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The Mummy (2017)
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
4K UHD Released: 9/12/2017
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/4/2017
When we talk about the entertainment industry in California, we typically refer to it as "Hollywood", as if it were a single entity. And if we were to take that one step further and characterize Hollywood as a person, it would have to be a small child? Why? Because it is impulsive, demanding, has a short memory, and worst of all, can't leave well enough alone. It seems that whenever a character or franchise is doing just fine, impetuous Hollywood has to come along do something wacky like a reboot or remake. Despite the fact that we had not one but two perfectly good examples of The Mummy, Hollywood felt the need to bring us a new one. Given the quality of its predecessors, it would strive to be awesome, right?
Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) are in Iraq supposedly doing reconnaissance for the U.S. Army, when in fact, they are treasure hunters who are looting artifacts. Following a firefight with a group of locals, an airstrike opens a hole in the street, revealing a hidden tomb. Suddenly, archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), with whom Nick has had a recent twist, arrives at the site, and leads an investigation of the tomb. Once inside, she finds a sarcophagus surrounded by an elaborate device. In a cavalier move, Nick engages the device and the coffin is released. Itís placed on a transport plane, which barely beats a sandstorm in its takeoff. Once airborne, things on the aircraft go awry and it soon crashes. Nick and Jenny survive the crash, but the body within the sarcophagus, Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), has come to life and is marauding across the countryside of England. Itís now up to Nick and Jenny, in conjunction with a shadowy agency, to find the monster and stop her.
Throughout his long career, Tom Cruise has mainly stuck with action films and dramas, but his filmography does touch on nearly every genre. If you discount Interview with the Vampire, which is more of a historical drama, then The Mummy would be his first true foray into horror. The movie features corpses which come back to life, souls being sucked from bodies, and people turning into monsters -- certainly the making of a horror movie. But, parts of the movie feel more like a supernatural version of one of Cruiseís Mission: Impossible films, most notably the plane crash and the scenes in the sewer. Sure, weíve seen action-horror films before, but instead of blending the genres, The Mummy changes style from scene-to-scene, as if it canít decide what it wants to be.
But, thatís the least of this filmís problems. Six different writers are credited with having contributed to the story and screenplay and between them, the movie does present some interesting ideas. I liked the birds which were featured in the ceremony seen in the prologue, and the fact that Ahmanet has four irisí is certainly unique (although Iím not sure that I grasp the practicality of this). But, beyond that, what we get is a movie which feels as if itís attempting to pass along six different voices. As noted above, the tone shifts wildly in the film. This is coupled with many other story problems. There is no character development here. Nick, Chris, and Jenny just appear at the beginning of the movie, and other than some surface things, we learn nothing about them. The filmís shift from Iraq to England is an odd one, and the feel is very episodic, as the storyís focus changes from scene-to-scene. The first half of the film is somewhat straight-forward, but the second half is a mess, with each scene being more ludicrous than the last. (The underwater chase scene looks like a bizarre swim meet.) And then we have the finale. In short, the movie simply ends with little explanation as to what has happened, save for the fact that the story is very open-ended.
Clearly inspired by the success of comic book movie franchises, such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Mummy is the first entry into a new series from Universal, which has been dubbed ďDark UniverseĒ. But, if the quality of this movie is any indication, they may want to shut this down now. Putting aside the fact that a new version of The Mummy was completely unnecessary (the 1999 version still holds up today), this simply isnít a good movie. Itís misguided and oddly edited and Tom Cruise is completely out of his element here. Heís proven in the past that heís more of a personality than an actor, and many of his reactions here are simply wrong. The sets and some of the special effects tell us that this wasnít a cheap movie, but someone should have put more quality control into the script in order to ensure that the whole thing would make sense. A female mummy attempting to take over the modern world (at least, I think thatís what she was doing) is an intriguing jumping-off point for a movie, but The Mummy serves as a blueprint as to what not to do.
The Mummy reinforces the need for a movie to have an actual ending on 4K UHD courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 60 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, and the image is never overly dark or bright. As with many 4K releases, the daytime scenes look fantastic here, and the opening sequences in the desert display a crispness which looks as if we can step into it. The level of detail is good and the depth works well. The Disc carries a Dolby Atmos audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action sequences deliver impressive surround and stereo effects, which really highlight the mix. We get individual sounds from the rear speakers and the movement from front-to-back and side-to-side is smooth. The subwoofer effects provide deep, smooth bass.
The lone bonus feature on The Mummy 4K UHD is an AUDIO COMMENTARY with Director/Producer Alex Kurtzman, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, and Jake Johnson. The rest of the abundant extras are found on the accompanying Blu-ray Disc. The Disc contains four DELETED AND EXTENDED SCENES which run about 5 minutes. There are no new subplots here, but there are two wholly new scenes. "Cruise & Kurtzman: A Conversation" (21 minutes) opens by taking us to "Mummy Day" in Los Angeles. Was that really a thing? We then shift to an indoor locale where the "actor" and "director" talk about how their vision for the film came together, complete with concept art. "Rooted in Reality" (7 minutes) has the filmmakers discussing the look of the film and the focus in having the story take place in our world. "Life in Zero-G: Creating the Plane Crash" (8 minutes) takes us into the special airplane used to simulate a no gravity environment. (And we see some moments which seem to back up the rumors that Cruise actually directed the movie.) "Meet Ahmanet" (8 minutes) introduces us to Boutella and examines how the character was developed. "Cruise in Action" (6 minutes) looks at the stunts and action sequences, including the surprising moments when Cruise runs. "Becoming Jekyll and Hyde" (7 minutes) zeroes in on Russell Crowe's character and looks at how he fits into the story. "Choreographed Chaos" (7 minutes) takes us on location in London to show how some of the crowd scenes were shot. "Nick Morton: In Search of a Soul" (6 minutes) allows Cruise to talk about himself and what he wanted the character to be. What movie was that in? The final extra is "Ahmanet Reborn: Animated Graphic Novel".
Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long