There’s just not much to say about a movie like “The Mummy,” unless it’s a point of joy to heap frustration and disappointment onto a brave viewing audience or the innocent review reader.
Why brave? Because, from the trailers, it’s clear this part commonplace-reboot, part franchise-origin-movie could be a complete negligence of its purpose: to introduce the monsters of the Dark Universe, to revitalize Tom Cruise’s career and to capitalize on the global craze for otherworldly heroes and their equally fantastic villains.
“The Mummy,” directed by Alex Kurtzman (People Like Us), tells several stories. One, the tale of the spurned princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) overlooked for her father’s throne that turned to dark forces for her vengeance. Two, the soldier Nick Morton (Cruise) stories of transformation from a man of low integrity into one capable of sacrifice. And three, the emergence of Prodigium, the underground society hunting supernatural threats, represented throughout the film by Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), the ballsy blond Egyptologist and ironically led by one such menace, Dr. Jekyll and his much more exciting counterpart.
These alluring elements– Cruise: the action-hero, the beautiful specialist, the vengeful and powerful corpse, grand sets, adventure, action, romance, reliable source material– beckon the curious movie-lover to try it out, to investigate. Certainly, the story can’t be so mangled that all that remains is the slack jaw of the innocent moviegoer who ignored the critic’s warning.
Yet it is.
In the beginning, we do not get the Cruise we love, but an actor trying to represent that goofy, macho charisma Brendan Fraser brought to Rick O’Connell. The Egyptologist is not a sweet enthusiast approaching antiquity with reverence, but a self-indulged expert that wants to represent feminine strength, but instead appears overbearing and unyielding.
Sure, the movie-lover will laugh. Her heart will race as she careens to the ground in a first-person POV plane crash. She’ll be intrigued by the fresh story pieces that finally separate this incarnation from its beloved 1999 predecessor.
But she will not be moved…unless it’s to confusion.
The comedic sidekick reminiscent of Beni Gabor disappears for about two-thirds of the movie, the romance between Nick and Jenny is forced and the mummy herself, bereft of the love afforded High Priest Imhotep and his Anck Su Namun, eliciting some favor or sympathy, leaves the movie-lover disheartened and with no character with whom she can empathize.
Overall, “The Mummy” is a big budget endeavor meant to bring Universal into the comic book era. All those multi-genre elements exist, but the joy of going to the movies, the wonder of being touched by human elements does not. The movie proves to be, itself, the fangliest monster.