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PHIL ON FILM: Slow-moving 'The Mummy' unravels

Posted at 9:03 AM, Jun 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-21 15:37:41-04

Just like the horror legend on which it's based, the new version of "The Mummy" is dusty, slow-moving, brainless corpse that's been resurrected as a curse upon humanity.

Dopey action sequences, inane dialogue and a plot riddled with incomprehensible and inconsistent mumbo jumbo bury any chances of entertainment deep in the sand.

Director Alex Kurtzman ("People Like Us") has just about everything it takes to succeed: Mega-budget effects, Tom Cruise on the marquee and a century of Universal monster mythos to tap in crafting a new cinematic universe to follow in the path of Marvel and DC.

Another big gun, Russell Crowe, plays Dr. Jekyll, who fills the Nick Fury/Batman role of putting together a team of supernatural forces to take on great evils. Under the new label, Universal has heavily hinted at bring back the likes of the Invisible Man, Dracula, Frankenstein and The Creature From the Black Lagoon into the mix.

The only thing missing is a script.

At its core, "The Mummy" is less a resurrection of a classic than a dull zombie movie, following in lockstep with the lifeless "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales."

Cruise, with wise-cracking Jake Johnson of "New Girl" at his side, is a Nick Morton, a modern-day Indiana Jones type, swiping ancient artifacts from nefarious forces so he can sell them on the black market.

Along with Nick's spurned lover/co-adventuress Jenny (Annabelle Wallis), the trio happens upon an ancient tomb and unwisely unleashes the mummified remains of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). 

Ahmanet is a strange one. Caking on makeup like a Kardashian, she can control armies of spiders and crows, can shatter glass with screams and bring people back to life while halfway possessing their brains. 

Basically, her powers adjust, retract and expand based on the needs of whatever the dumb scene requires.

She zombifies Johnson's character and does the resurrection/possession thing on Nick, whom she spends most of the movie hitting on in disturbing ways. Sometimes she chases him, sometimes she traps him and, disturbingly, she even tickles him and licks his face. 

A relationship with Ahmanet is not one worthy of jumping on couches to celebrate.

The she-mummy is after a magical dagger that will bring the Egyptian god of death to life, or something, and needs Nick to track it down. Best practices might be to stay out of his way and manipulate Nick into tracking down the treasure, but she keeps on getting in his way and terrorizing him and his pals.

This leads to a pair of incomprehensible chase sequences which are so bad that a parody movie wouldn't be able to do them justice. The first involves Nick and Jenny scampering just ahead of glass shattered by Ahmanet's voice -- so I guess they're running faster than the speed of sound? -- and the other is an underwater swim race in which Cruise proves the ability to hold his breath for, like, ever.

At one point during that ill-advised scene, he does come up for a breath of air. 

There is no such relief for the audience, drowning in stupidity with no relief in sight.

Just when it looked like "Mummy" movies could get no worse, here comes this debacle. 

Somewhere, Brendan Fraser and awful early-200s CGI artists (remember the "Scorpion King" spinoff?) smirk in satisfaction.

RATING: 1 star out of 4.