a THE MUMMY (2017) musing
Following in the footsteps of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and subsequently the DC Extended Universe), Universal attempts to kickstart their Dark Universe with THE MUMMY. Universal tried in 2014 with DRACULA UNTOLD to middling results, and, once again, they stumble all over the place with THE MUMMY. With an entertaining enough plot, the direction and writing struggle to make it intriguing.
Jumbled from the opening, the movie starts with two flashbacks, the latter with exposition spouted through narration from Russell Crowe’s character, when it could have been more effectively told through an actual sequence, letting the scene play out; show, don’t tell. We learn later that Crowe is Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, who only speaks in exposition. Turns out anything any of the characters say is purely exposition, making it harder to connect to these characters at all, since we’re only learning about them from what is said about them. Because we’re not seeing Cruise and any of his scene partners interact on a human level, it’s extremely difficult to care about what happens to them. Spoiler coming up right now (and frankly, I don’t care that I’m spoiling it because this isn’t a must-see movie), but when Annabelle Wallis’ character (who knows her last name, by the way?) dies, Cruise is screaming in anger, but when did they ever establish a connection? Also, Cruise’s character, Nick Morton, couldn’t be more bland. He’s supposed to be a great military soldier (because everyone keeps telling him he is), and we never see why, especially after he keeps making stupid decision after stupid decision. Wallis sadly gets nothing to do except be another exposition canal and dumb decision maker. And don’t even get me started on how much I despised Jake Johnson’s character…
Through all the jarring tonal shifts, plot incoherentness and character/sexism problems, there are at least some good things to find here. Cruise, as usual, brings some charm and charisma to what adds up to a nothing character; Sofia Boutella, coming off of KINGSMAN: SECRET SERVICE and STAR TREK BEYOND is a great physical actress; and some of the scares are effective. Universal emphasized they were going more for a darker horror tone for the Dark Universe, but nothing besides the jump scares seemed very scary. I hate horror movies, but love movies that make me feel uncomfortable and tense, and this movie didn’t do that quite at all.
There’s not much to like about THE MUMMY, especially because it fails to create an interesting narrative or reason to keep coming back for whatever the hell it is they’re trying to build. The characters are hard to care for and it devolves into a typical seen-it-all-before summer blockbuster movie. It’s not as horrible as I was expecting, but damn, is it bad.
RATING: I HATE MY LIFE
(Refer to my rating system HERE!)