Reboot a warning of putting too much faith in the franchise
If the billions of dollars invested in pumping out blockbuster comic-book films are any indicator, then superhero movies are having a not-quite-so-little moment. DC and Marvel are taking over the box office, and “The Mummy,” while not a superhero flick, is no stranger to the formula that has landed everyone from Wonder Woman to Spider-Man on the big screen.
“The Mummy” is an unassuming action flick with fantasy elements. While it is a reboot of the classic Mummy films, the most recent version of which starred Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, the movie is also the first in Universal's Dark Universe franchise, where we can expect to see films starring classic horror characters from Dracula to the Bride of Frankenstein.
“The Mummy” opens by delving into the antics of former soldier Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and Sergeant Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), who provides comic relief. The two accidentally uncover the hidden tomb of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), and all it takes is one glance at her sarcophagus for Morton to be cursed.
Annabelle Wallis co-stars as love interest/archaeologist Jennifer Halsey, and Russell Crowe appears as Dr. Jekyll, who reveals the plethora of monsters hidden in our world — and not so subtly nods to the existence of other films Universal already has in pre-production.
Filmed with a reported $125 million budget, the movie flopped at the box office, pulling in an estimated $30.5 million domestically in its opening week. This is a disappointment next to the recently released “Wonder Woman,” whose profits have nearly tripled its budget in the U.S. alone. The film has also fallen short of the buzz generated by the “Black Panther” teaser trailer, which gained 16 million views via YouTube in the first few days of its release. Paired with stale reviews, this is a film that Universal might want to sweep under its rug.
So what does “The Mummy” do wrong? Well, it simply doesn't do anything. Period. When “Iron Man” hit theaters, Tony Stark's moral ambiguity served as a breath of fresh air in a line of otherwise almost universally virtuous superheroes beforehand. The naivety of Thor, who struggled to order coffee or talk to Natalie Portman (don't worry, we get it), made him — Godof Thunder! — human enough for us to like.
But “The Mummy's” characters aren't given any room to budge. The hero is rough around the edges. The damsel is simply in distress. And the villain has a tragic backstory that is never really explored. The characters read like they're from a recipe book, and, if we're being honest, it's a dish we've already had too many times.