Mon­sters un­leashed

The Mummy is a solid but un­spec­tac­u­lar ac­tion movie that hints at some­thing much, much big­ger.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Movies - Re­view by MICHAEL CHEANG en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

Now Show­ing The Mummy

Di­rec­tor: Alex Kurtz­man

Cast: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wal­lis, Jake John­son, Court­ney B. Vance, Mar­wan Ken­zari, Rus­sell Crowe FIRST things first: this ver­sion of The Mummy has al­most noth­ing to do with the Bren­dan Fraser movie back in 1999, which spawned two se­quels.

This Mummy is part of some­thing much, much big­ger – the am­bi­tious “Dark Uni­verse”, a cine­matic uni­verse that con­sists of re­boots of Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios’ clas­sic monster films, in­clud­ing The Bride Of Franken­stein, The In­vis­i­ble Man, The Hunch­back Of Notre Dame, The Wolf­man, Drac­ula, Crea­ture From The Black La­goon and Phan­tom Of The Opera.

Yes, I know what you’re think­ing. “What? Why does ev­ery film these days have to part of a cine­matic uni­verse?” And didn’t Van Hels­ing try to put the Wolf­man, Franken­stein, and Drac­ula in one movie and fail mis­er­ably?

Well, even if the idea of a shared monster uni­verse doesn’t ap­peal to you, one thing it does hav­ing go­ing for it right now is the num­ber of A-list ac­tors it has at­tracted. Javier Bar­dem is set to play Franken­stein’s monster in Bride, Johnny Depp has signed on to play the In­vis­i­ble Man, and The Mummy stars two of the big­gest A-lis­ters in the in­dus­try right now – Tom Cruise and Rus­sell Crowe.

Cruise is Nick Mor­ton, a “lib­er­a­tor of precious an­tiq­ui­ties” (in other words, a trea­sure looter) who hap­pens across an an­cient Egyp­tian tomb in war-torn Iraq. It turns out that the tomb is not a tomb after all but the prison of an an­cient Egyp­tian Princess named Ah­manet (Sofia Boutella), who was mum­mi­fied alive for killing her fa­ther and in­fant brother, and for try­ing to bring the evil God of Death, Set, into the world of the liv­ing.

When Mor­ton un­know­ingly sets Ah­manet free, she de­cides that he is the “Cho­sen One” to be Set’s mor­tal ves­sel when she tries the rit­ual again.

Help­ing Mor­ton out with his girl trou­ble is ar­chae­ol­o­gist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wal­lis), whose main job in the movie is to ex­plain what the hell is go­ing on, as well as in­tro­duce Mor­ton to a cer­tain Dr Henry Jekyll (Crowe), who has a ter­ri­ble se­cret to Hyde, er, I mean hide.

On its own, The Mummy isa solid but un­spec­tac­u­lar ac­tion movie that de­liv­ers some thrills and spills that aren’t good enough to leave an im­pres­sion.

The ac­tion se­quences are de­cent (an early plane crash se­quence and one un­der­wa­ter chase in­volv­ing swim­ming zom­bies are es­pe­cially mem­o­rable), and there are some cheap scares here and there, but in the end, the two A-lis­ters are the ban­dages that hold this flimsy Mummy to­gether.

Cruise is en­ter­tain­ingly lik­able as the rogu­ish, witty Mor­ton, and as usual, does well with the ac­tion se­quences (he’s get­ting re­ally good at run­ning away from sand­storms).

Crowe’s role is a bit more enig­matic, even though he doesn’t re­ally play a part in the main fight against Ah­manet; in fact, he does noth­ing but de­liver ex­po­si­tion (as well as, er, a hid­ing to Mor­ton).

How­ever, the pres­ence of his char­ac­ter alone gives the film the sense that The Mummy is just the be­gin­ning of some­thing big­ger. The fact that his char­ac­ter can be both good and evil also sets up a cer­tain amount of in­trigue for the Dark Uni­verse – will Dr Jekyll con­vince the mon­sters he en­coun­ters to fight for good, or will his evil side pre­vail in­stead?

The way Dr Jekyll goes on about seek­ing out other mon­sters also re­minds me of the role Sa­muel L. Jack­son’s Nick Fury played in the first Iron Man movie back in 2008, which planted the seeds of what would grow into the mighty Marvel Cine­matic Uni­verse.

The Mummy may be nowhere close to be­ing as mem­o­rable as Iron Man, but at least it does its job of set­ting up the Dark Uni­verse well enough. Let’s just hope that it lasts long enough for us to see all the mon­sters get their time to roar.

‘I knew those free flight tick­ets were too good to be true!’ — Photos: UIP Malaysia

Hey Tom! Here’s more sand for you to run from, cour­tesy of Princess Ah­manet!

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