Universal took a big gamble. Hoping that their star power would surge them onto bigger and better things with The Mummy. Instead, reviews for the 2017 picture have been anything other than glamorous. As the 107-minute action adventure title has been received with a whimper from critics.
Not being scary enough to be a horror flick, not thrilling enough to be an entertaining action hit, the scribes are unanimous in their contempt for the feature. Following in the footsteps of DC, this is one of the worst ways to start off a long franchise for the Dark Universe.
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Tasha Robinson from The Verge saw it as a grand marketing exercise, tempting viewers to buy into the Dark Universe before it has established the other characters properly.
"The Mummy is a relatively functional creature-feature movie, packed with oversized action sequences," she writes. "But it reminds viewers at every turning point that it isn’t a story so much as a prologue, a brand-deposit setup meant to whet their appetites for more Dark Universe. The approach may pay off in the long run, but in the short term, it feels like sitting down for a movie, and getting a feature-length trailer instead."
Owen Gleiberman of Variety thinks there is a major contradiction at the core of the film, seeing a middle-aged action star fitted into a narrative that could and should have been much darker.
"The new 'Mummy,' you may be surprised to hear, doesn’t have a whole lot of show-stopping visual flimflam up its sleeve," he argues. "Instead, it’s built around a chancy big trick... The problem at its heart is that the reality of what the movie is — a Tom Cruise vehicle — is at war with the material. The actor, at 54, is still playing that old Cruise trope, the selfish cocky semi-scoundrel who has to grow up."
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Daniel Krupa of IGN agrees with much of Gleiberman's sentiment, saying that the pay off is not there for the continuous running and chasing undertaken by our protagonist.
"The Mummy’s lack of characterisation isn’t helped by its deafening set-piece action. From the moment we meet Cruise’s character the movie accelerates towards a breakneck pace from which it rarely escapes. There’s a middle section where he’s endlessly falling into and out of vehicles, fighting hordes of zombies, and generally running in lots of directions... The Mummy isn’t completely rotten, but given its heritage and larger ambition it feels frustratingly generic and unfulfilling."
THR's John DeFore is hoping that future sequels/spinoffs will take note of this bloated mess. Making the point that the movie has a kinship to the Brendan Fraser series Universal were so eager to correct.
"It's no surprise that the action to come has vastly more in common with the CGI bombast of the Brendan Fraser-starring Mummy films than the quiet, slow-creeping horror of the version Karl Freund directed in 1932," DeFore writes. "Sure, it's hard to muster anything like desire for another Dark Universe flick after seeing this limp, thrill-free debut. But who knows? Maybe shifting gears to a female protagonist in 2019's Bride of Frankenstein will do the trick."
Negative Acclaim Keeps Pouring
Giving a 2/5 star review, Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian is of the opinion that The Mummy tries to be a franchise film from the superhero world, but without any of the subject material to make it worth while.
"It brings in the usual element of sub-Spielberg gung-ho capers, but essentially sees The Mummy as a superhero origin movie; or possibly supervillain; or Batmanishly both. The supporting characters are clearly there to be brought back as superhero-repertory characters for any putative Mummy franchise, including one who may well be inspired by Two-Face from The Dark Knight."
"In the end, having encouraged us to cheer for Tom Cruise as an all-around hero, the film tries to have it both ways and confer upon him some of the sepulchral glamour of evil, and he almost has something Lestat-ish or vampiric about him. Yet the film really won’t make up its mind. It’s a ragbag of action scenes which needed to be bandaged more tightly."
The Mummy is released this Friday, June 9.