It’s strange how much difficulty Universal have had with resurrecting (ha!) their monster properties. Whilst Brendan Fraser’s The Mummy remake worked well enough at the tail end of last century, its sequel didn’t impress. Then the awful Van Helsing came along and wasn’t good enough to encourage a follow-up. They returned to the Mummy with Tomb of the Dragon Emperor in 2008, a pale imitation of the first Fraser film. And then in 2010 we had The Wolfman remake, which showed glimmers of a once-decent script amongst a mess of a film. Two thousand and fourteen saw the release of Dracula Untold, the supposed first film in a new shared universe…except the poor reception meant that Universal retracted its status, instead claiming that this film would be the first in a new series.
And yet, once more, we have been dished up a terrible film.
Tom Cruise plays Nick Morton, a former US military officer cum treasure hunter who stumbles upon an Egyptian tomb in modern-day Iraq, of all places. Soon enough, he’s awoken some ancient evil and got himself cursed in the process.
There’s been some confusion as to how much of an action versus a horror vibe can be found in this particular take on The Mummy, and the answer is: mostly action with a bit of CGI gore. Tom Cruise – oh so surprisingly – runs a lot. In fact, when the film opens, it feels more than a bit like “Uncharted.” Sure, there are some quieter moments when we’re exploring tombs, but for the most part, the action barely lets up.
It’s clear that Universal have adapted their properties to compete with the superhero franchises that are currently ruling the box office. With clear links to all the other forthcoming movies – Jekyll & Hyde, Dracula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon – they’re not shy in hinting at what this universe has to offer. Thing is, I don’t watch a Mummy film in the hopes of seeing super-powered folks duking it out. I want humans, desperate and alone, overwhelmed by the awesome power of an ancient malevolent force. And that isn’t this film.
Whilst the first half of The Mummy is somewhat entertaining in a brainless way, the second half stumbles into a series of never-ending fight sequences. To top it all off, Cruise plays a flawed man who’s supposed to go through some kind of redemptive arc. But unlike Edge of Tomorrow, which masterfully handled the smarmier side of the trademark Cruise persona, here he’s just a dick. Annabelle Wallis is wasted as the heroine, whilst Jake Johnson’s comedic sidekick routine fails to raise a chuckle.
The Mummy is a poor first film in what could have been a great modern-day horror franchise. If they scrape together enough box office to make the next monster film, I hope it’s better than this one.Rating: