Blu-ray Review: The Mummy

When I first heard that Tom Cruise was going to be the lead in the new Mummy film, I was pretty pumped. I’m a huge fan of Cruise’s work, and thought that it’d be great to see him stretch his wings into something with a bit of a scary, horror type edge to it. No better way to do that then to help kick off the intended Universal Monster Universe, right? Well, unfortunately, The Mummy never quite finds its footing in terms of knowing what type of movie it wants to be, and in the end we’re more or less left with a somewhat by the numbers Cruise blockbuster with some monster movie elements.

Let’s start with the good: the movie itself is entertaining enough, and beyond the fairly non-stop action sequences, there are some solid scenes that give off a true Universal Monsters feel. This is especially thanks to the atmospheric look these scenes are given that really helps sell the darker themes that the movie attempts to put out.

I also liked the world they attempted to create as the foundation for a possible Universal Monster franchise; however, that’s also one of the problems with this film, and many others that attempt to build a movie universe right out of the gate. There’s no denying that Marvel has done something special over the years, creating a film universe that spans an incredible amount of films, and ties together dozens of well developed characters that could each – and often have – have their own film; but that was done very slowly, and very meticulously.

These days, studios seem to want to play catch-up without taking individual films into consideration. The Mummy has a story to tell, but it’s also trying to lay the groundwork of how Prodigium, a secret society that hunts down supernatural threats, is collecting pieces or possessions of documented monsters, and sort of playing god as to who is fit to roam the earth, and who needs to be contained or disposed of. The film is setting up the chessboard for future movies and a potential Avengers-type super film before any character has even had a chance to be introduced in a fully developed story that would even make us want to see a possible team-up.

That’s clear here, as the plot is fairly straightforward in terms of what the evil, ancient Egyptian princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) wants, and why she wants it, but how she goes about getting it is fairly convoluted and only skims the surface of the potential fun that could have been had before Prodigium gets involved to – again – help set up a potential universe.

Now, I enjoyed Crowe as Jekyll/Hyde, and I think he could’ve been used in a Phil Coulson type way, where he was subtly placed throughout the introductory films (after The Mummy we were/are supposed to get The Invisible Man, as well as The Bride of Frankenstein) and subtly tie them together that way. Instead, Crowe’s character plays a fairly large part in this tale, and is fairly blunt that this is just one of many puzzle pieces he’s looking for to eventually stop a potentially more dangerous monster that may come along.

So instead of getting to really focus and develop Nick Morton (Cruise) and his tale of accidentally stumbling into this ancient world of monsters and the consequences that may come because of it, that aspect is more or less fast-tracked to help build a universe that may never come to be because of how they decided to fast-track things. It’s unfortunate, because I think there were ideas here that, if expanded upon, could have really told an eerie tale, fitting of the Universal Monsters tag.

So what do we get? Well, as mentioned above, there’s the usual Tom Cruise running, jumping and falling from airplanes, and that’s all good! There’s nothing wrong with classic Cruise tromps within his blockbusters; however, when there’s little more then them to go with it, after he’s had quite a number of strong films of late, it feels rather hollow.

The acting is strong throughout. Cruise definitely gives his all to the performance, even if there isn’t much substance to back it up, and at his age, credit has to be given for how he still puts himself out there and does his own stunts in order to allow the filmmaker to capture the best visuals for any and all action scenes. If there is a follow-up film, and Cruise does reprise the role, it’ll be interesting to see where he takes the character if the story allows for more development.

Sofia Boutella works really well as Ahmanet, and her look and delivery all come together quite nicely. She completely embodies the cursed, tainted soul and adds the some of the only, yet much needed horror elements to the film. Boutella has been steadily becoming a more recognizable face in Hollywood, and I look forward to seeing more from her in the years to come.

Jake Johnson provides the comedy relief as Morton’s best friend Chris Vail, as well as being a sort of spiritual guide for Morton throughout. While his comic relief aspects work early on, he feels sort of out of place as the film goes on. It’s fairly clear that Johnson’s character and overall role in the film is something that would’ve benefited from a more Mummy-focused story, instead of the universe-building tale we ended up with.

Finally, Crowe is the double-edged sword, as I like his character, and think he did a great job with the role; however, minimizing him to a character that’s developed over the course of the introduction films instead of laying out all the cards right away would have benefited the film a lot more. Heck, his character is exactly why Marvel started throwing in post-credit scenes! To get people jazzed for the next possible movie to come. Alas, that’s not the route that was taken, but at least Crowe nails the role with all he’s given this time out.

The Mummy is an entertaining adventure romp that’s enjoyable if you’re in the mood for something that’s not overly complex, and delivers exactly what you’d expect from it on the most basic of levels and nothing more. It’s a summer blockbuster with enough monster movie moments to pass it off as one, but unfortunately not enough to make it one that’s overly memorable.

On the audio/visual front, Universal’s transfer of the film is once again superbly done. The movie has a lot of darker moments, yet there’s no muddy, washed out look to any of them. The darks are rich, and the visuals are crisp. The audio is also top tier, with the sound effects, dialogue and overall score all flowing out of the speakers beautifully.

Special Features:

Audio Commentary – Director/Producer Alex Kurtzman as well as Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson and Annabelle Wallis go over the making of process and stories in detail. There’s some fun to be had here, but if you’ve watched the special features then some of the stories are repeated here once again.

Cruise & Kurtzman: A Conversation – This is a 21-minute feature that sees the actor and director discuss the film and process in great detail.

Rooted in Reality – This featurette is just under seven minutes in length and focuses on modernizing the story into today’s world, as well as touching on the casting and story development of the project.

Life in Zero-G: Creating the Plane Crash – This is a seven and a half minute featurette that sees Cruise talk about the scene, shooting it and how it felt doing so in zero gravity. I loved the plane crash sequence and thought it was one of the coolest looking scenes in the movie, so this was a fun watch for sure.

Meet Ahmanet – Another seven and a half minute featurette that focuses on Boutella’s character Ahmanet, and looks deeper at her stellar performance in the role.

Cruise in Action – A six minute featurette that sees the cast and crew gush about working with Cruise, and seeing his key action scenes take place with him front and center.

Becoming Jekyll and Hyde – This is a seven minute featuette that focuses on Crowe’s character and performance, and his place in the monster world.

Choreographed Chaos – This is a six and a half minute making-of feature that focuses on a few key scenes and locations throughout the film.

Nick Morton: In Search of a Soul – This featurette is just under six minutes in length and looks at Cruise’s character in the film.

Ahmanet Reborn: An Animated Graphic Novel – This is a quick four minute featurette that gives a brief look at the characters story with narrations over animated visuals.

Deleted/Extended Scenes – There are four scenes to be watched here if you so desire that total just under five minutes altogether.

Universal Pictures Presents The Mummy. Directed by: Robert Kurtzman. Written by: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman. Starring: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson. Running time: 110 Minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released on Blu-ray: Sept. 12, 2017.

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