Ever since the groundbreaking success of Marvel’s “The Avengers” in 2012, film studios have attempted to recreate their successes. Only five years later, there are planned cinematic universes for DC Comics, Star Wars, Transformers, The Conjuring and even LEGO.
This week sees the release of “The Mummy,” Universal Pictures’ attempt to get in on the cinematic universe big bucks. And while it fully develops their new world, the film forgets to do the one thing a movie actually has to do — tell a decent story.
Tom Cruise plays Nick Morton, who seems to be some kind of soldier in the Middle East at the movie’s outset. Nothing in this film is ever very clear, leaving the audience to piece together much of the story. Morton, accompanied by his adventuring pal Vail (Jake Johnson), likes to plunder ancient burial sites in his spare time and inevitably stumbles upon a cursed grave.
Luckily, Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), the resident expert in Ancient Egypt, is nearby, so they call her in for assistance in looking at the burial site. Again, none of this movie makes too much sense. They end up taking the sarcophagus in an airplane and flying it to London for study and safekeeping.
In mid-air, the cursed mummy (Sofia Boutella) in the sarcophagus decides enough is enough and finally starts causing mayhem by crashing the plane, killing Morton and Vail. Mysteriously, Morton survives, and teams up with Halsey to figure out what is going on while being haunted by the mummy as it grows in power.
This first hour or so is extremely stupid, with a plot that doesn’t make much sense and characters that are not very engaging. Luckily, Cruise knows how to be an action star and makes these moments fun, along with Alex Kurtzman’s occasionally thrilling direction. Had the entire movie been like the first hour, it would have been an enjoyable mess. But unfortunately, it takes a turn about halfway through.
All of a sudden, Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) — yes, that Dr. Jekyll — saves all of the characters from the villain and captures the mummy in a magical prison. The plot literally stops for about half an hour so Dr. Jekyll can show Morton around his lab and explain to him the larger world of monsters he is in.
In Marvel’s first “Iron Man” film, the viewers have no clue there is a larger world of heroes until Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury shows up for 30 seconds after the credits have finished rolling. In “The Mummy,” Dr. Jekyll, this universe’s Nick Fury, provides a 30-minute derailment of everything to provide an exposition dump and then turn into Hyde. It provides no substance to the film and almost feels like an advertisement in the midst of the story.
The six different writers on the film attempt to put the pieces back together in the last 20 minutes, but it is already too late. Whatever momentum the film had going for it is gone, and the climax is a hollow shell of explosions and CGI creatures.
Somehow, Universal assembled a great creative team and cast for a two-hour commercial for future movies. Cruise, Crowe, Boutella and co-writer Christopher McQuarrie are better than this cinematic universe, and hopefully it dies before it even starts.
Runtime: 110 minutes
Score: 2/5 Stars