Movie Review: The Mummy (2017)
The cornerstone of Universal’s Dark Universe kicks off tonight with a reboot of The Mummy. We were fortunate enough to attend an early screening on Tuesday night in Atlanta, so we got to experience this new film in IMAX 3D. It stars Tom Cruise as Nick Morton, Sofia Boutella as Princess Ahmanet/The Mummy, Annabelle Wallis as Jenny Halsey, and Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll.
The film begins with Crusader tombs being discovered in London and Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll providing a voiceover about an Egyptian princess that seems to have been erased from historical accounts. It cuts from there to Tom Cruise’s Nick Morton and his friend and partner in crime, Chris Vail. While they are soldiers, they also are treasure hunters making extra money by selling priceless artifacts they find. They are caught under heavy fire, and after calling in an airstrike, they find remnants of an Egyptian burial site. They are joined by Jenny Halsey, an archaeologist of sorts, and they stumble across what looks to be more like an Egyptian prison than a tomb. Morton causes the artifact held under a pond of mercury to resurface, and it is then that he begins to have visions of Princess Ahmanet. After retrieving the sarcophagus and leaving the region, strange things begin to occur and Morton manages to survive a fatal plane crash. From there, with the help of Dr. Henry Jekyll, they begin to discover what Ahmanet wants and try to devise how to stop the evil that she can unleash.
While The Mummy is no theatrical masterpiece, I have to say that I thought the movie was fun. The visuals are truly stunning, which really stood out while watching it in IMAX 3D. It’s not a carbon copy of The Mummy starring Brendan Frasier and Rachel Weisz, and I’m glad that they didn’t attempt that. They do manage to surprisingly infuse humor throughout the story, but they also keep a dark element consistent throughout the film. There are quite a few jump scares, especially for someone like me who intentionally avoids scary moments or movies like the plague. This movie is kicking off the Dark Universe, and I think that it accomplishes that goal. The Egyptian mythology is dark, and even Dr. Jekyll’s methods and actions are unsettling at moments.
As far as characters and performances are concerned, I was fine with the choices they made and the performances given. The Mummy herself is terrifying from the way she moves to the mindset behind her actions. Jack Johnson is hilarious as Chris Vail in all his various forms. I like the idea of Dr. Jekyll playing a Nick Fury type of role in this universe, and I even enjoyed the conflict within the character of Nick Morton. A lot of movies lately have tapped into the idea of human nature, of the good and the bad that exist in all of us. This film plays into that same theme, although it does so within the fictitious realm of monsters. Wallis’ performance as Jenny Halsey was perfectly fine, but I do wish her character had been fleshed out a little more.
Now, while I thought it was fun, there are also problems with it as there are with every film. There are moments meant to be comical that fall short. As I mentioned, I found Halsey’s character a little underdeveloped. The main issue I personally had, though, comes from my writing background. The number one rule in screenwriting is “show, don’t tell,” and unfortunately, they have to rely on Halsey and Jekyll to explain a lot of what’s happening. They don’t really stumble across the information during the course of the narrative; they don’t share texts or pictures as they reveal these key plot points. They just tell Nick Morton what he doesn’t know and doesn’t necessarily want to hear.
Even with that major problem for me, The Mummy is still the fun, summer movie that I expected it to be. I’m excited to see where they take the Dark Universe, and with the ambiguous ending for one of their main characters, it leaves some unanswered questions as to how they will proceed. Overall, the movie has dark undertones, spatterings of humor and horror, and provides another small commentary on the topic of the goodness and evil that dwells within. I think it will set up a grander universe where we have to redefine our ideas of what makes a monster. I don’t always give ratings, but I would give it a solid 7 out of 10 and worth a watch on the big screen.