(US - 2017)
Directed by Alex Kurtzman. Written by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman. Cast: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Neil Maskell, Simon Atherton, Javier Botet. (PG-13, 107 mins)
A simultaneous reboot of the Brendan Fraser franchise and at least the fourth attempt to kick off a new and updated 1940s-style monster cycle, it's obvious with the 2017 incarnation of THE MUMMY that Universal needs to get its shit together or give it up. 2004's VAN HELSING, 2010's THE WOLFMAN, and 2014's DRACULA UNTOLD all tried to reignite the legendary Universal monsters and failed, and now, in response to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe, they're trying it again with the so-called "Dark Universe," an attempt to meld the classic Universal monsters with the comic book/superhero genre. There's already other films in various presumptuous stages of development, including an INVISIBLE MAN with Johnny Depp, DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE with Russell Crowe, and yet another WOLFMAN with Dwayne Johnson, plus a BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, with a yet-to-commit Angelina Jolie's name being constantly mentioned. Universal's philosophy with the Dark Universe seems to be "If at first you don't succeed, throw another $200 million at it and cross your fingers."
Cameron, the student who turns against Robin Williams' John Keating in 1989's DEAD POETS SOCIETY. Others had a crack at it, including Jon Spaights (PROMETHEUS, PASSENGERS), Jenny Lumet (at what point did a Universal exec say "Maybe we should see what the writer of RACHEL GETTING MARRIED can do with this?"), and Alex Kurtzman (TRANSFORMERS, STAR TREK, STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS), who ended up directing. The end result is disjointed and unfocused, like a product that was cynically assembled by market research, trend analysis, and focus groups. Why is Universal so hellbent on shoehorning these characters into a superhero scenario in a "Dark Universe?" Crowe could probably make a plausibly frightening Jekyll & Hyde in a straight, serious adaptation, but here, growling and hulking out with significant CGI enhancement, he just looks silly in what amounts to the Dark Universe's Nick Fury surrogate (and why is Dr. Jekyll even here anyway? Other than 1953's ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, Jekyll & Hyde wasn't part of the classic Universal Monsters roster). The film also pays winking homage to the Universal-released AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, when Chris is killed off by a poisonous spider bite and his rotting corpse keeps returning to bust Nick's balls, much like Griffin Dunne's mauled Jack did to David Naughton's lycanthropic David in the 1981 classic. As the mummy, Boutella probably fares best, though the CGI does a lot of the acting for her. And despite the claims of some historically-challenged entertainment journalists who must be unaware of 1944's THE MUMMY'S CURSE, 1971's BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB, and 1980's THE AWAKENING, Ahmamet is not the first female mummy in a movie.
wife. Where did BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY's Ron Kovic go? What happened to MAGNOLIA's Frank T.J. Mackey? Where's that Tom Cruise? He'll be 55 this year and his next two projects after AMERICAN MADE are MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 6 and the sequel TOP GUN: MAVERICK. Dude, what are you doing? At his point, is a future sequel to RISKY BUSINESS out of the question? Are we gonna get a 60-year-old Tom Cruise reliving his glory days and dancing around in his underwear to Bob Seger? In total coast mode with declining box office results but still big enough to avoid going the Nic Cage VOD route (for now), Cruise's career is in serious danger of becoming the Hollywood version of a classic rock band hitting the summer concert circuit and still selling a sufficient amount of tickets at big venues but playing nothing but the old hits for maximum nostalgia. He's the Def Leppard of A-list movie stars. The MISSION: IMPOSSIBLEs and the first JACK REACHER and EDGE OF TOMORROW were fine, but the last time he really stretched as an actor was when he put on a bald cap and bunch of makeup and busted a move to Flo Rida in TROPIC THUNDER. It's almost like he left the committed, serious Cruise behind on that couch during his much-analyzed OPRAH freakout.