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Iraq War Profiteers Stumble onto Egyptian Mummy, Disaster Ensues

Tom Cruise has probably been in worse movies than The Mummy (out now on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital), but I've managed to delete them from the memory bank so, for now, I'm stuck with the experience of this disaster.

Universal is desperate to take whatever copyrights they have from their massively popular and once beloved 1930s monster movies and turn them into The Dark Universe, a connected series of films along the lines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Godzilla/Kong MonsterVerse they're launching over at Warner Bros.

Those movies (especially the endless spinoffs that came through the 1940s and even into the 1950s) worked because they featured incredibly sincere melodramatic performances from actors Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney, Jr. Those performances took place on sometimes cheesy backlot sets but those ramshackle qualities somehow managed to help the heart and emotion shine through. It's a weird alchemy that's obvious to the fans and a mystery to everyone else.

Tom Cruise and Jake Jones play ex-military war profiteers who stumble upon an evil Egyptian mummy while searching for antiquities to steal in the Iraqi desert. Just how an Egyptian artifact ended up in Iraq is explained in a long setup sequence that will seem familiar to anyone who sat through X-Men: Apocalypse last year (except for the part when the female mummy played by Sofia Boutella gets moved to Iraq).

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Annabelle Wallis plays an archeologist (or is she an anthropologist? a monsterologist?) representing a mysterious program based in London. The Mummy gets transported to England, killing a planeload of people along the way and is placed in the hands of Russell Crowe, who plays a sort of mad scientist. Named Dr. Jekyll, if you haven't figured that out

Crowe is actually the best thing about the movie, playing both Jekyll and Hyde with the spirit of someone who grew up loving monster movies. Cruise attempts a lot of Indiana Jones-style snappy dialog and way too many action sequences for this kind of movie at the expense of the weird Halloween hoodoo that we monster fans expect.

There's a giant twist at the end, one that saddles any future incarnations of the Mummy with this movie's weakest link. The sets (especially in London) look great.  I'm not sure if action movie fans will find much to enjoy here, but this kind of thing is torture for fans of old Universal and Hammer monster movies.

Maybe it's best just to leave this alone and try some Fast & Furious spinoffs instead.

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