As well as Tom, the film stars Annabelle Wallis (’Peaky Blinders’), Courtney B Vance and Russell Crowe and tells the story of an ancient princess awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.
Thousands of years later, in present day Iraq adventurer Nick Morton, along with a special military team accidentally discover the tomb of Ahmanet. As they escaped away from groups of armed thieves, they finally find the tomb inside a shady cave full of sand. Nick and the team bring the tomb aboard their own airplane, and attempt to travel out of Iraq.
An aeroplane crash, a romance and a huge philosophical battle between good and evil ensues. But all of this, plus some serious CGI, can’t seem to please the critics. Here’s what the first of them have to say...
“This has some nice moments but is basically a mess, with various borrowings, including some mummified bits from An American Werewolf in London.
“The Cruisemeister himself is left high and dry by plot lurches that trigger his boggle-eyed, WTF expression. In one scene, he is nude so we can see what undeniably great shape he’s in. The flabby, shapeless film itself doesn’t have his muscle-tone.”
“The Mummy” is a literal-minded, bumptious monster mash of a movie. It keeps throwing things at you, and the more you learn about the ersatz intricacy of its “universe,” the less compelling it becomes.
“The problem at its heart is that the reality of what the movie is — a Tom Cruise vehicle — is at war with the material. The actor, at 54, is still playing that old Cruise trope, the selfish cocky semi-scoundrel who has to grow up.”
“The Mummy” gestures — or flails — in a number of directions but settles into the dreary 21st-century action-blockbuster template. There’s chasing and fighting, punctuated by bouts of breathless explaining and a few one-liners that an archaeologist of the future might tentatively decode as jokes.
“Given that The Mummy only barely works as a movie on its own account, the question becomes whether it works as a franchise-starter. And the answer is that while its franchise elements are foregrounded, they still aren’t terribly compelling.
“But nothing about this movie suggests a fresh or unique approach to franchise storytelling or contemporary monster movies. As an introduction, it’s functional. As a template for future films, it’s a warning that Dark Universe filmmakers are going to need to think about the stories they’re telling as much as the stories they’re planning.”
The reason the Marvel shared universe, which took years to build up, works, is because all of its superheroes feel engagingly human: fully-formed characters we actually want to spend time with. Here, the writing is one-note, and the leads little more than placeholders.
Universal’s monster franchise has made it out of the tomb, just about - but if this rebirth is going to sustain itself long term, it’s going to need a little more meat under its bandages.
‘The Mummy’ is in cinemas now.