Summer Movie Review: 2017’s “The Mummy”
Have you ever watched a movie and walked out of the theater thinking to yourself, “What the heck did I just watch?” If you have, then I can definitely relate to you when it comes to 2017’s “The Mummy.” To give a better frame of reference for anyone who hasn’t seen this mess of a movie, it might be wise to explain the general plot that occurs (so spoilers ahead). “The Mummy” focuses on our main characters Nick Morton (played by Tom Cruise), his friend/love-interest/damsel-in-distress Jenny Halsey (played by Annabelle Wallis), and his other friend/comic-relief character Chris Vail (played by Jake Johnson) who accidentally discover and free a 5000-year-old mummy/monster named Ahmanet (played by Sofia Boutella) bent on releasing the Ancient Egyptian god of death named Set upon the world. To release the god Set, Ahmanet must stab Nick with a sacred dagger which would allow Set to possess Nick and become “evil-incarnate” in order to take over the world (for some reason).
There’s an immediate inconsistency with the plot at the “taking over the world” part. In the movie when she was still alive, Ahmanet was to be heir to the throne of Ancient Egypt since she was the only child of her father, the pharaoh at the time; however, when her father had a new son, the son was to be the new heir, taking away Ahmanet’s future role as queen. In response to this, Ahmanet made a deal with the god Set that she would give him a body to possess if he gave her a “dark power” (?), she then kills her father, her father’s wife, and the new son, is about to give Set his body-vessel, then is captured and buried alive as a mummy. The inconsistency lies in the fact that Ahmanet could have killed her family without becoming an actual monster. The deal with Set was unnecessary as Ahmanet had no clear reason to desire world domination; the conflict was based in a family blood feud, not a desire to rule the world, and thus made the plot feel forced and superficial. So, at the outset of this movie, which is filled to the brim with direct exposition of what’s going on rather than actually showing the audience, we are left wondering why there even is an evil monster mummy in the first place.
Not only did the events of the plot seem forced and unnecessary, but the movie as a whole had a feeling of forced-ness and staleness. The movie, maybe as an attempt to emulate the popular 1999 adaptation of “The Mummy,” seemed to be a deliberate mix of a bunch of different genres. It went from a mythical mystery movie to a military action movie, back to mystery, then to horror/thriller and suspense, then to an awful mix of comedy and horror, back to action, then to a stereotypical zombie movie (I thought this was about a mummy?). All of these elements may be found together in good movies (such as 1999’s “The Mummy”), so the mixing itself is not the problem. The problem rested in the fact that this movie seemed to very deliberately attempt to form a plot around these numerous genres rather than forming genres out of a plot. In other words, a good movie (in my opinion) focuses on molding its plot in order to have a coherent and riveting story, and genre terms such as Action and Horror are used after the fact to describe the plot. “The Mummy,” however, seems to mold its plot in order to fit to particular genre categories rather than focusing on coherent/riveting storytelling, making it feel deliberate, confusing, and almost fake.
Problems with the plot aside, the biggest problem with this movie to me was the fact that from the introductory “Universal Studios” logos to the very last scene, it was never really a movie about the mummy. From what I understand, Universal Studios is attempting to jump-start a new film franchise under the name of “Dark Universe” with “The Mummy” being its first film. The introductory logos show us this with an explicit “Dark Universe” logo, and from then on, the movie is full of supposed-to-be-exciting references to possible future movies in the franchise, including such references as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the vampire Dracula, the creature from the black lagoon, and a whole secret agency which specializes in recognizing, examining, containing, and destroying all evil (because apparently, all monsters are absolutely evil). Not only that, but the ending of the movie is basically an allusion to more movies involving the secret agency and Nick Morton with their future adventures. These allusions seem to be what the writers wanted the audience to be excited about, not the movie itself. It was as if the movie was a one hour and 50 minute advertisement for the Dark Universe franchise, which, to me, made it a waste of time to watch.