This Mummy will make you curse
Is there an ongoing contest for the worst film of 2017?
If there is, The Mummy has just told all other contenders to hold it's beer and watch it do the equivalent of a perfect double back-flip into a drained pool.
I'm sad to say this film is a complete and utter mess.
Sad because I actually like Tom Cruise. Most times he delivers entertainment and puts everything he can into a film.
But he can't save this particular mummy from being cursed.
Or given what I was muttering under my breath at the screening, being cursed at.
Yet it does appear that he tried to be the hero offscreen.
The sight of Cruise's Jack Reacher/ Mission Impossible collaborator Christopher McQuarrie among the six(!) writers for this omnishambles suggests good old Tom tried to fix things where he could.
He was facing an evil more insidious than a supernatural North African cadaver - lazy writing.
Aside from a momentarily thrilling plane crash, this film is like an endurance test. Considering it centres on a reanimated corpse, it's pretty lifeless.
The director is Alex Kurtzman who has been involved with some really big films, notably as writer/producer on Transformers films, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and JJ Abrams' Star Treks.
But he has never directed a big-budget action movie before. And it really shows.
It has three starts, two of which are deathly dull and don't need to be there.
First is Russell Crowe spending five minutes lolling around a London crypt. Then sets his fruity noble accent - the one from Man Of Steel - onto the back story to this Egyptian princess who is cursed and seeks revenge. Totally superfluous except to show us that an unbandaged, pre-rotted Sofia Boutella is indeed rather attractive.
If The Mummy takes its cues from any of Kurtzman's previous work, it is the Transformers films.
Those melees of unintelligible action where three-dimensional characters aren't deemed necessary and scenes just lurch from one action set piece to the next.
The fact is, beyond the spectacle, there's nothing to make you care here.
Take Cruise's character. There's so little to him that leaving the screening I realised I didn't even know his name.
In fact, the only character whose name stuck was Crowe's Henry Jekyll, and that's only because he's already a famous character.
Cruise plays Nick Morton, supposedly a charming wheeler-dealer in the US Army, who apparently is able to wander off and play tomb raider/looter in war zones.
Now while it's unfair that Tom Cruise gets to look over a decade younger than he is, he's still too old to make this role credible.
He's too brazenly anti-authority and too smart-ass to have not been booted out or shot by his own.
In a short space of time, Morton displays such selfishness and charmless disregard for others, you hope he goes out with the first airstrike.
And the supporting characters don't get enough to do to justify having actual names.
To learn them, go to IMDB. But in the film, you'll need only know them by designation.
So there's Side-Kick (Jake Johnson), Exposition Woman (Annabelle Wallis) and that about it.
Wallis has little to do apart from getting in a snit with Cruise, telling the audience what's going on and getting into trouble and screaming.
And frankly, she's so bland you'll find yourself thinking that maybe Cruise should try to make a go of it with the Mummy.
She's quite alluring if you look past the bandages, and the open face wound.
Then again, you'll find yourself thinking lots of other things while this lumpen beast lumbers on.
At no point do you get to care about these people because nothing they do makes sense.
This film can't decide what it wants to be.
It's as if each of the six writers wrote their version of The Mummy in a different genre - and then the scripts were shuffled.
There are many jarring and bizarre lurches between tones. One moment it tries to build the horror but then suddenly plays it for goofy laughs.
The gaps in logic are more like crevasses and they occur right up to the credits.
Gaps like huge amounts of exploding glass being a deadly as a light dusting of talcum powder.
One of the worst offenders comes after the plane crash.
A small tip for future script writers: Should a military plane crash over a town, and a body from that crash suddenly come to life in the mortuary - in front of witnesses - there's no way that suddenly alive person will immediately be allowed to go to the pub!
And then we get to see more of Russell Crowe's Easter Egg factory.
He runs Prodigium - again, you'll struggle to remember its name during the film - a secret high-tech paramilitary group that controls supernatural things.
It is littered with clues to potential spin-offs. Wondering who the pointy fangs belong to might be more cute if this film remembered what fun was.
Prodigium apparently have a keen eye trained on the entire planet, yet it takes them over a day to travel about only 50 miles outside of London to get to a plane crash one of their own people was on.
Because Crowe is revealed as Dr Jekyll in the trailers it's no spoiler to say he's also the evil alter-ego Mr Hyde.
In a ridiculous conceit, Jekyll has to keep administering a serum to himself to suppress his inner monster from taking hold.
Because this film can't be bothered to make sense, in this high-tech centre, Jekyll's medicine is delivered via a complex Rube Goldberg device that has to be assembled from scratch each time (for no reason) and he only remembers to start putting together when it's close to being too late.
Prodigium - able to harness pure evil, yet to discover the alarm clock.
Of course, eventually, it means we are treated to Crowe's pantomime cockney Mr Hyde.
What is truly baffling, is that The Mummy is meant to kick off a shared universe of classic monsters such as The Wolfman, Frankenstein's Monster, The Invisible Man etc - all characters who thrilled audiences in the 1930s - called the Dark Universe. Yes, everyone's jealous of Marvel.
It is an odd notion given the quite recent yet failed attempts to revive Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolfman. Audiences just don't seem that interested.
With some of the other films in production right now, who knows what will happen.
Who knows, it could end up a huge hit. Plenty of bad films have made lots of money before.
Hopefully, they try and make the subsequent installments more horror and less horrific.
If you can endure Round 2 of this review, you can find it here
STARRING: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Annabelle Wallis, Courtney B. Vance, Russell Crowe
DIRECTOR: Alex Kurtzman
THE SKINNY: A cursed ancient Egyptian princess (Boutella) is awakened from her tomb and tries to use Nick Morton's (Cruise) body as a vessel to bring the ultimate evil into the world. To do this, she must find a dagger located in London.
RATING: PG 13