The Mummy

 

starstarhalf

 


The first course in a new multi-franchise, The Mummy is like a fast food blowout with more superficial calories than any narrative protein.

 

The Mummy

Westminster Bridge gets a sanding

 

With Lego now the world’s most profitable brand, a new kind of cinema is emerging. We’re not talking about the extraordinary popularity of The LEGO Movie or The LEGO Batman Movie, but the way different franchises are pieced together to form new narrative shapes. Hence Marvel Comics’ ‘Cinematic Universe’ in which its characters slip in and out of different movies, regardless of any chronological logic. But following the success of Avengers Assemble, DC Comics has jumped into the fray with its own ‘DC Extended Universe,’ most recently represented by Wonder Woman. However, long before Thor and Captain America teamed up to defend the planet, Universal Studios had its own ‘shared universe’ with films like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) and House of Frankenstein (1944). Now Universal is re-booting its back catalogue with a modern spin, with The Mummy being its first instalment in the so-called ‘Dark Universe’ series featuring all sorts of monsters and mayhem.

 

Well, gosh. The spin is certainly modern. London’s Crossrail development always had its dissenters but here TfL’s tunnel-boring machines exhume more than some old bones. What’s really extraordinary is that at exactly the same time, tomb raider Tom Cruise, in modern-day Iraq, inadvertently exposes the sarcophagus of the five-thousand-year-old Princess Ahmanet. ‘Officially’ there as a reconnaissance agent for the US military, Nick Morton (Cruise), along with his sidekick Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), attacks Isis-like insurgents who are vandalizing pre-historic ruins. Tom Cruise vs. Isis. That’s a whole franchise right there. Anyway, Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who was buried alive, rises from the dead and swears vengeance on humanity with the use of her ceremonial dagger. However, until the dagger is reunited with the magic jewel in its hilt, Ahmanet cannot summon the powers of Set, the God of Death. Amazing, then, that, back in London, Crossrail’s front guard ploughs into a subterranean crypt possessing that very jewel. Who would have thought?

 

Unlike this summer’s other CGI-bloated, co-called ‘blockbusters’, The Mummy at least has some commendable bits. With so much thrown into the mix, something was bound to stick. After all, every geyser of vomit contains the odd nugget of nutrition. Here, the six credited writers give us Tom Cruise, Egyptian mythology, the Knights of the Crusade, Islamic terrorists, sand storms, underwater zombies and even Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Dr Jekyll is played by Russell Crowe (who’s like John Goodman with a silly accent), and he would appear to be the film’s conscience. “Evil,” he says, “never rests.” He also says, “Sometimes it takes a monster to fight a monster,” which nicely cues his character’s participation in future episodes of the ‘Dark Universe’ series. It’s a shame, though, that the real evil facing today’s world is tossed aside in the first fifteen minutes. A missed opportunity if ever there was one.

 

At its best, The Mummy is mildly diverting before succumbing to all the CGI silliness. It’s neither that much fun nor that scary and seems an odd career choice for Tom Cruise (his character is for the most part a selfish twat). Only the Oxford-born Annabelle Wallis – as a conscientious archaeologist and Nick’s ex-lover – survives with her dignity intact, even if she is young enough to be Tom Cruise’s daughter. But that’s the movies for you.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Russell Crowe, Neil Maskell.

 

Dir Alex Kurtzman, Pro Alex Kurtzman, Chris Morgan, Sean Daniel and Sarah Bradshaw, Screenplay David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman, from a story by Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet (daughter of Sidney Lumet), Ph Ben Seresin, Pro Des Jon Hutman and Dominic Watkins, Ed Paul Hirsch, Gina Hirsch and Andrew Mondshein, Music Brian Tyler, Costumes Penny Rose.

 

Perfect World Pictures/Secret Hideout/Conspiracy Factory/Sean Daniel Company-Universal Pictures.

110 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 9 June 2017. Cert. 15.