Little Box of Horrors: The Mummy
I’ve returned to one of my old haunts, trying to scare up a movie so bad that it makes me howl with joy. Can the Hannaford RedBox in Westbrook Maine sate my appetite or am I forever cursed?
My Mummy Warned Me About Movies Like You
It’s Halloween soon, so this go around I decided to find some holiday appropriate fare. I was originally going to rent the horror flick with the lowest Redbox.com rating, but the trailer for that movie was too cruel. It was probably the film they used in A Clockwork Orange to break the inmates spirits. But the trailer gave me an idea: I will let the trailer for three films be my Ouija Board, and the one that looks like the cheesiest wins!
- Dead Again in Tombstone (2017): The trailer was nowhere near as fun as I thought this film was going to be. Danny Trejo is a dumpster full of dropkicks, but he’s the same dumpster every time these days, and it’s beginning to wear thin.
- The Mummy (2017): Tom Cruise was on a hot streak of “like the movie because you hate me” before he decided to cock that up by going back to “no really, I’m an A-list action star”. The trailer did enough to make me think this movie is more Edge of Tomorrow than Mission: Impossible- Infinity +1, however.
- Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016): Jeez Louis, Tyler Perry pooped out Boo 2 only a year after the first one? Show a little restraint, man. The jokes in the trailer look better than anything the Wayans brothers have done, but that is damning Tyler Perry with faint praise.
So, which movie is going to get the apple that doesn’t have a razor-blade in it?
The Mummy (2017)
Nick Morton is a somewhat charming scumbag (good to see Tom Cruise really expanding his range here). A military scout in the US army, Nick abuses his position to scout out ancient relics worth selling on the black market. A tryst with an archeologist (Annabelle Wallis) has landed him a map to his next payday, but this one is going to bite him in the butt. The tomb he’s raiding wasn’t for a royal burial, it was a royal prison. An ancient Egyptian queen made a deal with Set. After her attempt to bring the Egyptian God of Death into the mortal realm went bandaged tits up, she was buried alive.
Of course Nick makes a giant mess of things, and now the mummified Queen Ahmanet is loose in London, trying to make him the new vessel for evil incarnate. It’s up to Nick and a secret society led by one Henry Jeckyll (Russell Crowe) to put the thousand year old toothpaste back in the tube before the world meets its doom.
The Mummy had a lot of baggage riding its bandage-tails, being both a serious reboot of a campy franchise as well as being the vanguard of Universal’s “Dark Universe”. This movie was aiming to be the opening salvo that would bring back all of Universal’s classic movie monsters, and it needed to be a popcorn gorging good time.
Director Alex Kurtzman could have gone for campy fun; he could have elected to lean into the schlocky spook fest of Boris Karloff’s original 1932 film. Instead, he decided to go with a AAA action blockbuster. I really don’t get that decision, but I have to admit the action is pretty good. The key to this film’s sarcophagus was doing something you’ve seen before, but right before you mind revolts adding something new. I don’t know if it was intentional, but giving a new wrinkle to an old bit just when you think the bit is done works. There was so many times I was about to go “Oh, Really?” just to have a unique element pop up. It got me to trust the movie a little more, and it was the standout aspect.
The aspect of the film that I really didn’t like at all was all the theft going on in this film, and I’m not talking about raiding lost arcs. This movie takes all its cultural bona fides and smashes it through a lens of white-male power fantasy. Why the hell is most of this movie in London? And why is Cruise the lead when Jennifer (the secret society archeologist) is a more logical choice? His gigolo with a heart of gold crap was eye-rolling. I also didn’t buy his feelings for Jennifer in the least. And the ending? That made me want to curse screenwriters Steven Koepp and Christopher McQuarrie to the hell of being cut to ribbons.
You want a dark protagonist for this film? How about Sofia Boutella, who does an above average job as the titular Mummy. She has presence, physicality as well as physical beauty, and her baddie is a gleefully ruthless power-fiend. Her origin story was very interesting, even if it was a little cliché. A better written story would have had the society foil her, then recruit her. Instead they pulled a DC Cinematic Universe; tying their fortunes to two past-their-prime action stars in Cruise and Crowe.
This movie was above average as far as action blockbusters go. But it had some elements I can’t forgive, and it really didn’t have a vibe or aesthetic that lends itself to setting up a universe. Marvel has colorful, action packed spandex wanks, DC has dark and murdery. Even the X-men have found their niche. This felt like a standalone film through and through, and I don’t see it igniting a monster mash-up.
The Mummy is a pretty good film, but pretty good doesn’t cut it here. Time to put this DVD back in it’s embalming fluid and set out in search of something a little fresher.