REVIEW: Universal’s Attempt At New Monster Series Crashes With ‘the Mummy’

Ever since Marvel made the prospect of a shared universe successful, allowing for numerous crossovers, many other studios have been trying to jump on the bandwagon. The latest attempt is the Dark Universe by Universal, which is trying to recreate its 1940s classic monsters with a new series.

Unfortunately, its debut in “The Mummy” is awful.

After some introduction in Ancient Egypt with the woman who becomes the Mummy, Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), becoming imprisoned in a tomb, the film picks up in the present day. There, we meet the protagonist, Nick (Tom Cruise), who’s part of the military but also works to sell artifacts on the black market.

Nick and his partner in crime Chris (Jake Johnson) are on their latest adventure at the start of the movie and in the process, uncover Ahmanet’s tomb. What follows is the Mummy getting released with a sinister plot and Nick having to work to stop it. Subsequently, this puts Nick in contact with a secret organization that monitors the activity of the paranormal.

Rather than a first act that carefully introduces the characters and gives them depth while also doing some world building, “The Mummy” shoves the audience into a story that seems already in progress and everything feels rushed. Things move so fast in the movie’s first several scenes, that an audience barely has time to absorb something before it moves on to the next piece. The introduction of a love interest and the reveal of the Mummy’s tomb is all within the span of a few minutes and it goes by so quick it feels like things are being glossed over.

It doesn’t get much better in the second act, as instead of just trying to be its own thing, the movie has to dive into the monster world and introduce the whole paranormal organization. It’s almost as if the movie stops in its tracks and decides to go on a detour, as Nick learns about the agency and its leader Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe).

The picture eventually gets itself back on track with its Mummy story, doing so in rather clumsy fashion, and finishes with a lackluster climax that’s not all that entertaining. On top of generic action sequences, the film’s finale also lacks emotional ties due to the weak characters. That includes the Mummy herself.

It’s really too bad, since Tom Cruise is a talented action movie star. However, in this movie Cruise basically does what Mark Wahlberg did in “The Happening.” For roughly the entire picture, Cruise just has a shocked expression and his character never really has an arc. On top of that, his character doesn’t have much in redeeming qualities. He has no archaeological knowledge, he isn’t really much of an adventurer and doesn’t even have much charm to let him get away with his criminal activity.

The supporting characters are a train-wreck, too. Courtney B. Vance is wasted with a few minutes of screen-time as an military officer, Jake Johnson is terribly unfunny as the comedy relief and Annabelle Wallis’ character doesn’t have much to do besides tag along with Nick with a forced romance. Additionally, Cruise had zero chemistry with Wallis.

Crowe at least had some fun with playing Dr. Jekyll, so much so that maybe the first movie in this shared cinematic universe should have been about him and his secret organization. Sofia Boutella, meanwhile, was largely forgettable as the Mummy, mainly because the writers didn’t give her much to work with. The picture could’ve been more interesting if it had given Ahmanet some more depth than just being the typical evil Mummy. It could have gone a long way in separating itself from the rest.

As previously mentioned, the action didn’t offer much either. Most of it, such as clouds of sand with evil faces chasing the heroes, we’ve seen before. Along with the unmemorable action sequences, the movie also felt the need to throw in cheap jump scares.

This modern telling of “The Mummy” doesn’t stand on its own as a solid new horror/adventure retelling of the classic story like the late 90s Brendan Fraser flicks did, nor does it do a good job at launching the modern monster movie series. 1 out of 5.