Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Mummy (2017)

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  If this is anything like the old Universal films, expect to see a crossover with the big comedy duo in a few years.  Maybe this time instead of Abbott and Costello meeting this mummy maybe it will be The Rock and Kevin Hart.  Hmmm...I actually really like this idea.  Time to write a script!

The Mummy (2017) – 4 out of 5

After Dracula Untold failed to live up to expectations and start off a new Universal Monsters shared universe, Universal is back to once again to try and get this franchise up and running and they are starting it out with Tom Cruise taking on the Mummy.  I’m actually quite the fan mummies as monsters and really enjoyed the original from the 30s (and the tons of sequels and crossovers it spawn) and I found the 90s film with Brendan Fraser to be the right blend of campy and fun.  Even the first trailer for this new one had me excited and very curious.  Well, I caught The Mummy this last weekend and, despite its weak performance at the box office and the critical reception being on the negative side, I found I was very entertained by it and it's not too shabby a start to the Dark Universe.  

                                                                                                         Universal Pictures
What majesty...imagine peeing on it from up there!

In Iraq, mercenaries and black market antiquity sellers; Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), stumble upon the tomb of the Egyptian princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella).  Despite warnings from archeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), Morton removes the sarcophagus from its prison and curses himself.  Ahmanet is awoken and seeks to have the god of violence; Set, take over a mortal body and reign with her over the land of the living.  Now Morton must stop Ahmanet and lift the curse while agents of a secret organization led by the mysterious Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) seek to capture her.

                                                                                                         Universal Pictures
If this taking over the mortal world thing doesn't work out, I think Ahmanet
has a future in a Marilyn Manson cover band.

Like I mentioned previously, the mainstream critics haven’t been too kind to this film but I’m a wannabe critic so I guess it’s alright for me to go against the grain with this one.  I won’t deny that there are some legs that are a bit unstable with this one but the strong legs on this metaphoric table are doing a great job at holding everything else up.  There are even criticisms that the critics have cited that made the film not work for them that I just wasn’t seeing to be that strong of an entertainment killer or even, at times, found it to be even a drawback whatsoever.  Overall, I found the film to be a little more entertaining that I had anticipated and I like how it is setting up this new universe with all of the old Universal monsters.

                                                                                                         Universal Pictures
The new comedy duo of Cruise and Johnson!

The story is pretty simple and very much in tune with the history of mummy films and I really enjoyed how the movie was able to have a tone that was a bit dark and kinda creepy at times but also light and fun at other times.  It’s not quite the same level of popcorn cheese fun that the 90s film delivers but it works at being its own monster (so to speak).  Additionally, the plot of the film flows very well and there are no notable moments of drag as the film unfolds its story, conflict, and adventure.  One element that did bum me out was the fact there is some very lazy exposition concerning Ahmanet.  The film basically lays out her entire backstory in a beginning prologue and there’s not much mystery for her the rest of the film.  Granted, there’s precedent for this as some of the older mummy films and sequels have done this but I would have liked to see Ahmanet’s origin feathered out slowly as the plot progressed.

                                                                                                          Universal Pictures
"So this thing has candy inside it, right?  Or am I confusing sarcophagi with
something else?"

As it concerns the performances, I was pretty happy with what I saw.  Tom Cruise is doing his usual thing but had a nice comedic edge that I enjoyed.  He played well off of Jake Johnson who brought his own humor to the film.  I really like Russell Crowe as Jekyll and especially enjoyed how he played the man’s nefarious counterpart and Sofia Boutella was very wicked and menacing in her approach to Ahmanet.  There were some drawbacks with the cast in the form of Annabelle Wallis being a tad forgettable as Jenny Halsey and Jake Johnson sorta felt like a wasted opportunity.  Both of them have their moments and neither of them are doing a bad job or phoning it in but each character felt like they weren’t written as well as they should have been and it felt like the actors were left hanging and having to rely on very little.

                                                                                                          Universal Pictures
He's thinking about the next time he's going to be sprinting or whatever
next insane stunt he's going to do for the Mission:  Impossible franchise.

The film has some very good special effects and I really dug the fact they had a female mummy as the antagonist.  Additionally, the film does make great use of its background space in order to craft some really creepy moments.  The only drawback to these elements is the fact that some of the CG does look a little wonky and I don’t feel the film allowed Ahmanet to really showcase how terrifying she can be.  Boutella definitely brings a wicked and evil vibe to the character and there’s definitely some badass moments from the monster but, sadly, there weren’t enough of them.  Due to how rapidly the plot moves, Ahmanet doesn’t really feel like she is given her time to establish how threatening she can be or the extent of what her evil could bring when unleashed upon the world.

                                                                                                         Universal Pictures
If Tom Cruise would have been the one jumping out of the plane, he would have
insisted that the whole thing be done practically.  That man likes his stunts!

Finally, some critics lamented about the set-ups that this film is giving to other films that we’re going to see in the Dark Universe; for example, having Jekyll as a character and the fact that in his lair we see things that hint at the Gillman from Creature from the Black Lagoon and vampires.  They made it sound like this movie was doing nothing but continuously setting up other features without focusing on their own but I didn’t see that.  Personally, I enjoyed this element.  I love the Universal monsters and the fact that a new shared universe is being established just makes me very excited, so seeing these little background treasures was just pure fun.

                                                                                                         Universal Pictures
I feel like I always caption photos of Crowe with "Are you not entertained?"...
And there's not reason to stop!  ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED???!!!

The Mummy isn’t perfect and has some issues with its story, characters, and its antagonist but I definitely enjoyed it.  I liked the tone it provided, the action pieces, the performances, and how well the plot moved.  It’s never easy to set up a shared universe (I hate to throw shade at DC but look at how they’ve struggled and, in fairness, Sony had A LOT of problems with its Spider-Man universe it tried twice to establish) but what this film brought has me very excited and extremely curious over what I’m going to end up seeing next in the Dark Universe.

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