• Mummy, The

    Released by: Universal Studios
    Released on: September 12th, 2017.
    Director: Alex Kurtzman
    Cast: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Russell Crowe
    Year: 2017
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Directed and produced by Alex Kurtzman and presented as a sort of modern reboot of some of the classic Universal Monsters characters to be dubbed the Dark Universe, 2017’s The Mummy was met with disdain pretty much across the board. Why? Because it’s bad. Not bad in a fun way either, just bad in the way that completely generic, by the numbers, bloated Hollywood blockbusters tend to be. It fails to engage and it fails to entertain.

    The story? Sure. It has one. Tom Cruise plays Nick Morton who, alongside his fellow military man Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), is stationed in the Iraq. Here they get up to no good pilfering antiques in hopes of making some easy money on the black market. One of these antique gathering missions, they uncover an ancient tomb housing the remains of an Egyptian princess named Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). It turns out she was kicked out of the Egyptian royal family and made a deal with Set, the Egyptian god of death, to live forever. Something to do with a bejeweled dagger. At any rate, Chris is stoked to take advantage of his new find and even tells his archeologist girlfriend Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) all about it – and then he accidentally unleashes Ahmanet into the modern world where she wreaks all sorts of havoc by sucking the life out of various saps to once again become what she once was. This leaves Nick with no one to turn to for help but Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe), a scientist on the edge… with a dark side!

    Where do we start…

    The leads. That’s as good a place as any. Tom Cruise. He can be good when he’s working with solid material. Born On The 4th Of July is a good example of that. He has a tendency, however, to be ‘that guy’ in so many movies, bringing some of those irritating qualities that have turned him into a caricature of himself in recent years, front and center. He does that in this movie. He also seems to be a nihg-invulnerable everyman, a superhero who isn’t a superhero despite the fact that no one can stop him and he’s just the best at everything he does. Cruise also lacks chemistry with his ‘buddy’ played by Jake Johnson. Oh sure, these guys have got all the one liners you could possibly hope for (should you be the type that hopes for one liners) but that doesn’t mean they’re delivered well or that they’re funny. They’re not. The humor in the movie, which is a big part of what we can assume is the supposed appeal of at least the first third of the movie, is forced and unbelievable. Granted, we’re talking about a movie that revolves around an Egyptian princess coming back from the dead, so realism isn’t such an important factor here, but the point remains we aren’t convinced these guys are pals.

    The rest of the cast? Well, Sofia Boutella is very pretty but for much of the film she’s replaced with overcooked CGI. Russell Crowe is Russell Crowe. He’s not awful as Jekyll, but he’s not great – though puzzlingly enough he gets roughly the same amount of screen time in this movie as the mummy does. And why do we need Jekyll in this movie in the first place? Or a quick cameo from a pickled Creature From The Black Lagoon claw? This is fan service, the type of gimmick that studios think will make audiences geek out over picking up on something put there just for them, but again, it feels forced. Building this supposed Dark Universe without any form of subtlety takes some of the fun out of it. There’s no need to beat us over the head with this stuff.

    The story itself? Well it too has issues. Not to get all politically correct here but making a would be antiquities thief in war torn Iraq our hero after what ISIS has done to that country in modern times? Maybe a little tasteless. The resurrected princess angle? Fine, it’s a mummy movie, we can deal with that, but they pour on so much backstory that you sometimes wonder if the writers (there are seven people listed with story and screenplay credits – typically a red flag) forgot where they were going with all of this at some point. Making the mummy a female doesn’t really do anything to the character except add a bit of sex appeal. Why does she have two irises in each eye? Doesn’t matter, because this ancient undead lady is hot! That seems to be the focus of the presentation of her character at least, but there isn’t enough focus on her to make the backstory worth caring about. Too much Cruise, not enough hot mummy (there’s a tacky MILF joke in there somewhere). Nick’s gal pal Jenny? She isn’t given much to do at all. She seems to be in constant peril in the film, leaving only Nick able to save her, which is kind of contradictory to how she is set up. For a super smart archeologist who knows all sorts of stuff about all sorts of things, she sure winds up in a lot of dopey and dangerous situations. You’d think she’d know better.

