"The Mummy" is the first movie in what Universal Studios wants to call their "Dark Universe." Yeah, that's right. Those re-shoots that 2014's "Dracula Untold" went through to tie into a Dark Universe; those don't matter now. That 2010 Benicio del Toro "Wolfman" movie; also doesn't matter.
In a world where Universes are becoming more and more of a thing, Universal seems determined not to let this monster mash-up of The Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein, Mummy, Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde and more slip through their fingers.
And they're also not skimping out on finding A-list talent to help sell the whole thing. So far we've heard Johnny Depp, The Rock, and Javier Bardem's names being thrown into the mix, plus Russell Crowe is already here as Dr. Jekyll.
That last one I think is really cool by the way because while so many others have been portrayed by the likes of Gary Oldman and Jack Nicholson's, Jekyll's best portrayal in the past 20+ years has been ugh
But now let's talk about "The Mummy", specifically that old trilogy with Brendan Fraser. There's no doubt director Stephen Sommers lucked out with that first film and there's also little doubt Universal wants to move away from that overall cheesiness here. The question is can they still go serious but also have fun at the same time?
And say what you will about Sommers; the guy was a C-grade filmmaker who got a kick out of a cheap thrill but at least you could say he committed to it. This new Mummy is just a wrong-headed disaster.
The set-up is pretty much the same as the older Mummy film although here it's a woman played by "Kingsman's" Sofia Boutella. She's Ahmanet, an Egyptian Princess who wanted power, sold out to some powerful entity for eternal life, and paid for it by getting entombed.
Universal of course is also putting it's faith in Tom Cruise, who plays an Army Vet prone towards treasure hunting. He and several others find Ahmanet's sarcophygus but while bringing it back to be examined, the plane goes down over London and a bunch of strange things happen that they learn can't just be coincidence.
This is Cruise just being Cruise here. He gets to run around a lot doing his "intense face" all while an attractive woman half his age is along with him for the sexual interplay (more on her in a moment). Yeah, there's discussion about his character growing something of a conscience as this goes on but it's pretty perfunctory.
Plus having the Mummy be a woman after Cruise's body so she could plant her demon God inside of him and they can reign as King and Queen; this seems more like it falls into being of one of Cruise's aging vanity projects than on acting skill.
Boutella gets very little to do otherwise but try and be seductive while waving her hands in a threatening manner. Otherwise auto-tune does the rest.
The Cruise character's love interest is an archaeologist played by Annabelle Wallis who looks like she just stepped out from a Paris fashion show into an archaeological dig. Did I believe her as an archaeologist? No. Did I believe she could spell it? Sure. Either way, it doesn't matter. What does is that she and Cruise are DOA in their scenes together.
No character makes much impression here, including Crowe's Dr. Jekyll who's maybe in the film for 20 minutes to explain stuff so simplistic, silly, and predictable that it hardly needs explaining at all before the film rushes through his particular ailment.
For some reason screenwriters David Koepp and Christopher McQuarrie think more explanation is still warranted though and in that they couldn't be more wrong. For something trying to feel new, it's remarkably easy to tell where all this is going.
Their biggest crime is what they do to New Girl's Jake Johnson, a funny actor who they turn into the Dark Universe's version of Jar Jar Binks in only five minutes. He comes in and out of the film at really odd intervals, either screaming dialogue in the hope of making it funny or giving us yet more exposition we don't really need.
Add to that first time action director Alex Kurtzman is a disaster. The action sequences look haphazardly thrown together, just cartoonish and unbelievable, while a spoiler I won't give away about the Tom Cruise character makes them even harder to give a crap about anyway.
The fights are stiff and uninteresting, and the special effects are either forgettable or look just as hokey as they did in the Brendan Fraser movies. The plane sequence we saw in the trailer looks pretty decent but hey, you've already seen the most decent thing in the movie, why pay to see the rest.
Overall this is not just a bad film, but a film that has no idea what it even is. It wants to resurrect classic monsters, but isn't the least bit scary. It wants to take it in original directions, but winds up being an ultra-serious, dull version of the 1999 film. It's silly but not funny, it's a lot of commotion but no excitement, it's a Mummy movie that if the ending of this can even be believed, thinks it's something totally different. This is a worse start to a Universe than King Arthur was.
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