A monster (played by Sofia Boutella), complete with double eyeballs, awakens in “The Mummy.” (Photo Credit: Universal Pictures)
“The Mummy” starts off light and very quickly goes dark — fading quickly, along with our hopes that this latest monster mash might possibly be any good. Arriving 18 years after the last major reboot of the franchise (the 1999 version starred Brendan Fraser and was, if memory serves, sort of fun), it’s a movie that needs to prove itself right away. Was anyone asking for another “Mummy” movie? Was anyone asking for a “Mummy” movie in which Tom Cruise runs around a lot in the dark? Show of hands? Anyone?
Anyway, sometimes we get what we don’t ask for, so here we are with Cruise as Nick Morton, a soldier-of-fortune type who’s in the Iraqi desert with his partner (Jake Johnson) “liberating precious antiquities,” in his words, to sell to the highest bidder. Doing so, the two of them — whoops! — manage to unearth an ancient mummy; a former Egyptian princess (Sofia Boutella) who, we learn in a prologue, became quite bitter over a missed inheritance and was transformed into a monster complete with double eyeballs (a surprisingly cool look; expect it on fashion runways soon). On the advice of resident Hot Archaeologist Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) — all “Mummy” movies are required to have at least one Hot Archaeologist — the mummy is transferred to London, which goes swimmingly well for all concerned. Not.
This sounds like it should be tolerable to watch, and sometimes it is, early on; Cruise is enjoyable when he’s doing movie-star light banter and getting punched out, and we get some pleasant glimpses of Russell Crowe hamming it up as a character named Dr. Henry Jekyll! But the fun disappears quickly, beneath a leaden, frantic plot carried out in the murky grayness typical of 3D movies. (That 3D, by the way, is so underwhelming you’ll barely notice it. Paying extra for it constitutes consensual theft.) By its end, at which time a table is elaborately set for the franchise’s next course, you may well have lost all interest. I did; my eyes felt crossed. Or maybe double.
‘’The Mummy,’ with Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Russell Crowe. Directed by Alex Kurtzman, from a screenplay by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman. 110 minutes. Rated PG-13 for violence, action and scary images, and for some suggestive content and partial nudity. Several theaters.