Ever since the early 1920s, Universal Studios has been the home for many of the iconic monsters that we know and love today. They created the films starring the creatures of darkness that still haunt some of our nightmares today. Some of these include Dracula, Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, and many others. In the heat of the Marvel and DC cinematic universes, Universal is reviving their monster properties for a universe of their own, titled the Dark Universe. They begin this brand new journey with a reimagining of the 1932 classic, The Mummy.
In the heart of Iraq, treasure hunting soldier Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his cohort Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) unearth the ancient tomb of an Egyptian princess named Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). Along with archeologist Jennifer Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), they take the sarcophagus back to London to examine. However, what they have released carries more power than they could ever imagine. With the aid of the mysterious Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), they must subdue the revived Ahmanet before she completes the mission she began thousands of years ago.
I had so much hope in this movie, especially when I found out they were beginning a new cinematic universe. Since I can’t really get into the superhero franchises, I thought one involving classic monsters would be way more fun. I always thought it was a little weird that they were starting with The Mummy (with the Brendan Fraser franchise being so recent), but I still thought it would be fun. Unfortunately, my worst fears about this movie were realized. The Mummy is one of the worst films that I have ever seen in a movie theater.
First off, let’s tackle the performances. This movie had the worst cast performances of any film in a long time. As much as I think Tom Cruise is a really good action star, this wasn’t him. He gave one of the worst displays of acting I’ve ever seen, along with everyone else. Wallis, Johnson, Crowe, and Boutella are all actors that I can find good qualities in, and none of them brought their A-game to this movie, especially Johnson. He gave such a good performance in Jurassic World that I could forgive him for playing such an arrogant loser in this movie.
Similar to most superhero movies, this film is 110 minutes of endless fight sequences and apocalyptic chaos. That wouldn’t be a problem if all that endless fighting was justified, but nothing really had a reason for being in this film. I will admit that the movie had some nice visuals, but they had no reason for why they were there. All in all, this film is two hours of Tom Cruise getting chased and beaten non-stop.
The thing about this movie that I absolutely hated the most was the script. This had, by far, one of the worst written screenplays of any film I’ve seen. The dialogue was so poorly written that the movie came off as more of a parody of The Mummy rather than a serious retelling of the story. There were so many scenes where the characters were trying to act funny, but were not succeeding even in the slightest. Those scenes ended up coming off as awkward and unnecessary, but that’s what happens when you have six different people writing the script.
Stemming from that terrible script was, once again, an unrealized and inconsistent tone. This movie didn’t know whether it wanted to by funny or serious. It’s OK to have some comic relief throughout the movie, but when every other line of dialogue is a cheesy one-liner, the film comes off as something completely different. It starts acting like a film that they were clearly not trying to make.
Also stemming from that script was a lack of anything original. This movie looked and acted like so many other summer blockbusters that it’s hard to keep track of how many other movies it’s clearly copying. If anything, it looks like every other movie that Tom Cruise has ever been in. It seems to be really hard for him to play anyone else other than himself, or at least find movies that give him the chance to act like someone else.
Despite the kind of experience that director Alex Kurtzman has, I don’t think he was the right guy to make this movie. Yes, he is one of the guys behind the new Star Trek series from J.J. Abrams, but in terms of directing, all he’s done is the 2012 drama People Like Us. Having only made a drama himself, he didn’t exactly have the track record that screamed, “big budget monster movie.” His “skills” brought us the terrible script and performances that plague this movie.
The Mummy was a very rare kind of bad movie: a bad movie with no redeeming qualities. Usually I can find something that I liked about it, but not with this movie. A terrible screenplay, stale performances, visuals without reason, and a complete lack of anything original creates the worst film I have seen so far in this very disappointing summer season. In fact, compared to everything I have seen, The Mummy is the worst movie of 2017 thus far. I’m not giving up on the Dark Universe yet, but they have a lot to make up for after giving us this movie. Hopefully the next entry, Bride of Frankenstein, can accomplish that when it hits theaters in February 2019.