Pulp Consumption: The Mummy (2017)

Honest to goodness – just read the article and skip the movie. I wish I was joking.

Last week Matt tackled the Brendan Fraser/Rachel Weisz The Mummy. That movie was created as a deliberate homage to B movies, down to some of the cheesy dialogue and throwaway one-liners. And that’s why I love it. It’s one of those movies whenever it’s broadcast you can just drop into 20 minutes in and stick with it until the end. In this way, it’s much like a personal favorite, The Fifth Element.

Again, I wish I was joking, but I’d rather watch this a second time than The Mummy.

However! The 2017 “remake” starring Tom Cruise had to go and rear its ugly head and taint the very name “The Mummy” with a script so poorly written you have to wonder how the hell the studio even approved it in print, let alone the abomination that made it to the editing room. Look, during the winter break from regularly scheduled television shows my wife and I made a point of looking through Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO for movies we hadn’t seen yet that came out in the last couple years. We watched movies like Ocean’s 8, Game Night, Justice League, Rampage, and The Mummy. I mean this completely seriously – the best, most enjoyable of those was Rampage.

How the hell does Universal Pictures screw up a Tom Cruise helmed recreation of one of the best movie monsters of the mid-20th Century to the point that a crappy C-movie interpretation of a 1980s arcade video game starring The Rock was by far the better film? I was mystified. Still am, truth be told.

The Mummy is not without some merit, but I’m being totally charitable here. Russell Crowe’s Dr. Henry Jekyll[1] was one of the few pieces of shiny steel rebar in the concrete wreckage that was the rest of the film. Not that he wasn’t emoting his ass off and chewing through scenery like he did in Noah, but it was at least appropriate to his character. As a fan of Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (though not the *shudder* POS movie version[2]), I appreciated the idea of ringing in the penny dreadful-adjacent Jekyll and Hyde to create a new Universal Monsters universe. I wish the studio had done more to enhance and embrace some of the camp that comes with the territory. I mean, when Adam Sandler’s Hotel Transylvania series of films manages to capture more of the spirit than a Tom Cruise-led blockbuster, we’ve got some issues.

The other not totally corrupted part of the wreck was Sofia Boutella’s portrayal of the titular mummy, Ahmanet. The last time I saw her was in the first Kingsman[3] movie as Gazelle, the assassin with razor sharp leg prosthetics who works for Samuel L. Jackson’s big bad Richmond Valentine. Her portrayal of the mummy is perhaps the best acting in the film. It was almost like she’d been given a different script and different direction from everyone else on camera. Ahmanet is a conglomerated character, combining the original titular mummy, Imhotep[4], with the primordial Egyptian goddess Amunet, the consort/counterpart to Amun. The essential details of the mummy’s backstory differ quite a bit from the previous versions. In the Karloff original and Fraser remake, Imhotep is attempting to raise his dead lover, which is considered black magic, and then Imhotep is mummified and forced to suffer eternity without his lover. In this version, Ahmanet is cast aside as heir apparent by a newborn half brother, and she slaughters her family so she can rule, but also invokes black magic to ensure her power.

Although Cruise “won” a Razzie for his acting, acting itself really isn’t the biggest issue for the film. If it was, the movie could have been an enjoyable bit of schlock like Rampage. But no, it’s definitely the screen writing that’s at fault. It may be the screenwriters themselves are to blame, but I’d have to chalk it more up to on-set direction and incongruous moods fighting for dominance. For all the faults the Michael Bay Transformers movies have (and there are many), uniformity of tone isn’t usually one of them. Which is why you should just skip the Cruise Mummy completely. If you’re in the mood for ancient mummified humans casting curses and sowing evil, just watch the Brendan Fraser films. Hell, even The Rock’s Scorpion King movie is light-years ahead of this cluster#%*@!

[1] It’s worth noting that Crowe is actually younger than Cruise, but whatever devil Cruise sold his soul to for immortality appears to have delivered in spades, at least for now.

[2] In the parlance of millennials and post-millennials – I can’t even.

[3] At some point we’ll have to tackle those films. I had to double check and make sure we had in fact not covered them.

[4] It’s a shame the historical Imhotep, of whom little is really known, has his name dragged through this kind of mud. At least Vlad Dracula really was monstrous in his dealings with humanity. Imhotep appears to have been a rather intelligent high priest who designed pyramids and lived a relatively peaceful existence.

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2 Responses to Pulp Consumption: The Mummy (2017)

  1. Reblogged this on Mangled Latin and commented:

    Last week Matt discussed the (far superior) 1999 Brendan Fraser movie The Mummy. Today I talk about the trainwreck that was the 2017 Tom Cruise version.


  2. Lauren says:

    Not a fan of these type of movies, but did enjoy Brendan Fraser version. Now I know I don’t have to use valued viewing time on the Tom Cruise version.


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