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Movie Review: ‘The Mummy’ Shuffles and Stumbles with Monsters and Adventure

Universal makes it very clear in their new CGI opening that The Mummy is the first picture in the Dark Universe, a franchise that will showcase all their classic movie monsters for the 21st century. Their first entry is perhaps the trickiest. How do you sell a mummy as a terrifying monster? Even when overlooking the cartoonish mutations of a bandaged corpse limping with its arms outstretched, it still seems like a rather bland villain. But in a Tom Cruise action movie by Alex Kurtzman, the monster will have to be more physical when dealing with a hero that can sprint long distances and survive the most dangerous of stunts. Lurking in the shadows is so 1930s.

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Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis star in the new Mummy remake.

The titular monster this time is the female Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), a once beautiful woman of ancient Egypt that made a deal with the god Set to attain more power. She was well on her way with a few blood sacrifices, but was stopped at the most crucial moment by guards and buried alive in a sarcophagus. Present day, her tomb is discovered, her restrictions released and she’s back on track for that old ultimate power. She’s more dirty now and thin as a corpse, but a little soul sucking of men will give her enough power to get back on her feet and make her nimble once more.

The discovery of Ahmanet is made by Nick, a dashing rogue played by Tom Cruise about as well as Tom Cruise is in any action role. He’s a soldier that specializes in swiping treasures from ancient relics to sell on the black market. He could just be a thief, but then there wouldn’t be much of an explanation as to why he’d be in Iraq, risking his life for treasure amid gun-toting terrorists.

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The new mummy, played by Sofia Boutella.

Once he stumbles onto a tomb, he explores it with archeologist Jenny (Annabelle Wallis), a woman who has such a traditional love-hate relationship with our hero that she quickly greets him with a slap. Romantic chemistry afoot? Depends if you consider the constant talk about sexual inadequacy to be real character development.

It’s implied that Nick has a long history with Jenny, but Ahmanet instills a quick and artificial attraction towards him after he releases her from her tomb. In order to become more powerful and attain eternal life, I assume, she needs a cursed male to stab with a magical dagger. Nick happens to be that male and she goes straight on the offensive to make this him a part of her plan. There could be a strange love triangle going on here, but it never goes anywhere past a silly scene where a shirtless Nick being straddled by Ahmanet has to explain to Jenny this isn’t what it looks like. Is it really that embarrassing that a mummy is trying to stab you in the chest with a magical dagger? Surely he’s been caught doing far worse.

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That’s definitely not normal.

Scenes like that are supposed to be funny, but come off as uneven quips in between the movie’s horror elements, never finding a proper balance of scares and adventure. Nick has a traveling companion that is the first victim of the mummy and continues to haunt Nick, but he pops up more for artificial humor, commenting that a chase is intense and that Nick has stumbled into a female restroom. The mummy should be scary, which she can be in moments where gunfire does nothing and her skills in martial arts are solid, but most of her abilities seem too easy to overcome. She gains power by sucking the souls out of men through their mouths. After the 10th death by kiss, wouldn’t it make sense to cover your mouth with something?

Every body she rips a soul from turns into an undead zombie, but the most brittle of zombies that can easily be turned to dust with a mere shove. And, yet, they’re still able to kill everyone besides Cruise who dispatches them with ease. At least her army makes for easy clean up, as in a scene where they voluntarily turn to dust to leave Ahmanet. I’m surprised a vacuum cleaner never came in handy for these scenes.

Read more for the rest of the movie review of The Mummy:

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