The 400-Word Review: The Mummy
By Sean Collier
June 13, 2017
While the classic horror films of early Hollywood may have been inconsistent, they were nothing if not enduring; creatures such as Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, the Invisible Man and more remained icons throughout the 20th century. It’s not hard to diagnose why; the black-and-white creepers that popularized those figures made their mark with inventive settings, indelible performances and slow-burn terror.
The Mummy, from Universal Pictures, has none of that.
Universal slowly assembled all of those classic characters under their Universal Monsters banner some years ago and has revived them en masse, establishing an interconnected series — drably dubbed the Dark Universe — with hopes of rivaling Marvel.
Good luck with that.
While there is undoubtedly some potential given the right directors and writers — none of whom, at this writing, are attached to any of the Dark Universe’s upcoming features — the pre-ordained franchise is off to a poor start with The Mummy, a waste of a film starring Tom Cruise as a soldier turned graverobber who discovers an out-of-place sarcophagus in modern-day Iraq.
A curse is placed, an undead mummy (Sofia Boutella, the only member of the cast deserving of any praise) rises and a ho-hum, CGI slog of fistfights ensues. Along the way, we meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Russell Crowe) and his colleague, archeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), who work for a clandestine organization dedicated to controlling and eliminating ancient evils.
There is certainly potential — as a tease for the franchise and as a false promise for The Mummy — in the film’s opening act. The discovery of the sarcophagus is good, Indiana Jones-style fun; an early action sequence aboard a military plane is more than effective. The atmospherics, though, are lost when things sink into bland action, and longtime screenwriter and producer Alex Kurtzman (here directing, in his sophomore effort), is utterly incapable of keeping things on the rails.
Cruise’s presence, especially, is disheartening; it’s not a role for him (it seems to have been written with Ryan Reynolds in mind), and he puts no great effort into finding much in it.
Of course, we know why he’s here; he remains a major global star, and this Dark Universe is primarily for the global market. Whether or not these films make much domestically is immaterial. The characters, and stories, deserve better. I hope that future installments deliver, but I wouldn’t put money on it.
My Rating: 4/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark