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Film Review: The Mummy


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The 2017 reboot of The Mummy, meant to launch Universal's ambitious Dark Universe is nothing short of a disaster - and a rather boring one at that.

While The Mummy franchise dates all the way back to the 1930s, modern audiences are probably best familiar with its 1999 iteration starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz - a fun, campy action adventure that went for more of an Indiana Jones-vibe than traditional horror. The 2017 reboot takes a few cues from that version, but misses the most important ingredient - the fun.

Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) are opportunistic soldiers that unearth an ancient Egyptian tomb hidden in Iraq. They, along with archaelogist Jennifer Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) take the sarcorphagus of the ruthless Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), inadvartenedly unleashing her evil upon the world. 

The Mummy was meant to be the first in Universal's planned Dark Universe - a shared continuity for classic horror icons such as Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde, and more. 2014's Dracula Untold was originally meant to kickstart the Dark Universe, but it was torn apart by critics and failed to really excite audiences. By the looks of it, history is repeating itself with The Mummy

Like other misguided attempts at launching a cinematic universe (looking at you, The Amazing Spider-Man series), The Mummy is way more interested in setting up sequels and future franchise fare that it is in its own story. Doctor Henry Jekyll (Russel Crowe) is part of a secret society that takes on supernatural threats and much of the movie's second half is spent listening to dull exposition about things that will don't really have a payoff. 

The characters are all fairly one-dimensional and atrociously written. There's basically zero chemistry between Cruise and Wallis, Johnson's loud, obnoxious and unfunny sidekick character dies and then comes back as a loud obnoxious and unfunny zombie/hallucination and Russel Crowe spouts out exposition. That's about it. 

Cruise appears half-wake except when there are stunts to be done. Said stunts might have been impressive if there was any real sense of weight or impact to them. Nick Morton is basically a immortal ragdoll and watching him get flung all over the place accompanied by crunch sound effects is the closest the movie comes to entertaining. He never seems to get bruised, or even winded!

Boutella was the right pick to give a female incarnation of the iconic Mummy a shot, but this reboot gives her little to work with except a cool design. Her ability to screw with Nick's head leads to at least one sort-of neat moment, but she is otherwise neither particularly entertaining or menacing as a villain. 

The Mummy's pacing is awkward and disjointed. It feels less like a cohesive story and more like a series of plot points, set pieces and thinly written characters haphazardly thrown together. The first half is all forward momentum before the whole thing comes to a screeching halt to let Dr. Jekyll drop an exposition dump.

Visually, the movie is dark, in a very unappealing and unemorable kind of way. It shows you things that aren't that interesting to look at in rooms too dark to really see them properly. The special effects are passable - they don't take you out of the movie, but they're not really a reason to go in. The plane sequence is easily the highlight of the film (which is why it was so prominently featured in all of the trailers), but it's nowhere near engrossing enough to warrant watching the rest of this mess.

As a story that's meant to set the stage for the upcoming Dark Universe, The Mummy is a colossal failure and on its own terms, it's a dull, uninspired summer blockbuster that's best left forgotten.

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