THE MUMMY (M, 110 MINS) DI­RECTED BY ALEX KURTZ­MAN

Central Otago Mirror - - FOOD FOR THOUGHT -

Some­time in the 12th cen­tury, a group of Cru­sader knights gather down in the bow­els of Lon­don and plonk a gi­ant ruby on the body of their re­cently de­ceased mate.

Fast for­ward to the present day and we find Tom Cruise sit­ting on the back of a horse, do­ing a Three Kings in the Iraqi desert by us­ing his free­dom as a long range scout to nick any bits of an­tiq­uity he can lay his hands on.

The role re­quires of Cruise a kind of cheeky jack-the-lad qual­ity we have seen him de­liver be­fore in spades, but which here he can’t quite lo­cate to save him­self.

Cruise has im­prob­a­bly scarpered with a map to a site a beau­ti­ful ar­chae­ol­o­gist he se­duced the night be­fore thinks is worth a look. But those pesky Iraqi in­sur­gents are all over the joint, leav­ing the Cruiser and his ob­vi­ously-soon-to-be-dead buddy Jake John­son to call in the airstrike that opens up the en­trance to an an­cient tomb.

It’s a busy and pretty im­pres­sive open­ing 15 min­utes or so to a film that is hop­ing, I guess, to re­peat the suc­cess of the Bren­dan Fraser Mummy tril­ogy of the noughties and its Scor­pion King spinoffs. All of which cleaned up at the box of­fice even as the films got pro­gres­sively worse. Even at their most overblown, those films had a daft en­ergy and a like­able, self-aware retro-silli­ness that se­cures them fondly in the me­mory.

This new Mummy tries to catch that same mood and tone. And mostly fails. Co-writer and di­rec­tor Alex Kurtz­man has a re­mark­ably skinny CV for this kind of tent­pole movie. His only other spin in the di­rec­tor’s chair is the sketchy 2012 rom-dram Peo­ple Like Us.

To be fair, Kurtz­man has writ­ten plenty of top-drawer screen­plays. But when it comes to ac­tu­ally get­ting a story from page to screen, he is pretty in­ex­pe­ri­enced. And maybe that’s what dam­ages The Mummy.

The film just doesn’t have any idea what it wants to be. One minute we’re in the mid­dle of a knife mur­der that ends with a fairly graphic shoot­ing. That then segues into a plane crash that at least guar­an­tees The Mummy will never be of­fered up as an in­flight en­ter­tain­ment op­tion. But the next scene is a played-for-laughs, my-mates-a-zom­bie gag straight out of the Shaun of the Dead rejects bin.

This jum­bled mess of tone and style ham­strings the movie from begin­ning to end.

We can’t set­tle in and en­joy it for the daffy ac­tion comedy it should be when Kurtz­man won’t give his cast the chance to milk their lines for comedy.

But The Mummy doesn’t work as a hor­ror ei­ther be­cause it’s just far too stupid, far too of­ten.

– Graeme Tuck­ett

Not scary enough to be a hor­ror, nor funny enough to be a comedy, The Mummy is just a jum­bled mess.

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