The 'Not-So-Critical' Critic:
on THE MUMMY (2017, 110 minutes, PG-13)
The Quick of It -
There is a new ‘Universe’ in town… the Dark Universe. “What?” you may ask. Yeah, Universal Pictures has launched a monster universe, exploring the classics. For me, this could go either way. I am a huge fan of good horror and monster films. I spent many Saturday afternoons watching ‘Creature Feature’ with Dr. Paul Bearer. (I still have an autographed picture of him somewhere.) THE MUMMY will either help to add this universe to my “Look Forward To” list or make me sad to put another extended project to bed… or grave, if you may.
THE MUMMY is our first opportunity to explore this new line of cinematic reboots. The early reports before release brought some potentially disappointing news, that the project was passed around like a cheap… well, you know. And then, Tom Cruise had free rein to make some of the bigger decisions. Based on this revelation, the studio seems to be grasping at straws, hoping to find some ‘universal’ traction.
To speed this along, I walked out having to agree with everyone else who called it a garbled mess. In truth, even with my often lenient criticisms, they were completely right. The story was very disjointed. But I also saw two or three styles reflected in the whole that each could have been a recipe for a good flick. It felt like a mix of an old-school horror jumper, an action film similar to LEAGUE OF EXTRORDIANARY GENTLEMEN, and a continuous ode to the core monster films. This includes Brendan Fraser’s THE MUMMY, which made me happy. Director Alex Kurtzman, is a longtime producer and writer. So, shame on him for allowing this to happen. Should have just ran with one style and have completed a much more cohesive project.
The lady leads give you okay performances. Annabelle Wallis (of ANNABELLE AND KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD) as the Mummy, is visually perfect but you never connect enough to care… and they tried to get you there. Sofia Boutella (of STAR TREK BEYOND, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, and the coming ATOMIC BLONDE) tries to be a hard-nosed archaeologist but did not pull it off. It felt like a lot of hot air and a pushy stereotype, failing keep pace with the more successful female empowerment roles these days.
Thanks to all the hands in the pot, we get a Frankenstein movie. Sorry Cruise, you are not a Denzel Washington. You do not have the true work ethic or vision he does. So Cruise, why would you think it was a good idea to provide input on something that was not originally yours? You should know your limitations.
So, why go see it? Because, the lack of continuity actually gives you something you never expect. All promises are broken to the audience. No true thread to follow to know the direction or how this story concludes. That, in some twisted way, is the inadvertent genius of the film. The special effects are impressive, the sets are striking, and the finale is nothing you anticipate.