My favorite part in The Mummy was when the Mummy pimp-slapped Tom Cruise. My second favorite part in The Mummy was when the Mummy pimp-slapped Tom Cruise again. Can you guess which part of The Mummy was my third favorite part?
It was the part when Tom Cruise get’s in a fight with Dr. Jekyll. Just kidding. That part was dumb. My third favorite part of The Mummy is when the Mummy pimp-slaps Tom Cruise for a third time.
Isn’t it strange that my favorite parts of Tom Cruise’s The Mummy are scenes in which the Mummy is fighting Tom Cruise? It’s almost as if Universal knew that they had themselves an easy hit. They were Casey at the bat. Just walk up. Swing at the easy pitch. Knock it out of the park. Or to counter: walk up to the plate and obfuscate like hell.
The idea I suggest next may come across as ridiculous, or too wild for the average human. But I truly believe it with my whole being. Keeping this thought locked away from the threat of ridicule would be a disservice to the very nature of my character. So regardless of my inhibition, here it is: a summer blockbuster that stars Tom Cruise and is based a Universal Monster franchise should be a fun action-adventure interjected with horror.
Whew. I hate being so confrontational to standard norms, but I couldn’t keep that truth locked away any longer. It had to be said. Obviously, no one at Universal thought to mention it while they were making The Mummy.
But let me not get ahead of myself. The Mummy isn’t bad. I didn’t hate watching it. I would go so far as to say I actually enjoyed the first half of The Mummy. For a while it was checking a lot of my boxes.
Initially, The Mummy had a nice sense of adventure about it. There were romps in a desert. Romps in a cave. Romps in a plane. Romps in a forest. So many romps. And the story was so simple. It stayed out of the way. The cinematographer just had to point the camera somewhere near Tom Cruise, scream “Mummy!” and let Tom do his thing.
The most undeniable fact in Hollywood is that Tom Cruise makes great action movies. I don’t know how, but he’s running circles around actors half his age. In the The Mummy, Tom is at it again. He’s running around. He’s shooting guns. Punching mummies. Jumping onto things. Falling off of things. Getting smacked around. Making those cute little faces he always makes. Classic Tom.
If I’m guaranteed to have that type of energy and look that good at age 54, sign me up for Scientology.
The Mummy herself was a nice new take on the character. Her backstory was set up efficiently and she seemed formidable. My only complaint was that she wasn’t very scary. I mean, this is supposed to be a monster movie right?
The mummy comes across more like the villain in a super hero movie than a supernatural horror. For all I know, she could have been a member of the X-Men. But while the rules of her powers were a bit unclear, at no point did I not like the Mummy in The Mummy. And I would suggest that she actually wasn’t used enough.
And why wasn’t the Mummy used enough in The Mummy? Because Universal wanted to cram in Dr. Jekyll for some reason. Well, it’s not just for some reason. It’s for a very specific reason. Money– I mean, a shared cinematic universe built completely around respect for artistic integrity for Universal’s monster movies.
Once this shared monster-verse gets jammed into the narrative, The Mummy falls apart. Tom Cruise doesn’t have to use his wits to defeat the Mummy. No, Dr. Jekyll’s secret soldiers come to the rescue. Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis don’t get to spend the second half bonding and earning their conclusion. No, Tom Cruise has to get into a punching match with Dr. Jekyll for a while. How about showing the Mummy terrifying people around England. Naw, let’s just lock her up in Dr. Jekyll’s secret Museum headquarters.
There’s nothing instinctively wrong with Dr. Jekyll, or Russell Crowe’s portrayal. Crowe makes a fine Dr. Jekyll and a nice Mr. Hyde. But why does he need to spend so much time in this movie. This movie is called The Mummy. It had a whole thing going. We were getting to see the Mummy’s mental affect on Tom Cruise. Gone. We were getting to see an interesting dynamic between Tom Cruise and his sidekick, Jake Johnson. Gone. We were starting to see Tom and Annabelle bond. Gone.
Nope. Universal needed to get that Monster Universe going, at any cost. I mean, just look at how much money Marvel is making! Every studio wants what Marvel made. Yet they don’t seem to understand the simple approach Marvel took to get it.
Step 1: Make a good, self-contained movie. Put some hints about a greater universe in the end credits.
Step 2: Repeat step one for a while.
Step 3: Make a team-up movie.
Nowhere in this step-by-step plan does it say to make one half of a good movie, remove the end credits scene, stretch it into an hour, and cram it into the second half. It’s honestly not that hard. These movies don’t have to be groundbreaking singular visions of unparalleled film making. For Christ’s sake, Marvel usually just remade Iron Man over and over again. They were all fine movies. They made lots of money.
It boggles my mind that The Mummy didn’t turn out to be a fine movie. It could have been so easy. The Mummy didn’t need to blow my mind. It just needed to be fun for two hours. But in classic monster movie fashion, Universal stood upon the blood alter and sacrificed their first child in the name of the unborn. Now I may never get to see that Johnny Depp Invisible Man movie.
I guess it’s not all bad news.