Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Mummy - Movie Review

By: Hamza Shafique

Tom Cruise's ‘The Mummy’ is a reboot of The Mummy franchise and it’s also the first installment in the dark universe series. I think what Universal Picture is trying to do here is to leverage on the success of the most recent Brandon Frasor starrer The Mummy Trilogy to start the Dark Universe series which they have failed to do so earlier with movies like Dracula Untold. Because of this, Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy is everything but a Mummy film and I am saying this considering Brandon Frasor’s Mummy movies, which are the benchmark for me here (as I haven’t seen the monster movies of early 40s and 50s). 

I will start with the positives first as I always get feedback that my reviews focus way too much on the negative aspects. Tom Cruise’s charisma, screen presence, sincerity to his role and impeccable comic timings, as Nick Morton, are the real star of this movie and makes this whole experience much more enjoyable compared to what the content actually has to offer. Other actors are also decent with in their scope but this film is unquestionably a Tom Cruise show. This is a funny film and has some good comic moments as well. Production quality is great and exactly what is expected from 125 million $ movie. CGI and visuals are excellent and pleasant on eyes. This movie classify itself as action-horror and first half lives up to the genre. First half is thrilling, high on action and at times scares as well. There were couple of times when I literally jumped on my seat especially in the ambulance chase sequence. I also happily bought the overall concept of the dark universe that this movie tries to initiate and enjoyed the presence of Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll, which added another dimension to the narrative. Action sequences are done neatly and aircraft crash sequence will take your breath away.
Now coming to the negatives that are also in equal abundance compared to the positives. This film is enjoyable for the most parts but scattered screenplay and mediocre direction prevents it from reaching its full potential. I found out that screenplay/story is developed by multiple people, which is also visible on screen as it feels like each story teller is working on a different aspect without thinking from the perspective that in the end all elements need to blend well together for it to work as one storyline.
I understand the limitation of the Alex Kurtzman here as it’s an origin film and with every origin film there are some basic elements/information that are required to be embedded in, regardless of their relevance to the main narrative. But this could be done tastefully and recent wonder woman film is a shining example of that. As per my understanding if you market a movie as a Mummy franchise reboot then there is one basic expectation from the screen play which is to portray Mummy as a larger than life antagonist, who should appear invincible, with some amazing super human tricks. And that is the weakest part of the screenplay, as in their effort to put all the required elements together as part of Nick’s (Tom Cruise) origin story, the focus on Mummy is shifted and this decreases her significance in second half considerably. With this shift in focus, the fierceness associated with Mummy is gone.
Another issue with screenplay is that writers are desperately trying to make it relatable to the previous Mummy movies by keeping in few similar elements and these elements at times feel forced and out of place. For example, huge face shaped sandstorm, in previous films felt part of the plot as Mummy was trying to stop the protagonist chasing him but in a plot where Mummy wants Nick to come to her, which she can do so effectively by controlling his mind, this face shaped sandstorm sequence in London appears disjointed from the plot.
Another issue with screenplay is the placement of humor and comic moments. Half of the time they click and are well placed but other half simply work against the film and take the required intensity from the action/horror moments of the film.
last thing which disappointed me the most is directly related to the direction. Director Alex Kurtzman has reduced the scope of powerful Egyptian sidekick mummies to zombies like creatures. There are scenes in the climax where groups of mummies are chasing Nick like zombies and will make you miss strong mummies that could easily break through the wall from the Brandon Frasor’s trilogy. The mummies in the climax underwater sequence, make the whole thing look unintentionally silly and the whole sequence tests audience’s patience as well. I also hoped for a better choreographed end fight sequence between Mummy and Nick, as defeating the mummy looked very easy in this one compared to the fight of Nick with another interesting character earlier in the movie (I will let you figure out the character I am referring to, in the cinema).
Don’t take me wrong, with amazing visuals , great CGI, super performance by Tom Cruise and entertaining first half, The Mummy is definitely not a bad movie, in fact it is enjoyable for most parts. It’s just I had higher expectations from the screenplay and direction. If you don’t have anything to do this weekend and have already seen wonder woman than go for it. I go with 2.5 stars.

In the end I would like to thank Novo Cinemas for inviting me to UAE screening of the film and making it possible for me to get this review out before the release.