“The Mummy”

Studios are banking off of the MCU with their own movie universes. First, Warner Bros started the DCEU and then the Monster Universe shortly after. Now Universal has started the Dark Universe with “The Mummy” as their first installment. I’ll stick to the 1999 Brendan Fraser version, thank you.

U.S. Military officer Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), his partner Chris (Jake Johnson), and archeologist Jennifer Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) discover a secret tomb in Iraq. When they bring the mummified corpse of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) back with them, they unintentionally unleash hell on earth as Ahmanet comes to life and goes on a rampage. Nick, however, discovers he might be the only thing that can stop Ahmanet.

I’m a Tom Cruise fan and was intrigued after learning he was starring in “The Mummy.” Partially because it’s his first horror film (if you can call it horror) and partially because I wanted to see what death-defying stunt Cruise was going to perform next. Aside from a terrific plane crash sequence and an insane bus stunt, the action is lackluster.

“The Mummy” is 107 minutes of Tom Cruise running and screaming, Jake Johnson yelling, “I’m gonna die,” Russell Crowe delivering exposition-fueled monologues, and Annabelle Wallis playing damsel-in-distress. This results in a rather dull summer movie. I wanted to like “The Mummy,” but I found it underwhelming.

Sofia Boutella is a talented actress, but she’s underused in her role as Ahmanet. She isn’t terrifying or menacing (Arnold Vosloo is superior in the 1999 “Mummy”) and has little to do, despite wearing wicked makeup. In terms of villains, Crowe’s Henry Jekyll steals a few scenes.

Watching Cruise and Crowe banter is one of the movie’s few treats. Cruise’s boyish charm perfectly matches Crowe’s stern, deadpan delivery. They both are clearly trying and easily carry the movie, despite the weak script.

The script suffers from some serious tone inconsistencies. We get some darkly hilarious hallucination sequences reminiscent of “An American Werewolf in London,” but they don’t mash well with lame jump scares or the movie’s adventure tone. Also, it’s insulting that the movie’s six screenwriters don’t trust the viewers enough to figure things out for themselves.

“I drove back to her,” Cruise says as he obviously drives back to Boutella, attempting a getaway.

I’m a fan of the classic Universal monsters, but this is a disappointing start. Hopefully they find their footing in future installments.

Grade: C-