Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: The Mummy

“The Resurrected” and “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” are also new to Blu-Ray this week.

“The Mummy” starts off as an action/adventure movie and ends as an action/adventure movie. There are horror elements incorporated along the way, and a healthy dose of comedy is added to keep this “Dark Universe” (Universal’s monster movie franchise) entry from becoming too drab. But does it work?

Given the critical drubbing “The Mummy” took after it was released three months ago, it can easily look like it doesn’t. I, however, thoroughly enjoyed it. Given that the critical condemnation was accompanied by low box office receipts, the odds are you didn’t see it. Now that it is out on Blu-Ray, give it a chance and see for yourself.

Tom Cruise stars and does what he does best: He gesticulates wildly, runs as fast as he can, and performs stunts that would put men half his age in a back brace. I always enjoy watching Mr. Cruise at work doing his thing, and in this movie he does not disappoint. It also helps that the stunt coordination and visual effects are some of the best I’ve seen on screen this year, including the truly frightening last moments of a plane crash as the ground rapidly gets closer and closer.

In “The Mummy,” Cruise plays Army Sergeant Nick Morton. He’s supposed to be on a long range reconnaissance mission with his faithful companion Chris (Jake Johnson), but instead they’re 100 miles away from where they should be and are looking for treasure. The movie cheekily—yet sadly and truly—points out that the two are in Mesopotamia, the Cradle of Civilization. We then see bullets tear into an ancient statue and we’re informed that what was once known as Mesopotamia is now called Iraq.

Finding themselves in over their heads and surrounded by Insurgents who want to shoot them, Chris calls in an air strike. The missile from the strike opens up a large sinkhole. There, in the sinkhole, is an ancient Egyptian tomb. As archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), who arrives on the scene shortly after, points out, it is odd that an ancient Egyptian tomb is discovered in the Persian Gulf, about a thousand miles away.

We learn in flashback that the tomb belongs to Egyptian princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). We also learn why she is buried so far away, deep in a tomb surrounded by mercury, which the Egyptians believed kept evil spirits away, and erased from their history. She did some terrible things while she was alive, and was cruelly and mercilessly punished for those deeds. There is a bit of sympathy one can have toward her because as a princess who looked forward to ruling Egypt one day, she did get a raw deal. But her situation in no way, shape, or form, justified her incredibly over the top and downright evil retaliation. Ahmanet is a nasty villain, to be sure.

If “The Mummy” has a major flaw, it’s that the rules of the game aren’t explained all that well. There is an element of “It works for the story, so let’s just do it” kind of writing. I get that too much exposition slows the pacing down, so I don’t want that. I would, however, like to know more about the curses at play and what powers Ahmanet does and does not have. Plus the whole thing with Chris, the spider bite, and the aftermath from that is a true head scratcher. The Chris/Nick friendship turns into something out of “An American Werewolf in London.” However, whereas that movie explains what is happening and why, we get no such luxury from “The Mummy.” Just a few lines of dialogue in about a minute of screen time would have cleared things up, and it’s a shame we’re not invited in to the “Dark Universe” a bit more by learning a few more details about it.

While “The Mummy” may be lacking in the story department, the overall plot holds up, if only to get us from action set piece to action set piece. The movie is chock full of exhilarating, suspenseful moments, good humor, and chilling horror. There are times when these elements combine, like when Nick is chased by a group of Ahmanet’s undead minions while swimming under water. Ahmanet herself is a terrifying force to be reckoned with, and in my opinion, deserving of the title character in “The Mummy.” Buy it on Amazon: The Mummy (2017) [Blu-ray].

Also New This Week

The Resurrected

“The Resurrected” is a hidden gem of a horror movie from 1991 that was previously released under the title “Shatterbrain.” The problem with that title is that it makes the movie sound cheap and schlocky, which it is not. “The Resurrected” is a much better title that speaks to the polished finish on Dan O’Bannon’s last credit as a director. His only other two director credits are a short film from 1969 and the classic 1985 zombie horror-comedy “The Return of the Living Dead.”

The movie is based on a story by iconic horror writer H.P. Lovecraft called "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward." Chris Sarandon plays Ward, a mad scientist who locks himself away to conduct mysterious experiments. His wife Claire (Jane Sibbett) hires private detective John March (John Terry) to investigate. This leads March, who in classic detective movie style narrates in flashback as events unfold, to uncover the sinister, macabre truth behind what Ward is doing.

“The Resurrected” is a great blend of detective story and horror movie, with elements of the supernatural added to the mix and topped off with a bit of Hitchcockian flair. The story unfolds at a brisk pace, with some perfectly timed revelations along the way and a good twist at the end. Some of the story elements drop off for no reason, like the sub-story about wild dogs that goes nowhere, but the movie is engaging enough where that doesn’t matter.

The only real disappointment is the overly-simplified and rushed ending. I like to think that a better, more character-oriented ending was planned but O’Bannon et al. ran out of money or time, so they had to settle for something quick and pat to wrap things up. Ending aside, and with Halloween fast approaching, this is a great one to add to your list for scary movie season. Rent it.

More New Releases: “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie,” animated adaptation of the popular children’s books about two grade schoolers and their hypnotized, tighty-whitey wearing principal who they make believe is a super hero, featuring the voice talents of Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, Thomas Middleditch, Nick Kroll, Jordan Peele, and Kristen Schaal.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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