Every time I hear of a remake or reboot I tense, I lower my expectations but dare to raise my hope that with better technology and a bigger budget we might get something better than what we had. Sadly, this is rarely the case.
The Mummy was released in 2017 to little praise, the second attempt to reboot the Universal horrors after the lacklustre Dracula: Untold Story. Starring Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson and Russell Crowe it didn't deliver much. Weakened by trying to part of a universal tie-in with subplots around Russell Crowe's character of Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Edward Hyde, it came across as yet another vanilla, run of the mill Tom Cruise action film. The connections to Ancient Egypt were sparse and none of the characters could compare to those that had come before them in the earlier series of Mummy films.
Nick Morton was a typical action hero like all the ones Tom Cruise has played before him, he had no unique traits and no endearing qualities, what was vaguely interesting was the way he seemed to end up being the anti-hero, taking on the powers of Set at the end. He is no Richard 'Rick' O'Connell despite his best attempts to be the same loveable American rogue, a soldier with questionable morals who has the ire of his love interest before her garners her affections. Rick is a far more charming and memorable character than Nick. Interestingly, Tom Cruise was actually offered the role of Rick but turned it down.
Jennifer 'Jenny' Halsey is an archaeologist, not far off Evelyn 'Evie' Carnahan's Egyptologist. Jenny is also secretly working for Prodigium, a group of monster hunters, which she somehow makes seem terribly uninteresting and boring whilst Evie makes her role as a librarian seem fun and interesting. Both are a mixture of damsels and doers who almost die, Jenny is drowned and Evie is almost sacrificed as a vessel for Anck-Su-Namun. Evie is by far the more loveable character, she's quirky, funny and far from perfect, she doesn't try to tough it out with the men, she doesn't have to, she knows she can outsmart them.
The mummy Ahmanet had her entire backstory shown at the start of the film. Born to rule, she was denied her heritage when a son was born to her father. Blinded by power, she murdered her family and set about beginning to awaken Set the chaos god before she was subdued and buried alive. So heinous were her crimes she was taken from Egypt and buried Mesopotamia, modern day Iraq. Imhotep too had most of his story shown in the opening of the film, he sought love rather than power but when it drove him to murdering Pharaoh (just like Ahmanet) he too suffered the fate of being buried alive, of course he also had his organs removed and scarabs thrown in with him. Whilst Imhotep had a gorier death Ahmanet had one with a little intrigue and mystery, it was fascinating to imagine this Egyptian tomb so far from home. Imhotep is by far the greater of the two however, not only does he systematically hunt down those who took from his tomb to take their organs for his own but he brings The Ten Plagues with him and desires to sarcrifice leading lady Evie all so he can be reunited with his lost love Anck-Su-Namun. Ahmnet brings the power of the winds with her, just like Imhotep in The Mummy Returns, and the power of Set, which doesn't amount to much. She's easily restrained by the Prodigium and needs Nick to free her.
The comic relief comes in the form of Chris Vail, Nick's friend, he dies from a spider bite just to come back as an undead frenemy. He's under the control of Ahmanet but he can't really help it. It's an obvious plagiarism of other Universal flick An American Werewolf in London. Chris is beyond annoying, he's not funny and he's painful to watch on screen. Comic relief Jonathan Carnahan, Evie's brother, was by far the superior character. A thief with few morals and loyalty only to his siter, Jonathan somehow manages to charm the audience anyway, his cowardice produces great comic relief and it's entertaining to watch how he forgets his fears whenever treasure is involved. He's an easygoing character who can get along with most people and unlike Chris he's memorable.
The Mummy 2017 had potential, the secret tomb so far from Egypt was a nice hook and Ahmnet had a lot of potential. It's a pity she wasn't fleshed out more. As someone else suggested a film set in ancient Egyptian times watching her dark rise to power would have been far more interesting.
The Dark Universe link-up was unnecessary and having so little ties to Ancient Egypt made you disoriented, it just seemed like another modern day action film, it lacked horror and there was little attempt to link up to Egyptian culture or history. The plot with the ruby/dagger of Set was weak and since Set was so vaguely present it was a little difficult to care or ponder much about Nick's fate when he seemed to merge with the god. I'd give the movie points for recognising Set as the more villainous god in Egyptian mythology but honestly, this movie just sucked too much to deserve any credit.
The movie had potential, the dark tomb looked spectacular both the external and internal reveal. Ahmnet looked good as a mummy and an Egyptian princess and her backstory had merit. What little we saw of Ancient Egypt looked good, even if it did seem like a budget restraint to have her father, the Pharaoh, randomly situated in a tent in the middle of the desert. The pity is just how little it was, both The Mummy and The Mummy Returns seemed to offer us a lot more, even though the former only showed Ancient Egypt in the opening sequence as well. Perhaps it was simply better for keeping the action in Egypt itself and treating us to numerous shots of the pyramids, ancient tombs and treasure chambers. Whilst the film just showed us a desert with a glimpse at the pyramids.
The 1999 film remains far superior and my favourite version of The Mummy to date.