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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Mummy (2017)


Starring: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance and Russell Crowe
Distributor: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Certificate: 15
Release Date: 23 October 2017

Two soldiers are operating in the Middle East, but they are more interested in finding and selling antiquities. Sheltering from gunfire and an American airstrike they witness a section of ground give way to reveal a find beyond their wildest dreams. Surrounded by huge statues of Egyptian gods is a mercury pool, and submerged within is a wondrous sarcophagus. Once opened it releases Ahmanet, an Egyptian pharaoh’s daughter who, cheated of her legacy, turned to the dark service of Set – the Egyptian version of Satan or Death. Only a secret organisation based in London and run by the shadowy Doctor Jekyll can contain her. But Ahmanet is haunting Nick Morton’s mind, convincing him of his destiny. And talking of haunting, Nick’s friend and fellow soldier returns from the dead in the service of a prospective new dynasty...

The opening sequences are probably the best of the entire movie. We see an ancient Egypt in which Ahmanet is being seasoned to be the next pharaoh. But then her father spawns an illegitimate son. Enraged by the betrayal Ahmanet turns to Set and kills her father, the child and its mother. For her sins she is mummified alive and taken a great distance from their homeland to be buried surrounded in mercury, which keeps evil spirits at bay. We also see a large chamber unearthed in modern day London – by work on the Crossrail link – which houses the tombs of Knights Crusaders. Then Tom Cruise comes into it…

It isn’t him in particular, although I’ve never thought he makes a particularly convincing action hero. It’s the whole idea of the Hollywood mega-machine which often considers it more important to employ a big name than to actually cast with aforethought. This can lead to an annoying lead character. However, it’s a pleasant surprise to find that characterisation is, on the whole, pretty good, if somewhat predictable. If that sounds like a contradiction it’s because the film borrows from many sources and formats, but because it motors along at a cracking pace you don’t really notice the clichés until the end. In the same manner it means the attention isn’t constantly on the leading man (more often than not it’s on Ahmanet, as it should be), which puts Cruise in much more of a favourable acting light. Nick Morton is not just a cypher, he actually goes on a moral journey and is changed as a result – twice!

The Jenny Halsey character is pretty close to a cypher, though. Like the leading ladies in movies such as Indiana Jones and the Brendan Fraser Mummy, she seems to exist only to be the love interest for Morton and to persuade him to progress from his shallow former self. The secret organisation is much more interesting and could have been fleshed-out further but, when you think about it, borrows heavily from the Sanctuary TV series, as well as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Hellboy 2. Russell Crowe is incredibly understated, almost old-fashioned, in his role as Henry Jekyll. But it works, and makes you wonder where the character would have gone if extended beyond some simple set-pieces.

I’m happy to report that the special effects tastefully enhance the whole, as opposed to overshadowing them – as often happens. I’m sure a visit down the local pub would have garnered more original and thought-provoking titles than The Mummy. I can only think Alex Kurtzman wishes this version to be included in the timeless franchise which began with the Boris Karloff Universal Pictures classic from the 1930s. This hasn’t improved on the Karloff film, or the Christopher Lee Hammer gem from the 1950s; but it sure knocks the spots off the effects-driven nonsense Brendan Fraser films. So, a surprisingly entertaining film. That doesn’t mean a sequel would be a good idea!

A good collection of extras includes: Deleted and Extended Scenes; Rooted in Reality (Bringing the concept into the 21st Century); Life in Zero-G – Creating the Plane Crash; Meet Ahmanet; Cruise in Action; Becoming Jekyll and Hyde; Choreographed Chaos; Nick Morton – In Search of a Soul (Tom Cruise on his Role); Ahmanet Reborn Animated Graphic Novel; and Feature Commentary with Director/Producer Alex Kurtzman, and Cast Members Sofia Boutella (Ahmanet), Annabelle Wallis (Jenny Halsey) and Jake Johnson.


Ty Power

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