So, last week, my friend Dawn, who plays Genesis in our weekly D&D game, asked me if I wanted to go with her, her brother Chicky, who plays Dia, her son Aaron, who plays Halo, and Aaron’s girlfriend Morgen, who plays Serada, to see the new Mummy movie. Since these are pretty much the only people I see on a regular basis these days, I figured it might be nice to do something besides work, or rolling dice.
Also, I needed a blog post for today. The sacrifices I make to entertain you guys are numerous, and difficult, I assure you.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of the classic Boris Karloff Mummy films, and rather enjoyed the Brenden Fraser versions from a while back. I wasn’t sure how I felt about a remake with Tom Cruise, who is still Maverick from Top Gun to me.
Yes, yes, he did an amazing job playing Lestat in Interview With A Vampire, but the character was based on Rutger Hauer, who is a favorite of mine, so as excellent as Cruise’s performance was, I’ll always regret Hauer being too old for the role by the time Hollywood got around to making that movie.
Though, really, it is one of Cruise’s very best performances as an actor.
That said, I was hesitant to get excited about this new version of The Mummy, but happy to go spend some time with friends, so off we went to check it out. Expectations managed, of course.
I admit, I left the theater somewhat surprised, and not in a bad way.
First things first. This is a very different take on the Mummy, in a lot of ways, as well as being part of Universal’s attempt to build a shared universe with all their classic movie monsters. For the most part, both of these things work, though it requires jumping through a few hoops, and rewriting a bit of Egyptian mythology to pull it off.
Not saying that in a bad way, but just so you guys know, Storm has long been an avid student of Egyptology, and listening to her for over 20 years has allowed me to pick up way more about Egyptian mythology than the average person likely has. Wile the alterations to actual mythology kind of bugged me, I do bear in mind that this is just a movie, and not a documentary, so I let it go pretty quick.
This version of The Mummy centers on Princess Ahmanet, the only child of the Pharoah, and next in line for the throne. She excels at everything she puts her hand to, and is a lock as the future ruler of Egypt, until her baby brother is born. Naturally, Ahmanet takes this new sibling rivalry to it’s logical conclusion, by making a pact with an evil God, and murdering her entire family.
Like ya do.
This time around, the evil God is Set, who actually was evil in Egyptian mythology, for the most part. Some parts of the country saw him as a hero figure, but in general, he is a chaos deity, akin to Loki from Norse mythology. Set is wrongly identified as a God of Death in the film, however. That was Anubis, but I guess Universal figured they had already fucked up with him in the The Mummy Returns.
Anubis no likely being maligned.
Anyway, after getting stabby on her family, Ahmanet is ready to hold up her end of things by giving Set a flesh and blood body, by stabbing her lover with a sacrificial dagger that will allow Set to enter him. Before she can, she’s stopped by priests, who are always getting in the way of evil plans, mummified alive, and has her ass hauled as far away as possible, where she’s buried in a really deep hole.
Note to any time traveling Egyptian priests. Please remember to leave clear warnings of where you bury all your world ending threats. It’ll save a lot of people a lot of time in the future. Okay? Thanks.
Fast forward to present day, when soldier Nick Morton is dragging his best friend Chris Vail way off mission to go hunting for ancient artifacts he can hopefully sell for a lot of money. Seems he stole some important documents from a lady he had a one night stand with, and those point to hidden treasure in a remote Iraqi village. Which is full of insurgents, forcing Nick to call in an air strike so he and Vail don’t get shot full of holes.
The air strike reveals the tomb of Ahmanet, and, well, Mummy stuff follows.
The newly awakened Ahmanet decides Nick is her new vessel for Set, and after the airplane transporting her still sarcophagus bound ass crashes over England, goes a real tear through the country side, turning people into zombies all over the place, and generally, kicking Nick’s ass in an attempt to either flirt, or make him submit to her will.
Oh, and Vail dies, then haunts Nick, which was hysterical.
The lady Nick stole the documents from, archeologist Jennifer Halsey, caught up to him at the tomb, and hasn’t let Nick or the sarcophagus out of her sight until the plane crash. She only survives because Nick gives her the only parachute, and kicks her out of the plane. He only survives because Ahmanet can’t have her sweet man candy getting splattered before she recovers the dagger and gives his body a new permanent room mate.
