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John’s Horror Corner: The Mummy (2017), Tom Cruise’s first step into the Dark Universe of monsters.

June 10, 2017

MY CALL: This action/adventure movie may not be the epic movie you expected, but it remains very entertaining and successfully builds a world for the Dark Universe.  MOVIES LIKE The Mummy: The Mummy (1932, 1958, 1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001).

This film kickstarts the Dark Universe (monster universe) with a remake/reimagining/reboot of The Mummy (1932, 1958).  But, more accurately, I’d call this a present-day reimagining of The Mummy (1999) which, of course, was an adventure film approach to remaking its much older Hammer predecessors.

A duplicitous thief and soldier, Nick (Tom Cruise; Interview with a Vampire, Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow) feloniously drags his snarky sidekick Chris (Jake Johnson; Jurassic World) along in search of hidden treasures buried beneath the sands of Iraq (once Mesopotamia).  But what they discover is most unexpected: a subterranean Egyptian Tomb in the Middle East!

Here to inform us of the significance of this cursed find, and Nick’s untrustworthy nature, is scientist Jenny (Annabelle Wallis; Annabelle, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword).  We also accrue context and narrative from Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe; Man of Steel, The Man with the Iron Fists), Nick’s premonitions and “connection” to our mummy, and a cursed friend that will undoubtedly remind you of An American Werewolf in London’s (1981) dark humor.

Arisen from the dead as an emaciated husk, our undead villainess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella; Star Trek: Beyond, Kingsman: The Secret Service) sucks the life out of her victims with a pseudo-erotic kiss of death.  Reminiscent of Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) or Lifeforce (1985), but not nearly as scary or gory, her victims (who all happen to be male) are drained to sunken corpses before our eyes only to be reanimated as her ill-coordinated servants.

Humorously nodding to the 1999 remake, she spends most of the film (almost a tad awkwardly) missing a part of her nose and cheek. Likewise, we also once again find swarms of dangerous vermin (now camel spiders), sandstorms with giant ghostly visages, a murderous betrayal in her backstory, Ahmanet gradually regenerates with each drained victim, and (true to the classic) a search for our mummy’s mate.  By the way, the special effects behind these scenes looked pretty cool (all CGI, of course) and I loved the twitchily marionetted movement of Ahmanet’s first minions. When we first see her ghastly resurrection and watch her raise the dead, it is truly the most horrific scene of the movie. That, and the swimming undead. Underwater undead is especially creepy…even if a bit over-the-top.

The action between Nick and Ahmanet’s undead minions captures a lot of the adventurous Brendan Fraser fun of Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001), while purveying the mindless horde sense of a zombie movie. That is, the mummy-zombies appear to be vile and murderous, yet the depiction of the action is more “fun” than dire as Nick punches through their heads and torsos (much to his shock) and tosses them around.  We never really worry about Nick’s health until he fights more dangerous monsters (i.e., Ahmanet or Hyde).

Were I to complain, I’d say that this never felt as “epic” as it was intended even though it clearly tried at every corner, maaaaybe biting off more than it could chew, to be big and bold and shocking (e.g., in retrospect, I giggle at the swimming zombies and their perfect aquatic coordination). But it was absolutely a fun adventure movie with a few dire scenes.  Director Alex Kurtzman fairs well with his first action/adventure project—and only his second feature length film! I’m not saying this was outstanding or anything, but it was “good” and very entertaining. I don’t think it has earned any of the scathing reviews suggesting this will halt the Dark Universe before it can even get started.

Moreover, I enjoyed how this movie kept the focus on our mummy while introducing the existence of the other classic Hammer monsters.  We get to know how these movies will plausibly be linked, we get an ending that bridges us to the next film, and that ending neither gives away what the next film will be nor does it keep this from being a solid standalone film.

The movie is fun, a lot of fun actually, and I’ll surely own it within a year. I may not have been wowed and the plot’s delivery wasn’t especially compelling, but I remain very excited to eventually learn what Dark Universe story will be told next.

The rumors are interesting…

22 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2017 12:06 pm

    Excellent review, John! I will admit I was loathing this remake because I am not a fan of Tom Cruise. However, I am interested to see what Universal does accomplish by upgrading their material. Much like Disney, I am certain they want to make the right choices for their “babies.”
    I have heard that Boutella & Crowe make this movie. Trying to reserve my judgment until after I see this film. Kudos!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      June 10, 2017 12:24 pm

      A problem for me is that I don’t think “anyone” makes this movie. It’s a bunch of good actors who are just there and doing perfectly adequate jobs. Boutella does fine. But I’m not a fan of picking an attractive woman to wander around wearing flattering and revealing rags in a “monster movie.” LOL. I think the 1999 Mummy did a MUCH better job with scale and characters and storytelling–everything really. But still, I am glad they are making these films now and I’m sure I’ll enjoy them all.

      • June 10, 2017 1:19 pm

        I agree. I loved the 99 version. What a fun romp. I get what you are saying. Tge actors showed up, hit their marks, said their lines & took home a fat paycheck. At least try & breathe some life into the performance.

      • John Leavengood permalink
        June 10, 2017 4:44 pm

        Yeah, at times Cruise might have tried. Crowe had some snazzy moments. But they didn’t seem to be all-in IMO.

      • June 10, 2017 5:01 pm

        It seems to me if you are given the task of recreating icon roles for future generations you might want to give it your all. My thoughts. Totally in agreement with you, John.


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  3. John’s Horror Corner: Stephen King’s It (2017), a worthy re-adaptation and R-rated remake of 1990’s TV-PG Pennywise. | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. John’s Horror Corner: Mara (2018), a sleep paralysis demon using The Ring’s (2002) playbook and Mama’s (2013) monster choreography. | Movies, Films & Flix
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  6. John’s Horror Corner: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014), a meta-sequel remake of the seminal slasher classic. | Movies, Films & Flix
  7. John’s Horror Corner: Suspiria (2018), a stylish yet retro-chic remake of Argento’s Italian classic about a witch coven nested in a German ballet academy. | Movies, Films & Flix
  8. John’s Horror Corner: It’s Alive (2009), a gory over-the-top “baby horror” remake. | Movies, Films & Flix
  9. John’s Horror Corner: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), a worthy remake bringing new levels of meanness to the franchise. | Movies, Films & Flix
  10. John’s Horror Corner: Friday the 13th (2009), a remake/requel love letter to the early 80s featuring brutally familiar death scenes. | Movies, Films & Flix
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  16. John’s Horror Corner: Unhinged (2017), an equally lame remake of the forgettable 1982 exploitation slasher film. | Movies, Films & Flix
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