Starring Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe
Dull. Ill-conceived. Inferior.
Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy (1999) knew what it wanted to be and delivered. Starring the largely forgotten Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, that blockbuster horror film which launched a trilogy was an unabashed knock-off of Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones series. Period setting, heroic male, a beautiful but capable leading lady, mysterious loot. All hallmarks of the Indiana Jones franchise. But because it had no pretensions about being a great film, and thus embraced its B movie status so confidently, The Mummy was a terrific success, and still holds up as a tremendously entertaining 2 hours. Now, 18 years later, we come to yet another iteration of The Mummy story (remember that there were about a dozen or so versions well before Brendan Fraser had his turn). The new Mummy. The Mummy 2017. This is the second worst Mummy film I’ve seen.
Starring Tom Cruise as Nick Morton, in another dedicated, seemingly effortless performance in an action picture, the film picks up with our hero and his reluctant partner fortune hunting in the Middle East. The two are Army officers who’ve stumbled on the tomb of Ahmanet while disobeying practically every order given to them by their superior officers. Jennifer Halsey, an archaeologist played Annabelle Wallis, joins forces with the men, and together they unleash an ancient curse of unspeakable evil, in truly inept fashion. Rather than wasting time creating suspense, the film steamrolls past any possible build-up and unleashes the Mummy first thing. The remainder of the movie deals with Morton and Halsey working together to eliminate the catastrophic power before she… I don’t remember her plot; probably some kind of an end of the world scenario. The Mummy, Princess Ahmanet, was second best in her Fathers eye, dwarfed by the existence of her brother, and so she murders her whole family. Making your monster even the slightest bit sympathetic is problematic in a blockbuster. The best example of a movie monster for me is Jaws, and what was his backstory? Filmmaker Alex Kurtzman would have been wise to follow that example. No sympathetic backstory, please. A large dose of the plot concerns the secret organization known as Prodigium, an excuse for Universal to contrive their “cinematic universe.” Russel Crowe plays Dr. Jekyll setting himself up for a follow-up solo effort (although it seems pointless after this movie’s lack of success). Dr. Jekyll runs Prodigium, giving very long expositions, and teasing us with the inevitable Mr. Hyde appearance.
None of the film is done particularly well. Director Alex Kurtzman has absolutely no track record that would suggest he should have been given this job. He wrote the screenplay for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen? You’re hoping to rival Marvel with their proven cinematic universe, and you debut with this dud. To be clear, and anybody who knows me understands that I pretty much enjoy just about any movie watched at the theater. If I’m eating popcorn and sour patch kids while watching you, you’d have to be unwatchable for me not to have a good time. So this wasn’t the worst time in the world, but there’s nothing to endorse about The Mummy. There is almost no supporting cast to speak of which is incredibly odd and ill-conceived for a horror film. You need characters we can anticipate dying in horrific fashion. There’s no one in this movie longer than five minutes for us to have any rooting interest in beside the stars and we know they aren’t going to die, which means there is zero suspense. Badly mediocre monster movie. Poor, probably death sentence start to Universal’s Cinematic universe.
For the record, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is the only worse film in The Mummy franchise.
-Walter Tyrone Howard-