Hey there all you wrapping fans. I saw the MUMMY tonight and.....
Some of you are going to LOVE this movie. Some of you are going to HATE this movie. And me..... Well, I’m somewhere in the middle.
There is an awful lot to like in the movie, but ya know... I wanted it to be so much more. Whatever I say in the review, don’t let it deter you from checking what really amounts to some stunning visual effects, beautiful shots and a real popcorny sort of film.
I’ve had my finger on this film for a very very long time, and was quite taken aback by my dissatisfaction with the movie. I mean.... I liked the script. When I went to the sets, I enjoyed them. When I saw almost all the dailies when I was there... I liked them... But tonight... well... it just didn’t come together for me.
Instead, I’m left with a smile as I shake my head from side to side. It’s one of those for me.
I love Mummy movies. I’ve seen.... well... quite frankly... all of them. My favorite being the Karloff and Christopher Lee versions, followed by the Louisiana swamp one. My favorite Mummy anything was an awesome episode of AMAZING STORIES called MUMMY DADDY which really really was a funny take on the mummy genre.
In a lot of ways.... I think some of what is wrong with this movie reminds me of some of the problems with GODZILLA. First... Noone is taking what is happening seriously. Second... Faster and athletic mummies are not necessarily better mummies. Third... The cumulative effect of all the tongue and cheek stuff left the audience unafraid.
Let’s take a look at the first and third points to begin with. You see, for me, I had no problems with... the jokey start of the ‘1930s’ beginning, but as soon as... well, the Mummy starts walking around.... there should’ve been a major tonal shift. You know. Everything in life is fun and games until you are looking face to face with a 3000 year old unstoppable Mummy that wants your tongue, his eyes, and that schlong. Instead of cracking jokes, you shut your mouth, guard your eyes, tuck your tail and run.
The problem is... by having the characters so goofy all the time, you are left with no feeling of doom. The feeling that all of this doesn’t really mean anything. There are no real ominous shots. The movie doesn’t place FEAR into you. The old adage that Mummies aren’t scary cause you can out run them was basically true, but the key point has always been.... They’ll take as long as it takes to ‘get their job done.’ That was creepy. That no matter how far you went, how hard you tried to hide... Ultimately... it was going to get you.
I mean... this is what Michael Myers is. The whole slow walking killer is based on THE MUMMY and FRANKENSTEIN. And you know... I just wanted the characters to really be hit by the reality of the situations they found themselves to be in. You can laugh before and after... but not while... you know.
For me, because I didn’t see this ‘fear’ in the actors’ faces. Well... because of that, I didn’t see the mummy across from them. I never believed it was there because the actors’ eyes never really convinced me. Sure... ILM can place a reflection of the creature in the iris of the actor looking at the mummy. BUT ILM can’t place fear in their eyes. Watch that trailer for THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.... That’s fear. Look at Marion’s face when she’s face to face with the cobra. Watch Harrison’s face as Mola Ram tries to take his heart from his chest. That’s called fear. Fear of having your organs removed without your permission.
For me, I see the beautiful effects, my jaw drops when I see them. BUT I’m not afraid. The film has tons of what I call.... ‘Cheap scares’ You know... Something reaches out of the darkness. Something coming up quickly from off camera. That sort of thing. But... a quick jump scare isn’t what you want to do. You want to pull an Exorcist on their ass. You want these people left going.... DAMN, that ain’t real is it? Sheeshus that stuff’s friggin spooky!
In this film, the characters are startled, not scared. One of the reasons for this was the lack of atmosphere both visually and musically. Remember John Williams’ music as the ark is being opened in Raiders? Remember the music in THE HAUNTING?
But comparing this film to horror films is completely WRONG. It is not and never pretends to be a horror film. In fact, rather, it is an adventure fantasy film which firmly plants it into the Ray Harryhausen, George Pal and ‘Indiana Jones’ arena. Especially focusing on Harryhausen.
Now Harryhausen’s films never really had the greatest actors or directors in the world... but ya know what? The scores were un-friggin-believably cool. While watching the mummies and Brendan going at it, I was dying to hear Herrmann or Rosza music playing. Instead there was this.... seemingly happy jovial tune that didn’t work at all for me in the context of the film. God... to think what Elfman could’ve done with this material scares me. There was even a part of me that kinda wanted Gabriel Yared in there scoring. But.... alas... twas not to be.
Goldsmith’s happy music just didn’t do it for me.
You know... the sad thing for me wasn’t the actors. To tell the truth I fully believe that these exact same actors could have delivered this film in a different tone and it would’ve blown me away.
But you see. For me, they difuse every intimate scene with humor, refusing to allow anything serious to develop. Rachel Wiesz’ character can’t just have a serious heart to heart when Brendan’s trying to figure out exactly who she is.... Ah no. You see she has to be drunk, thereby making her character goofy. WHY? What purpose does that serve? I hate that.
I think there are hints of fire between these two, but just as I think I see a spark, a Harpo or a Chico appears to honk a horn and grab an ass.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I want someone to make a horror film at this scale, but for real. Not some hybrid flick. But... It seems at least with the current mob at Universal, they aren’t in the Horror film arena, they’re in the Theme Park arena. This movie cries out to be a ‘ride’.
The sad thing is, Universal doesn’t see the serious horror projects as viable films. They believe that they just won’t make money. Never mind the history of their own films. Never mind THE EXORCIST or even ROSEMARY’S BABY.
The real Horror projects floating around out there are being scanned over in favor of goofy so-called horror films like THE MUMMY and IDLE HANDS. God, I hope THE HAUNTING is a real horror film. I hope that Artisan delivers the marketing dead on for THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and it becomes one of those ‘miracle’ indie films. I wish they’d greenlight projects like Stuart Gordon’s SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH or Guillermo Del Toro’s MEPHISTO’S BRIDGE or HELLBOY, but the middle management ridden Universal isn’t in the ‘executive decision’ mode right now.
Ya know.... I think I’m gonna get together with some friends, get a little tipsy and... see this at an early matinee with nearly nobody there. My audience was laughing way too much I think and as a result, it was harder to take any of it seriously.
The film is.... OK, it’s fun, it’s entertaining... But it isn’t Great. I wanted a Great film.
Here’s a note though... the younger audience members seemed to have a blast at the movie. They were screaming and horse laughing throughout the film. And it didn’t help this movie.