Before Ahmanet can get too carried away, however, a group of soldiers with the super secret group Prodigium show up and capture her. Turns out, Dr. Halsey works for them, assisting Prodigm’s head, Dr. Henry Jekyll, in hunting monsters and protecting the world from evil. Jekyll wants to cut Ahmanet open to see what makes her tick, and Nick to, once Set is living inside him.
Ahmanet escapes, and goes about making more zombies, and generally ruining London, before Nick sacrifices himself to save Halsey, welcomes Set into his body, gives Ahmanet a massive beat down for not being able to take the hint their relationship ended a couple thousand years ago, and hauls ass before Jekyll can show up with his collection of scalpels.
Now, if all that sounds really silly, well, that’s because it kind of is, and that’s okay. This is a movie about a pissed off Mummy, after all. Silly is kind of where it lives. What makes it work, is that the film knows how silly it is, and has a lot of fun with the whole thing.
Cruise plays Nick, and man, what a performance he gives. Selfish, vain, greedy, and pretty much an irredeemable asshat, Nick is not the sort of person you normally see as the hero, or see Cruise playing. One of his better moments was when he admits to Halsey that he only gave her the last parachute because he thought there was another.
The various fights with zombies is frequently funny as well, mostly because Cruise reacts the way a normal person would, by freaking out and trying to run away from the fight. The only time he tries to take Ahmanet on directly, he gets his ass whooped so hard he doesn’t bother trying to get back up. All of this, Cruise plays with a slimy charm that reminds you of a used car salesman.
Honestly, it’s great to see him stepping outside his typical roles. I really loved him in this.
Annabelle Wallis (Snow White and the Huntsman) plays Dr. Halsey with charm, intelligence, and wit. The back and forth between she and Cruise is one of the best parts of the film, and frequently reminded me of the wonderful dialogue of Fraser and Rachel Weisz from the previous films. However, despite her being the one who actually knows what she’s doing, she still ends up having to be saved by Cruise, instead of doing the saving, which would have been more interesting.
Still, Wallis gave a great performance, and was a ton of fun.
Jekyll is played by Russel Crowe, who you know from being Russel Crowe, and beyond being a bit of an asshole, his main role in the movie is to tie the larger franchise together by being Dr. Jekyll, and at one point, Mr. Hyde. Beyond that, and being somewhat menacing, Crowe isn’t given much to do in this, but has been set up nicely for a later film of his own.
Sofia Boutella (Star Trek: Beyond) plays Ahmanet, and carries off the character with a smirk, as she literally plows through everything in her path like a bulldozer with a sugar high. Boutella is certainly an actor to watch in the coming years, as she perfectly conveys the arrogance of Ahmanet, and manages to be a believable threat while wrapped in strategically placed bandages.
She’s no Arnold Vosloo, but who the hell is, ya know? Despite that, she’s a great choice to play this incarnation of the classic monster, and definitely leaves her mark on the character.
As I mentioned above, the movie knows it’s kind of silly, and has fun with the whole thing, such as when Cruise first enters Prodigium, and spots the skull of a vampire. He actually stops and stares, and I couldn’t help but stifle a giggle, what with him having played Lestat.
Later, Dr. Halsey knocks out an attacker by hitting him with the Book of the Dead prop from the previous Mummy films, and the camera lingers on it for a moment, allowing fans of the Mummy films to get a snicker out of it.
Though, I admit, Jake Jonson’s turn as Vail’s Ghost is probably one of the funniest things in the whole movie. He’s dead, being controlled by Ahmanet, and he’s not happy about any of it. He and Nick get into an argument over how many times Nick shot him at one pint, and it’s actually really funny.
Which is probably what I ended up enjoying about this movie the most, and what has given me hope for the future installments of Universal’s monster movie shared universe. There was a sense of humor about it all. Nobody was afraid to laugh at themselves, or the absurdity of the plot, or anything else. It paid respect to the films that came before, and even had a fun little Easter egg for fans of Tom Cruise.
It was fun, is what I’m saying. Was it a great movie? Probably not. Did I enjoy myself? Yup, that I did.
And really, what else did it need to do, but be enjoyable?
Just me, but I’d say The Mummy is one worth watching, if only for the sense of fun, silliness, and genuine affection the movie has for it’s roots, it’s actors, and how hard it tries to entertain you, by just being what it is. A really fun flick.