In 1932 Universal Pictures gave us the chilling tale of an ancient Egyptian ruler returned to life in modern day London stalking the living incarnation of a former lover. In 1999 Universal Pictures reimagined the story in the style of an old adventure serial, with a young archaeologist awakening an unspeakably evil power from ancient Egypt.
So 85 years after the original 1932 film Universal Pictures brings The Mummy back to the silver screen with a bold new vision that audiences have only seen a few dozen or so times before. With an all-star cast of Tom Cruise as a man we’re assured is a rogue-ish adventurer with a dark past and a heart of gold, and Russell Crowe as the obvious tie-in character for future installments of what will be called the “Dark Universe” continuity, audiences can expect the best sleep of their lives.
In a daring departure from the previous versions of the story, the movie centers around Tom Cruise as a young military man who may or may not be attempting to loot ancient ruins in Iraq accidentally stumbling upon the tomb of an ancient Egyptian princess who was so evil she killed an infant off screen, somehow awakening her from her CGI induced slumber. He along with a pretty blonde British lady and his less attractive comic relief sidekick then take the remains to England because that’s where Egyptian relics found in Iraq always go. After a fatal plane crash that only the blonde lady survives, Tom Cruise wakes up in the morgue to discover that he has been cursed by the evil princess to have sex with her in some fashion that involves a knife and the Egyptian god of Death; Set. Some critics may feel that this misinterpretation of the Egyptian Pantheon is in poor taste, however I believe this stands with the grand Hollywood tradition of just making stuff up about ancient Egypt.
What’s incredibly innovative about this movie is the casting of a female character to play The Mummy, giving audiences their first take on a strong female antagonist who doesn’t need a man, unless that man is Tom Cruise… or some ancient god. Even better we are treated to plenty of shots of a pretty Algerian actress who is only covered in “dead person” make-up for about half the film and clothes never.
Readers may have noticed that I have yet to mention any character’s name, and this is an important point that we will address now. One of the most revolutionary ideas that this film has given us is the complete and utter lack of characterization. Instead of dialogue or action showing the progression of character throughout the film everything anyone needs to know about any character is explicitly told to us through exposition and lines that may well have been churned out of a machine-learning algorithm. This also cuts down on the tiresome need for good actors and performances; instead the producers simply hired actors with good track record as that is the best way to assure that there would be no missteps with the talent. Here we see the future of Hollywood, as Universal clearly is using cutting edge script automation technology to produce new stories. While it’s possible that a few screenwriters were paid to write this over a weekend, it would be terribly cynical of me to assume that such a thing could ever happen. Here audiences are treated to so many classic and beloved quips and movie tropes that one could be forgiven for thinking they were psychic, but you’re not dear viewer; you’re simply being entertained more efficiently than ever before.
The Bottom Line:
Ultimately The Mummy provides all cinema has ever needed; paychecks for relevant actors, directors, and production staff as well as two hours of great footage for the portfolios of the digital effects studios that worked on it. Frankly, it makes for a promising start to the “Dark Universe” continuity provided Universal’s plan is to simply sell it to the Syfy Network. Seriously, don’t pay money to see this, and please don’t make the mistake of thinking this one has any sort of charm to how bad it is. It’s straight up awful, and not even close to awful in a remotely fun or entertaining way. – 2.0/10
-Scott Anthony Wittie
Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine