I was one of five people in my screening of The Mummy on its opening day. About seventy-five minutes into the film, I became conflicted as to whether I more passionately pitied the other four souls trapped in the theatre with me or respected the masses who cleverly avoided seeing this boring, Alex Kurtzman-directed blockbuster.
The Mummy follows vaguely characterised protagonist Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) as he struggles to combat an ancient curse inflicted by the evil, feminist monster, Ahmanet (Sophia Boutella), who meanwhile attempts to unleash a male counterpart with whom to rule and/or destroy the world. Undeniably, the vast majority of moviegoers will be entirely unable to explain either the specifics of the villain’s plan or how anyone at Universal Pictures thought that releasing a film in which the only two female characters are both fetishized and disempowered was good for business.
The Mummy is set to be the first installment in the “Dark Universe” franchise which is to be comprised of The Invisible Man, Frankenstein, and Creature from the Black Lagoon, among others. Unfortunately, the film spends far too long establishing the world and laying the groundwork for sequels and consequently feels like an 110-minute-long first act: all setup and no payoff.
The best that can be said about The Mummy is that watching it likely won’t be a painful experience for anyone except Universal’s shareholders. Film fans may find its complete lack of directing competence frustrating, and half the world’s population might be offended by the film’s portrayal of their sex, but casual fans watching it on cable television in eighteen months’ time likely won’t feel physical pain as a result of their experience. In fact, viewers of this movie likely won’t feel much of anything at all as The Mummy seemingly makes no effort toward being either intellectually or emotionally engaging. There isn’t a spark of originality to be found, nor a single endearing or personable character and by the third act, I found myself rooting for Cruise’s character to die just so he might see some semblance of a character arc.
In typical blockbuster fashion, The Mummy attempts to juggle a bevvy of genres, but fumbles in the execution of almost all of them. This is due, in large part, to the film’s direction and editing and despite its many attempts, The Mummy is seldom either funny or frightening. The oddly paced edits are the primary culprit on both accounts, but Kurtzman also frequently aims to achieve horror and comedy simultaneously, consequently negating the effects of each.
The Mummy does boast some reasonably strong cinematography, and an adequate (albeit forgettable) performance from Tom Cruise, and special effects which are on par with most action blockbusters. Even here, however, the film relies too heavily on computer generated imagery and resultantly fails to inflict any amount of fear into the audience. While the film does also end satisfyingly, this ultimately amounts to little more than a graceful landing to an entirely unimpressive trick.
The vast majority of filmgoers likely won’t hate The Mummy, but few will be truly entertained by it. Rather than being actively bad, the movie simply falls flat in nearly every regard and likely isn’t worth your time or money unless you have a truly unquenched desire to watch a scantily clad Mummy lick Tom Cruise’s abs.
Director: Alex Kurtzman Starring: Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Russell Crowe Distributor: Universal Pictures Release date: June 9, 2017 (United States) Running time: 107 minutes