culture by Philbert Dy

‘The Mummy’ is a Misfire

A new cinematic universe starts off on the wrong foot.

NBHD movie 1-2 ticketsThe Mummy concerns Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), who is introduced as military recon agent who also secretly works as an illegal relic hunter. Using a map he stole off of archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), he inadvertently uncovers a secret tomb hidden beneath a village in Iraq. Without much though, he unleashes what was inside. This brings down a curse on him, and lets loose an ancient Egyptian princess that once made with a deal with the god of the dead. This all brings them to London, where the princess seeks a relic that will allow her to complete a dark ritual, and a secret organization ventures to stop her.Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 1.02.02 PMThis film is meant to kick off the Dark Universe, a new shared cinematic universe featuring the classic Universal Monsters. On its face, this is an intriguing idea. One might note that long before Marvel brought together its characters on the big screen, Frankenstein met the Wolf Man in what could be considered one of the very first crossover films. There is a tradition here that could be translated into the modern world. Sadly, this film seems determined to only provide the most generic of blockbuster thrills.Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 12.59.26 PMThe film largely fashions itself after the superhero. It barely acknowledges the horror roots of the source material, and essentially ends up telling a superhero origin story for its titular character. And it doesn’t even really do that well. It feels long and tedious, and even after all that it doesn’t really satisfactorily explain what actually happened. The movie doesn’t seem to care much for logic, its plot elements barely connecting the dots between events. The character is constantly being moved artificially by a force that only exerts control on him when it is convenient for the narrative.Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 12.50.39 PMThe film barely makes sense within single sequences. It really does feel like the filmmakers are assuming that the audiences are just going to be dumb. It just doesn’t care enough to make the film feel consistent within itself, the whole thing just falling apart in the details. All it aims to do is deliver its payload of generic action sequences. And because of how this movie is structured, because of how it wants to set up stuff for the future, we hardly get to see anything novel. It doesn’t really get to the superpowered fun stuff. That is all presumably left for future installments.Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 12.52.13 PMIn its place, we mostly get Tom Cruise running around. While there is always some pleasure to be derived from seeing the star sprinting, it isn’t nearly enough to sustain the film. And the character he plays is just terribly written. It is as if the film is determined to write the most boneheaded character of all time. The film seems to be trying to set up a redemption arc, but what plays out on screen is just a lot of toxic masculinity with a mumbo jumbo payoff that doesn’t really speak to what actually changed within the character. Cruise, for all his charms, can’t really sell that.Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 12.57.54 PMThe Mummy doesn’t really make much of a case for this new extended universe of films. It doesn’t really establish much of an identity beyond “standard blockbuster.” There’s still potential in the concept of having these monsters slug it out on screen together. There’s pure merit to what these classic properties can still bring to the cinematic landscape of 2017. But this film seems determined to be as uninteresting as possible. It doesn’t even really show the audience what the titular character is really going to be like on screen. Before it gets to those goods, the movie ends, leaving all the cool stuff for the future installments.

Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.
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