The Bock’s Office: Dark Universe series should already wrap after ‘The Mummy’
It seems like only yesterday but was in fact nearly 20 years ago when we were first given the concept of a classic horror character co-starring with the guy both goofy and beefy enough to play George of the Jungle. And, you thought that was as bad an incarnation of a movie bearing the title “The Mummy” we could get.
Amid conflicts in Iraq, American military men Nick Morton and Chris Vail (Tom Cruise, Jake Johnson) have one thing on their minds — treasure. With a map to untold riches in hand and Nick’s refusal to let a combat zone be a problem, the two stumble across something completely unexpected, namely an ancient Egyptian burial site thousands of miles from where it should be.
With an archaeologist acquaintance (Annabelle Wallis) on site, they exhume a sarcophagus that holds many mysteries, but the journey to learn its secrets is a short one when the plane carrying their party goes down.
Despite miraculously surviving the crash, Nick is suddenly beset by visions of the princess (Sofia Boutella) whose corpse he’s discovered, learning he’s now bound to her reanimated body and the dark magic she controls for the rest of his life.
However long that may be.
To his credit, you can always plop Cruise in front of a camera and rely on him to instantly be a compelling action hero. However, it helps when someone writes him a personality, and the one he has here is a dud — a career soldier who wants to be Indiana Jones and James Bond but hasn’t the good sense to be either.
An antihero is one thing, but did they have to make this guy so insistently stupid that we root against him after a half-hour? Anyone who shoots at the restraints in a crypt that was quite clearly not meant to be disturbed is dumb enough to get what he deserves.
Wallis is no help as Jennifer Halsey, the expert in past cultures whom he romanced to get to where he was, who’s somehow even thicker for sticking with him, while Johnson is lucky enough to get killed off early only to return in spirit form to warn his former partner about the evil he’s unleashed.
Boutella has eye appeal and more as the seductive Ahmanet, whose dealings with the Egyptian god Set backfired in her day and resulted in her being mummified alive only to bust out thanks to the unwitting modern bunch, sucking the life from mortals to regain her former beauty and power.
And yet, she’s still somehow almost entirely inconsequential, viewed as little more than the chick with curious tattoos who has Cruise wrapped around her finger and who also happens to be sought after by a man named Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe).
Yep, that Jekyll. Alright, it looks like this is really happening…
Why not yet another series with a super-secret society — this time called Prodigium — that reinvents classic characters that didn’t need a revamp? After all, look how well it worked for “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.”
With a catalogue of some of the best monsters in the business, you can’t blame Universal for wanting to reintroduce them, but if the rest of what’s in store is as bad as this, the real scares come from thinking how these people have jobs.
Setting aside the reliance on computer-generated effects and utter lack of suspense, what is the point of seeing all the action through the eyes of Cruise’s character? His lack of likability might be seen as some kind of wink to the audience if we believed anyone who contributed to this script were that clever with a few moments of humor that land almost entirely by accident.
Casting an established star to monopolize the screen is a bad enough move for something that should be a showcase for the monster in question — Boutella deserves more time to show her talents, even with a story this awful — yet casting the brightest star of all only highlights how weak everything else is.
Do we need to dig up Boris Karloff to show you how it’s done?
“The Mummy” proves an inauspicious start for what’s being called the Dark Universe franchise, possibly triggering a curse for the rest of the bunch that includes the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Bride of Frankenstein, the Invisible Man and more.
And, if your only answer to this problem was Brendan Fraser, you’re part of the problem.
Some years we finish up the calving season with one or two bottle calves here at Pipi’s Pasture; some years we don’t have any. The “not any” years are lucky years because feeding a bottle calf is an expensive business, and it means an extra chore, too.