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Featured Blu-ray and DVD Review: The Mummy

September 3rd, 2017

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The Mummy

The Mummy came out this summer and was supposed to kick off Universal’s Dark Universe franchise. In fact, Universal had announced about a dozen films in the franchise, at least one of which had a release date, but no star. Then the reviews started coming out. For a short time, The Mummy was the worst wide release of the summer. It bombed domestically and even though it did a lot better internationally, it still failed to pay for its nearly $200 million production budget. Was is unfairly attacked by critics? Or does Universal need to rethink their plans for a Dark Universe?

The Movie

We first get a prologue set in England in the 1100s, but we quickly flash forward to the modern day where a tunneling machine burrows into the catacombs, which archaeologists say were built during the second crusades. While the construction crew explores the site, a man comes in and pays off the crew to leave. We then hear a voice over and flash back to ancient Egypt. Ahmanet was going to be the ruler of Egypt, as the only child of the current Pharaoh, but then he had a son. She decided to take power by pledging to the god Set. She killed her family, but before she could bring forth Set, she was captured, mummified alive, and buried far away from Egypt.

Fast forward back to the present day in Iraq, we meet up with Nick Morton and Chris Vail, who are in the army and are supposed to be doing advanced recon. Instead, they are looking for treasure to loot. After Nick almost gets them both killed, Chris calls in an airstrike that not only saves their lives, but uncovers a tomb. The army arrives and their superior officer, Colonel Greenway, chews them out for their obvious crimes, when Jenny Halsey arrives and slaps Nick. It turns out they had a one-night stand and Nick stole a map from her. Jenny asks Colonel Greenway to use his troops to secure the area while she explores the tomb. Colonel Greenway gives her two hours and makes Nick and Chris go with her.

While in the tomb, they notice mercury dripping from the ceiling. Jenny points out that ancient Egyptians believed mercury weakened evil spirits, so when they see the mercury is being channeled into a large burial chamber, they know something is amiss. Or at least they should know. While Jenny is recording observations, Nick and Chris start stealing everything golden they can find -- How were they going to keep this gold? They were busted by their superior officer, so obviously they would be checked when they got out. This seems like a stupid plan that is only in the movie to make sure the plot happens. Anyhoo, Jenny realizes this is a prison and not a tomb, but Colonel Greenway tells them to get out, because insurgents have been spotted nearby. Jenny refuses to leave, because this find is so important and she wants to see what is in the pool of mercury. Nick shoots one of the chains, which causes the sarcophagus to be raised out of the mercury. Again, this is stupid and it is only in the movie to make the plot progress. Why would damaging anything cause the sarcophagus to be raised out of pool of mercury? Did the ancient Egyptians think this Tomb would remain 100% intact for ever? For that matter, why would there even be any method to remove the sarcophagus at all? It’s there to move the plot forward, but it makes no damn sense.

When the sarcophagus rises out of the mercury, the three intrepid explorers are attacked by camel spiders, which are named that, because they are neither camels, nor spiders. Chris freaks out about this, especially when he’s bitten by one. Meanwhile, Nick has an hallucination / psychic visions about Ahmanet where Ahmanet calls Nick, “My chosen.” Despite the incoming insurgents, Jenny demands the army take the sarcophagus with them. As soon as it is lifted out of the tomb, strange stuff starts to happen. Birds start to follow them. Then a giant sandstorm hits just as their plane is preparing to take off. Once in the air, Nick continues to have hallucinations / dreams. When he snaps out of it / wakes up, he sees Chris trying to open up the sarcophagus. What happens next is a spoiler, but it is really important when it comes to my opinion of the film, so white text ahead. Chris ends up killing Colonel Greenway and Nick has to kill Chris. I was very happy when this happens, because Chris was an annoying character and I was glad he was gone. You know you’ve done something wrong as a filmmaker when the audience cheers the death of a main character. Unfortunately, Nick was an even more annoying character, but more on that below.

The Mummy, as a movie property, got its start in the 1930s with the Universal Monsters franchise. These movies are widely considered absolute classics of the genre and they hold up to this day. Next up was the Brendan Fraser Mummy Trilogy, which started in 1999. These films didn’t earn as strong reviews, but I certainly like them. They are fun action-adventure movies in the same vein as Indiana Jones. They are not as good as the Indiana Jones movies, but the lead characters had chemistry and the action scenes were fun to watch. I think they hold up and have a lot of replay value. The newest Mummy movie is neither fun, nor does it have a lot of replay value.

The problem with The Mummy is that it clearly wanted fun banter-filled action scenes to start with, but Nick and Chris were insufferable. It’s not a fun opening, because I aggressively don’t care what happens to these characters and sadly this problem continues throughout the movie. Overall, the acting isn’t bad, but the cast have almost no chemistry together. Any romantic overtures between Nick and Jenny come off as forced and artificial. (This lack of chemistry actually helps the movie at one point). Throughout the movie, Ahmanet sucks the life and power out of several people in order to regain her power. She does this by kissing them. Near the end of the movie, this is reversed and Nick literally chokes Ahmanet, slams her to the ground, and sucks the power out of her. The movie had tried to build up some romantic chemistry betweeen Ahmanet and her chosen one, but it never worked. Had it worked, this scene would have looked like domestic violence combined with sexual assault. As it is, you just shake your head and wonder what they were thinking. Even Tom Cruise’s trademarked swagger doesn’t work here and just feels tired. The only person that fits in the movie is Russell Crowe and he’s clearly the highlight of the movie and the only part of the Dark Universe I actually want to see more of.

Sadly, not even the action scenes can deliver. About halfway through the movie, there’s an extended action scene in an Abby that takes place at night and it is far too dark to follow along. Also, I don’t care about any of the characters, so that it another factor that makes it harder to follow along. And in a confused plot and there’s almost nothing to recommend the film. I guess some of the special effects look cool, but even then it doesn’t look like a $195 million movie.

The Extras

Extras begin with an audio commentary track featuring the director / producer Alex Kurtzman, as well as three of the cast: Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, and Jake Johnson. Up next are four deleted scenes with a total running time of five minutes. Tom Cruise and Alex Kurtzman sit down to talk about the movie. Rebooted in Reality is a seven-minute long making of featurette. Life in Zero-G is another making of featurette, this time an eight-minute featurette focusing on the early plane crash. Meet Ahmanet is an eight-minute featurette on the main villain, played by Sofia Boutella. Cruise in Action is a six-minute featurette on Tom Cruise. Becoming Jekyll and Hyde is about Russell Crowe’s performance as Jekyll. Choreographed Chaos is seven-minute making of featurette that focuses on the climactic action scene. Nick Morton: Search for a Soul is a look at Tom Cruise’s character. Finally, there’s Ahmanet Reborn, a four-minute motion comic.

That’s a lot of extras, but not enough to compensate for the quality of the movie.

The Verdict

The Mummy earned some of the worst reviews of the summer and it is hard to argue with those results. There’s almost nothing in the movie that works. It might even be worse than Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman were, and those two movies were simply awful. The main thing this movie has going for it is how dull it is. It is so dull that I won’t remember it by next week, while I will never forget Suicide Squad or BvS. The extras on the DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, or 4k Ultra HD Combo Pack are better than expected given its struggles in theaters, but not enough to compensate for the quality of the movie. I don’t even think it is worth a rental.

Filed under: Video Review, The Mummy, Mummy, Indiana Jones, Dark Universe, Tom Cruise, Brendan Fraser, Russell Crowe, Jake Johnson, Alex Kurtzman, Courtney B. Vance, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella