Tom Cruise in The Mummy

Movie Review: The Mummy (2017) *Tough Start for a Universe*

The Mummy

Dark Universe is a very cool concept: a shared cinematic universe where all the classic Universal Studios movie monsters (Frankenstein, Dracula, Van Helsing, The Wolfman, etc.) are given a new spin for a new generation and set loose in this horror/adventure sandbox.  The first film to come out of that concept is The Mummy.  It has the star power of Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, the interesting idea of making the mummy female, and the trailers made it look like an action adventure/horror blast that would kick off this new world of “gods and monsters”.  Then, until Transformers 5 and The Emoji Movie came along to save it, the film was saddled with the title: “Worst Reviewed Film of Summer 2017.”  Is it really that bad?  Let’s put it this way: the Dark Universe’s chances of success are pretty dim after this dull opening installment.
Tom Cruise in The Mummy

The Mummy spends all of an eight minute prologue in ancient Egypt before we’re introduced to Nick Morton (Cruise) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), war profiteering soldiers in Iraq, who stumble across the mummy’s prison/tomb.  They’re almost immediately joined by Annabelle Wallis’ character but as she becomes completely irrelevant except as a sort of puppy following the action, I’m not going to bother to Google her character’s name (she really does just vanish).  To give The Mummy a little credit, all of the production values are up to par and probably the coolest set piece in the film is the discover of and design of the mummy’s prison.  Would that the rest of the film had been so original.  Anyways in the time-honored tradition of people who can never NOT open boxes, they set the mummy free, she decides Cruise is her yummy chosen, and spends the rest of the film having annoying, constant mental conference calls with him that leave Cruise poleaxed, stumbling around dazed and confused for most of the film.

Sofia Boutella in The Mummy

The decision to make the mummy female could have been an interesting twist if they had made her a character and hadn’t just sexualized her.  She gets a bit of a back story, but all she really wants to do is rebuild herself by french kissing the life out of anyone she runs across, mentally giving Cruise love noogies, and ultimately she’s just a girl, looking to stab a guy with a sacred dagger, so she can fill his body with the soul of her man (or the manifestation of evil, don’t over think it), so he can love her and possibly destroy the world.  Her initial rampage is curbed by the B.P.R.D. (actually they don’t have a name, just they blatantly rip-off Hellboy’s support group, so that’s how I’ve been referring to them).

Russell Crowe in The Mummy

The faux BPRD is run by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Crowe), and it’s here that we’re teased with all kinds of easter eggs to possible future installments and other monsters, and it should be really cool….except Russell Crowe is sleepwalking through this film.  After a stunningly unimpressive last decade, I wonder if Crowe really cares that much anymore or if the script just diminished both he and Cruise (even Tom’s usual manic enthusiasm and multiple frantic running sequences aren’t heartfelt).  If you don’t know that Dr. Jekyll is also split personality with an evil flipside named Mr. Hyde (seriously, if THAT is a spoiler to you), I demand you shuffle your way back to whatever place was supposed to teach you English and slap them with five bound up copies of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Stevenson’s book isn’t even 150 pages so you need five or so if you’re going to get the concussion you deserve.  Crowe’s Mr. Hyde is spectacularly unimpressive, and you’d think he’d have come up with a better anti-serum delivery system than a quad syringe the size of an Olympic torch.  But even if he transforms, all you get is a Cockney accent and increased strength….sooooo yeah.

Sofia Boutella in The Mummy

While dealing with Cockney Russell, the mummy escapes and then goes about wrecking London.  Honestly, what is it that makes the film industry hate London so much?  The city gets destroyed at least four times a year.  Mix it up.  Flatten someplace else that has landmarks.  Oh, the movie…I’d honestly let my mind wander because that’s what it did during most of the two hours it was playing.  Look, it’s not the worst blockbuster I’ve ever seen (I have a candidate for that I need to write-up here soon).  It’s just a lazy film.  It’s unoriginal, uninspired, and poorly written.  It’s boring, and any action or excitement you thought you were going to get in the film, you already have seen in the trailers.

