It has been said that Tom Cruise cannot make a bad film, but we're here to say that isn't true. Sure the 2017 version of The Mummy is nostalgia bait for fans of Brendan Fraser's 1999 title, and also the dramatic launching point for Universal's Dark Universe.
In its opening weekend, Universal’s latest opened at No. 2 domestically, trailing behind Wonder Woman, and made $148.1 internationally. Universal Pictures has built its legacy of monster films with horror classics featuring Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man (just to name a few) during the days of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi throughout the 1930s and 40s.
The Mummy continues a trend for Tom Cruise overseas where he is worth more than his own weight in gold, perhaps tenfold. While Cruise has been far from the big movie guy he once was here in the U.S. — especially with the likes of Jack Reacher and Edge of Tomorrow – he continues to make bank internationally. There's no question as to why Tom Cruise is a prized possession for Universal Pictures.
Critics have said that this a far cry from Tom Cruise's best work, but is it really his worst? And of all the Mummy movies that have been put out by Universal Pictures, what makes this one so sub-par?
Here are 10 things that sucked, and 5 reasons why you might enjoy it. Beware! Some spoilers ahead
15 Monster Trouble
Dusting off old monsters has never been an easy feat, especially with the likes of the sexed-up sparkly Hollywood vampires and werewolves we see nowadays. Long gone are the days of truly frightening creepy skeletons, haunted goblins, and things that go bump in the night. Halloween just ain't what it used to be, and neither are horror films. With a demanding market for psychologically thrilling, cerebral horror films like the Saw franchise, decrepit old vampires, and swampy lake monsters just aren't doing it for modern audiences.
Aside from the monster problem at hand, the big Hollywood executives have been questioning just how smart it would actually be to relaunch a universe of movies for characters who are not traditionally heroes. Why should we root for the bad guy let alone the underdog? Audiences in the heydays of, what were then groundbreaking horror films, weren't necessarily rooting for them either. What Universal did, however, was unveil shocking, never-before-seen genre that introduced us to monster movies that we know and love today.
14 Beating a Dead Corpse
The Mummy is a crowd-pleaser for sure, or at least it tries to be, but let's be real – it just wasn’t that exciting, overall. What's even worse is that the movie isn't much more than a mixed-up reiteration of things we’ve seen in all of the Mummy movies made before. While under normal circumstances this would be considered homage or tribute, The Mummy is simply nothing more than a rehashing of the mummies that were unearthed before.
While remakes often have a strong market value for a reason, due to built-in audience loyalty, there is a fine line between recreating a film and lazily throwing concepts together hoping that audiences will flock to the theater.
13 Terrible Ratings
After the backlash of fans' overwhelming dislike for Suicide Squad, critic-focused sites like Rotten Tomatoes have become scrutinized over recent years for their lack of detail to the big picture and focus on the general assumption. Needless to say, The Mummy was the latest blockbuster flop with such sites, specifically on Rotten Tomatoes coming in at a lowly 17%. Exactly how much those ratings actually contributed to The Mummy’s box office success or failure may be a matter of opinion, but it’s safe to say that talk of Universal's Dark Universe continues on regardless.
With that being said, the negative reviews aren't just coming from well-known aggregators, they are coming from real audiences who've seen the movie themselves and were disappointed. The Mummy has been scrutinized for being not only a cheap knockoff for Tom Cruise's career, but also for the Mummy legacy.
Without the campy, adventurous fun of the recent Mummy films, the 2017 version puts itself out there in what seems to be a hastily thrown together billboard for the Dark Universe. The Mummy simply fails to deliver on the monster-movie thrills we know and love, while at the same time, not living up to the grand journeys we've seen in previous incarnations. Pulling a feminist twist on the Ahmanet herself, played by Sofia Boutella, didn't exactly wow audiences much either, needless to say. In fact, many critics are pointing out that The Mummy is not only the anti-Wonder Woman, but also the anti-Marvel.
Not only did audiences have high hopes for the franchise itself, but for Tom Cruise as an A-list actor who we've seen beating the bad guys time and time again. This time, however, we weren't so satisfied with the outcome. Perhaps it was due to the way Dark Universe hoped to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to their inevitable eight monster movies slated for production.
Perhaps they should have rebranded altogether and retitled the film “Ahmanet, Princess of the Dead” or something to that effect.
