Film Review: This "Mummy" should have stayed buried
So, it's awful.
The Mummy isn't just a remake of a remake. No, this thing has been painstakingly designed – by an army of Universal Studio's brightest accountants, I assume – to kickstart a fictional universe (a so-called “Dark Universe”, if the film's opening logo is any indication) populated by whatever bunch of ghouls and monsters Universal Studios owns the rights to. It is a lamely transparent attempt to ape the success that Marvel has found with their stable of worlds and characters. What makes The Mummy so awful is that it's disguised just enough to appear like a movie: you know, like there are sequences of events that seem like they might cohere into a narrative, “characters”, visual effects, a run-time of approximately 2 hours, and, finally, “dialogue” that even real movie stars like Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe - hired not just due to their brand recognition, but for their unique talent of turning chicken shit into chicken salad - can't salvage into anything of substance.
But upon further inspection, it's obvious that this cheap, ugly-looking monstrosity is nothing more than a sales pitch: "Please see our next Dark Universe movie!" - This is the extent of the pitch. As far as pitches go, you can absolutely bet dollars to donuts there are more convincing ones that randomly pop up on Pornhub. It is absolutely everything the most hateful critics accuse the Marvel Cinematic Universe of being. I hate The Mummy the same way I hate it when politicians give phony speeches: All I see are folks in suits who want something from me.
I'll level with you guys. I could go into a plot synopsis and try to make something out of what I just saw, but that seems a waste of our time. Suffice it to say that The Mummy makes a stunning miscalculation in its opening scene by laying bare the entire mythology of the titular character, played by Sofia Boutella, who tries her best to make an impression amongst a whirlwind of bad digital effects and confusing characterisation. So because everything is explained, and then explained again, there's no sense of discovery, no sense that we're right along with protagonist soldier of fortune/grave robber Tom Cruise as he's learning these new magical things – which, you know, could have been something that might help us empathise with his character, maybe? It sure as shit isn't in the dialogue, because as far as protagonists go, Cruise's is fundamentally unlikable – and invulnerable!
Spoiler Alert - but then again, can you really spoil turned milk?
Yes, a thing happens to him halfway through – a curse, or whatever – that renders him invincible, and rendered me completely incapable of giving a damn about anything that happens. Later on, he even develops the ability to bring people back from the dead! At the most opportune moment, of course! The only rules that govern his abilities are whatever the whims of any one of the six screenwriters in the moment of writing. The Mummy ends without the slightest indication as to what's happened to him or who he's become; it's beyond pathetic – and they think they'll spring a universe from this? People paid for their mansions with this sludge on screen.
I would like to talk about the directing in this movie, but there is none. There is not a lick of personal style or interest in anything. The credits list Alex Kurtzman as the director.
Even forgiving the stupidity and ill-conceived vibe of the whole thing, The Mummy is just dull, lifeless – devoid of human spark. There are no genuine conversations; there are no relationships that even halfway try to convince; the attempts at humour approximate the amiability of friendly banter and quick wit and that's about as far as they were willing to go with it; things happen not because characters make choices but because the CGI-heavy sequences were created long before shooting began. That arrogant air of inevitability extends to its very ending scene, whereupon the film practically sneers at you that you'll see the next Dark Universe chapter and you'll like it. Uh, well, hell no.