The Mummy is Universal’s second attempt in the past couple of years to relaunch their Universal Monsters series, now called the Dark Universe. Their first attempt, 2014’s Dracula Untold, was a bit of a misfire. This one is better then that. It’s also a step up from the last Mummy film, 2008’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. A good analogy would be that this was Universal’s Man of Steel to their Green Lantern (when that film was supposed to launch their DCEU). Now dubbed the first in a new franchise, The Mummy had to tell a story while at the same time launch the universe around the dealings of an organization known as Prodigium. For the most part, it’s a fun popcorn film.
On the plus side, Tom Cruise still commits himself to the role. Yes, this is another movie where he can outrun or out-swim you, but he does a good job with the performance he gives as Nick Morton, a soldier who pillages antiquities in Iraq. After unearthing a giant Egyptian tomb with archaeologist, Jenny Hasley (Annabelle Wallis), the evil Egyptian princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) is unleashed on Earth.
Russell Crowe seems like he's having a blast as Dr. Henry Jekyll, the head of the organization. He’ll be an interesting character they can explore later. The music from Brian Tyler is epic and seems to be better then it should have been. Whenever the film works, it’s fun, with some funny lines sprinkled in here and there. Since this is supposed to set up the new Universal Monsters universe, be on the lookout for some of the other famous monsters along with a blink and miss it reference from the previous Mummy trilogy. The film also plays with the viewers’ expectations in a few places. Finally, the action sequences throughout the film, like the airplane sequence from the trailers, were well choreographed and not overly edited so it was easy to follow.
On the negative side, Boutella doesn’t get to do much as Princess Ahmanet. Since she was a scene-stealer in 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service and 2016’s Star Trek Beyond, this should have been a big breakthrough moment for her. Instead, it feels like she didn’t have anything to do other than stand there and try to look menacing. It’s a missed opportunity for her, and she deserved better. The film is derailed by some of its exposition scenes, especially during the opening sequence where it feels like someone is reading a book to you as they try to tell how Prodigium works. It’s also derailed by multiple, repetitive flashbacks to sequences that you saw literally a couple of minutes prior. The CGI is obvious in places and overboard in some places. You know it’s a problem when they repeat some of the same visual cues as the previous trilogy.
With an inconsistent tone, one minute the film is funny and knows what movie it’s trying to be, and then the next it takes itself way too seriously. This could be the case that this film had six credited screenwriters (screenplay from David Koepp and Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman from a story by Jon Spaihts and Alex Kurtzman & Jenny Lumet). It’s easy to see which scenes were a part of the reshoots to help this film fit in to the larger universe at play. With the combination of writers and reshoots, the climax is a bit of a letdown since it feels like they ran out of money or changed the ending to fit their needs. You don’t need to see this in 3D because it didn’t really bring anything to the film, and instead make some of the night scenes look even darker.
Overall, when it knows what movie it’s trying to be, The Mummy is a fun popcorn film. It’s better then what the trailers advertise, but it does have problems. If you turn your brain off during it, you might have some fun with this, knowing it suffers from trying to set up future installments rather than focusing on The Mummy. This universe might be DOA before it even starts, but if they work on the problems, it could potentially work. If you have to see it, go with a matinee screening. It’s not a bad film, but it’s not a great film.