Review - 'The Mummy'
I had high hopes for Universal's new Dark Universe as I walked into Alex Kurtzman's The Mummy. I actually really wanted this to be a thing that succeeds, seeing as how Universal arguably had the first ever connected universe back in the '30s. After seeing The Mummy, it's going to be hard for any of Universal's other monsters to crawl out of their coffins, because this film is a stinking mess.
The Mummy follows Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), a self-centered treasure hunter who stumbles upon an underground tomb while trying to scavenge a small town in Iraq. When Nick accidentally unleashes Ahmanet, an ancient, and very evil mummy. With the help of Annabelle Wallis (Jennifer Halsey) and Dr. Jeckyll (Russel Crowe) he must stop her evil from spreading within himself and across the globe.
The main flaw with The Mummy is its constant urge to be more than just a mummy movie. There are numerous times throughout this film where Ahmanet takes a back seat so that we can hear forced exposition about how there are other monsters in this world. I just wanted to see a great film about a mummy, but instead I got nothing more than a teaser for what could come in the future. It's never a good sign when your movie is constantly telling you about things that your not going to see for another few years or however long it takes them to get their other films off the ground.
The editing is also all over the place. The film moves along at a rapid pace, skipping from action scene to action scene with reckless abandon. There's no build up and no tension anywhere because The Mummy is far too busy throwing things at you. I'm guessing the filmmaker's thought that audiences today would be bored by anything subtle. God, what I would give for an atmospheric mummy film that builds real tension and suspense by more subtle means. No, this is the type of Mummy film you might imagine MIchael Bay would have conjured up.
With everything wrong with The Mummy, it's not a joyless affair. I was entertained from time to time, even if what was transpiring onscreen was often incomprehensible. The action, for the most part, is well-shot and there are some thrilling sequences. The anti-gravity plane sequence is a good bit of fun and later on when Tom Cruise faces off against a gang of shambling zombies...Well, let's just say I wasn't bored by it.
Speaking of Tom Cruise; he's totally on auto-pilot here. He tries to play against type as Nick Morton, who's sort of a dick, but it doesn't really work for him and none of his attempts at humor really ever land. In fact, there were moments that could have been great if they weren't punctuated by his half-assed comedic remarks. Sofia Boutella is decent as the blood-lusty mummy, Ahmanet, and every time she's on-screen the picture almost comes to life, but her powers are never clearly defined and they aren't grounded at all, making her not really scary or believable in the end. The lone bright spot is Russell Crowe, who plays Dr. Jeckyll/Mr. Hyde. He's sort of the Nick Fury of the universe but with a dark twist. I could tell he was enjoying himself, so much so that I wish this was his movie and not Cruise's.
Jennifer Halsey plays Nick Morton's love interest, Annabelle Wallas, and she's a bit of an afterthought that's frequently relegated to Damsel-in-distress status. Rounding out the cast we have Jake Johnson playing Nick's friend, Chris Vail. He's fun to watch but he's totally out of place in this movie as he plays a character who is a total rip-off of Jack Goodman from An American Werewolf in London.
Despite everything else, the production values in The Mummy are high. The trailers for this film showed a good amount of unfinished CGI, but thankfully it looks like all of that has been touched up quite a bit. The color pallet used for the film is also spot-on and everything is pretty nice to look at overall. The music by Brian Tyler is also good, if a tad generic by action movie standards.
With one film in the can, it's not looking too great for the Dark Universe. I don't want to say that Alex Kurtzman's The Mummy completely tanks Universal's plans, but it certainly doesn't help. Though the film isn't a complete loss, I hope all involved have learned a lesson here and really bring their A-game for their next effort, if there is to be one.