The Mummy (2017) – Review

If we gave awards out for trailers, Logan would win an Oscar, The Mummy wouldn’t even get a Golden Raspberry. Those responsible would be on criminal charges. The misrepresentation has doomed the franchise launch of Universal’s Dark Universe before it had chance to gain traction.

As we’ve said before here, these days you need a shared universe. You’ll be forgiven for missing the fact that The Mummy is a way to bring the classic monsters of the golden age of cinema back to life. Had this been pressed in the build-up to the release, people wouldn’t have written this movie off as Tom Cruise trying to reboot an average Brendan Fraser flick.

It couldn’t be further removed from 1999’s The Mummy. And there’s no danger of the next Dwayne Johnson pitching up in a sequel as the Scorpion King.

Before writing this review, a consideration was given as to mention the “reveals.” Failure to talk candidly would make Simms View as guilty as the poor marketing team. So, no secrets to be held back. Like: Russell Crowe is in the movie playing Dr Jekyll and – yes! –  Mr Hyde.

Full props to Universal, too. In this age of everything needing to be bigger to the point of ridiculous, and CGI’d to within an inch of its life (but beyond all credibility), his Hyde is how the character initially was conceived. Strong but still a man. Not some beast or monster.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We get to Dr Jekyll ­– who happens to running a modern-day London facility that captures, contains and studies the paranormal, bizarre creations and the facts within ancient mythology – by way of his assistant.

She is tracking Tom Cruise, known as Nick Morton, an American soldier in Iraq. On the side he is looking for buried treasures to capture in the war torn country and sell on the black market. He has a trusty sidekick, Jake Johnson’s Corporal Chris Vail.

Together they happen across a buried pyramid, we already know to be the tomb of Princess Ahmanet, who killed her own father and attempted to bring the spirit of Death alive in human form. A living god was her idea.

Thousands of miles away from Egypt, disposed of in Persia, the idea was to keep her buried. Instead Jekyll’s assistant Jenny Halsey – annoyed that Cruise seduced her and then stole the map to the location – decrees the mummy of the hidden princess is be brought home to London.

Cue massive plane crash, one that kills Morton but he somehow finds himself alive afterwards. As for the Princesses, her body goes missing . . . then walkabout.

Morton is conflicted about his perceived role. He has become the Princess’s new chosen one but this means he’ll be killed during a ritual. After which, he’ll have powers of a deity but be something else altogether – potentially the thing that ends mankind.

There are obvious jokes to make here how Tom Cruise started a franchise to reaffirm his position as a box office god. As if being an actual one within Scientology wasn’t enough.

He holds the movie together though, and deserves to head the new Dark Universe.

Universal have managed to tap into the spirit of the classic monster movies and still modernise them. There is a casual humour throughout and some people in the cinema even jumped in parts. It ticked all the boxes set out before it.

Bad press, which led to less word-of-mouth, has doomed The Mummy at the box office but it should, over time, garner enough praise and interest to keep the larger concept of the Dark Universe alive.

Worth checking out…

7/10

Star Trek Beyond – Review

To boldly go where the Kelvin Universe (Geek-speak for the JJ rebooted universe) has never gone before . . . back to the old feel of Star Trek’s Original Series. That was the mission statement following Trekkies dislike of Star Trek Into Darkness. Were they right to moan? Has the movie pulled it off?

Well, they were a little out of order slating JJ Abrams for paying too much homage to the source material (ring any bells, Star Wars fans?). But to be fair, no film should tamper with The Wrath of Khan. Into Darkness doesn’t deserve the bad press, mind. With the latest movie, Simon Pegg stated they had heard the complaints, loud and clear, and had addressed them.

That can’t be argued with. Star Trek Beyond moves past any pretentiousness (not that I personally had a problem with any aspect of the rebooted universe) and feels very much like an updated episode of the Original Series. Even the bad guy, Krall (Idris Elba under a ton of prosthetics) has a base that could have been lifted from the sixties show.

That’s not to say it looked dated or old fashioned – it was nostalgic, in all the right ways. It understands the styling of the day, the attitudes, the simple approach to honest sci-fi.

It isn’t soft, either. In the opening battle scene, you realise the Enterprise crew are in serious peril. And you can’t see a way for them, their fear is felt in the cinema seat. It’s just the bright costumes, buddy-buddy atmosphere, and one-dimensional villains, are all so swinging sixties.

Teaming the crew off in mini-groups once they are abandoned, allows them to finally get the screen time required for character exploration.

The standout performers are Karl Urban as Bones and Zachary Quinto as Spock. The former has the voice of DeForest Kelley’s McCoy down to a tee. His grislily demeanour that is hiding a good heart comes through. Thankfully, this extended appearance should put to bed talk of him wanting to leave due to being under-utilised.

The new Spock receives word that Prime Spock, our beloved Leonard Nimoy, has passed away. Both on and off screen, it is a call to take on the mantle now. Honour the name and respect the man that came before.

Chris Pine plays James T. Kirk with a better mix of Shatner and his own take than he managed previous. There are signs he will fill the big shoes and do the role justice. Whereas Zoe Saldana, will go on to expand the part of Uhura in ways denied to the original actress, Nichelle Nichols.

Sofia Boutella, made a strong impression in a supporting role as a lonely survivor on the planet that aides the crew. It is possible she could return in future instalments. That would be a welcome addition to this version of Star Trek.

Ultimately, the last action scene aside, it relies on the crew rather than special effects to make its impact. Okay, Justin Lin does repeat that absurd, diving through the air, grab hands act, lifted straight from the saving Letty scene in Fast & Furious 6, but he shows there is more to him than cars. He is a Trekkie.

With that, we get classic Star Trek. Which means, while the curse of the odd-numbered films is avoided once again, it is wholesome fun but fails to leave a lasting impression.

It will be one of the best films of this summer . . . but you won’t remember it ten years from now.

7/10