Review of "The Mummy"

Review of "The Mummy"

By Mark Greczmiel

Hollywood studios have made re-booting successful old (and not so old) films into an art form. Back in 1932, "The Mummy" starring Boris Karloff became a big hit and inspired a number of follow-ups, including "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy" in 1955. Like the title character, these movies kept coming back to life. Then in 1999, Universal scored a major box office success with Brendan Fraser and Rachel staring in the wild, entertaining, and CG-enhanced "The Mummy." That movie inspired two follow-ups with mixed results. As it's been 9 years since "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," the studio decided it was high-time to bring back this franchise, this time with one of Hollywood's biggest stars.

Tom Cruise stars as Nick Morton, a soldier-of-fortune in Iraq who is more intent on getting rich locating antiquities then in helping the war effort. When insurgents get in the way of that search, an explosive U.S. military strike opens up the final resting tomb of a murderous Egyptian princess (Sofia Boutella from "Kingsman: The Secret Service)" whose backstory we learn in a well-executed and spooky-looking opening sequence.

Nick and his military sidekick Chris (Jake Johnson from "The New Girl") are soon joined by an archeologist (played by Annabelle Wallis from the horror film, "Annabelle") and quickly organize an effort to fly the sarcophagus out of Iraq. As any horror movie fan knows, you don't disturb the final resting place of a mummy without paying a price, which is exactly what happens in a wild airborne sequence.

Up to this point, director Alex Kurtzman ("People Like Us") has the movie firing on all cylinders. "The Mummy" did go down a rocky road prior to shooting. Two directors left the production. Len Wiseman departed due to "scheduling conflicts" and Andrew Muschietti backed out citing "creative differences." The screenplay was a group effort, with a number of writers involved, including Christopher McQuarrie ("Edge of Tomorrow") David Koepp ("Jurassic Park") and Dylan Kussman.

The movie starts going off-track once the story shifts to England. Other characters step forward, including Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll. Yes, THAT Dr.Jekyll. It feels a little bizarre, although Universal does have plans for a
"monster universe" of films, including Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman.

As the film moves forward, it starts to resemble more and more a zombie movie with people being turned into the undead that need to be mowed down in new and interesting ways.

One of the enjoyable aspects of 1999's "The Mummy" with Brendan Fraser was that the movie had a great mix of humor as well as thrills. The villains were extremely entertaining. This new film would have benefited from a few well-placed moments of levity. (Jake Johnson as Nick's buddy seems particularly under utilized.)

All the leads deliver excellent performances, especially Boutella as the scary, evil princess. The action sequences are all well-executed. The big problem with this latest version of "The Mummy" is that the tone is far too dark. Scary is great,, but a little heart would have really helped.

Rated PG-13
2 popcorn boxes out of 4






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