Review: In a year laden with over-hyped and anticlimactic releases, 2017’s “The Mummy” truly stands alone. It’s a contemptible excuse for a film whose obscure, chaotic story (and the word “story” is used extremely loosely in this context) begins in a state of relative disarray and rapidly deteriorates until it lacks anything even remotely resembling a narrative. It seems Universal’s attempt to kick-start its own catalog of interconnected “Dark Universe” epics was an overly-ambitious one, which inadvertently yielded a frontrunner for the top prize at the 2018 Razzie Awards.
Every facet of this movie’s framework is arrantly and fatally flawed. Within the first few minutes, it’s uncomfortably apparent that the film’s writers were suffering from a severe identity crisis. Billed as an Action/Adventure film, the picture itself contains very few instances of either action or adventure. And though it’s far from being considered a Comedy, it devotes a disproportionate amount of screen time to making abysmally unfunny attempts at humor — most of which leap from the proverbial high dive and belly-flop into an empty swimming pool, disintegrating upon impact. There’s also a pitiful effort to generate romantic chemistry between leading man Tom Cruise and co-star Annabelle Wallis, but their characters’ relationship is so convoluted and underdeveloped that it’s not even marginally believable. Furthermore, in service of the studio’s greater goal of establishing their “Dark Universe,” the director forces an inordinate amount of overhanded foreshadowing into the second act that only serves to muddle an already tired and paradoxical plot. It’s honestly unfathomable how a movie so riddled with nonsensical absurdities found its way through the approval process and onto silver screens around the globe.
Unfortunately for the filmmakers, none among the litany of aforementioned inadequacies address what is certainly the film’s most egregious sin — an unreasonable measure of extraneous, expositional dialogue. Far too much of the film’s total duration is monopolized by gratuitous banter, monologue or voiceover; it’s a disorienting, cacophonous jumble of unpalatable word salad. And this complication is exacerbated by the downright lamentable performances of the film’s entire ensemble. Newcomer Annabelle Wallis fails to rise to the occasion after a successful and widely acclaimed run on the Netflix series "Peaky Blinders," Tom Cruise is dishearteningly second-rate, and Russell Crowe makes a strong case for the Academy to retroactively take back his 2001 Oscar for Best Actor ("Gladiator"). If there's a silver lining to be found, it's in the cinematography— which isn’t distinctly terrible— but the editing is so nauseatingly bad that it’s hard to pay attention to the events unfolding on-screen.
Final Take: It’s hard to imagine any film (as far as major theatrical releases are concerned) being worse than “The Mummy” this year. I couldn’t wait to leave the theater and didn’t even bother to stick around to see if the movie included a post-credits scene. Frankly, it terrifies me that this is the release with which Universal intends to launch it’s Marvel-esque roster of monster movies. If we are to expect more films of this caliber from such a monolithic studio, I fear the worst for the “Dark Universe” and for moviegoers worldwide.
Parental Guide: Probably best to leave the kids at home for this one. There are a few mild jump scares, some unsettling images of corpses, skeletons, and violence, and some dramatic story elements that may not be well-received by younger audiences. PG-13 is an appropriate rating, but you can check out the trailer to determine whether or not it’s suitable for your teen.
Recommended Format: I saw it in 3D, and it adds absolutely nothing to the experience. I sincerely doubt it’s “better” in 2D, but it certainly can’t be worse. Don’t spend any more money just to see it in a premium format. Even though it was shot on ARRI’s large format Alexa 65 with a massive screen in mind, it’s not worth seeing in IMAX.
The Verdict: 1/10