Movie Review: “The Mummy”
Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) was an ancient Egyptian princess. She was fierce, fearless, merciless, and she was next in line to rule Egypt after the passing of her father. At least, she was next in line until her father had a baby boy. In order to reclaim her birth right, Ahmanet resorted to dark magic and gave herself a curse that would grant her absolute power. Fortunately, she was stopped, and as punishment, was mummified while alive and buried in a tomb where she remained for thousands of years.
Ahmanet has remained in this tomb until a modern day American soldier named Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), stumbles upon her tomb. He unknowingly releases her from her prison, unleashing the powerful and seemingly unlikable monster upon the world. As a result of freeing her, however, Ahmanet declares Nick Morton as her "chosen" which curses him and makes Nick the chosen vessel for Death. Nick Morton joins Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) and Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), as they try to find a way to stop Ahmanet and prevent Death from entering this world.
The Pros & Cons
Nick Morton (+4pts)
Dark Universe (+5pts)
The Tone (-4pts)
Sofia Boutella & Ahmanet's Appearance (+4pts)
The Plot (-10pts)
Pro: Nick Morton (+4pts)
While I thought his setup was weak, I ended up liking the character of Nick Morton (Tom Cruise). I thought his behavior and reactions fit this movie well. Initially a non-believer of the supernatural, Nick Morton was overwhelmed as he was suddenly thrust into a world of monsters and curses, and his reactions to the things that were happening provided some amusing comedic moments throughout the movie. I thought some of those moments worked, but some others felt like the writers tried to make this character a clone of Brendan Fraser's character in the previous movies, and I did not think these moments landed very successfully.
Nick Morton had a facade of selfishness. He was a rebellious American soldier and he felt a supernatural pull toward to the extremely powerful Ahmanet. I liked watching his inner struggle, as he was pulled toward the monster like a supernatural magnet (figuratively), but he knew she was bad news so tried to resist the supernatural charm that Ahmanet had over him. I went into this movie expecting a cookie-cutter Tom Cruise character, but I actually ended up liking Nick Morton a lot more than I thought I would.
Con: Ahmanet (-6pts)
A monster movie can only be as good as its monster, and despite Sofia Boutella's best efforts, I thought Ahmanet was a weak one, with respect to both story and power. This movie started with Ahmanet's backstory, but it seemed to fast forward through it. The filmmakers did not allow Ahmanet's story to sink in with the audience. We did not get to see how devastated she was with the birth of her baby brother and we did not get to see the depression she fell into as a result. Then all of a sudden she was summoning demonic entities and murdering everyone of importance in ancient Egypt.
The filmmakers gave us the major plot points of Ahmanet's past, but did not properly flesh it out. This made it seem pointless to have told her backstory at all, if the filmmakers just wanted to skip through it. This could have been forgiven if the movie did not depict her as physically weak. They tried depicting her as strong, but the main characters (and Henry Jekyll's henchmen) seemed to have an easy time getting away from her, and even besting her, throughout the movie. Fast forward to the end of the movie and she just no longer seems like much of a threat.
Pro: Dark Universe (+5pts)
The filmmakers gave considerable focus to the "Dark Universe". This came from Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe). He ran an organization that hunted, and studied everything evil and monstrous, with the intent of preventing evil from entering our world. It was an interesting concept and Dr. Henry Jekyll was the perfect character to run such an organization. I liked the portrayal of Dr. Henry Jekyll, I liked his role as the Nick Fury of this universe, and I enjoyed the implications of what other monsters we could expect in such a universe (Frankenstein, Invisible Man, Wolfman and hopefully Dracula). If you do see this movie, pay special attention to the scene in which Nick Morton first entered this organization's facility. There were several "samples" being studied that were obvious Easter eggs to hint to the audience of the types of monsters we could expect to see in potential future movies.
Con: The Tone (-4pts)
The tone of this movie was a bit confusing. To best explain it, I will give a breakdown of the different parts of the movie that felt like different genres, so you can understand the mess that was the tone of this movie. The plot was horror, with a monstrous entity that was hunting and murdering people, while chasing the protagonists. Then there were the characters Nick Morton and Vail (Jake Johnson) who consistently delivered comedy. Then the pacing of the movie was that of an action-adventure. All of these genres came together, and it did not feel like the filmmakers effectively blended them together. The result was a movie that felt like it kept randomly switching tone, which was a little jarring at times and made it so none of the genres worked as well as they could have.
Pro: Sofia Boutella & Ahmanet's Appearance (+4pts)
Really the only horror in this movie was Ahmanet and her minions. Where the filmmakers dropped the ball with her origin, seemingly everything else about the character worked. I thought Sofia Boutella did a great job with her performance, portraying the character's instability and desperation well, while also playing into the character's passion and desire. I thought Sofia Boutella delivered exactly what this movie needed, but the costume designers and visual effects department definitely deserve credit as well.
Ahmanet's costume was rugged and mysterious, and the visual effects were great as well. This movie was not heavy on the visual effects, but they effects definitely went a long way in bringing this monster to the screen effectively. Then there were Ahmanet's minions, which were a little too easily disposed of, but they certainly felt and looked dangerous. This movie was at its best when Nick and Jenny were trying to get away from Ahmanet's and her minions, and a lot of credit goes to Sofia Boutella, Ahmanet's costume design, and the visual effects that brought this story's monsters to life.
Con: The Plot (-10pts)
The writing of this movie was a mess. Nick Morton's setup was weak, Ahmanet's setup was butchered, Jake Johnson's character felt forced into the story, the end of the film was severely predictable, Nick and Jenny had terrible chemistry, the whole objective was a generic "artifact A + artifact B = end of movie", and I do not understand why the gem was not destroyed centuries ago. The plot of this movie was simply a mess and it left me wondering if Universal Studios had proof read the script before making this movie. Was I expecting a compelling, elaborate plot? No, but the plot of this movie was filled with problems.
Grade: D+ (68pts)
I wanted to like this movie, but while there were elements that I enjoyed, the movie was ultimately a pretty big disappointment. I enjoyed the character of Nick Morton, I enjoyed the time spent setting up this Dark Universe, I enjoyed the design of the monsters, and the performance from Sofia Boutella was complex and at times even captivating. Unfortunately this movie's flaws were way too significant. The plot was written poorly, and ended up being one big mess. The filmmakers tried to make this movie five different genres simultaneously, but they failed to blend them naturally and all of the genres suffered for it. The main villain had a poorly developed backstory and she was too easily defeated too many times. All of this resulted in a movie that fell very far short of its potential, and left me pretty disappointed.