Perhaps "The Mummy" should remain in its coffin

Universal’s planned series of Dark Universe films get off to a slow start with “The Mummy”


Whether it's called “The Mummy,” “Mission Mummy” or “Mummy Impossible Mummy,” Tom Cruise's latest film is nothing more than a rehash of stunts and silly storytelling with the bankable Cruise at the forefront.

Unlike Brendan Fraser's 1999 blockbuster, “The Mummy,” this version leans heavily on the serious side. Packed with nuggets from countless other such films, the latest “The Mummy” — Universal Studios’ opening salvo in a planned ‘Dark Universe’ series of monster films — manages to make mediocre look good.

Mercenary and thief Nick Morton (Cruise) along with reluctant buddy Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) unwittingly unleash a wicked princess from her tomb. They, along with Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) fight against evil in a dark world of undead and evil.

Sofia Boutella is Ahmanet, a slighted Egyptian princess imprisoned thousands of years ago after murdering her family in an effort to bring the Egyptian god Set — a.k.a. the Devil — to life in the body of her lover. Awakened by the treasure hunting Morton, Ahmanet sets her sights on making Nick the vessel for Set.

Russell Crowe plays Dr, Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, whose presence in the 21st Century connects Universal’s ‘Dark Universe’ plans but is never fully explained in the film. At least with Hyde there comes some literary character reference, but other characters — except perhaps Ahmanet — are poorly developed, making them unworthy of attention or care.

The superficiality of story bores and were it not for the special effects and zero-gravity stunts there'd be little to watch. In truth, skipping “The Mummy” and watching a "good" Tom Cruise movie really is the better option. Everything here has been done before and far better.

I find it disheartening to see Hollywood continually reuse the same stuff over and over again. A bit of humorous banter between Johnson and Cruise keeps the film from totally floundering in the darkness, but all efforts in creativity of character are lost even when played craftily by Crowe. For their parts, Boutella and Wallis are talented beauties, but hardly noteworthy as villain and damsel. In fact, the only thing noteworthy about “The Mummy” is the opportunity it affords viewers to tear it apart.

Director Alex Kurtzman, who has a short and lackluster resume, now has a full-on flop on his hands. Star-power and CGI can't breathe life into this mummified mess and even more disappointing is the blatant promise (or threat) of a sequel. Rated PG-13 for violence, action and scary images and for some suggestive content and partial nudity, “The Mummy” misuses it cast and falters at every turn to muster up anything remotely fresh. It earns a D- in my grade book.