The dead rise in “The Mummy” but little life is brought back to the classic horror franchise.
Tom Cruise stars with Annabelle Wallis and Russell Crowe in a film heavy on classic horror allusions but light on actual frights. The film sets the metaphorical stage for what Universal Studios is calling the Dark Universe. This collection of films will resemble Marvel’s extended superhero universe setup, but instead of capes and tights there will be monsters, mummies and other malicious creatures. “The Mummy” serves as the first film in this Dark Universe endeavor.
In the film, Nick Morton (played by Cruise) is an opportunistic treasure hunter in Iraq. He and his friend Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) run a little scam where they raid towns in search of old relics and artifacts to sell on the black market before insurgents get to those towns and destroy old monuments and pieces of history. The duo accidentally stumble upon a massive tomb during one hunt, and their discovery leads to the arrival of Jenny Halsey.
Halsey (played by Wallis) is an archeologist of sorts who is an expert in the type of tomb discovered by Morton and Vail. She quickly realizes it’s not a normal Egyptian burial — it’s in Iraq, well out of the borders of ancient Egypt, and its setup is far different from usual. This is because the Egyptians who buried this mummy wanted to keep her soul contained, and not reach the afterlife.
But alas, Nick Morton rolls in, guns a-blazin’, and messes everything up.
As you can likely guess if you’ve seen any number of mummy-related films in the past, a mummy comes back to life and things get weird. Crows start flying in strange flocks, zombies start following the resurrected mummy and Morton is stuck trying to figure everything out.
But “The Mummy” is just a disjointed couple of hours. Instead of turning a promising subject into an exciting action/horror film, it unravels to reveal a rotting mess. The plot has gaping holes, spooky encounters are rare and intense action is limited.
For instance, at one point early in the film, Tom Cruise’s character dies in a plane crash. This is no big spoiler as it happens in the introductory scenes, shortly after the discovery of the mummy’s tomb. The body is placed in a morgue for identification and wrapped in a standard plastic bag with a zipper. Cruise even had a tag tied to his toe along with all the other dead bodies.
But he wakes up. He wakes up right before Jenny walks in to identify the bodies and she finds him alive.
Now, given the only man I’m aware of who came back from the dead is the son of God and lived about 2,000 years ago — seeing a man walking around after dying in a plane crash would cause some extreme concern in my life. Questions would be flying, disbelief would be unshakeable and no doubt I’d take this news as deeply disturbing.
Not Jenny. The film cuts straight from her look of shock at seeing Nick Morton alive in the morgue to a scene of the two of them in a bar talking about what happened. This is not normal. If you witness a resurrection you don’t casually discuss the matter over drinks at a London pub. Even in a sci-fi film where everything is supernatural, this seemed to be a plot point dismissed too rapidly and glossed over by writers.
There are several others I could discuss but I won’t for brevity’s sake and to save you from spoilers. The film is not the worst I’ve seen this summer, that still belongs to “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” but it’s not great either. “The Mummy” contains several fun allusions to possible future films that are fun to keep an eye out for while watching, and monster films in general are pretty entertaining. The Dark Universe is worth keeping an eye on, but probably not worth heading to the theaters to do your watching. Save your money and popcorn for a future film this summer, or catch up with the rest of the world and go see “Wonder Woman” yesterday.
This mummy just can’t compete.
Contact David Dishman at firstname.lastname@example.org