As cinematic universes continue to be hot trend in Hollywood, it only makes sense that Universal brings back its biggest monsters from the 1930s and stuffs them all into one mega-franchise. The so-called “Dark Universe” is the answer to something that I’m not entirely sure anyone was asking. If the first installment, The Mummy, is anything to go by, this is going to be a disaster of epic proportions.
The Mummy, whose mummy is the second most prominently featured part of a movie called The Mummy, has to lay a lot of groundwork. Sorry, it doesn’t have to, but the filmmakers really, really want it to, for some reason. After all, why let things develop organically in small, bite-sized portions when you can put your plot on pause for two lengthy stretches to do a lot of boring world-building? The Mummy‘s most egregious sin—and it has many—is completely taking away focus from its story right as things were potentially getting interesting to set up a whole bunch of trash about not-SHIELD, not-Nick Fury, and not-The Avengers.
That story sees us follow Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), a former military man who now spends his time looking for ancient things that he can steal and sell on the black market. He inadvertently discovers a tomb of an ancient Egyptian princess, it’s decided that the sarcophagus should be removed for study, one thing leads to another and now there’s a mummy wandering around, causing acts of evil to all who encounter her. Her name is Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), and she’s returned to our planet in order to finish a quest that involves finding a chosen one, stabbing him with a dagger, and allowing the god of death, or Satan, or whatever, into his body.
Basically, this sees Tom Cruise “cursed” and forces him to be dragged from one location to the next, just so he can look confused and perplexed at whatever revelation is shown. Then a mummy/monster scene happens, he runs/fights it off, and we go to the next place. Repeat the process for the entire movie, save for the aforementioned points at which the whole “mummy” ordeal is put on hold so we can see Russell Crowe show up as a discount Nick Fury and espouse nonsense about Prodigium and evil-fighters and so, so much garbage that it should result in audience walk-outs.
The Mummy is an incompetent and boring movie, one that tries to deliver four movies’ worth of world-building in 40 minutes, putting aside its own plot in order to do so.
Tom Cruise doesn’t work as someone whose primary job is to look surprised at the silliness that is going on around him. He’s The Man, or the closest thing we have to The Man nowadays in Hollywood. We don’t want him to not have all the answers; we expect him to have them, smirk about how he has them, and then run toward a solution. Hiring him to be led by the hand from one locale to the next all to yell exposition at him is one of the stupidest decisions we’ll see in a movie this year.
The only thing The Mummy does that even comes close to rivaling that bad decision is the hiring of one Alex Kurtzman to do the direction. Kurtzman is a terrible writer and, as it turns out, a very bland director. He fills The Mummy with genre clichés, bad action scenes, poor dialogue, and bad CGI. The Mummy cost over $100 million but looks like one of those $40 million Resident Evil movies—but without any of the fun that comes along with most of those. It’s just boring, overloading us with world-building and exposition while delivering very little that’s either interesting, entertaining, or horrific.
The Mummy is an incompetent and boring movie, one that tries to deliver four movies’ worth of world-building in 40 minutes, putting aside its own plot in order to do so. The filmmakers hired the wrong actor for the leading role, the action is bad, the writing is worse, and the special effects look straight out of a B-tier actioner—not one that cost over $120 million. The Mummy is an eye-rollingly moronic movie, the flimsy poles upon which Universal is hoping to hang a tentpole franchise.
Good luck with that.
Conclusion: A terrible way to start the Dark Universe, The Mummy never should have seen the light of day.
Recommendation: Go watch the Brendan Fraser movies again if you really need a Mummy fix.