Mummies does exactly what its own villain does

Photo by: Charlie Martin

Rating: 1/5

Mummies can neither walk the walk, nor talk the talk like an Egyptian.

The movie takes place in an underground world of living mummies. Thut (Joe Thomas) is a retired charioteer who becomes engaged to Princess Nefer (Eleanor Tomlinson). When the ceremonial wedding ring is stolen by the archeologist Lord Sylvester Carnaby (Hugh Bonneville), they journey to the world of the living to retrieve it.

While the movie seems to be making a point about respecting cultural heritage by pitting the mummies against a grave-robbing Englishman, this point is heavily undermined by the mummies themselves. Every mummy has a British accent and white skin, despite explicitly referencing that they are Egyptian; if you removed Thut’s goatee, he’d look like an animated Tom Holland.

While ancient Egypt wasn’t completely devoid of people with white features, they hardly made up such a large percentage of the population. Making all of the mummies look and sound British removes the diversity that ancient Egyptian society had. Given this, it’s hard to take the movie’s message condemning the — largely British — pillaging of Egyptian artefacts seriously, making the constant evocation of ancient Egyptian aesthetics and poses seem patronizing.

I’d originally thought that this was partially a localization issue; Mummies was created by the Spanish media group Atresmedia Corporación de Medios de Comunicación, so I thought the English version may have been dubbed over. However, I then watched the Spanish trailer for Mummies and noticed that the characters’ lips weren’t synced nearly as well as they were to the English dialogue, so it seems this was the intended final product.

Part of the reason I was willing to believe this movie was dubbed was because of some odd pacing of the lines. Certain lines had zero pauses between them, almost giving the impression that characters were cutting each other off. It doesn’t happen often, but it definitely happened more than once in the first half of the movie.

As for the story, it’s serviceable. Thut and Nefer are forced to marry each other, and neither is particularly happy about it. It’s only when they venture into the human world that they learn to respect and care for each other. However, this change is sparked by fairly small actions, which seems odd considering the animosity between them initially. The shift ends up feeling a little lacking, and honestly the pair had better chemistry when they hated each other.

There was potential for a better connection between the two. Nefer feels she is never given any choices in her life and wants to be a singer despite her father’s disapproval. Meanwhile, Thut has given up chariot racing due to an accident during his last race which has shaken him. 

There’s this idea late in the movie about Nefer and Thut both needing to take the reins — figuratively and literally, respectively — but this has nothing to do with the way these two bond, which feels like a missed opportunity.

Ultimately, the most damning criticism I can give this movie has nothing to do with its whitewashing or mediocre story. When Thut and Nefer return to the land of the dead, they cannot admit their true feelings to each other and walk away. This scene is supposed to be sad, and yet for some reason the music playing in the background is “Far Away” by Nickelback.

I cannot describe how bizarre this was when it happened. It felt like those fan-made animated music videos that were popular in the early days of YouTube, except this was in the actual movie. Other movies have used pop songs in the past, most famously Shrek, yet the only other time Mummies does this is when it played “Like an Egyptian” while the mummies were shopping. To have the only other pop song not only in the background of the saddest scene in the movie, but also be a Nickelback song, is insane. I have no idea how this made it into the movie.

This is a fairly unremarkable children’s movie with several glaring flaws. Unless you know a small child obsessed with ancient Egypt, I’d recommend finding something else to watch.

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