The Mummy Movie Review
The best thing I can say about The Mummy is that after this, I sincerely hope that Hollywood offers both Stephen Sommers and Brendan Fraser sincere apologies for blackballing them both for most of the past decade.
Look, even on its own, the latest attempt to create a movie franchise from The Mummy by Universal Studios, this time as part of an attempted cinematic universe they’ve blandly dubbed “Dark Universe” would be a forced, dull chore of a movie that spends entirely too much time setting up a franchise while forgetting to make this movie even slightly entertaining. It’s only when you take into account that not only is it the heir to one of Hollywood’s earliest franchises, but that we very recently had a successful, popular movie trilogy based on the same franchise that Universal tossed aside for this that The Mummy’s gravest sins are laid bare.
The Mummy opens with an extended prologue detailing the sins of a forgotten Egyptian princess named Ahmanet, who was buried alive for the crimes of regicide and dealing in dark magic. Centuries later, her tomb, which is in Iraq for some reason, is uncovered by a band of mercenaries led by Tom Cruise, who in the process, breaks Ahmanet free from her prison and becomes the subject of a dark curse. Pursued by Ahmanet as she rapidly regains her strength, Cruise must find a way to kill the mummy and break the curse, and in the process, save the world.
The idea of a modern shared universe movie franchise based on the classic Universal Monsters isn’t a bad one by any means. In the right hands, it could have been a brilliant idea. The issue with The Mummy, and by extension, the whole prospective Dark Universe franchise, is that they’re not in capable hands, they’re in Alex Kurtzman’s. If that name seems familiar to you, it’s because he’s one half of the Orci/Kurtzman screenwriting duo behind some of the worst movies of the past decade. Because nothing says “capable of spearheading a franchise worth hundreds of millions of dollars” like one half of the screenwriting duo behind The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Since we’re only dealing with Kurtzman, and not Orci, we’re thankfully spared from The Mummy being turned into another 9/11 truther parable, but that’s about the only positive thing I can say about the movie’s script. This is a movie that somehow has six screenwriters, and yet boasts just remarkably bland dialog and a dull, threadbare plot that barely fills the movie’s 107 minute runtime. What it lacks in either plot or scripting though, it makes up for shoehorning as many references to the prospective “Dark Universe” franchise as possible, to the point the third act of the movie has pretty much been hijacked to be used as an extended trailer. It just grinds what little momentum the movie had to a complete halt, even if that momentum was from the second act being a pretty thin remake of An American Werewolf in London.
Perhaps a better cast could have made the movie work better, but it seems like The Mummy blew its load paying Tom Cruise to play the lead. Which is a shame because they really didn’t get their money’s worth for it, with Cruise pretty much on autopilot for the entire movie, and not given enough of his signature action beats to make up for it. It doesn’t help that the way his character is written, everyone talks about how he’s a greedy rouge only in it for himself, but the movie never really gives him a chance to show it. The interesting bit the movie does with him is give him visions of his upcoming doom, and even that is underplayed. The ironic thing is, there was another recent Tom Cruise movie that made this exact same sort of antihero work, Edge of Tomorrow, that opened this same weekend three years ago. Funny how The Mummy just keeps making me think of better movies, isn’t it?
As for the rest of the cast? Jake Johnson playing Tom Cruise’s comedy relief, and manages to earn a few chuckles in between flubbing every other forced joke. Annabelle Wallis plays a bland, blonde British love interest for Tom Cruise so forgettable that I can’t remember her name despite having seen the movie less than an hour ago. Russell Crowe seems to be having some fun as Dr. Jekyll, but that’s undermined by the fact his entire reason for being in the movie is to set up prospective spin offs.
Really, the one person in the entire cast that seems to be giving any sort of notable effort if Sofia Boutella as the titular mummy, Princess Ahmanet. I really do have to commend her because watching her breath life and add personality into what could have been another generic movie monster is maybe the only thing watchable in The Mummy. I wish she’d been able to do this in a better movie, but silver lining, she’ll have another chance with Atomic Blonde later this summer.
Lastly, Alex Kurtzman proves he has as little talent as a director as he does as a screenwriter, with the best moments of The Mummy being completely workmanlike, and its worst moments showcasing an utter lack of vision. This is a movie whose rare action scenes are so generic and poorly done that they’re more dull than the scenes of people standing around talking. There are no thrills to be found, no tension, and there’s certainly no horror to be had. Even as far as special effects, it’s kind of telling that the most interesting visual The Mummy has to offer is that odd double-iris eyeballs you’ve seen in all the trailers and the poster. To again bring up the 1999 version of The Mummy, this is a movie that cost at least $40 million more than it, and yet still looks so much worse than a movie made close to 20 years ago.
If The Mummy is any sign of things to come from the “Dark Universe” franchise, Ahmanet isn’t the only undead monster that should have stayed dead. At its best, it’s generic and dull, and at its worst moments, The Mummy is just a chore to sit through, The idea that we may have to sit through a half dozen tie-in movies like this? That’s the kind of monster that should scare even the bravest moviegoer.