11 The Story
It seems the story creators never truly made up their minds exactly on what type of movie The Mummy would be. As mentioned previously, this incarnation doesn't really scare us to the core or take us on a wild journey. Sofia Boutella’s Princess Ahmanet unfortunately has become a casualty to Universal’s hastily made Dark Universe unveiling. While we do believe that the character had the making of what could be a truly evil undead princess, it just doesn't show. That of course is no fault to the actress, Ms. Boutella, but rather, the story itself. Storylines were not consistent, and because of this, Princess Ahmanet was not as soul shattering or terrifying as she could have been.
Additionally, the mission of Tom Cruise, or lack thereof, fell through about a third of the way through the film. Two antique hunters simply do not have the strength to stand up to the princess, and thus, the story becomes a lame romance for Nick played by Mr. Cruise.
The difference with Marvel was that they realized that their successes weren't based on gimmicks, or interesting celebrities and A-listers, but the characters themselves.
10 Cheap Thrills
It’s not only challenging to scare mainstream audiences with basic monster movies like The Mummy these days, but it's practically downright impossible. As most of us horror buffs know, the scariest monster movies of the last decade or so seem to have followed the same formula: psychologically-based films where the “monsters” are hardly seen at all, or at worst, resemble some human form.
What we get from the latest Mummy is nothing but cheap thrills, a few shock scares here and there, without major substance or anything deeply moving to resonate in our subconscious. It's not a movie that makes you think much, and for that reason, tries to cater to the action category. But overall, the film's dark tones and bleak story lend themselves to a disappointment – not only with this film but a wearisome outlook for future Dark Universe films.
Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, was shamed for being too skinny. Too pretty to be a superhero, they said.
We see the reverse effect here with Princess Ahmanet. Sofia's good looks actually do not work in her favor. She is simply too pretty. Rather than frightening the audience, the princess somehow seduces us into the idea that Tom Cruise may actually fall for her. That being said, we won't give the whole plot away, but we would have just liked to see what would have made for a more disgusting, vile lady Mummy. Long gone are the days of suped-up sex appeal to woo audiences, we need more substance to keep us interested these days. Let's also not forget the fact that she was pretty speedy for a zombie. Dead chick? Bandaged-up corpse?
By doing a simple Google search on Egyptian mummies, and mummified people in general, we learn that not many women were mummified to begin with, let alone revered for their time on Earth. We're not saying women don't deserve a chance to be mummies, but we would have liked to see a little more research behind the story to make it more realistic. Princess Ahmanet looks like a Cleopatra, and even though her legacy is far more sinister according to the story, she is not based on a single real-life person in history.
It's not that we didn't want a female Mummy. We did. She just wasn't that believable.
8 Bad Timing
Between its first two weekends, Wonder Woman saw a 45% drop in ticket sales which is actually considered to be pretty good by most movie standards. It's a feat that has been reached by only a handful of similar superhero movies including Batman Begins (2005), Spider-Man (2002), and The Amazing Spider-Man (2012). Wonder Woman has not only been a commercial hit at the box offices, but has also succeeded on essentially every measure with due marketing, including being the most tweeted-about movie of the year.
Unfortunately for Sofia and Tom, The Mummy simply couldn’t cut through those numbers. With the timing of a late spring, feel-good action movie, audiences flocked to see Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, leaving Princess Ahmanet in the dust once more.
7 Doom And Gloom
The dreary look and feel of The Mummy didn't do much to help the cause of the film, in fact, Dark Universe should have taken a page out of DC's book to see that grayish, darkly-toned films make for disappointed audiences, and more so, boring films overall. The problem is that drama is not the opposite of comedy, which Marvel tends to push forward in nearly all of their films. Drama is in fact the vehicle of telling a story. Tragedy is the opposite of comedy, and tragedy is what comes across in films with flat or mixed-up storylines and gloomy overall composition. Though this isn't the main reason driving people away from seeing The Mummy, at least in the U.S., it is somewhat of a concern for the future of Dark Universe and their angle on telling monster stories.
Speaking of monster stories, despite hearing her backstory, we didn't actually get see to see much from the perspective of Princess Ahmanet. We hope that there will be some justified redemption for her in future films.
6 Underwhelming Special Effects
To our surprise, one of the most shocking things about the new Mummy was that it didn't give us much to experience in the way of over-the-top visual effects. Truth be told, a great story would have been a lot better than any visual effects.
