“THE MUMMY” (Review)Books/Art/Culture,Movies/TV,News Mark Cerulli
When it comes to horror, I’m Old School. Mention “The Mummy” and I immediately think of Karloff’s 1932 classic… or Christopher Lee’s glorious Hammer remake… but there’s a new Mummy in town and this one is a total b!tch. In an innovative twist, stunning Algerian actress Sofia Boutella plays Ahmanet, an Egyptian princess entombed alive after murdering her father and others during a savage power grab. Boutella is exotic, commanding and moves like a jungle cat – no surprise as she was one of Madonna’s dancers on her Sticky & Sweet Tour. Boutella also practically stole Kingsman: The Secret Service as the legless assassin. In The Mummy she owns the screen whenever she’s on. This young actress has no problem facing down co-star Tom Cruise, a shoo-in for Dorian Gray as he seemingly hasn’t aged since Top Gun. Cruise plays Nick Morton, a roguish soldier of fortune with a passion for antiquities who stumbles upon the princess’ hidden tomb thanks to a map stolen from a feisty British archaeologist (Annabelle Wallis). Jurassic World’s Jake Johnson provides some comic relief as Cruise’s jokey army buddy who dies, then comes back to haunt him. Literally. They ignore all the signs that this is one sarcophagus that should stay buried and fly it back to London, or try to – their plane crashes in an outstanding feat of action filmmaking that took over 16 parabolic flights to capture Cruise and Wallis knocking around in Zero G.
Free from her tomb, Princess Ahmanet sets her sights on Morton as the human vessel whose death will allow her to finally reign supreme. Cruise shows his acting chops as he handles leading man chores while trying to break free from her powerful spell – and avoid a gruesome death. This princess can command spiders, beetles, crows, rats and an army of undead; and she isn’t shy about setting them loose in modern day London. Fortunately there’s a secret organization (underneath The London Natural History Museum) called Prodigium, headed by Dr. Henry Jekyll – yes, that Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe). Their mission is to stamp out evil in all forms, even if it’s a 5000-year-old Mummy with the body of an inked Victoria’s Secret model! Of course the good doctor is wrestling with a pesky demon of his own. I have to admit, this is one area I wasn’t sold on: we’re talking Mummy here, did Dr. Jekyll really need to appear?
As expected, the visual effects and photography are state of the art and that means… gulp!… CGI. Love it or hate it, VFX is a tool of modern filmmaking and if a studio is going to invest over $100 million on a project, you can bet they will employ it. HOW they do it is the creative challenge and the filmmakers here used it judiciously with a roiling sandstorm ripping through London’s financial district, a cave full of Camel Spiders and all manner of vehicular mayhem. Director Alex Kurtzman (who wrote epics like Transformers and Star Trek) keeps things moving at a breathless pace. Under the lens of cinematographer Ben Seresin, the stark Namibian desert doubled for ancient Egypt and modern day Iraq and Cruise seemed up for any challenge. Perhaps as a tip of the sarcophagus to their 1932 predecessor, this Mummy was shot on film – over a million feet of it! Of course, you’d have to be wrapped up in bandages not to get that this film is laying the groundwork for a series of future mega monster movies (there are visual nods to vampires and Creature From The Black Lagoon), so we’re witnessing the dawn of a new horror universe. It’s not your grandfather’s Mummy, but this ain’t your grandfather’s world.