Released: 06/09/2017 Rated: PG-13
Seeing the advertisements, I was like “I wanna see it…but also I kinda don’t…” I didn’t figure I was going to like it more than I do the 1999 version, I didn’t see Cruise really fitting into this role, and all around I just wasn’t all that interested. The only real reason I wanted to see it was for Sofia Boutella. I have loved her in everything I’ve seen her in, she’s a star on the rise, and she has at least one more film coming out this summer which I cannot wait for. She may have been the one redeeming thing about this movie, but they didn’t really give her much to do.
I will agree with Chris Stuckmann here; the screenplay felt very scatterbrained. This movie was all over the place. It wants to be a comedy, a suspense/thriller, a supernatural, and it clearly wants to be the beginning of Universal’s connecting classic-monsters universe. That may have been the clearest thing they did. But for as many people as they have credited for writing this movie, they still seemed stuck on a formula. It’s like they pulled things that worked before and stuffed them into this movie as if to say “Hey, look! This is what constitutes a mummy movie, right?” I.e.: the comedic sidekick, the face in the sandstorm, and an endless supply of corpses to reanimate. One of the books from the 1999 film was on screen for literally two seconds as an Easter egg for fans. The plot was completely different, but each of these elements felt stale to me, and I just went “You did that already.”
Okay, so the concept is that this group of…I’m just going to lump them together under a general term and say “historians,” believes a conspiracy theory that there was once an Ancient Egyptian princess that has been excluded from recorded history. Let me pause for a second. This one sentence should have been the basis for the entire first act of the film: the hunt for Princess Ahmanet’s tomb, the proof that she once existed. The searching and finding of clues is what draws the audience in and gets them invested. Instead, we get a lame bit of how this construction crew in London underground stumbles upon a mass knights’ tomb that might as well have had a neon sign blaring “Ahmanet is real.” There’s no intrigue in this. Other than hieroglyphics showing up in London, there’s nothing unusual about it either until they go into her backstory.
She was next in line to be Queen and rule over Egypt before her father remarried and produced a male heir. Outraged at the instant removal of her birthright, Ahmanet sold her soul to the Egyptian god of death, Set, for a special blade with which to assassinate her family and bring Set into corporeal form. The final ritual was interrupted and she was mummified alive in a special tomb full of mercury said to keep her evil form subdued and entrapped. All of this is great, but they show it to us in, I’m gonna guesstimate, five to ten minutes, and then it’s done. There is no more allure as to who this woman is on the part of the viewer. My question is: if Ahmanet wasn’t recorded in history, 1) why does this group thinks she existed? 2) how do they know her entire story? I missed the very beginning of the film, but the credits were still rolling, so I doubt I missed THAT much. This group of knights found a large ruby in Egypt and buried it with one of their own in London. Even if the group of “historians” descended from these knights, how did the knights know her story enough to erect a hieroglyphic mural about her? It’s just a lot of details that were seemingly conjured out of thin air.
Anyway, the remainder (entirety) of the film is Nick stumbles upon her prison tomb and sets her free. Ahmanet chooses Nick to be the host for Set, but needs to reconstruct the dagger in order to perform the ritual. And the “historians” are after her. I’m not going to spoil the “historians,” but I will say that the film went on a little side bar with Russell Crowe’s character which ultimately didn’t go anywhere. It’s obvious that this organization is how they plan on connecting the Dark Universe together should this idea ever actually comes to fruition. With as many reboots as they’ve already done, Universal hasn’t had a good track record with them, so…we’ll see.
It felt like they were trying too hard to keep the comedic aspects of the 1999 film. I liked Chris, he was appropriately funny and well-done in the beginning, and I would have loved more of that; however, after what happens to him happens, it doesn’t fit with the suspenseful tone they should have been going for. It was different, but it bothered me. What really took me out of the film, though, is a scene around I’d guess the end of the first act. Our female protagonist (who doesn’t do a thing the entire movie) is in the cab of an overturned truck that has just finished flipping down an embankment. And she’s fine, not discombobulated or injured at all. She and Nick see Ahmanet coming toward them through the mist, and Nick approaches her with a giant stick, and Jenny starts egging Nick on. “Kick her ass!” …Really??? This was the best all these writers could do?? You see, where the 1999 version excelled in comedy (and writing), it also delivered on the scares and horror. This movie does not. You can see the jumpscares coming a mile away, and none of the rest of it is particularly scary. The classic monster movies should be scary. And while the original was steeped in an action/adventure style, it still scared the pants off me the first couple of times I saw it (granted, I was roughly twelve), but that’s the point. I just didn’t feel the gravity of anything happening on screen.
I didn’t believe the love interest between Nick and Jenny. It’s not a love story, and I’m thankful for that, but it felt like they tried to make it stronger than it was. Nick and Jenny spent the night together, undoubtedly a one-nightstand, but it turned out to only be a ploy on Nick’s part to steel a map off her. If they had kept that animosity between them throughout the film, that would have been pretty cool, actually. The idea of them on opposite ends of the spectrum and constantly butting heads, but then thrown in this predicament that they now have to survive would have made for a pretty cool movie. I’m sick of love stories shoehorned in everywhere. Just give a good movie!
If you do go see this in theaters, my once piece of advice would be to not see it in 3D. The film is already dark, and the glasses you have to wear actually make the screen a little darker. So I wasn’t really sure what all I was looking at when Ahmanet first came back to life. But if you’re looking to turn your brain off for a little while, it’s okay.