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Movie Review

The Mummy

The Mummy
Sofia Boutella plays an ancient princess awoken from her crypt in "The Mummy." Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

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Rated PG-13 for violence, action and scary images, and for some suggestive content and partial nudity. One hour, 50 minutes.
Publication date: Jun. 9, 2017
Review by Peter Canavese
Released: (2017)

Universal Pictures' "The Mummy" is the first movie in its "Dark Universe" planned series of films that will revive Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Invisible Man, et al. on the theory that what worked before will work again. After all, Universal is the house the monsters built back in the Golden Age of Hollywood.
 
All of these monsters have been revived already umpteen times, of course, but strangely enough, none more successfully than the Mummy, which spawned a 1999-2008 trilogy (not to mention the "Scorpion King" spinoffs). This time, however, Tom Cruise anchors "The Mummy" with a big budget but a conspicuously hollow script.
 
It comes as a bit of a shock that the film's screenwriters include heavyweights David Koepp ("Jurassic Park") and Christopher McQuarrie (Oscar winner for "The Usual Suspects"), along with actor Dylan Kussman and three writers given "story" credit: Jon Spaihts ("Doctor Strange"), Jenny Lumet ("Rachel Getting Married"), and the film's director Alex Kurtzman ("Star Trek"). That's enough writing talent to suggest that the awfully clunky results are the result of too many cooks in the kitchen serving -- to mix a metaphor -- two masters: Universal and Tom Cruise.
 
Cruise plays antiquities thief Nick Morton, and oh boy, is he some rascal! He forces his sidekick (Jake Johnson) into insanely dangerous situations (a firefight in Iraq laced with bickering-buddy comedy), beds a woman (Annabelle Wallis' ancient-Egypt expert Jenny Halsey) only to sneak off with her buried-treasure intel, and generally insists that he's conspicuously "masculine." He also gets the requisite shirtless scenes and ranks highly enough over Oscar-winner Russell Crowe to make him say to Cruise's character, "You are a younger man" (for the record, Cruise is three months older than Crowe in real life). Yes, Tom Cruise, you are very manly, but do we have to watch this movie?
 
The film's Mummy thrill-ride action sequences (plane crashes, explosions, rolling vehicles), are a reasonable facsimile of the big dumb fun we expect in June, but whenever the movie opens its big dumb mouth and begins babbling, the audience is liable to feel as cursed as the sadly generic characters. Crowe, playing Dr. Jekyll (and Mr. Hyde), gets the worst of it, with lines like "He found his redemption. But at great cost" and "If evil were a pathogen, then there must surely be a cure."
 
Author Robert Louis Stevenson wouldn't recognize this Jekyll, whose secret organization Prodigium is in the business of vanquishing evil: "Recognize. Examine. Contain. Destroy."
 
Very long story short: awakened-evil-ancient-princess mummy (Sofia Boutella) wants to give human form to god of death; curses Cruise; wreaks havoc. Very long story shorter: You can keep this "Mummy" under wraps. It's disposable, and "Dark Universe", not surprisingly, looks like a very expensive mistake.