A concept which could have ignited the imagination in the way that fantasy animation should is instead skewered by a dizzyingly uneven plot, uninspired animation and half-baked performances from its star-studded cast, all of whom are presumably hiding in a dark room until the film is safely forgotten in the Warner Bros vault.
The film seeks to be an adventure that banks on the titillating collision between Ancient Egypt and modern-day London, with Hugh Bonneville’s villainous (and apparently matricidal, the film unwelcomely references Hitchcock’s Psycho in a maddeningly lazy ploy to keep the grownups entertained) Lord Sylvester Carnaby stumbling upon a portal to the Ancient Egyptian afterlife. Carnaby’s accidentally monumental archaeological discovery embroils the retired chariot racer, Thut (Joe Thomas), and his arranged fiancé, the Pharaoh’s daughter, Nefer (Eleonor Tomlinson), in a dangerous journey which transverses the two realms of the film’s universe. Tagging along for the ride is Thut’s irritating kid brother and admittedly cutely animated pet croc.
In London, Nefer inexplicably becomes a pop sensation with the help of producer, Ed (voiced by Shakka), while she and Thut adapt to the throes of modern western society with miraculous ease, their unfamiliarity with social media and modern theatre the primary hurdles in the way of their full assimilation. The increasing preposterousness of the film combines in these head-scratching moments with the dull, stilted aesthetic of its animation to invoke something of a bizarre fever dream.
In case its audience wasn’t sufficiently dejected by the illogical amalgamation of ideas and set pieces, which appear patched together from long discarded prototypes, the film has a grand total of two endings; a mechanical, algorithmic chase scene involving a double-decker bus in London, and a mechanical, algorithmic chariot chase scene in the Egyptian desert. You know, for the sake of thematic and dramatic balance.
Mummies is ultimately an Egyptological dud made harsher by the potential of its central conceit, and the quality of the past year’s animated output.
Mummies is released nationwide on 31st March 2023.
Watch the trailer for Mummies here: