Universal, lacking a superhero franchise, has big plans for its “Dark Universe” slated series of monster movies—reboots of old classics like Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man. The studio may have to take a hard look at this ambitious undertaking, since reviews of the first film, The Mummy, are resoundingly bad.
The Alex Kurtzman-directed Mummy currently has a 23% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is pretty putrid. The movie, which stars Tom Cruise in his typical running hero mode and Sofia Boutella (Kingsman, Star Trek Beyond) who deserves better, appears from its trailers to be nonstop action with none of the levity (or feminism) of the Brendan Fraser/Rachel Weisz Mummy(s). Here’s what the critics have to say:
A.O. Scott’s review is a masterwork of scorn and derision directed at the film: “You’ve no doubt been told that if you can’t say something nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all. If I followed that rule, I’d be unemployed. But still. There’s no great joy in accentuating the negative. So I will say this in favor of “The Mummy”: It is 110 minutes long. That is about 20 minutes shorter than “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” about which I had some unkind things to say a couple of weeks ago.
“Simple math will tell you how much better this movie is than that one. If you have no choice but to see it — a circumstance I have trouble imagining — you can start in on your drinking that much sooner.” Yikes.
“But I like Tom Cruise.
“I’m going to keep repeating that mantra throughout this review of ‘The Mummy.’
“Because this movie’s a mess.”
“Tom Cruise isn’t good at ‘rakish thief.’ He’s not young Harrison Ford. That’s not his thing. His thing is overly cocky jerk – too sexy to resist even though women know he is trouble – gets the smirk knocked off his face. …
“Throw out all those ’empowered women of summer’ pieces that include this film. As the story turns, it seems that the forgettable female lead sleeps with Cruise (before the movie begins) to get him to steal her map so he will go find The Mummy. And The Mummy herself is only an elaborate conduit to, inevitably, get Tom Cruise to be The Mummy. Go feminism!”
“…director Alex Kurtzman’s “Mummy” movie starring Tom Cruise is terrible — more calamitous and grating than any of the 1999-2008 “Mummy” outings by a wide margin. I haven’t had this little fun at an SSM (Stupid Summer Movie) in several summers…
“…Co-star [Russell] Crowe [as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde] drew the short straw and, in reams of introductory voice-over narration that may still be going on, he explains the background. …
“…The rest of the movie is a pain in the sarcophagus. I fear that it will anger the gods.”
“We are now entering into uncharted territory – a land where a Tom Cruise movie can exist, and elicit nothing more than a sleepy shrug. …
“The Mummy … fails on every level, and others we haven’t yet arrived at. … It’s sexist. It’s also very racist. The characters are so poorly written, we don’t know a thing about them aside from what their most immediate goal is. It’s cringe-inducingly unfunny when it tries to joke, and it’s hysterical when it tries to be serious. …
“It is categorically the worst movie of Tom Cruise’s career. Sitting through it was a pain unlike any other.”
“..because the movie’s carrying a heavy load of corporate expectations, it gets pulled in different directions by competing agendas before eventually collapsing into incoherence.”
Everything about this description of the movie’s plot makes me highly uncomfortable about the movie:
“Between the three of them, they unleash on an unready world the imprisoned and not-dead-yet pharaoh’s daughter Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who 5,000 years ago was about to incarnate Set, the Egyptian god of Death, into her lover when she was mummified alive. Upon reawakening, she spots Nick and, in the way ducklings imprint on labrador retrievers, chooses him as her new consort.”
AND THIS: “The Betty and Veronica calculus of the female roles — sexed-up brunette vs. true-blue blonde — feels depressingly retro, and there’s the general unexamined queasiness of a naked Middle Eastern babe cutting a swath of destruction through London while an All-American hero and his neurasthenic British girlfriend try to stop her. You don’t have to have read the recent headlines to sense a callowness at play here.”
Whoa, so we’ve got a Mummy that is apparently sexist, racist, boring, too full of senseless action, poorly written, and just generally a mess. Even if the film bombs (and it sounds like it should), that likely won’t deter Universal’s Dark Universe plans—too much has already been wagered on development, and the studio has splashed out for the likes of Crowe (Jekyll/Hyde), Javier Bardem (Frankenstein), and Johnny “Ugh” Depp (The Invisible Man).
Bride of Frankenstein, which is directed by Bill Condon, seems more promising because I trust Bill Condon and would follow Javier Bardem over hot coals. But hopefully the ruin of The Mummy will make the studio give a good long look at the quality of productions it’s creating if it wants this nascent universe to succeed.
Do you have plans to see The Mummy or sit this one out?
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