The Mummy (Cinema Review)

15 – 110mins – 2017 – 3D


 

ANTIQUITY’S DARKEST SECRET

After Marvel and DC looted the shared universe tomb and ran away with the box office treasure, original pioneers Universal have resurrected their classic Monster movies from the 1930s in a rebooted series known collectively as the Dark Universe, of which bandage-wrapped walking corpse The Mummy – in its third studio incarnation and gallizionth on-screen appearance – is the introductory instalment.

… Keep Scuttling!

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The Mummy (Blu-ray Review)

15 – 74mins – 1932 – B&W


 

LOVE NEVER DIES

“Death! Eternal punishment for anyone who opens this casket, in the name of Amon-Ra, King of the Gods”

Directed by Karl Freund, Dracula’s cinematographer (and, if rumours are to be believed, the unofficial director of that picture, too, following Tod Browning’s disorganisation), Boris “Karloff the Uncanny” once more underwent hours in the make-up chair for his second iconic Universal Monster role, this time as mummified Egyptian High Priest Imhotep, who was buried alive 3,700 years ago for attempting to resurrect his forbidden lover.

Returned to life by ignorant archaeologist’s assistant Bramwell Fletcher’s reading of the ancient Scroll of Thoth, Imhotep escapes his tomb to trawl 1930s Cairo under the guise of the deep-eyed and hypnotic “Ardeth Bey”, searching the streets for the reincarnation of Ankh-es-en-amon (Zita Johann).

It’s a classic ‘love conquers all’ story that has been well-mined in the decades since, not only by Stephen Sommer’s popular CGI-laden 1999-2008 remake trilogy, but also in Francis Ford Coppolla’s extravagant Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), which used the same romantic trope to add emotional ballast to the vampire’s immortal bloodlust.

With some truly impressive Egyptian sets and transformation effects, the inclusion of a(n admittedly sparse) musical score, a more dynamic narrative structure incorporating a prologue set 10 years earlier and a fog-shrouded pool to bring in flashbacks to Ancient Egypt, The Mummy feels like a distinct progression beyond its kindred studio predecessors and towards a more modern form of moviemaking, despite coming just a year after both Dracula and Frankenstein.

It does, however, once more fall foul of an all-too-sudden climax, but the appearance of some brief end credits headed by the words “A good cast is worth repeating…” ensured I finished my first time viewing of this iconic genre classic with a broad smile across my chops.

CR@B Verdict: 4 stars

The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power (Blu-Ray Review)

Scorpion King 415 – 105mins – 2014

Victor Webster once again straps on his sandals to play the pec-flexing legendary Akkadian warrior of the title in this Dwayne Johnson-less sequel-of-a-sequel-of-a-prequel-of-a-spin-off-of-a-sequel-of-a-remake of Universal’s classic reanimated corpse horror icon (got it?).

Now an under-the-radar DTV series, The Scorpion King has quietly clocked up more films than the Brendan Fraser-starring trilogy which spawned it. The Mummy (1999) and …Returns (2001) director Stephen Sommers is still keeping his eye on proceedings, however, albeit only as Executive Producer, and his lighter, family-friendly fingerprint still remains as battles and banter far-outweigh any sense of gritty drama or horror.

Unfortunately, light – both figuratively and literally – is one of Quest for Power‘s biggest failings. The (comparatively) respectable props, costumes, sets and locations are all lit far too brightly, over-saturating the already colourful ambience and highlighting any obvious uses of CGI. Coupled with a tendency towards goofy humour and quips, you are left with a highly false and anachronistic diagetic universe which really doesn’t feel like it warrants a “15” certificate.

SK4 is not entirely void of charm, but it’s disappointing when the creativity and scope to deliver an ambitious and exciting fantasy adventure is evident – mechanical dragons, venomous spiders, underground lairs and kinetic fight scenes abound. But the apparent prevalence towards crafting a cracking yarn means this fourth chapter will be best remembered for copious stunt casting (Michael Biehn, Rutgar Hauer, Lou Ferrigno and a handful of UFC fighters all show up for all of a scene apiece) and a potty inventor being catapulted into a barn. While wearing a chicken suit.

Told you it didn’t feel like a typical “15″.

CR@B Verdict: 2 stars