I don’t think an intended cinematic universe has ever started off with this big of a thud.
“The Mummy” is a reboot of Universal’s titular franchise and the first intended installment of “Dark Universe,” a collection of their most famous monsters from Frankenstein to the Wolfman. Here, Tom Cruise stars as a treasure hunter who becomes cursed after unearthing the tomb of an Egyptian princess played by Sofia Boutella. Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance and Russell Crowe also star as Alex Kurtzman directs.
Not much in this film works, but I’ll briefly go over the things that do. Crowe is seemingly the only person who knows what sort of movie he is in, and he gives his character the right amount of cheese and tongue-in-cheekiness. I won’t say who he is playing, because the trailers do not disclose it, but he has one fight scene that is the only time the film is something even resembling fun. Also, some of the production design is nice — when things aren’t foggy or sandy, the sets pieces are cool to look at.
OK now onto, well, everything else.
This film has no idea what it wants to be, which is only made obvious by the fact that it has six writers and three editors. Tones constantly jump from serious to attempts at comedy in a matter of seconds, including some jarringly awkward moments from Johnson, of “New Girl” fame. He is so out of place here and his character is so against the grain of what the rest of the film is trying to do that every time he came onscreen I was instantly annoyed.
Speaking of comedy, there are a few laughs in this film. Some are intentional, but most aren’t. For most of the film, Cruise seems to be trying to give a charismatic performance, and as usual he is to be commended for doing his own stunts, but there are some awful lines of dialogue in this film. By the climax my entire theater had given up caring and silently formed a mutual agreement to begin to laugh at and openly roast what was happening on screen, which was the most enjoyment I had in the — seemingly eternal — 107-minute runtime.
The plot itself doesn’t even make sense, not that you care. The undead princess wants to get a knife to kill Cruise so he can be taken over by an ancient Egyptian god, except when she kisses people they turn into zombie slaves, and suddenly there are some Templar Knights who are also on her side despite dying 3,000 years apart. And, also, Crowe is a walking exposition machine. It’s a mess, but not one cleaning up.
For most of its duration, “The Mummy” is boring, which is the worst thing a film can be, especially a big-budget summer blockbuster. It’ll be interesting to see if Universal does some soul searching and agenda swapping, since I can’t see enough people liking, or seeing, this to have the desire for more monster movies to be made.
There is a point where the mummy is talking to a girl she is about to kill and she says, “there are some fates worse than death.” Yeah, sitting through this movie.
Critic’s rating: 3 out of 10.