The 2017 reboot of The Mummy is supposed to triumphantly launch Universal’s new Dark Universe franchise, which currently has ten films on the slate, including Bride of Frankenstein, a new Creature from the Black Lagoon film, and yet another re-do of Dracula.
The only thing The Mummy is launching, though, is a frazzled scurry back to the drawing board for the Universal honchos, as they try to pick up the pieces and move on from one of the worst movies of the year so far.
Part camp, part bland horror, and part Indiana Jones wannabe, The Mummy does nothing particularly well. It’s a movie in search of an identity, seemingly unable to decide what it wants to be. And we’re all left wondering how it ever got made in the first place.
Tom Cruise stars as NIck Morton, a former soldier who has graduated to antiquities hunting (well, looting) with his buddy Chris Vail (Jake Johnson). After escaping from Iraqi insurgents in a firefight, they trip on the tomb of ancient Egyptian Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), a centuries-old princess who murdered her family after she was passed over in the line of succession and tried to raise the evil god Set as part of her revenge.
Nick inadvertently releases her spirit and becomes cursed by her, as does Vail, who ends up as a reject from The Walking Dead…or, more aptly, from a Saturday Night Live skit that spoofs The Walking Dead.
While the resurrected Ahmanet is sucking the life out of poor souls in an attempt to restore her own vitality, possessed Nick and unsuspecting archaeologist Jennifer Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) are searching for answers. Further complicating matters is Russell Crowe’s Dr. Henry Jekyll (yes, that Dr. Jekyll), who is running an underground organization devoted to studying, killing, and dissecting monsters. There’s also something about a jewel-tipped dagger and the tombs of some knights from the Crusades, but after an hour or so the whole thing is so tedious and riddled with plot holes that it’s hard to muster the strength to care.
Director Alex Kurtzman, whose only other directing credit was the quietly emotional People Like Us in 2012, apparently wanted to have The Mummy be a dozen different movies in one. There’s comedy (Johnson is clearly the comic relief, especially once he’s zombified), action (as Cruise channels his inner Indy), romance (Halsey may or may not be a budding person-of-interest for Nick), and horror (Jekyll is a creepy, over-the-top attempt to make things scary, though he actually only induces a few squirms). The effect is a hodge-podge of a movie with a halting pace that veers off in a nutty direction every time things get interesting. It’s particularly glaring when at one point when Vail exclaims, “Wow, that was intense!” Only it wasn’t.
The three-headed screenwriting monster of Christopher McQuarrie, David Koepp, and Dylan Kussman must have butted heads early and often before finally agreeing to just put everything in, damn the continuity. Good choice, fellas.
In 1999 Brendan Fraser starred in his own version of The Mummy, and it was one of the more pleasant surprises of its day—a fantastic and fun bit of summer fare that never took itself too seriously but still managed to feel like a movie with a clear mission and, frankly, a point. This Mummy’s only mission, apparently, is to jump-start the Dark Universe, which now looks like it needs to be wrapped up and buried in a tomb of its own.
Worth the 3D glasses?
Negative. Even if the vast majority of the movie didn’t take place in near pitch-black dark (which, of course, becomes even darker with the glasses), there’s barely two minutes of anything remotely 3D glasses-worthy. Skip the 3D, but more importantly, skip the movie.