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With: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari
Written by: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie & Dylan Kussman, based on a story by Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet
Directed by: Alex Kurtzman
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, action and scary images, and for some suggestive content and partial nudity
Running Time: 110
Date: 06/09/2017

The Mummy (2017)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Bad Wrap

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Opening Friday in theaters everywhere, The Mummy plays as if its makers spent too much time trying to guess what people wanted to see, and not enough time on what kind of movie they'd like to make.

It's a lukewarm, so-so start to Universal's new "Dark Universe" monster movie franchise.

Intended as a crossover monster series similar to the DC and Marvel superhero films, the "Dark Universe" makes good sense. Universal has been making money from its stable of monsters since Dracula and Frankenstein graced screens in 1931.

There were even crossover titles, like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943).

But this Mummy belongs to a series of misfires as modern filmmakers try to discover the equivalent of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and creepy castles for today's audiences.

A 2010 version of The Wolfman was a flop, and the 2014 Dracula Untold was so bad it was dropped from the "Dark Universe."

The Brendan Fraser action/comedy Mummy movies were popular, but grew progressively worse, winding up with the unbearable The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor in 2008.

In this new Mummy, at least Tom Cruise is on his "A" game as lovable scoundrel Nick, a military recon man who, with his partner (Jake Johnson), digs up treasure in the Middle East to sell on the black market.

On one mission, they discover the tomb of a disgraced Egyptian princess (Sofia Boutella). Along with a cute archaeologist (Annabelle Wallis) they unearth it, but Nick winds up being cursed. Only Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe) can help!

Cruise brought along his favorite screenwriter, Oscar-winner Christopher McQuarrie, to help with the script, which is also credited to five other scribes.

While individual sections are amusing — such as Nick using detached zombie body parts as weapons on other zombies — other sections are confusing or dull. It doesn't add up to much.

Universal might have made a mistake in hiring Alex Kurtzman as director; his debut feature was the perplexingly dopey drama People Like Us, and his prior career as a screenwriter was spent on mostly big, dumb, loud things, like two of the Transformers movies.

Kurtzman relies on a top FX team for a series of undead soldiers, spiders, rats, sandstorms, and other things, and they are spectacular. Yet his camera placement is rudimentary, generating few thrills.

Worse, it never feels like an actual monster movie. The new mummy is part sexy runway model and part digital glob.

In the classic black-and-white films, the monsters were fascinating, amazing, more so than even the heroes. This new monster will likely be forgotten before Halloween.

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