What's it rated? PG-13
What's it worth? Streaming
Where's it showing? Park, Galaxy
Two military men-cum-antiquities-looters—Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his sidekick Chris Vail (Jake Johnson)—accidently unearth a hidden Egyptian-style tomb ... in Iraq! Their commanding officer Col. Greenway (Courtney B. Vance) arrives with antiquities expert Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), and she, Morton, and Vail—on Col. Greenway's orders—remove a sarcophagus and order it airlifted back to the compound of Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), who studies evil for a living. During the flight, however, a murder of crows attacks the plane, bringing it down, and ancient evil princess Ahmanet (Sofía Boutella) escapes and starts creating an undead army as she seeks a ceremonial knife and its capstone gem that when combined will stab Morton in the chest and turn him into the God of the Dead.
Wow, written out that sounds even more inane than it did in my head.
Director Alex Kurtzman (People Like Us), best known as a writer and producer, helms this Dark Universe picture, a subsidiary of Universal Pictures that aims to dig back into the horror vault connected to the studio, producing upcoming films with Dracula, Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, and other classic characters.
Perhaps this film's biggest problem is its wildly uneven tone. It takes a very weak stab at trying to recreate the magic of An American Werewolf in London by having Vail die only to haunt Morton with the sort of comedic banter that worked so well between David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne), except here it's not very funny. Then there's the chemistry-free love interest subplot between Morton and Halsey. Oh, and you know how horror movies are supposed to be scary and all that? Um, yeah, not so much.
Some good creature effects help the film, but with a $125 million budget, that's the least we should expect. At least the Brendan Fraser/Rachel Weisz reboot of The Mummy (1999) offered some campy fun, but this new film takes itself too seriously and doesn't give its stars Cruise and Crowe much to do. This does not bode well for the many Dark Universe films that have been announced. Some moldering old monsters should be left buried. (110 min.)