I felt so bad about the new Mummy movie I had to tell you about it.

For the record, The Mummy (1999) and its sequel, The Mummy Returns (2001) are two of my absolute favorite movies of all time. I even love the Scorpion King, guys. The Scorpion King. These movies were the perfect combination of flash, flair and funny.

To be fair, part of it was because I really wanted to be a sexy librarian, and explore pyramids, and be the reincarnation of an Egyptian princess. Another part of the appeal was that it strongly mirrored adventure novels that I was into at the time.

So I was really excited about the new Mummy. I didn’t even feel bad that Tom Cruise was in it, cause Tom Cruise (and a savvy production team) gave me Edge of Tomorrow.

I was so wrong.

Basic plot: I brought a monster back to life despite explicit warnings not to (I mean, Ahmanet’s tomb is covered in liquid poison. I learn nothing, and nothing happens to me as a character. That’s the plot.

Blatant Cashgrabs Ruin Everything

I’m simplistic when it comes to movies. I am perfect popcorn movie audience. Give me good dialogue, some shiny choreography and I’m pretty happy. Like I loved King Arthur. I LOVED IT. I’m not even ashamed to say it, and 10/10 would watch again.

The weird thing is the movie starts out okay. I was thrown off by Russell Crowe’s sudden appearance but who wasn’t, and the beginning was reminiscent of the 1999 Mummy’s hammy opening, I was hooked.

Then they shoehorned the cashgrab in — the Dark Universe. The movie suddenly drops off, and you’re sitting in your seat thinking, “What? Wait.”

If you remove the “Dark Universe” set up, you will probably be left with five minutes of the movie.  Seriously.

Sobrang badtrip lang (It’s such a bad trip) when studios decide to focus on the bigger story arc (the upcoming Dark Universe trilogy) than on making a good movie. I don’t know why studios don’t see that this usually doesn’t work. They don’t even reference Dracula Untold because it’s non-canon now. Why would you throw away Luke Evans like that? At least that movie had some semblance of a plot, and was enjoyable. And no, even I didn’t like I, Frankenstein.

Honestly, if you watched the trailer you probably have seen the best scene in the movie already: the plane crash.

 

 

Also, sometime in the middle of the movie there’s a scene with throwaway camel spiders that harks back to the beloved scarab scenes from The Mummy. Or it kind of harks back to it. Those scarabs were NASTY, and they were an integral part of the plot. These spiders were mostly bad CGI.

As for the acting, Tom Cruise is his usual “renegade” self. I honestly didn’t care much for the cast. There was a forced quality to them that made me feel like the writers were trying too hard to make us like the character. It felt strange to have all these people in this movie with no real reason kind of be there, or even real liking for each other.

It doesn’t even explain why Nick would go to great lengths for Jenny, unless it’s by the power of a good one night stand. You don’t really understand what draws them together, because she mostly sneers at him throughout the movie.

Or maybe I just miss EVIE AND RICK.

Evie’s just so cute and proud of herself! Look at Rick who is super baffled by her.

Ahmanet

The central issue for me was Ahmanet’s character.

I’m perfectly game with Ahmanet going cray cause she wanted to rule. I would go cray if my Daddy was all like, welp, sorry, trained you hard to rule but now I got a son, so yeah. Bye. Never mind that you can probably rule for a few years before he comes of age. Like Dad, really. 

 

That’s  perfectly good motivation. They show her off in the trailer so well — fighter! princess! The stunts were awesome. Sofia Boutella is awesome.

I don’t get why she has to chase after Tom Cruise to bring Set into the world for the rest of the movie. All that sacrifice and suffering and you end up a lousy Queen of Hell. This Lucifer/Satan analogy was lazy writing too, because apparently nobody did their research on Set. Set wasn’t considered evil in Egyptian mythology. He was considered as the friend of the dead, and a little weird, but most underworld gods are a little weird. You would be too if most of your friends were dead, or if you lived in the Egyptian underworld, which was really really sad and kind of boring.

Plus Ahmanet spends a lot of time tied up or weirdly contorted, or contorting others into mummies. I wish they just made her evil, or even evil for love!

She didn’t have to chase Tom Cruise around. She could have just been herself, and wanted to rule the world for her own sake. Or because she loved someone, cause apparently love is the greatest way to find your true purpose (see Wonder Woman).

