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Keep This Mummy Under Wraps

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Image courtesy of Universal Pictures

Image courtesy of Universal Pictures

Image courtesy of Universal Pictures

Story By: Frank Lopez, Opinion Editor

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The first attempt at a cinematic universe from Universal Pictures has come with “The Mummy” (2017), a reboot of one of its classic monster movies under their trademark. With the success of Marvel’s universe, and DC trying to make a shared world with its films, Universal Pictures is setting up the stage for a “Dark Universe”.

Alex Kurtzman, director of “People Like Us” and co-writer of blockbusters such as “Star Trek” (2009) and “The Amazing Spiderman 2” (2014), tries to update a franchise that includes a number of B horror movies from the 40s through the early 80s, and a mute, stumbling Egyptian mummy that’s  hard to identify with, in this fast-paced, action-filled Universal Monster movie.

The film stars Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe, and Anabelle Wallis.

After accidentally uncovering an Egyptian mummy’s tomb, Nick Morton (Cruise), a former US soldier and treasure seeker and Jenny Halsey (Wallis), an archeologist, release a 5,000 year old mummy that is hell bent on destroying the world.

What follows are some complicated ideas that never get fully fleshed out or explained because this film seems to be a vehicle for a bunch of green-lit sequels for Universal’s classic monsters.

Ahmanent (Boutella),  the mummy, is in search of a stone and a sword so she could kill Morton and use his body as a vessel for the ancient evil god, Set,– which the audience is reminded through exposition and the blending of various myths.

After the initial setup, the movie kicks off to a fast-pace action film that doesn’t stop enough to make us care about the characters or a story that is bloated with so many subplots. There are some zombie chases, vehicles crashing, fight scenes, and a lot of running.

The initial scenes of Ahmanent being resurrected and moving with a joint-snapping, stop animation pace is creepy, and there are some sets that do provide a sense of eeriness that sadly gets broken with cheap jump scares.

There is a break in the middle of the film that features Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, who in this universe, is the leader of a group that fights monsters, or as he puts it, “evil.” With exposition almost as bad as the PowerPoint presentation in “Batman v Superman,” Crowe gives a hint of the upcoming sequels that will include Dracula and Frankenstein.

There’s a fun fight scene in an old church and a really impressive scene of a plane crashing that was actually shot in zero-gravity, but even the action couldn’t distract from the sporadic plot and forgettable characters.

While there are some funny moments between Morton and Halsey, the romance feels forced and there is not much chemistry between the actors. Cruise can play the Indiana Jones adventurer well enough, but there is no real charm to his character; Wallis had no personality and was used as the damsel in distress that is saved by Cruise.

There are some obvious homages (or straight copying) to 1999s “The Mummy” starring Brendan Frasier, such as the face in the sandstorm and the mummy sucking the life out of people to become more powerful.

However, the mummy in that film was more sympathetic and had a fleshed out back story involving a love affair, with more of a build-up before the mummy was revealed. While the 1999 film was silly, it was fun and had likeable characters with distinct personalities and chemistry.

The mummy in the new film is just evil and ends up being the female psycho stalker that chases down a man to fulfill her evil plans. When Morton questions the mummy on her killing a baby, she gives the hilarious and ridiculous response of, “It was different times.”  

Universal Pictures is trying to cash in on the concept of a cinematic universe like DC and Marvel have, and this movie might make enough money in the foreign markets to justify the announced sequels, but “The Mummy” was a confusing and forgettable film.  

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