My friend Ian Kalman, who writes the funniest greeting cards on the planet (one of his “Bald Guy Greetings” was recently read by Denzel Washington on TV), said on a recent Facebook post: Dear Hollywood, You can’t name every movie about a mummy — The Mummy. It’s just too damn confusing.
He’s right. Without even Googling for all the various versions, there are the classics: Boris Karloff did one, as did Lon Chaney. I remember (unfortunately) Brendan Fraser did a version. I think Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s version had a title with “Scorpion” in it, but I’m not about to start Googling now. Hopefully if you saw that one, you learned your lesson. The classic name of a movie means very little in this day and age of reboots and garbage constantly being released.
So it’s Alex Kurtzman (co-writer of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Star Trek Into Darkness) doing The Mummy this time (with the “help” of five other writers). He tries to give you some scares, as well as some laughs. And there are plenty of laughs. Some intentional, some unintentional. The star power is there, too. There’s Tom Cruise running and kicking mummy ass. There’s also Russell Crowe playing Dr. Jekyll; strangely, the movie has a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde feel. It isn’t sure what type of movie it wants to be. Sometimes it’s a thriller. Other times it’s a romantic comedy.
It wants that Indiana Jones vibe, with all the expository dialogue about Egyptian hieroglyphics, tombs, and valuable artifacts. It wants to scare you, although it very rarely does. We do get a few fun scenes utilizing the 3D, though.
We get the start of the story with how Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) gets screwed over on becoming the next pharaoh, when her aging father has his first son. She makes a pact with the devil, and that leads to her killing him and the new baby. She’s then entombed/embalmed alive as punishment for her crimes. The story then jumps to modern day Iraq, and an Army soldier (Tom Cruise) is getting into deadly situations so he can steal antiquities to sell. A pleasant surprise is that his partner is played by Jake Johnson (who was so amazing in the indie film Safety Not Guaranteed). After a battle and bomb blasts, the buried tomb of Ahmanet is uncovered.
Archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) shows up, and there’s some sexual tension between her and Nick (Cruise). He stole a map after they had sex, but that’s all water under the bridge after they score this big tomb. The second they lay eyes on it, Nick gets hypnotized and Ahmanet is going to make love to him, kill him, and let the devil take over his body. Or something like that.
Once Ahmanet is released and the action starts, that’s when it becomes another goofy action picture with CGI garbage we’ve seen before. Bugs and rats crawling everywhere, mummies chasing people. At one point, the mummies even start swimming after Nick. At that point, my wife and I looked at each other in disbelief. Nothing looks less scary than mummies slowly swimming after a person.
A few scenes made me think of other movies. It Follows being one. Another was An American Werewolf in London, although younger audiences won’t know that. It involves Johnson being dead, but showing up half decayed to make humorous jokes and explain what’s going to happen to Nick.
Dr. Jekyll (Crowe) runs a group that collects artifacts and captures monsters. Those scenes are fun at first.
Everything is rather vague, despite the goofy exposition dialogue; and plot holes start popping up. It’s also all so…generic.
Ahmanet does a lot of screaming, but is never all that intimidating.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scored.
Many critics are calling this the worst Tom Cruise movie ever made. That’s a bit harsh (and I think they’re forgetting about Cocktail).
This gets 1 ½ stars out of 5.