If you have read any of my previous reviews, you know I am not a snob when it comes to movies. Especially if they are movies that have monsters and explosions. Give me some exciting set pieces, some fun characters, and I will forgive just about any plot hole you can throw at me. I'm looking at you, The Avengers.
I really, really wanted to like The Mummy.
I really, really hated The Mummy. It is terrible.
Every element is mushy, like vegetables cooked overlong in thick, grayish water. Is it an action movie? A horror movie? None of the characters have any real motivation, and there are no clear rules governing any of the supernatural elements. So every action and decision feels arbitrary, without cause or consequence, based solely on whatever was left in the script after the tenth team of writers finished their twentieth rewrite. At times it feels like the characters are having a contest to see who can come up with the most terrible plan.
With nothing interesting to watch and no characters to cheer for, I ended up contemplating things like whether Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde would have different fingerprints (according to The Mummy, they do!) and whether the writers of this film really thought mummification just meant wrapping someone in bandages (according to The Mummy, it did! A quick trip to Google would have let the writers know that trying to mummify someone alive would very quickly have caused that person to not be alive.)
Nick Morton is clearly supposed to be an Indiana Jones-type dashing scoundrel, but Tom Cruise seems to be playing Tom Cruise, as usual. That works in a lot of movies. It does not work in this one. Sofia Butella is a bit more compelling as the mummy, but for huge stretches of the movie she isn't even involved. Jake Johnson does good, enjoyable work as the comic sidekick, but he's also barely in the movie after the first half hour. We sure do get to see a whole lot of computer-generated undead creatures though, so... yay?
But perhaps there is cause for optimism. A lumbering script like this one, hacked together bits and pieces of many stories, might work better for Bride of Frankenstein.
I normally try to keep reviews spoiler free, but I couldn't help myself this time. If you don't want to know the plot details of The Mummy, don't scroll down.
Okay, I mentioned the characters in this film having a contest to see who could come up with the worst plan. Here are some contenders:
Ahmanet: She loses her place in succession to the throne when her father has a son. Bummer. Historically, this is a problem that is solved very simply - assassinate the brother. Lots of precedent, quick, clean and effective. Instead, her plan is to summon the god of death and destroy all of humanity? The movie itself even throws up its hands on this one. Nick asks why she killed her father and his wife. All she can come up with is "It was a different time." It really was, Ahmanet.
The people in charge of imprisoning Ahmanet: Some ancient engineer was tasked with imprisoning a powerful, malevolent being that wants to escape and destroy humanity. To accomplish this, he traveled from Egypt to Iraq, designed an elaborate stone complex, recruited and oversaw the thousands of slaves required to build the complex, and somehow gathered thousands of gallons of mercury. But maybe he handled the mercury a little too much and went crazy at the end, because his final design resulted in an elaborate system of pullies and counterweights that meant the ultimate evil he was trying to lock away forever was one broken rope away from being free, rendering all of that work worthless. The slaves probably saw the flaw in his design but didn't want to say anything, due to being slaves.
Dr. Jekyll: To be honest, I couldn't figure out what his plan was. I think it involved trapping Ahmanet in mercury again - what could go wrong! - and stabbing Nick with the magic dagger so they could kill him and destroy evil, somehow? Well, Nick showed him, because
Nick: His plan, after escaping from Mr. Hyde, fleeing a giant sandstorm that killed thousands in London, fighting zombies, and finally having the absolute tar beaten out of him by Ahmanet, was to allow himself to be stabbed with the dagger after all?!?! Great plan, Nick. You couldn't have just done that an hour earlier and saved everyone a lot of trouble? Kept your love interest alive and also by the way did I mention the thousands of people shredded and lacerated when all the glass in London shattered? Oh well, at least you ended up with the power to control life and death, so you can help all those people who died because of you. Oh, you just brought back your wisecracking friend and nobody else? Oh. Okay then.
Set: His plan to get himself incarnated into a human body seems to have backfired, since the titanic battle of wills that resulted has the score Nick Morton: 1, Set the immortal, all-powerful ancient god with power over life and death: 0.