"..and the scroll of Thoth revealed even more predictions. While the anger of the fans was kindled at the Brendan Frasier series of MUMMY films for being more summer CGI pulp than a faithful recreation of the original Boris Karloff film, the series was ultimately allowed to run its unoffending course in peace... especially after they got a load of VAN HELSING.
"But lo! It was revealed that the moneychangers at Universal Pictures would again avail themselves of their copyright to the MUMMY brand... only this time they intended to use it as the starting point for... a new world of gods and monsters. This misappropriation of a famous quote from BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN was no accident... they had every intention of getting to the Bride eventually, because "The Mummy" (in whatever guise he or she would take) would only be the cornerstone in a Dark Universe that would give us new versions of all of the Universal Classic Monsters... along with a new super-agency known as "Prodigium" to take them on. Yes. Like Marvel. But with Tom Cruise instead of Brendan Fraser leading the way.
"And the wrath of the fans was kindled anew in a fashion that made their reception of the Fraser film resemble an epic love poem. They so loathed the as-yet-unreleased film that many of them even made up their minds that they would never so much as WATCH it, such was their hatred for the offending entertainment. And lo, they rejoiced as the object of their hatred duly 'underperformed' at the box office. Yet the Dark Universe would roll on all the same."
Aw, come on, folks. Of course I saw it. That's what I do. Some of them work, some of them don't, but the day I can't savor the mere anticipation of and enthusiasm for another visit with my classic monster friends (in whatever guise) is the day I should just pack it in.
Sure enough, the latest MUMMY is a wacky jumble intended to jump-start a franchise and making liberal use of anything it can get its hands on along the way. As the womanizing, thieving Nick Morton, Tom Cruise distinctly lacks the effortless appeal and likability that Brendan Fraser used to endear himself even to plenty of cynical viewers... but then again, by the time the film's over one realizes there's actually a pretty good reason for that. His buddy Vail (Jake Johnson) is killed in the early going (scavenging Mesopotamian treasures in modern Iraq, stumbling into the forbidden tomb, etc.) but shows up in decomposing form to hack around with Nick and convince him that he's picked up a curse. Except Nick forgets to call him "meatloaf."
There's a resentful female co-adventurer (Annabelle Wallis) along for the ride (see above reference to womanizing and thieving), but our new Mummy (Sofia Boutella as Ahmanet) will prove even more difficult to shake... see, in a reversal of the traditional Mummy lore, she sees the male lead as the reincarnation of HER frustrated intended... well, not exactly in the romantic sense, but there's definitely some long-delayed chemistry here. And she and her minions start going LIFEFORCE on plenty of innocent bystanders. Well, PG-13 type LIFEFORCE.
And that's about when Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe) takes over the narrative and hustles everybody into the secret Prodigium headquarters. And just like the Amazons of WONDER WOMAN, he's convinced that "evil" is a physical presence that can be somehow controlled and eradicated. Ask Peter Cushing how that worked out for him in THE CREEPING FLESH. Still, he ought to know... he's in charge of this zoo even though he's got to keep graphically shooting up to keep his personal "evil" (guess who) at bay. And while he says he knows how to deal with this whole mummy/possession business, his methods don't meet with the liking of the protagonists.
Yes! It's a mess! It's a glorious mess! But much as I acknowledged with SUICIDE SQUAD before it? The fact that it was a mess did NOT prevent me from being entertained. I forgot to be bored, let alone outraged. Meanwhile, Boutella kicks tail as Ahmanet and her (surprisingly grisly, especially for such pop entertainment) origin flashback is worthy of the Universal concept alone (and yes, it offers a perfectly good reason for her to be in Iraq instead of Egypt). Last but not least, there are any number of visually attractive and exciting set-pieces to enjoy along the way (I particularly liked the flooded tombs of the Crusaders).
Sorry. I didn't hate it like I was supposed to. If that means I have to turn in my credibility card, help yourself. I've got more. And I got my money's worth.
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