Tom Cruise is back (exciting!) in a remake of The Mummy that’s meant to be the foundation for a connected series of movies about iconic Hollywood monsters called "Dark Universe" (oh, that’s way less exciting). But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: Before Jekyll and Hyde could (fully) debut, before the Bride of Frankenstein or Dracula could emerge, the Dark Universe needed to get through one movie, The Mummy. And The Ringer staff had to sit through it. Afterward, they got together to rank mummies, answer questions about this budding monstrosity of IP, and talk about the return of Action Star Tom Cruise.
1. What is your tweet-length review of ‘The Mummy’?
Sean Fennessey: Imagine if a studio tried to remake a horror classic with the tone of An American Werewolf in London but then halfway through decided it’d be better as an IP-infested love triangle between a possessed Tom Cruise, a sexy mummy, and a woman with no self-esteem, set in a sewer. It isn’t great.
Andrew Gruttadaro: Everyone told DC it shouldn’t try to build a movie universe in one slapdash movie but The Mummy was like, "I GOT THIS."
Sam Schube: An interesting, refreshingly campy addition to the "Dorian Gray’s portrait" branch of Tom Cruise’s filmography. Forget the mummy: Cruise is the only immortal being here.
Alyssa Bereznak: I would rather watch my cat play with her tail for two hours than see that movie again.
Amanda Dobbins: I don’t like critters.
2. What was the best moment of the movie?
K. Austin Collins: The moment I realized Dr. Jekyll was that Dr. Jekyll, and wanted to scream, but couldn’t.
Schube: The part where the mummy (Sofia Boutella, great at growling) excuses murdering her father and infant brother by saying — and this is a direct quote — "It was a different time."
Bereznak: The only good snippet of dialogue was when the hot archaeologist is trying to convince Tom Cruise he’s a good person. She reminds him that he saved her from a plane crash by giving her the last parachute. His response: "I thought there was another one." A very on-brand moment for IRL Cruise.
Gruttadaro: I was actually really into Tom Cruise’s "Afterlife With a Sexy Mummy" dreams. Those daybeds looked luxurious.
Dobbins: The 20-or-so seconds in the medieval crypt when I thought this was going to be a Da Vinci Code–style historical thriller. That’s a good movie, you guys should check it out!
3. What was your least favorite part of the film?
Dobbins: Everything else.
Schube: The part where Cruise, nominally saving (by stealing) antiquities from ISIS-style insurgents, survives thanks to a drone strike that presumably destroys many of the items Cruise was presumably trying to protect.
Bereznak: When London’s entire rat population gathered in a spooky back alley to crawl all over Tom Cruise’s body. There were too many cheap creepy-crawly things in this movie. It got exhausting to watch after a while!
Fennessey: The walkthrough scene in Dr. Jekyll’s emporium of IP, where we learn that there is a shadowy organization that has dedicated itself to wrangling, experimenting on, and destroying the monsters of the Universal Studios "Dark Universe." This is when we realized it was safe to fully check out.
Collins: The moment I realized Dr. Jekyll was that Dr. Jekyll, and wanted to scream, but couldn’t.
4. You’re in charge of Tom Cruise’s career — what do you make him do next?
Bereznak: He should absolutely not star in a sequel to this movie. Oh, what’s that you say? The entire ending of this movie was dedicated to setting the stage for what will inevitably be a very bad sequel? Well, shit. To hell with it, then — let Tom Cruise do whatever he wants. He’s more HGH than actor at this point anyway.
Fennessey: The impulse is to say, "Work with a great filmmaker!" It worked with Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Cameron Crowe, Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Brian De Palma, and Paul Thomas Anderson. But I’d settle for a non–action film of any kind. Perhaps a courtroom drama?
Dobbins: 1. Burn any remaining Dark Universe contracts. 2. Practice the words "Extended universes just aren’t for me" until he can say them naturally to Colbert and Kimmel. (He’s never going on Fallon again.) And 3. Find a nice Netflix buddy comedy to star in, possibly with Jake Johnson.
Gruttadaro: Tom can still be an action star if he wants, but under my watch he’s no longer playing these characters who are jerks but "have good inside of them." He’s too weird and weirdly charismatic to waste on roles that are so bland in their grayness. So I guess what I’m saying is that Tom Cruise needs to play a villain.
Collins: A Tom Cruise–led Steven Soderbergh movie has long seemed obvious — but seeing Daniel Craig transform himself in Logan Lucky has only made it more so. Tom could easily reinvent himself in the right hands.
Schube: Quit film to live out his days as the half-human god of death.
5. Given the choice, would you let yourself get stabbed and become the god of death?
Bereznak: Hell no. From what I understood — which was honestly very little — Nick Morton stabbed himself because he realized he could use the fancy title/powers that come along with being god of death to bring Jenny Halsey back to life. But, sorry — how did he know that? Why is it that when he makes out with Jenny she’s resurrected unscathed, but when Ahmanet makes out with humans, they turn into zombies?? It’s doesn’t add up!! There were too many unknowns in that situation to risk going along with Ahmanet’s plan. And anyway, knives freak me out.
