Instep Today

Tom Cruise chases the undead in The Mummy

Instep Today
By Instep Desk
Fri, 06, 17

 culturevulture

 Big budget films are no guarantee of success.

Love him or hate him, but Tom Cruise will not be denied. He is, after all, one of the last superstars left from old school Hollywood. His latest includes joining The Mummy franchise but sadly it looks like even Cruise’s presence in the film cannot rescue it from extinction.

A number of high profile films, back with new sequels, have failed to excite movie fans in recent weeks. Among them is Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant and Johnny Depp-led Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. The lukewarm response is therefore not entirely unpredictable. In simple terms  bringing back old films is not going to work.

Part of the problem for The Mummy is that ahead of its global release, the film has picked up disastrous reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

The New York Times noted in its review: “The Mummy reboot from 1999, directed by Stephen Sommers and starring Brendan Fraser, was kind of fun. Monster movies frequently are. This one, directed by Alex Kurtzman and starring Tom Cruise, is an unholy mess. Mr. Cruise plays Nick Morton, a jaunty military daredevil with a sideline in antiquities theft and a nutty sidekick (Jake Johnson). When a caper goes wrong, the two call in an airstrike on an Iraqi village — I guess that’s something people are doing for kicks nowadays — and a mysterious tomb is unearthed.... Long story short: An ancient evil has been unleashed upon the world. Its agent is a long-buried pharaoh’s daughter, Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who is covered with mysterious tattoos and convinced that Nick is her secret lover, or the god of death, or both. She gets inside his head, which is awkward both because he’s kind of sweet on Jenny and because it’s such an empty place.”

The bad reviews are a problem but the bigger problem confronting Universal is what happens to its game plan of multiple monster movies and creating a universe akin to what Marvel has accomplished in the last decade.

Reflecting on this predicament, Variety noted, “What was intended to launch an entire Dark Universe for Universal could be left stumbling if the film scores in the anticipated domestic range of $35 million to $40 million in its opening weekend. Overseas grosses should fare better — the movie is launching in 63 international markets this weekend and already saw a record opening in Korea on Monday — but with a reported $125 million production budget, this might be the mark of yet another franchise that should be laid to rest.”
The Associated Press didn’t mince its words either. “The Mummy — the opening salvo in Universal’s bid to birth its Dark Universe monster movie franchise — are a poor fit, and not the good kind, like ‘Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein’. There’s plenty of standard, cocky Tom Cruise leading man stuff here: running, swimming, daredevil airplane acrobatics, more running. But his relentless forward momentum is sapped by the convoluted monster mishmash that engulfs The Mummy, a movie conceived and plotted like the monster version of Marvel. Increasingly, Cruise — like big-budget movies, themselves — is running in circles.”

It looks like Tom Cruise should return back to the Mission Impossible movies. Ethan Hunt has grown on us. The same cannot be said for Cruise’s Mummy incarnation. The end.