Universal Studios has decided they are going to remake a group of the old style horror/action/adventure films of yesteryear like Dracula, Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wolfman among others. Universal has plans to have a film in which all of these old characters will be in one film. Starting off the Universal: Dark Universe franchise is The Mummy with Tom Cruise playing Nick Morton, part soldier and part antiquities thief. With his buddy, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) they uncover the ancient Egyptian tomb of Ahmnet (Sofia Boutella), a murderess of ancient Egypt who was denied her throne after she was betrayed by her own family. Nick and Chris have awoken Ahmanet who then pursues Nick for some ancient ritual she can perform on him in order to claim what was stolen from her. Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) is an archeologist who is trying to stop this along with the mysterious Dr. Henry Jekyl (Russell Crowe).
Frankly, I don’t know how Universal is going to recreate the mystery and grand entertainment of the 40’s and 50’s horror films. They are classics and if they cannot even recreate The Mummy which was remade quite well in 1999 with Brendan Fraser, then I don’t know what to tell them. That film is a mere seventeen years old, let alone the films that are almost seventy years old. This year’s Mummy is not a good start to this franchise which is surprising since you have Tom Cruise who, love him or hate him, brings his A-game no matter how bad the film might be. The Mummy was directed by Alex Kurtzman, who has primarily been a writer for television and in fact only directed TV episodes of Alias, New Day and People Like us. The Mummy is his first feature film and although The Mummy on a technical level is efficient, the film overall is an utter disappointment.
Gone is the campy charm of even the 1999 version. Gone is the heart and soul of even the 1999 version. Gone is the humor and energy to entertain us that all previous films have done. What is left is an effects laden, summer popcorn film which is not scary enough to be called a horror film and not cheesy enough to be considered campy, by anyone’s standards. The cast does their best especially Cruise who commits to each and every role he takes and Annabelle Wallis is decent as Jenny. She and Cruise have a certain chemistry but every time the film starts to make some headway with these characters, the film throws more exposition and CGI effects on the screen and the moment that might have been is lost. The same could be said about any of these characters, really. Russell Crowe seems to be standing around with not much to do as is Jake Johnson who is barely even in the film.
With three writers, David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Sussman and three more, Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet contributing to the screen story, The Mummy is tonally all over the place. There are attempts at some humor but most of it falls flat and any scares that this film might have are all wasted on CGI effects which suffocate the story. They have simply made the film around the CGI and added characters almost as an after-thought instead of the other way around. The filmmakers know they are going to have access to tons of effects and good quality production values. Why not take the time to write a decent script with interesting characters and make a film around them, instead? What we are left with is empty and sterile that, if it were to work as anything, is a horror film, and once again here comes some more visuals to kill any narrative drive this film tries to make. I will give kudos to Sofia Boutella as well as Cruis and Wallis, who is quite chilling as Ahmanet. But, Brian Tyler provides another assembly line score that is as bland as the film.
The Mummy is harmless enough, but therein is the problem. The film might look decent, but ultimately it is a hollow attempt to re-create greatness out of something that was truly engaging, fun and original. The Mummy is neither. Director Alex Kurtzman seems to have an idea of what made the originals so special but has missed the mark with his scattershot direction. Since The Mummy has been released, it has done very well over seas and only marginally well in America. It rests at an abysmal 17% on Rotten Tomatoes and Kurtzman has since pounded critics who have likewise pounded on his film, with good reason. He said, ” I make films for the audience, not the critics.” Well, we are part of the audience, sir. This seems to be the standard line when a big budget film does poorly. Blame the critics. Sorry, sir. If you had made a decent film, we would be praising it and there would not be a peep coming from you.
The Mummy – ** 1/2 out of five
The Mummy – Rated PG-13 for violence, some scenes of terror, language, partial nudity and sexual innuendo
The Mummy – Run Time is 120 minutes
The Mummy is now playing the theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations nearest you.