the dead as a ghost whom only he can see, chiding Morten familiarly, we get the feeling that the filmmakers saw An American Werewolf in London (1981) and start thinking how nice it would be to watch that one instead.




THE MUMMY
Starring Tom Cruise,
Sofia Boutella,
Annabelle Wallis,
Russell Crowe,
Jake Johnson,
Courtney B. Vance
Directed by Alex Kurtzman
Written by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman
Runtime 110 minutes
Rated PG-13





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