PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When the trilogy of creature features – okay, action-adventure fantasies — kicked off in 1999 with The Mummy, fronted by Brendan Fraser between 1999 and 2008, they got progressively worse until they got the proverbial boot.
Now, nearly a decade later, it’s time for a reboot.
But Tom Cruise takes over the franchise lead in hopes of delivering a Mummy dearest.
Nice try, but no cigar. Scratch that: this try isn’t anywhere near nice.
Not unlike the original, this version is loosely based on the 1932 offering starring Boris Karloff. It’s a special effects-driven, mummified action flick in which the principal characters encounter an enraged 5,000-year-old Egyptian mummy.
This time out, a malevolent ancient princess, Princess Ahmanet, played by Sofia Boutella – loosely based on the Egyptian goddess, Amunet — is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert to wreak havoc as she seeks punishing revenge against Cruise’s Nick Morton, a treasure-hunting soldier in Iraq who steals artifacts from ancient sites.
And why does she keep transforming herself?
Because her father reneged on his promise to make her the pharaoh once he had a son.
In the principal supporting cast, Jake Johnson plays Nick’s buddy and accomplice; Russell Crowe plays the who-knows-what-he’s-up-to Dr. Henry Jekyll; and Annabelle Wallis is Jenny Halsey, an archaeologist with a slight romantic history with Nick.
The characters are at odds, to be sure, but they’re united in their interest in the underground tomb they have stumbled upon.
Director Alex Kurtzman (People Like Us) offers a monster movie in the tradition of classic scare packages like Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Wolfman. But in terms of the vividness, urgency, and memorability of those offerings, he comes up woefully short.
The script by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, and Dylan Kussman, based on a story by Kurtzman, Jim Spaihts, and Jenny Lumet, despite opening up with a truckload of wearying exposition, never makes us care a whit about these characters or their particular circumstances.
There is, in others words, precious little fun of any sort, to be had here.
The film really never stops feeling indifferent. Neither funny nor scary, it seems to be going through the generic motions without ever becoming particularly entertaining or stimulating. Frankly, it seems to lack a reason for being other than the desperate desire to launch a new franchise of whatever kind.
So we’ll unwrap the bandages on 2 stars out of 4. The Mummy isn’t crummy, but at best it’s ho-hummy.