Well, we’re back again with another movie review. Today we’re going to look at an interesting one: the first (second? third?) revival of the Universal Monsters and the beginning of their own, new cinematic universe. I’m talking of course about, The Mummy. Now there’s been a lot of really bad buzz about this one, so we decided to see what all the fuss was about. As usual, no spoilers ahead.
I’ll be totally honest, I kind of expected this to be a hate-watch. In fact, we came prepared, just in case. I even tried something new for the occasion.
I was willing to give this movie the shot, the benefit of the doubt, even. That is despite how dumb the trailers looked. Because trailers can be deceiving. It was kind of a ‘hope for the best but prepare for the worst’ kind of scenario. And well, I’m kind of glad I did. I’m going to come right out and say it: this movie is dumb. Not the dumb fun way that I actually tend to really enjoy, but the flopping over like a disgruntled teenager while whining ‘this is duuuuumb’ kind of way.
Let’s examine this further by breaking down the exact issues with this movie.
-Tom Cruise is horribly miscast and phoning it in. Watching this movie, you can tell that this role was written for a younger actor (Russell Crowe even says ‘you are a younger man’. Cruise is 2 years older than Crowe). So much of it just doesn’t add up with Cruise as the lead. That’s not the only reason he’s miscast, though. His character is clearly supposed to be a ‘dashing rogue’, Han Solo-ish type and Tom Cruise cannot sell that, nor can he deliver a one-liner or quip that lands. He’s an annoying asshole with none of the charm this character needs, especially with his buddy Vale, played by a grating Jake Johnson who’s worse than he was in Jurassic World. They obviously cast Cruise for the star power, but he is completely wrong for this role.
-Annabelle Wallis’ character, Jenny. First off, her and Tom Cruise have exactly zero chemistry on screen. Their ‘romance’ arc is totally forced, unearned, and basically out of nowhere. She’s also the worst character, and that isn’t the fault of the actress. She has nothing to do but spout exposition, be a damsel in distress, and have cringe-worthy conversations about how she thinks Cruise’s character ‘is a good man’. I don’t know who she’s trying to convince more, her or us. It was a conversation that was so trite, forced, and cheesy that I rolled my eyes so hard I’m pretty sure I saw my own brain. If I wanted to watch a movie about lost ancient treasures with a loveable rogue and a useless blonde, I’ll go watch Temple of Doom, because that one’s actually enjoyable.
-Ahmanet’s timeline. This one really gets under my skin, and that’s putting it mildly. We have three different dates for Ahmanet, each corresponding to very different periods in history. In trailer 2, Jenny says that the tomb has been buried for 2,000 years. That would put Ahmanet in the Roman period and long after the end of the native Egyptian pharaohs. Okay, so maybe that was a flub on the trailers’ part, right? Both the Universal Monsters Wiki and Wikipedia itself say that Ahmanet is from the New Kingdom era, or around 3,000 years ago. That date actually makes sense given what we see of her in the flashbacks. This would have been peak Pharaonic Egypt and that would have worked great. In the movie itself, Jenny says twice that Ahmanet (and her sarcophagus) are 5,000 years old. That would put her way back in the First Dynasty (New Kingdom was 18-20th Dynasties), not long after the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. That would also mean that those lovely, recognizable pyramids in the background of the flashbacks wouldn’t be there, as they wouldn’t be built until the Fourth Dynasty. So… get your dates right, guys. Seriously.
-Stupid archaeology. This kind of goes along with my last point about the timeline, but as someone trained in the field, I can’t let this go. Jenny is a terrible archaeologist. They pull out the sarcophagus, seemingly taking nary a provenance, or you know, contacting the government of the country they’re in before they just haul it away. And what about all the rest of the stuff down there? Are they just going to leave it there? They pull up the sarcophagus with two little straps tied around it and then the helicopter flies away, swinging it through the air like it’s a carnival ride. Two straps and not even a blanket or a tarp to protect it as its sails through the air and the blowing sand.
This is beside the fact that while the stuff in the tomb looks relatively Egyptian, Ahmanet’s sarcophagus doesn’t look Egyptian at all. I suppose they wanted a ‘horror’ or ‘monster’ theme with that, but it looks dumb and out of place. Oh, and you can’t ‘mummify someone alive’. That’s not how it works guys. You can bury someone alive, and I suppose you can start mummifying someone alive, but they aren’t going to stay that way for very long. Again, just a dumb line that stuck out to me.
-Sexist crap. Okay, just a quick point on this. There are some gross shots of the female characters in this film. There’s one part where Jenny reaches up to get something while in the foreground and you’re basically looking down her exposed stomach and pretty much down her pants. Yuck. She also ends up in the water in a white t-shirt. Also yuck. This is added on top of how Jenny is basically just a useless, damsel character. This movie even has a butt-focused shot of the Mummy herself! And it would have been so much cooler if Ahmanet herself wasn’t so interested in bringing Set into our world, but rather was consolidating her power for herself and her own rule. Wasn’t that her whole plan in the first place? I’m not even going to go into something said at the end after Cruise has rescued Jenny, that was said (and done) so much better in a movie that came out earlier in the summer. I actually had to pause the movie because I was so angry about it and how it cheapened that line. I don’t want to say what it was, because spoilers, but it was the same thing a male character said to a female one in a much better movie and with much more emotional impact. (If you really want to know, I can post it in the comments lol)
-Exposition, aka, let me tell you a story. Honestly, there are so many scenes where everything just stops and one character begins telling another what’s going on or what we need to know at that given moment. The film literally begins and ends with an exposition dump. It is ‘tell, not show’ to the nth degree, and it gets pretty tiresome. In fact, one exposition scene is telling us about things that we just had seen a few minutes ago on screen. It just grinds everything to a halt to try and flesh out this universe that they’re building, but it really affects the overall pacing. And yet with all this exposition, there are things that don’t get explained! The double iris thing, the Templars and the dagger, why she’s buried in Mesopotamia (Iraq) instead of Egypt, and so on.
-Bad CG. It’s not very good, need I say more? Much like Tom Cruise’s performance, it felt like they weren’t even trying.
Alright, I’m not going to end this off on such a negative note. There were a couple of positives. Let’s lighten things up and have a look at them.
-Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. You can tell he’s having fun with this, and truthfully he’s one of the best parts of the movie. Think of him as the Dark Universe’s Nick Fury.
The differences in his character between the two personalities was pretty cool, even if most of what he does is exposition.
-The plane crash/ zero grav stunt. I’ll give credit where credit is due, that stunt was pretty cool. The fact that they did so much of it practically is really impressive. Tom Cruise may not have fit well with this movie, but at least you get here what he does in his other films: him doing something completely nuts and doing it for real.
-At one point when the Mummy is bearing down on our main characters, my other half busts into Hall and Oates’ ‘Maneater’. It was hilarious, out of left field, and sorely needed at that point.
So there it is, guys. This really was not a good movie. I’d say just stick with the Brendan Fraser ones, or the original Universal Monsters films. It’s really not worth your time, and will in several places remind you of other, better films that you could be watching instead. Skip it.