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The Mummy with Tom Cruise, pure hokum; try Megan Leavey or Churchill instead

Or maybe It Comes at Night or My Cousin Rachel. They have their supporters.

I’ve written before about classic Canadian movies you can see free this year of our country’s 150th birthday. The next opportunity is this coming Wednesday, June 14 when The Cinematheque presents an early film by Adam Egoyan, Calendar, and a multi-award winning short from just four years ago, Noah. Apparently it perfectly depicts life and love in the digital age.

But also notice July 1. That’s the start of a whole week of free Canadian movies there. Some of our biggest and most honored titles will be shown ranging from Mon Oncle Antoine to Mommy

These are new (and not free) this week:

The Mummy:  1 ½ stars

Megan Leavey:  3 ½

Churchill:  3

It Comes at Night:  2 ½

My Cousin Rachel: 2 ½

THE MUMMY: Universal Pictures, apparently out of new ideas, is going into the vaults for some old ones. They’re reviving their old movie monsters into what they call the “Dark Universe.”  Judging by this first outing, they should give up now. This one is a mess. It draws on neither of its two Mummy eras, the creepy films from the 1930s or the colorful fun of the 1980s remakes, but has found a dull and illogical middle ground. The result is disheartening because it has a promising start before creaking to a hyper but uninteresting decline.

A subway project in London, opens up a chamber of statues and mummies. Russell Crowe strides in and explains it all dates back to ancient Egypt where a pharaoh’s daughter was denied the throne, killed him and a child and was mummified alive. Tom Cruise finds her sarcophagus in another huge pit, this one in Iraq. (Almost 1,500 kilometres from Egypt). He’s an American soldier and, along with a friend, a looter of antiquities. When some ISIS-like insurgents get too close, they call in a US airstrike which, as a side effect, opens up that pit. That’s a story problem in itself. There are many more.

When they take the burial pod to London, the mummy (Sofia Boutella) wakes up mighty angry but latches on to Cruise as her saviour. She wants to stab him dead with a mystery dagger. Oddly, Crowe as a researcher of evil forces, likes that idea. But then he’s Dr. Jeckyll and takes meds to keep his Mr. Hyde under control. Bizarre stuff. The action and special effects are good; there are rats and zombies and a great scenery-chewing blow-out from Crowe. It’s the common sense that’s missing. (5th Avenue, Scotiabank, Marine Gateway and many suburban theatres) 1 ½ out of 5

MEGAN LEAVEY: We’ve had so many boy and his dog movies over the years, it’s refreshing to get this variation. This one is with an adult and with a woman at that. The central storyline is the same though: the close bonding between a human and a pet, slowly developed and then severely tested. Dog enthusiasts are bound to love how this film presents that familiar story in a novel setting, the military. Some of it takes place in a war zone but don’t imagine this is a war film. It’s about an aimless young woman who finds herself as she connects with and tames an aggressive animal.

 

It’s a true story. Kate Mara plays Leavey who joined the Marine Corps in California, apparently with nothing better to do. She was assigned to the dog kennels but initially not allowed to be a trainer, because she’s a woman. She befriends a particularly snarly dog named Rex and, when he bites another soldier, becomes his handler. They’re sent to Iraq (and later Afghanistan) to sniff out bombs at the roadside and in one scene hidden in a man’s house. After Rex saves her life in a firefight that followed one explosion, they’re back in the US suffering from post traumatic stress.  She wants to adopt him but rules and a veterinarian’s diagnosis forbid that. The rest of the movie shows this new fight she takes on. Mara shines in the role. She’s vulnerable but also tough, like the reporter she used to play on House of Cards. A few scenes feel unsure or rushed but a love for animals is strong and evident. The director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, made the powerful documentary, Blackfish, about the notorious whale, Tillicum, formerly of Victoria. (International Village and a few suburban theatres) 3 ½ out of 5

More in New Movies

Poverty tales in The Florida Project, musings on death in Lucky and a celebration of learning in Ex Libris

Also films about big-wave surfing, fighting forest fires, creating Winnie the Pooh, querying van Gogh’s death and hunting a killer in Norway

Deep Throat vs Nixon, Jackie Chan vs the IRA and Olivia Cooke super in a serial killer tale from Victorian times

Also a suspense-cum-horror movie entertains by copying Groundhog Day

Borg vs McEnroe, one of two real-life male contests in today’s VIFF picks

The other shows Engels prodding Marx to get more revolutionary. Plus, ratings of two other films.
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