Tom Cruise and Jake Johnson in The Mummy

In the end, the film makes it clear that Nick Morton (whatever he is now) is going to be the central hero of Dark Universe, but there’s not another Dark Universe film scheduled to be released until February of 2019 when Bill Condon is going to try to remake one of the first great sequels in cinema: The Bride of Frankenstein.  Should Universal stick with this and push forward, having Cruise as your central hero in a shared universe is a dicey idea.  Tom’s in his 50s now, hard as it is to believe, and Mission: Impossible 6 just had to shut down for two months after the actor broke some bones doing stunts for that film.  His action days are numbered, and I don’t know what kind of contract he has, but I’d be hesitant to return as this profoundly uninteresting character.  The Mummy is technically proficient, but if you want to build a long-standing story you need the foundation of a well-written first chapter and The Mummy is so underwhelming that the Dark Universe may be a one-and-done concept.

2.0/10

The Mummy IMAX Poster

15 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Mummy (2017) *Tough Start for a Universe*”

  1. Did I write this review? Six months ago? Nobody expects Universal to hand the reigns to Guillermo Del Toro, or to make these films straight-up horror peices, but a vision would be nice, and an attempt to understand the classic characters, and make them resonate with us moderns.

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    1. The director of the “Bride” remake once made Gods and Monsters, about James Whale, so he ought to know what he’s doing, but he made a comment about how the central relationship in “Bride” is going to be “relatable.” Well, if I remember the original correctly (and I think I do, it’s one of my favorite movies) the bride is made for the monster because the monster is a freak, and no one else will accept him. And then this female monster is created, this fellow freak… and she rejects him, too.

      The monster is relatable because of the outsider part of each of us, the part that’s filled with insecurities and demons. But the relationship with the Bride is not relatable. It’s train wreck. I fear she’s going to be turned into an action hero. In black leather, no less. With a streak of white in her otherwise normal hair.

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      1. I honestly am not sure that Universal is going to double-down on this idea after the shellacking The Mummy took because Bride of Frankenstein is a lot harder to market than The Mummy. Plus they have it scheduled for Feb. 2019 where it will be shortly be competing with Captain Marvel, so I would be completely unsurprised if this little experiment just slowwwwly faded from the books. If it had done well overseas, yeah, I’d say they go ahead, but it bombed everywhere.

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      2. Universal needs to take the guy who came up with the idea of giving the Mummy two irises in each eye, and give him oversight over the entire Dark Universe. It won’t be an ideal situation, but he was the only person with an original thought in his head.

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      3. Did you ever see a horrible action film from the 90’s called Demolition Man, starring Sylvester Stallone? He wakes up in the future, to fight an evil character who has also woken up in the future, and the whole film is just a bundle of idiocy, except for one line. The heroine suggests that she and Stallone go to Taco Bell, and Stallone, surprised, says something to the effect of, “There are still Taco Bells?” To which she responds, in one of the most staggeringly inspired lines in all of modern film, “All restaurants are Taco Bell.” I have found that this is an actual phenomenon that repeats itself: one isolated, terrific element in a film that otherwise has no merit.

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      4. Wow. I had forgotten about that until you just mentioned it just now. The Schwarzenegger Presidential Library.

        Do you want to know what’s wrong with today’s bad movies? They aren’t any fun. Back in the day, when Dolph Lundgren made some travesty, you could sit there and laugh at it, and the laughter was affectionate. Maybe he was doing the best he could, God bless him; maybe he was cynically pandering to macho guys who didn’t appreciate the irony of the experience; maybe he was just giving collage kids the opportunity to play a drinking game. It didn’t matter. Most human beings throughout history would have found him recognizable as an entertainer, once they got used to the conventions of our time. But could you imagine an Elizabethan trying to fathom King Arthur by Guy Ritchie? Today, you can’t play a drinking game with bad movies, you just turn to drink.

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      5. Great Scott. She will, won’t she? I agree with Dave that the whole thing might mysteriously go away in the night, but I almost want to see this movie. It’s one thing to turn the Mummy into… this… but they’re really going to have to work themselves into contortions to shoehorn Bride of Frankenstein into a Hollywood blockbuster mold. What I really want is for Universal to scrap the Mummy and start over with the Dark Universe… a second time. It would be a crime against cinema, but it would be fun to watch (in a cruel kind of way).

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