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We’d be better off if this ‘Mummy’ had stayed buried

Welcome to a new world of gods and monsters. Universal has decided it wants a piece of the action.

With properties like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, Marvel has dominated the comic book movie universe for a decade, and DC Comics, with Batman, Superman and now Wonder Woman, is not far behind.

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Universal thinks its lineup of monsters, which include Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll, Wolf Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Invisible Man, is every bit as strong as those superheroes and so is launching a new all-encompassing franchise umbrella called the Dark Universe.

“The Mummy” is the first Dark Universe entry, and if it’s any indication, Universal should go back to the drawing board. This Mummy is uninspired and ill-conceived.

Everything about it feels half-hearted or half-baked. It’s a horror movie that isn’t very scary. It’s an action movie with ho-hum set pieces (a firefight, a plane crash, a van rollover down a hill, a mummy zombie attack – you know, the usual.) It’s a Tom Cruise vehicle that takes an action hero and turns him into a full-blown romantic so suddenly that it’s laughable. And speaking of laughs, the movie tries so hard to be serious that when it intermittently strains for a few laughs, it just feels tonally off.

The film’s tonal problems stem directly from the unfocused script. You know a movie’s not working, for instance, when the back story is more compelling than the main plot. That back story goes way back; 2000 years ago in Egypt.

After slitting the throats of her father (the king) her mother, and her infant brother, Ahmanet is indeed stopped and buried alive for centuries, until Tom Cruise’s renegade soldier Nick Morton inadvertently unearths her by calling in an airstrike in the middle of the Iraqi desert. This Mummy, along with her hordes of mummy zombies, lays siege to the world for quite some time, until Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe) finally manages to capture both her and Morton.

But when Jekyll explains that he’ll have to kill both the Mummy and Morton, Cruise and Crowe get into a ridiculous and lengthy fight, thus providing convenient cover for the Mummy to escape and wreak more havoc. While Cruise gets back to fighting off the Mummy, he also suddenly realizes that he loves his blond colleague who has earnestly told him she thinks that somewhere inside him is a good man fighting to get out. What’s a Cruise to do?

It becomes clear that this film can’t decide what it wants to be, probably because it’s really just a set-up for future Dark Universe films, including more Mummy movies, and Dr. Jekyll movies, and whatever else Universal can capitalize on. (Javier Bardem has already committed for Frankenstein and Johnny Depp is set for the Invisible Man.)

But as one character in the film suggests, the world would have been better off if this Mummy had just stayed buried.

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