    The effects work. Boy, there sure is a lot of it and so little of it practical. As such, the movie looks and feels more like a video game than anything else. The action set pieces? A few of these are actually kind of impressive. If you’ve ever wanted to see Tom Cruise navigate zero gravity (c’mon, you know you have), then check this out. Regardless, while some of the CGI is impressive in its scope and design, without interesting characters or a gripping story to make it matter, we just don’t wind up caring. And that’s the problem. For all the forward momentum that the script throws in the audience’s face and for all the fancy set pieces and big stars tossed into the mix, the movie never manages to make us care. This isn’t fun. This isn’t scary. This isn’t exciting - it’s just messy and mundane, a movie that doesn’t even try to capture the old school magic of the Universal horror pictures that supposedly inspired it.


    The AVC encoded 1080p high definition 2.40.1 widescreen transfer on this Blu-ray from Universal is as crystal clear as you’d expect a brand new Hollywood blockbuster to be. Detail is impressive and at times remarkably strong while color reproduction is damn near perfect. Black levels are reference quality and we get nice skin tones here too. As the movie was shot digitally there’s obviously no print damage to note, while the disc is free of any compression artifacts, black crush, noise reduction or edge enhancement. Reference quality stuff.

    Audio options are provided in English language Dolby Atmos and in DTS-HD 7.1 with standard definition DTS 5.1 tracks available in French and Spanish. Optional subtitles are provided in English SDH, French and Spanish. That Atmos track? Pretty much flawless. Say what you will about the quality of the movie itself but Universal has done a bang up job on the technical side of things and that translates to an impressively immersive listening experience. Dialogue is crystal clear, the score sounds fantastic and the effects hit as hard as you could hope they would. At the same time, balance is perfect and there’s just really impressive clarity throughout. The action scenes feature some relentless surround activity while even the quieter moments in the picture offer some interesting ambient and background activity to listen for.

    Extras start off with a commentary track from director/producer Alex Kurtzman and cast members Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis and Jake Johnson. Cruise is nowhere to be found, but he does come up in conversation from time to time. Kurtzman leads the charge on this track, discussing what they tried to do differently with this take on the concept but the others chime in throughout with thoughts on the characters that they played, what it was like working on the shoot and quite a bit more.

    From there we move on to a few featurettes, the first of which is the twenty-one minute long Cruise & Kurtzman: A Conversation which is what it sounds like – a talk between the film’s director and leaing man in which they talk about the origins of the project, shooting the picture, and more. Rooted In Reality is up next and it spends seven minutes talking about the setting the story in the reality of the modern world. Life In Zero-G: Creating The Plane Crash is an eight minute piece where Cruise talks about his experiences on one of the movie’s standout set pieces and the issues involved in shooting in an actual zero-gravity plane. Meet Ahmanet is an eight minute featurette that talks up Sofia Boutella's character while Cruise In Action spends six minutes with the cast and crew discussing how much they all enjoyed working with Tom Cruise on the picture and how good he was in the various action scenes. Becoming Jekyll And Hyde, also seven minutes, focuses on Russell Crowe’s involvement in the picture and the character that he played, while Choreographed Chaos, again six minutes shows off some behind the scenes footage from a few more action set pieces. Nick Morton: In Search Of A Soul is a six minute examination of some of the traits that make Cruise’s character interesting while the Ahmanet Reborn Animated Graphic Novel is a four minute slightly animated comic book take on Ahmanet’s origin story.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are five minute of deleted and extended Scenes - Beautiful, Cunning, And Ruthless / Your Friend Is Alive / Sand In My Mouth / She's Escaped – as well as animated menus and chapter selection.

    Also included inside the Blu-ray case is a DVD version of the movie as well as an insert card for a digital HD version of the movie. Accompanying the case and discs is a cardboard slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    The disc looks great and sounds even better and it’s packed with extra features too – but Kurtzman and company just can’t quite seem to breathe new life into a classic franchise. The Mummy is predictable, stale, sloppily written and way too glossy for its own good. Blah. Skip it!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Nabonga's Avatar
      Nabonga -
      Everything about this screams of filmmaking-by-committee clusterfuck where the powers that be threw their hands in the air and said "Fuck it! It's got Tom Cruise in it. Release the damn thing". Literally nothing interesting about this film whatsoever. Dark universe? Dark universe my balls.
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      You lost me at Tom Cruise. Not even going to bother renting this.
    1. John Bernhard's Avatar
      John Bernhard -
      This pretty much sez it all
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      Great review, Ian!