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‘The Mummy’ Is a Lackluster Start to the Dark Universe

When an Egyptian tomb is discovered by American soldiers, they unknowingly release a curse that will unleash a powerful monster upon them. Starring Tom CruiseThe Mummy reboots the classic monster franchise in the modern world. However, the film seems to lack the spark and excitement that other remakes have given to audiences. Introducing the Dark Universe by way of this installment was a bad first impression as to what the monster mash will ultimately give us.

Minor spoilers warned within

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Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) is an American soldier who finds time to steal precious artifacts when he’s stationed near ancient cities. When he and his companion Sergeant Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) find themselves in the midst of enemy gunfire, they call for help which means dropping a massive bomb on the city. This explosion unearths the Egyptian tomb of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). Who committed an act so vile, her place in history had been virtually erased.

With the aid of Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), an archaeologist, Nick and Chris explore the tomb, discovering it to be more of prison. Ignoring the warnings of a curse, Nick naively aids in the freedom of Princess Ahmanet which sets off the curse, and will find him connected to her. As The Mummy reeks havoc on the city of London, Nick must find a way to stop her from unleashing a greater evil.

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The film marks the first installment in the reboot of the Universal Monsters, now being called the Dark Universe. Which will see several films in production over the next few years starring Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man, Javier Bardem as Frankenstein’s Monster and eventually portrayals of Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and more. However, this film wasn’t the best first impression for what these films will bring to theaters.

Cruise does what he does best, his performance just like any other action flick he’s ever been in. His character lacks any sort of connection to the audience, whereas Brendan Fraser in The Mummy (1999) was charismatic, Cruise doesn’t bring you to care about him at all. Meanwhile, Johnson is the charm and provides plenty of comedic moments that distract from Cruise’s otherwise dull persona. Which is a shame the character finds himself underused as he *spoiler alert* dies early on. Eventually coming back as a ghostly zombie which turns him into a completely misplaced juvenile character. Johnson in his prime, but brief, time in the film made more of an impact than Cruise did in the entirety of the film. Honestly, he would’ve been a much better lead actor for this movie, being witty, charming and fun to watch.

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Characters and their intensions also seemed to be confused and disorganized throughout the film. The character of Nick is established early on as a selfish, egotistical jerk. Annabelle Wallis, our female lead, is only first introduced to us when she storms the scene, slapping Cruise across the face after their brief night with one another. Her only purpose the rest of the film is to trail behind him and be saved over and over. Their “romance” is one of the more snooze-inducing parts of the film. A false relationship built between Wallis and Cruise, despite being introduced as just a one-night-stand where she views him as being void of emotion. Yet it somehow evolves to them being in love and him being a good man, despite the fact they’ve already established their lack of romantic connection.

Sofia Boutella, who plays our villainess mummy was a major positive in this film and a worthy mummy incarnation. Her presence was large and her performance was emotional, frightening and enjoyable to watch. Although she’s not the only monster this film focuses on as we’re teased with the menacing Mr. Hyde after getting acquainted with Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe). It was a nice way to introduce his character into this new Universal Monsters cinematic universe. However, his turn as Mr. Hyde, which we briefly see in this film, is not really anything special and definitely needs more work on its concept.

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It’s a flashy film, albeit very dark and in a filtered blue haze throughout the majority. It definitely does not warrant the 3-D treatment as it serves no purpose in aiding with the visuals, especially in the darker sequences. The mummies themselves looked really great, an obvious benefit to better CGI than they had in the late 90’s. Although story-wise, the previous films (let’s forget about that third one, shall we?) had a certain flair and uniqueness to them despite still being a remake. Most annoying in this film was an exhaustive use of flashbacks, visions and hallucinations. The same scenes being recycled over and over to emphasize the curse that has its hold on our main character. It was rather yawn-inducing.

There were obvious flaws in this film, even more too spoilery to include in this review. At no point did it really excite the audience, safe for a view jump scares here and there. The Dark Universe and original monster squad deserve more than this underwhelming film. With an interesting villain and an even more interesting expansive universe, this film suffered throughout. The production names reading more as a list of Cruise’s friends, all having worked with him on his various projects from War of the Worlds to Mission Impossible and more. Are we making a Tom Cruise franchise or a Universal Monsters one?

The Mummy is in theaters Friday, June 9th

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