the mummy

The Dark Universe doesn’t get off to the most promising start with The Mummy. Alex Kurtzman‘s first entry in the shared universe is a strangely subdued movie: the scares aren’t scary enough, the humor is often forced and out of place, and the adventure never feels adventurous enough. Grand-scale spectacle and monsters don’t mix well in the film.

We’re going to run a larger review of this one on Friday, but with the first wave of reactions arriving online today, let’s take a quick look at why this movie doesn’t work.

The biggest problem with The Mummy lies in  the characterNick Morton, despite how committed Tom Cruise is. The actor is entertaining when he plays schmucks – which he sort of is in The Mummy. Being Tom Cruise, he’s innately watchable in every scene, but Morton as a character isn’t as captivating. There’s a push between good and bad in the opportunist, but rarely enough does his bad side reveal itself. He has heroic moments – saving Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) more than once – but the movie keeps telling us there’s some evil in the selfish lead, but we don’t see it enough to make it convincing. Morton could’ve used a little more edge, which the rest of the movie might’ve benefited from as well.

The Mummy is far more an adventure movie than a horror film. The scares are restrained like they’re in a PG-13 summer popcorn movie, not a full-on monster movie. The CGI holds back some of The Mummy‘s attempts at scares. When CG birds attack or Morton meets a swarm of rats or characters fight off the CG-enhanced undead, it’s unconvincing and unscary. Monsters are real, Dr. Henry Jerkyll (Russell Crowe) says, but they never feel real in the movie. And they especially never earn our empathy as they did in the original Universal classics.

Sofia Boutella has a fierce presence as Princess Ahmanet, but she’s never an empathetic monster. The movie is in such a rush there’s never a satisfying amount of time to get to know these characters outside of the action. Of all the characters, though, it’s Jenny Halsey who needs more to do. It’s difficult to care as much about her as Nick Morton does when we know so little about her.

The plane crash, Morton’s first fistfight with the dead, and the discovery of the sarcophagus are lively scenes on their own in The Mummy. There are some fun moments, courtesy of Cruise’s comedic timing and reaction shots. The few jokes that do land come from him. The rest of Kurtzman’s film is solemn and an unfortunately underwhelming experience. It doesn’t achieve the scares or intensity one would hope for from the revival of a classic monster title.

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