Susan Granger’s review of “The Mummy” (Universal Pictures)
This fantasy-adventure was designed as the first entry in an upcoming Universal franchise to be called the “Dark Universe,” featuring interconnected classic horror monsters from the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s
Opening with an Egyptian proverb that specifies “we never die” but, instead, reincarnate again and again, it introduces a pharaoh’s treacherous daughter, Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who murdered her father, his second wife and their infant son after making a pact with Set, god of the dead.
Mummified and buried alive for her sins, Ahmanet’s tomb is ‘discovered’ in Iraq by antiquity-hunting Army Sergeant Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), his buddy Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) and archeologist Dr. Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis).
Disregarding Jenny’s warning about an ancient curse, cocky Nick releases exotic, tattooed Ahmanet from imprisonment. This ancient enchantress subsequently sucks the life out of her victims with a deadly kiss, transforming them into zombies, while her spirit inhabits and confuses Nick, her “chosen” host.
Eventually, they all wind up in London, where Nick confronts maniacal Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe) and his alter-ego Mr. Hyde, who heads Prodigium, a clandestine organization that monitors evil entities around the world, as they search for the mystical Dagger of Set and its missing ruby finial.
Skimpily scripted by a team of writers that includes David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman, Jenny Lumet, John Spaihts and inexperienced director Alex Kurtzman (“People Like Us”), it’s filled with nonsensical action as thieving, impulsive, amoral Nick works his way toward some sort of dubious redemption.
Lacking originality – except in bestowing two glowing irises in each of Ahmanet’s eyes – even the CGI is disappointing, making one yearn for previous “Mummy” pictures that starred Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Christopher Lee or even genial Brendan Fraser.
Without a sense of mystery, danger or fun, the superficial concept plays like an elaborate, expensive prologue for future films with the Invisible Man (Johnny Depp) and Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster (Javier Bardem).
FYI: British actress Annabelle Wallis (Henry VIII’s third wife Jane Seymour in Showtime’s “The Tudors”) is a niece of the late Richard Harris, best known to Millennials as Dumbledore in “Harry Potter.”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Mummy” is a frantic 4, a monstrous flop.