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The Mummy: Rough and tumble escapist fare

Entertainment
If you’ve been locked inside a box for thousands of years, it’s understandable if it takes you a while to find your stride. That seems to be the case with The Mummy, which seems unsure of its footing before settling into the kind of action adventure vehicle Tom Cruise is known for.

Overblown as a desert sandstorm and teetering on the brink of cartoonish tomfoolery, it is nevertheless an enjoyable romp featuring a saucy angel of death, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the leftover legions of The Walking Dead. Oh, and it’s quite funny too. Where to begin?

Cruise is Nick Morton, a decorated soldier reduced to pilfering ancient relics with his partner-in-crime Vail (Johnson) and blaming it on ISIS.

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Sofia Boutella as the ancient Egyptian princess Ahmanet, who has designs on Nick Morton (Tom Cruise).Sofia Boutella as the ancient Egyptian princess Ahmanet, who has designs on Nick Morton (Tom Cruise).Sofia Boutella as the ancient Egyptian princess Ahmanet, who has designs on Nick Morton (Tom Cruise).Sofia Boutella as the ancient Egyptian princess Ahmanet, who has designs on Nick Morton (Tom Cruise).Sofia Boutella as the ancient Egyptian princess Ahmanet, who has designs on Nick Morton (Tom Cruise).

Seeking his next score in Mesopotamia, he unwittingly uncovers a pact with the devil, literally buried beneath the sands of time. With an eerie sarcophagus as their cargo, he, sassy archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Wallis) and Vail have just managed to escape a sandstorm when the latter turns into a zombie and a murder of crows takes down their plane.

Turns out their discovery is actually the ancient Egyptian princess Ahmanet (Boutella) who, in a jealous rage, made a pact with the God of Death and killed her family.

Just as she was about to consummate her deal with the devil, her lover was killed and she was buried alive in a mercury bath by outraged courtiers in the hope that her evil would never triumph. In stumbles Morton, ending their 5000-year winning streak, and Ahmanet is back to running the show, choosing Morton as the next incarnation of her lover and her ticket to immortality and rule.

She nearly pulls it off, but for the meddling of a secretive archaeological society led by the legendary Dr Jekyll (Crowe) and the conceit that for all his thieving, Morton is really a good guy at heart. So good, in fact, that he is able to stave off the effects of a powerful curse birthed by the gods and all for a blonde who claims he lasted just 15 seconds in the sack.

Itchy trigger-finger aside, Cruise stays the distance in The Mummy, creating a portal for an intriguing sequel and carrying the film squarely on his shoulders. He has aged better than his mummy nemesis, despite being at least as old, but despite the advancing years, Cruise handles his action sequences with aplomb.

There is something reassuring about seeing Cruise in the rough and tumble of escapist fare. Many find him weird, but seldom has an actor been so suited to the blockbuster.

I watched The Mummy in Nu Metro’s 4DX theatre, a kind of extra-sensory cinema experience that harnesses motion, sensation, smell and visual effects. It’s as if one is present in a living, breathing, cinema – the undulation of the seats in front of you certainly give that impression.

4DX claws back the disconnect between the viewer and the screen – water hits your face just as the character splashes down, the seats rattle as rats swarm, and a getaway chase through a forest is a very bumpy ride.

Once you begin to forget the seats are moving, that extra physical element makes the action more tangible.

For now, these effects are programmed into a ready-made film. But the ultimate aim is surely that directors will craft new movies to fully exploit this technology.

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