Overall, this Mummy movie by itself is about a 5/10. It’s missing the heart and humor of its predecessor and it really lacks about 45 minutes of serious plot. The movie lacks the core component that made the 1999 movie so memorable: great, fully realized characters that you believed in, that made you believe!

 

Two Dreams – Dream Journal 2

1:
The bedroom light is on low, and I read stories to a little girl I don’t know. She has her head nestled on my shoulder, and we are both happy. The bedroom door creaks open. Something catches my eye as it walks down the hallway, and I leave her to go outside, check on the kitchen. The stove is on, a flickering fire. I turn it off.

It turns into a repetitive dream. I read, set the book aside, tell the girl to hush and walk to to kitchen. The fire is on again, and there’s a creature sitting at the table watching me. It’s evil.

I run back to take the girl outside and give her to my mom in the garden. There’s a creature in the kitchen, and I scream at it and launch myself into… BATTLE! Except instead of fighting I’m praying it down. I wake up disoriented, screaming and with chills running up and down my spine.

2:

R shaves his beard. He looks odd. We are at a party in someone’s house, and he leans over from behind the couch to kiss my ear. The gesture feels nostalgic, like it’s something he no longer does.We spend the rest of time looking for a bedroom.

 

I feel like the second dream is fairly straightforward.

 

 

Odd Encounters 4

“I like your tattoo. Is it real?” We’re in the middle of a noisy conference hall. My feet already hurt, and I’m not even wearing pumps. My skirt is a little too tight. She has long straight hair, an earnest beautiful face, winning smile. She looks like a Filipina soccer mom.

I always want to say no, not real. I like to rotate temporary tattoos. It’s tempting. I forget people don’t always like tattoos, or seeing them. “Yes.”

We talk about tattoo work and color. Tattoo colors are different colors. They are black and gray. Colored. Watercolor. “It fades,” she says. “After a few years, if you’re not careful. Keep out of the sun.”

“I have one too.” She says. It’s secret. Most women tend to get tattoos in secret places: hip, rib, back of leg, top of thigh. Other women tend to get tattoos in small places: wrist, ankle, the tiny place just under the back of your neck, the tip of your spine. “But I don’t show the others.” Conservative culture sometimes makes for conservative rebellion.

We continue to wait for the meeting to go on break. It’s hard to be different here. They remember differences, even after the years pass: the girl with blue hair, the two people who kissed in the parking lot (but they were married to different people), the Japanese man who went mad in his office, shut himself in. This, that.  They call you siga, like you wade into things to wage war. I think of the dozen tattoos I seriously wanted, and how they lurk under my skin, waiting.

“If I was a bit…” I want to say brave, or dumb, but being brave or dumb isn’t defined by the body art you wear, or the armor you carry. “Crazier, I guess. I would have covered my arms now.” I make this gesture, like pulling on sleeves.

She tells me about her friend — always a friend, the ultra Amazon, tattooed goddess type friend. I wanted to be that girl, I want to tell her but I don’t. I don’t really know this woman. For a moment there, I even forgot her name.

Activities

After the Life Altering Break-Up (henceforth dubbed LABU). I went through the mandatory soul-searching Activities.

I drank a lot of bad craft beer and a few good ones, a lot of whiskey, oodles of Black Label, and Double Black. I ran a 10k, tried a few new hobbies, and gave up some others.

Once, in an effort to acquire [redacted], I met up with  L –, a good friend from Baguio at a nearby mall. L — played guitar very well, but also sold [redacted] on the side for extra cash.  As I waited by the tiny Ferris Wheel, listened to the inane loop of children’s songs (these places always seem to have children nursery rhymes sung in little irritating voices). I thought. Hurrah! This is my life. My friend showed up next to me the way spies do in movies, materializing from the nether.

“Uy.” Followed by a friendly shove. L — was gaunt, but carried a beer belly around like a favorite kid.

“Beer tayo?” My treat, since I was buying.

“Go.”

Sometimes when I look back at periods in my life they come back like snapshots.

There was this one sad/happy day when I went to eat with A — at this cute little restaurant in Taft. It was raining, I think, but I don’t really remember. I don’t remember the food because I spent most of the meal with my head on the table, crying. I don’t remember why  (we usually have a purpose, like a gig or an inuman) we met up, but that wasn’t really important.

A lot of the snapshots involve cab drivers. Mostly because I wasn’t driving in the city yet and Manila has snarly, horrid traffic that gets exponentially worse as the weather worsens.