Instead, the film takes us through a gloomy sort of journey led by Nick and his partner Chris and is built around a big trick that, in reality, isn't so tricky. The effects are limited to the physicality of Princess Ahmanet and a few major tragedies along the way including everything you would expect from a crumbling old tomb. What's worse isn't what's expected from a movie about haunted mummies, it's what we didn't expect and the characters who fell through the cracks both literally and metaphorically.
5 But The Villain Is... Sexy?
None of the classic mummy movies have ever been about women, and the truth is, there's actually a good reason why – it's one of the more realistic parts of the movie. We aren't saying there weren't any female mummies, ever. In fact, in ancient Egypt, mummification was for both men and women. But the real question is: were Egyptian princesses mummified while they were still alive (as Ahmanet was)?
Supposedly, according to expert Egyptologists, there aren't any cases like that. Still, there are plenty of other ways to mummify a person, dead or alive. Mummies have been seen the world over, on nearly every continent.
In the case of Princess Ahmanet, she was mummified before she could become the heiress to her father's land and fortune. After being resurrected from her tomb, it becomes her duty to supplant her spirit into a living human who will take over, and finish what was started long ago.
Sofia Boutella initially scares the pants off us with her reanimated undead corpse, but for the purpose of giving Tom Cruise's character something to care about, she transforms into the seductive and stunning princess she once was and Nick is transfixed.
Can you really blame the guy?
4 A Different Type of Mummy Movie
With all the hoopla over this Mummy movie stacking up to the former Mummy movies, we are still able to witness the unfolding of a brand new (ish) Dark Universe in modern times. Tom Cruise heroically leads the way into the darkness that unfolds what may be the beginning for even more monster films such as Jeckyl and Hyde as well as The Invisible Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon. This Mummy is not only about a creepy yet seductive princess on a mission to regain her throne, but also keys into other aspects that have been overlooked in other Mummy franchise films which tend to build on the Dark Universe goal as a theme. The 2017 version of The Mummy tricks us into thinking our protagonist will be swayed as he swoons over not only his co-star but the evilest villain of all.
3 Brand New Universe
Universal Pictures doesn't want to be the only studio in town without a hot franchise to spin off on for years to come. Beginning with The Mummy, Dark Universe hints (pretty obviously) at a soon-to-be-released web of monster films which cash in on Universe's legacy and history as a company. While Universal does not have the rights to any of the superheroes like Disney, Fox, and WB, they do have Dracula, Wolf Man, and lots of money to spare on big name actors such as Johnny Depp and Javier Bardem. But will the vault of classic monster movies hold up in present times?
Universal appears to have chosen their money-makers right off the bat with the latest Mummy film, and yes we are afraid, but not for the right reasons. We do however hope that Universal will come up with new and inventive ways to shock us with tried and true horror icons, in ways we've never seen before. Regardless, Dark Universe will be a fun and exciting new venture for the company to explore and utilize modern tropes with archetypal characters we already know, love, and haven't seen much of recently.
2 The Mummy Had It's Moments
If you can’t scare audiences, you can at least thrill them. With the latest Mummy, we were definitely scared – or at least our significant others were. The reanimated corpse distortion crawl namely being one of the top three creepiest moments of the film. Even though Princess Ahmanet isn't a consistent, haunting character lurking over our psyche throughout the film, she does serve her purpose as a villain and monster. I mean, she is a mummy after all.
That being said, there are plenty of moments where Ahmanet jumps out without warning to make us jump out of our seats. The suspense, in many respects, is there albeit drawn out a bit too far in some scenes. Though he is technically the hero, Nick, played by Tom Cruise, is equally the willing lamb who walks into the slaughter, which in itself is more than worthy chomping down a large popcorn.
1 It's Tom F*ckin' Cruise
Cruise isn’t the first movie star to make a dreadful film and he definitely won't be the last. Over the years we've seen many great actors and actresses plummet and rise again to superstardom and Tom Cruise is no exception. We must also add that Sofia Boutella's career won't end here, either.
The Mummy has been so widely critiqued that some people are starting actually ask if Tom Cruise is considering ending his career, or if it is inevitable. We don't think so. At the end of the day, he's making money doing what he loves and though The Mummy wasn't his best film, it may become a franchise he is doomed to be a part of – for better or worse.
For as long as we can remember, Tom Cruise has been doing a mash-up variation of his most action-y roles, such as Mission Impossible. Even though he's been the posterchild of new franchises such as Jack Reacher and, now, the Dark Universe films, the fact remains that he is a talented and smart actor, as well as a businessman.