Review: ‘The Mummy’ Kicks Off Dark Universe With a Resounding “Meh..”
“The Mummy” is one of those weird franchises.
The original “Mummy” film from the 30s is considered a classic. Although it’s not terribly interesting. It’s a total rip-off of the original “Dracula” just with a Mummy played by Boris Karloff instead of a vampire by Bela Lugosi. All the iconic images of the film are in the 1st third and not representative of the rest. The sequels are where most of what popular culture knows of “The Mummy” comes from. Then, there is the remake series in the 90s starring Brendan Fraser (btw I’m shocked how many people are still so attached to that version) which made a lot of money, but I don’t think even the fans would really call a great film. Also, it’s completely different from the original. But how does this new remake stand on its own?
Possible spoiler alert…
Cinematics (Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.) – 2
The setup is that Tom Cruise (because you’ll never remember his character’s real name) unearths a mummy in the middle east. He’s cursed and is being chased by the mummy to be made into something like her. While trying to stop this, they come across Dr Jekyll (Russell Crowe) who leads a secret organization of monster hunters. Incredibly standard story with basically no surprises. What you’re probably imagining in your head is basically what happens. Although one surprise for this “Mummy” film, very little of it takes place in Egypt. If I can name one major problem with the film in a nutshell it would be unoriginality. So many times throughout this film I was reminded of something else I had seen before. Now I’m not normally one of those “I’ve seen this before therefore I hate it because it’s not 100% original” types. However, it’s a problem here because that’s all the film feels like. A collage of other films done better.
The acting follows suit in not being surprising. What I mean by that is we all know what to expect out of a Tom Cruise performance. And yes what you probably expected the second you heard he had been cast as the lead in terms of quality and style is exactly what he delivers. The only kinda funny thing was his relationship with his friend the side kick (I don’t care enough to look up the character’s or actor’s name). Maybe it was because I had watched part of it earlier, but they totally felt like Ferris Bueller and Cameron all grown up. Like imagine all of those post-modern reviews of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” painting him as a psychopath who uses his friends until they crack under pressure. To give you an idea how little the film and character give about the side kick he gets bitten by these supernatural mummy spiders early on and they don’t notice he’s dying. Seriously he’s losing color and getting all veiny, struggling to breathe. It’s really unintentionally comical how much he’s obviously dying, but no one notices because Cruise and the love interest (again didn’t care about the names) are too busy flirting/giving backstory away. Some may be tempted to think what they do with the sidekick later is clever. Those will be the same people who never saw “An American Werewolf in London.” It really is the same thing except it makes no sense here and the CGI on the ghost sidekick is SO inferior to Rick Baker’s make-up.
Okay so some good things about the acting. The mummy herself Sofia Boutella is pretty cool. You may remember her best as Jaylah from “Star Trek: Beyond.” I mean the character of the mummy isn’t anything amazing as written. One interesting thing is that this is the first “Mummy” film where primary motivation isn’t lost love and past lives. Still Sofia Boutella and the design really go all in. Out of all the Universal Monsters this was a good choice for one to gender swap. What most pleased me was that they didn’t over sexualize her. She was definitely always meant to be a monster. Lastly, was Russell Crowe as Dr Jekyll. I’ll save my thoughts on his character for another time. I’m just talking strictly performance. Crowe is a very subtle, understated actor. Most of the time that works. However, in this film it is one of his most energetic performances ever. It was just really cool to see a performer like him really cut loose.
Entertainment Value – 3
Here’s the thing about this movie. Critics will probably (and most already have) pan this film. You can tell from the last section that there is plenty to complain about. Despite all of that I could see mainstream audiences making it profitable enough to continue. That would mostly be due to it being a reasonable fun action flick. There aren’t any real stand out moments and again like before there are too many parts of this film that feel like they’re taken from somewhere else. Still I have to say I wasn’t bored for the most part. The film is more of a horror film than the old series, but still very “actiony.”
The next biggest problem with the film as a whole is tone. It can’t pick one. There’s already the horror/action thing and then there’s the humor. I have to admit a majority of the jokes did make me laugh. The problem was when they were used. It’s clear they want to create their own Marvel Cinematic Universe and are taking certain cues from them. The characters quip and silly stuff will happen in scenes to undercut other things. Put simply the MCU makes this look easy, but it isn’t. The original Universal Monster films used comedy, but never in the middle of the big emotional moment that will later inform the ending and franchise going forward. I already didn’t care about the love story of the main characters, but inserting these kinds of jokes made it even worse. I’ll say this though at least they kept the humor out of the stuff involving the mummy herself. That’s something.
However, all of this still while bad for technical points didn’t hold the rest of the film back in being a fun enough film. Again, going back to the Brendan Fraser films it was interesting to see some of the things they took from that version that had no basis in the original 30s films such as the face in the sand. Also, the mummy slowly regenerating her body to human. It’s one of those weird things to think of that series being old enough to be nostalgic for and other newer films to make references to.
Rewatchability – 2.5
I can’t really see myself seeking this film out to re-watch it. I would describe this film as the very definition of a bored afternoon movie. Although with this film supposed to launch this Dark Universe series for Universal we may need to look back for hints of future dealings. Speaking of which… just you wait.
- Entertainment Value
“The Mummy” may be unwrapping the Dark Universe for Universal, but they still have a way to go to get to the MCU. Tom Cruise and the rest of the cast go all in. However, their characters don't ever receive much depth beyond their basic roles. I do like that they were going for more of a horror vibe although I would have still preferred less action and comedy. They're rushing to catch up to Marvel and leaving many issues in its wake. Despite all that it keeps itself relatively fun. Don't expect much and you probably won't be too upset. I give it 2.5 stars out of 5.
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