The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a lot to answer for. Not by inundating us with superhero after superhero, although that is starting to show signs of fatigue, but by introducing the concept of the multiverse to the masses.
The idea that identical planets/spaces could have a similar set up as our own, but with significant changes, is certainly one of interest.
It’s the kind of notion that can give other studios ideas, as it has done here, with this latest animation from Warner Bros.
Beneath our own world, deep within the planet, is a world that time forget. But it isn’t populated with dinosaurs. It is the afterworld, where a civilisation of mummies exist. That’s right, mummies. No longer confined to tombs for eternity, their civilisation of eternal mummies flourishes underground, led by the Pharaoh (Sean Bean).
Right now he wants his daughter Nefer (Eleanor Tomlinson), to find a husband, but she can’t just meet someone in a bar; there’s a tradition of a magical phoenix flying through the city and discovering her hubby-to-be. But when they let it loose, it gets hit and starts to dive, which everyone mistakes for it finding the one.
It finds Thut (Joe Thomas), a retired chariot race rider going through a few things. Before he knows it, he’s in the royal palace being introduced to his bride-to-be. Neither are exactly thrilled by the prospect but have very little choice.
He is given the responsibility of looking after the ring, so decides to keep it somewhere very safe. Turns out, not that safe. As Lord Carnaby (Hugh Bonneville), from the surface world, has managed to penetrate the afterworld, and manages to steal the precious ring.
When Thut discovers it’s missing, there’s only one thing he can do, and that’s journey to the surface world and get it back.
Although this is produced by Warner Bros. Who let’s face it, know a thing or two about animation what with being the home of Bugs bunny etc for all these years, this has been made by a Spanish animation studio. Which explains a lot.
It’s undeniably pretty, and extremely colourful, but you do get the impression that perhaps the studio isn’t in the same league as say, Pixar. But to be fair, very few are. The tell tale signs are with many of the exterior shots, where you might only see a handful of people or vehicles. This isn’t an issue in the afterworld, but it is noticeable when the action moves to London, where, according to this film, less than twenty people in total live, driving five cars between them. So there’s definitely a loss in scale.
The script isn’t quite in the same league either. What makes things slightly worse is that the film was obviously produced with a Spanish speaking audience in mind. So when it comes to the English language version, the film comes across as somewhat basic and flat. The two leads in Inbetweener Thomas and Tomlinson do their best however in delivering a warm and entertaining relationship, but you can tell they have to work hard with the presumably translated script they’re working from.
The story is a little confusing in places too, With Thut suffering from some mental anguish towards his professional abilities as a chariot rider, the root of which never seemingly comes to light. Perhaps something else that is lost in translation.
And then you have the idea of a world of mummies existing below our own, which is never really explained, and makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Yes it’s an animated feature, which gives you a certain amount of leeway, but a major story plot like that still needs some explaining.
It’s also disappointing that the film has to resort to using The Bangles track – you know the one – a couple of times, which just lacks imagination and is all a bit first thought stuff.
It’s a shame because you get the impression that a good idea was just below the sandy surface, which if found, wouldn’t leave the delightful animation having to do as much of the heavy lifting as it does.
Mummies is pretty enough visually, and will no doubt entertain a younger audience, but unlike the civilisation itself, it just isn’t that sophisticated.