I once sat through a terrific lecture from this old cab driver who happened to be probably the most devoted member of Iglesia ni Kristo. First, he tried to invite me to service. When I demurred, he said. “Iha, sa simbahan mo mahahanap true love mo.*” He proceeded to tell me about his first wife, who passed away and how he met his second wife, and how lucky he was in love.

I was really sad when I got home that day, let me tell you that.

The next week or so, I was stuck in three hour traffic with an utterly insane cab driver who told me how he caught his wife cheating.

He had been deeply suspicious of an affair between wifey and neighbor, who was also one of his closest friends. It was his birthday. They had a little celebration, which became a drinking session for the adults. In time, the number dwindled as various party goers said goodbye until only the three of them remained.

Kuya Driver feigned extreme drunkenness and told them that he was tired and needed to sleep, but that they could keep drinking if they wanted. His wife even tucked him into bed and gave him a good night kiss.

Imaginin mo yun!”**

An hour later, he caught them in-flagrante delicto, on the sofa in the living room. The neighbor ran for his life, disappearing so fast he left his pants and shirt behind.

He then proceeded to drag his wife out of the house to beat her senseless in front of all their neighbors. So badly he knocked out most of her teeth! The guy was also their neighbor, and it turned out everybody knew about the affair except him.

During this cab ride, I was mostly quiet, except the horrified gasps that kept coming out of my mouth. I kept wishing that I hadn’t forgotten my headphones at the office or engaged this particular driver in conversation at all.

I think he noticed, because he tried to console me with: “I had her teeth fixed, don’t worry.”

Translation:

* You will find your true love in a church. or more colloquially, I was mostly evil and wouldn’t find a good man in a bar, so I better like save myself by hanging around in a church. 

**Imagine that! 

Dream Journal – 1

Someone’s knocking, but I’m not afraid to answer the door. There’s a tea party in a garden, and I put my cloak on with a flourish, swirling it out. The fabric gleams.

It’s sunny outside, and I think my grandfather is nearby. The party feels lively, but old-fashioned. There’s a record player, and a frosted white buttercream cake with yellow sponge and pretty sugar flowers. I’m wearing a long dress under the cloak. My hands are not my hands — they are someone else’s fine-boned fingers and oval-shaped manicured nails. This fazes me not. I feel, as I step through the door, very loved.

mix tapes – the cranberries

In third grade, we moved to Manila from our little city perched on the mountain.  It was the middle of summer and I had never realized how hot a city could be before. As an added insult to injury, my sisters and I somehow managed to contract lice at the same time. After a couple of Kwell baths and extensive hair-combing, my mom had had enough and decided to simply cut off my waist-length hair. (As an adult I somehow got lice from a public bus, and Kwell made a reappearance in my life. But later, I had more patience, and I didn’t lop all my hair off.). Manila also had minimal trees, like some non-tree lover had made an executive decision in the past to simply not let them exist.

School was horrid, especially at first. I was used to smaller, Montessori-style classes where I could freely leave my classroom to go play Chinese Checkers with this blind kid who would also leave his classes to play guitar in the principal’s office.  This didn’t fly well at my new, strict, Catholic school.

I was also a probinsyano, which is kind of the equivalent of a redneck from Redneckville moving to New York. Like most Baguio kids, I spoke too much English and mixed it with a local dialect, Ilocano (a social faux pas, to always say kwan, which is more of a punctuation, than an expression if anything else). I could barely speak Tagalog. I had short hair, which wasn’t allowed. I was too nerdy, too eager, too something. I was also, and still am, gullible as all hell.

I felt bad because everyone was listening to Ace of Base and Wooden Heart and songs I had no idea existed. My music education was almost entirely composed of Disney and my parent’s extensive  CD collection. I had just discovered the Cranberries, and I loved them.  I remember bringing the CD to a school show and tell and a classmate, derisively asking, “Ano yan? Baduy.”

CranberriesNoNeedToArgueAlbumcover

source

I did not like Zombie, which would later be the hit that they would be remembered for. The music video made me uncomfortable, but the album itself is still quite a classic. I’ve grown to like the song, but anyone who sings it during karaoke sessions instantly loses cred. 

This album (which I recently listened to again) revealed sadder songs like Everything I said and Twenty-One. During long trips home to Baguio, we would sing it in the car with my parents, For this reason, I occasionally like to play it on when I travel alone.