Monster movies, an epic genre that at one time scared the pants off many before you know… things got out of hand with modern cinema. Legendary creatures like the Wolfman, Dracula, and Frankenstein filled the theater with actors decorated in epic make-up with often beautiful costars to face their “terror.” The stories they told remain timeless, but sadly the graphics are a little outdated for most modern movie-goers… until now. This evening my buddy and I hit the theaters for a retelling of a classic tale in hopes of sparking a new trend to get us hooked on and make money. As you can read, my review is on the Mummy tonight starring Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, and Sofia Boutella. Will it be a success, or are we cursed to another mediocre film? Let’s find out.
True Monster Movie: Where most creature films have been turned into gore-tastic bouts of killing, the Mummy returns to the roots of monster movie story telling. A creature starts to rise to power and it is up to the group to uncover the mystery of how to stop it. The Mummy focuses on the story telling dynamic, bringing character development, background information, and a dynamic tale that revives the classic genre. Even better is how the movie focuses on the story of this film, instead of building up for an inevitable sequel, something that is rare given the franchise aspect of Hollywood. The result is a stronger story that is a little more captivating.
Comedic relief: Much like the 2000 series, this rendition brings some comedic magic to the desolate desert scenery. The writing in particular is funny, with well-timed quips that range from simplistic insults and banter to clever puns that are more precious than the treasure under the sand. Cruise and Wallis work well together with a chemistry that feels like rivals/love interests, and each delivers their humor in their own style that works. However, I laughed the hardest at Jake Johnson whose energetic and erratic style is reminiscent of a giant man child trying to face the curse. The dynamic style keeps the laughs coming, but doesn’t get overused as we often see.
Impressive graphics/action: While the Mummy certainly takes the story of the 1960’s monster franchise, its graphic presentation is clearly that of the more modern series. Nostalgia runs thick at the various curses our female monster throws including swarming birds, flesh contorting strikes, and yes, face in perilous sand. The old tricks have never looked better and the technological feats are beautifully integrated into a smooth performance that is somewhat exciting. And speaking of the excitement, the action of the Mummy provides a faster pace than the classics, moving at breakneck speed and loaded with spectacular pyrotechnics.
Out of Place Components: The Mummy does well on the story aspect, but there are parts that felt out of place. Certain qualities of the film curtail to setting up for the next movie of the franchise (yes, Universal is planning to revive the classics). These moments are a change of pace (good), but divert a little too much from the path into the cheesy, overdramatic styles that we sometimes see. I’ll agree that they are impressive displays of technology, but this just proves that not everything has to be covered in movies (hence sequels).
Action: I said the action kept the pace fast and the movie engaging, but the action still has some improvement for me to get the seal of approval from me. It’s a lot of running, praise to Cruise’s fitness level. Unlike the predecessors in 2000, this Mummy as fewer bouts of gunplay or combat, much of the time the cast dropping their guns to run some more. They tried to throw some brawls in the mix, but that didn’t work to well for me. I missed the dynamic sequences and thrills they brought, but hey it’s the first film of a long line and there is sure to be more stunts in the future…maybe.
Rushed tactics: The heading is tough, but there are some rushed components to this film that needed some fine tuning. In many proceeding films, it takes time for the bandaged monstrosity to rise to power, requiring gradual offing of characters in suspenseful sequences. This version was a little short sighted, reduced to a monotonous ploy that lacked little more than repetitive spasms of poor extras. Many may like the spin on this movie, but this (among other ploys) felt a little underdeveloped and soon became stale to watch.
The Mummy is certainly not the movie I was expecting, and on many levels this is good. While not the wild thrill ride from the 2000s, this spin brings the modern technology to the classic story, giving it a unique feel that was refreshing to see. With comedic relief, decent acting, and impressive visuals, it has a number of qualities beckoning for a trip to theater. Yet, there are some editing limitations that need tightening up to make it flow better and the action component needed some sprucing up to further expand on the thrills. All in all, a solid start to upcoming monster franchise, but there is work to be done in the future.
Movie Overall: 6.5