Gruttadaro: Again, those daybeds looked luxurious.
Collins: Why do men on Grindr always ask me this? Like, relax.
Fennessey: Only god of death we recognize is Shiva.
6. Jake Johnson as a ghost. Discuss.
Bereznak: Not only was it Jake Johnson as a ghost, but it was Jake Johnson playing his beloved breakout role of Nick Miller on New Girl … as a ghost. A lot of moments in this movie didn’t make sense. For instance, when the zombies swam. Zombies can’t swim. Or anytime Russell Crowe was on screen. But Jake Johnson’s appearances as a carefree undead dude just casually helping Ahmanet complete her mission were so distracting that it almost seems like someone hired him to sabotage this movie from within.
Gruttadaro: I can’t believe they actually did this. However, Ghost Jake Johnson waving at Tom Cruise like, "Hey bro, let’s talk in the bathroom!" was the only time I laughed out loud watching The Mummy. The problem is, I’m not totally sure The Mummy wanted you to find that funny.
Dobbins: I don’t know what movie he was in, and I’m not sure I would want to watch that one, either. But it was definitely a better movie than The Mummy.
Fennessey: He’s perfectly cast for the wrong movie. This relationship could have been the primary tension and focal point of The Mummy. A buddy chase movie about a ghostly henchman for a mummy spirit is a clever setup. It’s wasted.
Schube: This is the second time — Jurassic World being the first — that Johnson has leavened self-serious blockbusters with his trademark panic-shrieking. Give him his own franchise.
7. Rank the following mummies: Ahmanet from ‘The Mummy’ (2017), Imhotep from ‘The Mummy’ (1999), Imhotep from ‘The Mummy’ (1932), Rami Malek in ‘A Night at the Museum,’ and Ben Affleck’s daughter on Halloween 2013
Gruttadaro: I love the astoundingly bald, 1999 Imhotep, and I actually thought Sofia Boutella was great as the 2017 mummy, Ahmanet, but let’s be honest — Ben Affleck’s daughter had Halloween ’13 ON LOCK.
1. Ben Affleck’s daughter on Halloween 2013. Mummies wear glasses, too. People forget that.
2. 1999 Imhotep. Great eyeliner. Dig his accessories.
3. 1932 Imhotep. The OG inspiration to mummies across the world.
4. Ahmanet from The Mummy (2017). I would’ve liked her more if they didn’t play B-roll of her origin story every five minutes.
5. Rami Malek in A Night at the Museum. Sloppy bandage work.
1. Me nine hours into the new Transformers movie
2–6. Everyone else
2–5. The other people
(Shots fired at Christopher Lee, star of 1959’s The Mummy, I guess.)
8. Are you worried about Dark Universe? Explain your answer.
Dobbins: I worry about things I care about.
Collins: Not after seeing The Mummy’s box office numbers!
Gruttadaro: It was a wrap for them the second the Universal Pictures globe rotated to reveal the words "Dark Universe." That was 45 seconds into The Mummy.
Schube: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but: not really. I genuinely chortled at a Cockney-accented Russell Crowe (as Hyde, not Jekyll) straightening his lapels and getting his bare-knuckle brawler on. We knew the moment was meant to scan as silly, even campy — but so did the movie, I think, even if director Alex Kurtzman definitely didn’t. Crowe was strangely charming here; I’m not that mad at him being the fulcrum of this dumb, dumb experiment.
Fennessey: Worrying about the proposed ventures of frustrated and desperate corporate powers is not a good use of time. But yes, I am. I don’t actually care if the so-called Universe congeals the way Marvel or Star Wars have. I don’t need 2019’s Bride of Frankenstein to be its Wonder Woman. The Universal monsters have already appeared in dozens of fine movies — even a few genuinely special ones that haunt people to this day. And they are rich and irrepressible subjects for a new series of films — the decision to make them a vessel for action set pieces completely misunderstands their value. These films should be ominous, upsetting, dark, romantic, and strange. The Mummy is none of those things.
Bereznak: I am worried in the sense that it means I might have to watch another very bad Mummy movie. But in terms of potential mystical stuff that could go down in a world where Tom Cruise is immortal, I’m indifferent.
9. How much do you miss Brendan Fraser?
Schube: Encino is just a quick ride down the 101.
Bereznak: Too much.
Fennessey: Not a fan. Rachel Weisz on the other hand …
Collins: You’re just trying to get me to say something mean about his son, Chris Pratt. (I miss Brendan Fraser a lot.)
Gruttadaro: When The Mummy’s sequel drops in a couple of years, please remind to just watch this scene on loop for two hours instead: