Universal’s attempt to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (they even are calling their new brand The Dark Universe) has produced “The Mummy,” the first in the series of classic monster movie reboots by the studio. If this film is any indication, they may have a difficult road ahead of them. This movie isn’t nearly as awful as you’ve heard, and it’s actually a rousing ride of pure escapism that is entertaining enough to please old fans as well as new recruits.
Too-old-for-the-part Tom Cruise plays hero Nick, a soldier with a sweet tooth for antiquities, who uncovers a hidden tomb and unleashes the fury of the mummy Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). The plot isn’t much more sophisticated than that, but it really doesn’t need to be because the admirable special effects and stunts carry the project from start to finish.
The stupid story and ridiculously silly ending don’t lend any favors, but despite the film’s uneven stumbles, it never struggles in its quest to keep audiences entertained. It’s thrilling and spooky enough when it needs to be, and it isn’t even close to being a bad movie.
Everyone gives better than they should performances, including a great turn from Boutella as the evil yet sympathetic Ahmanet and Russell Crowe as the dual personas of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I loved the female mummy angle quite a bit; her compelling back story provides plenty of motivation to explain her pure evilness. Cruise is good here too, proving himself to still be a bankable, charismatic movie star. There’s zero chemistry between Cruise and his co-star Annabelle Wallis, however. She, too, is horribly miscast as an archaeologist, and there’s simply not one ounce of believability that Nick would put his life on the line to save her. Their “relationship” consists of a one night stand, making their emotional connection register at nil. (There are several awkward jokes about their evening spent together, with some suggestive content that might make very conservative folks blush. In fact, prudish parents should be aware that this film pushes its PG-13 rating and is filled with many genuinely scary moments, mild horror gore, and brief nudity).
The movie blurs the lines to create an oddly satisfying horror-adventure genre (at times it feels more like a modern zombie movie or an episode of “The Walking Dead” rather than a classic monster reboot), which means there are far too many hackish scenes of cartoon zombies grabbing for the humans.
There’s no denying that the film is deeply flawed on so many levels, but it gets enough things right (including its big, dumb, over-the-top fun) to make for an entertaining evening at the movies.