Mummies (2023) Review

Last December, I had a great time watching Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, easily one of the best animated movies of 2022. But 2023 is off to a poor start in the animated-movie category and what we have here is a bargain-basement picture called Mummies. The kind that suits better for a straight-to-streaming release rather than something you would pay your hard-earned money enjoying in the cinema.

The story goes like this: Thut (voiced by Joe Thomas) is a popular chariot racer in the Ancient Egypt era, who ends up in an accident following a collision during the race. He has since lived his days signing autographs after developing a fear of speed after his last race.

The movie then introduces Nefer (Eleanor Tomlinson), a princess and daughter of Pharaoh (Sean Bean), who has been longing for freedom than restricting herself within the palace walls and obeying all the strict rules and traditions. When Pharaoh insisted to find Nefer a suitor for her upcoming marriage, she ends up with a “chosen husband”, which is coincidentally happened to be Thut. They already don’t see eye to eye with each other but both of them have no choice but to get married when the time comes.

A scene from "Mummies" (2023)

Until then, Thut is in charge of safeguarding Pharaoh’s wedding ring. As in the wedding ring that he can’t afford to lose or risk his eyes and tongue, well, you should know what will happen next.

As if the responsibility and the eventual commitment to marrying someone he doesn’t fond of aren’t enough, Thut soon discovers the ring that he hid safely has been stolen by the wealthy archaeologist Lord Carnaby (Hugh Bonneville) for his museum exhibition. With time running out and before Pharaoh finds out he has lost the priceless ring, he quickly embarks on a journey alongside his younger brother, Sekhem (Jaume Solà) and their pet baby crocodile to retrieve it. And that means entering the human world above since they have been living secretly in the hidden underground city.

The journey brought them to modern-day London, where Thut reluctantly teams up with Nefer. What follows next is a series of (mis)adventures for the titular mummies including encountering a music producer, Ed (British singer Shakka), who wants to groom Nefer as the next big pop star and of course, Lord Carnaby and his underlings (Dan Starkey’s Danny and Dennys).

Sean Bean voiced Pharaoh in "Mummies" (2023)

First-time director Juan Jesús García Galocha alongside screenwriters Javier Barreira and Jordi Gasull piled up familiar cliché after cliché throughout its scant 88-minute runtime. I’m glad the movie doesn’t run any longer, especially given the sheer banality of its uninspired plot. Joe Thomas and Eleanor Tomlinson have their few moments voicing the mismatched couple as Thut and Nefer while the action sequences, namely the opening chariot-race set piece are fairly entertaining. The overall animation isn’t the mind-blowing kind but decent enough for its colourful visuals.

Too bad Mummies suffers greatly not just from the aforementioned storyline but also most of the jokes, which feel like they are trying hard to be funny. Despite enlisting Hugh Bonneville of TV’s Downton Abbey fame, his supporting role as Lord Carnaby is pretty much your average villain typically seen in most animated movies. The less said about Dan Starkey’s Danny and Dennys the better as their appearances rhymed with words like “annoying” and “irritating”.

Then, there’s the soundtrack. I’m fine with the movie needle-dropping The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” (well, it fits nicely with the theme after all). But a particular scene involving Thut and Nefer that has a certain Nickelback song playing in the background feels like one of those embarrassing and awkward moments, where you can’t help but squirm in your cinema seat while having that “what the heck am I just hearing?” silent scream in your head. It even gives me that Ryan Reynolds’ “But Why?” meme vibe from 2004’s Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.