‘The Mummy’ unravels, trying to be many things and failing at all

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Sofia Boutella plays a resurrected princess in “The Mummy.” | Universal Pictures

“You killed your father … his wife … their child!” – Tom Cruise’s Nick Morton, to Sofia Boutella’s recently resurrected evil mummy princess.

“They were different times.” – The incredibly lame explanation from the recently resurrected evil mummy princess.

After all these decades, we still have “Mummy” issues.

The 1932 edition of “The Mummy” starring Boris Karloff was an early horror classic, and there have been some reasonably entertaining semi-camp film takes on the Mummy story over the years, but come on: You’re going to tell me you dug the Brendan Fraser reboots, or the prequel starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson?

Let’s be real. The Mummy, whatever form he or she might have taken, has never been as cool or as complex or as chilling as Dracula or the Wolf Man or Frankenstein’s creations.

That said, given the A-list cast and the fact this is the first installment in Universal’s ambitious and far-reaching “Dark Universe” film series, it’s astonishing “The Mummy” is so wall-to-wall awful, so cheesy, so ridiculous, so convoluted, so uninvolving and so, so stupid.

This movie keeps inviting you to not like it. It does everything in its power to turn you away.

Russell Crowe is an Academy Award winner. Tom Cruise has had arguably the longest run in movie history as a successful action star. These guys know what they’re doing.

Yet when these two big-screen champions face off in an “epic” battle deep into this movie, the sequence is so poorly edited, the acting is so bad and the purpose of the scene is so insanely muddled, it feels as if Crowe and Cruise are doing it as some kind of cinematic community service sentence.

Surely they must have known they were sinking in a quagmire of crap.

After the obligatory overwrought prelude in ancient times where we learn the backstory of Boutella’s power-hungry Ahmanet and what led to her being mummified, we cut to present-day Iraq, where soldier of fortune Nick Morton (Cruise) and his faithful comedic sidekick Chris (Jake Johnson) stumble upon ruins buried deep in the desert.

Annabelle Wallis is the archaeologist Jenny Halsey, who expresses her regret about a tryst with Nick even as she takes command of the site and oversees the air transfer of the ancient sarcophagi and other relics to London.

Annabelle Wallis and Tom Cruise in “The Mummy.” | Universal Pictures

Annabelle Wallis and Tom Cruise in “The Mummy.” | Universal Pictures

Many weird and grotesque and inexplicable things happen on that journey. In fact, some of the events that transpire are so bizarre we spend the rest of the movie searching in vain for one character that isn’t seriously ghastly and/or creepy.

I’m going to issue a SPOILER ALERT here about Crowe’s character, even though he’s listed as “Dr. Henry Jekyll” on IMDB. Suffice to say once the story returns to London, Dr. Jekyll has some very specific and idiotic plans for the re-animated and shackled Ahmanet, who has plans of her own for Nick, who literally can’t get Ahmanet out of his mind.

With each succeeding scene, “The Mummy” gets dumber and dumber, to the point where the filmmakers are practically inviting you to walk out of the theater.

It’s a zombie movie. Then it’s not.

It’s a possession movie. Then it’s not.

It’s a story of greed and corruption. Then it’s not.

It’s a big-time action movie, with (terribly constructed) CGI sequences of Nick and Jenny racing through the streets of London, just ahead of mass carnage. Then it’s not.

This movie has no heart. This movie has no soul.

The only thing worse about this film as a stand-alone story is the attempt to launch a franchise.

Sometimes it takes a monster to bring down a monster, we’re told.

And sometimes it takes a disaster of this magnitude to leave us hoping a studio will take a long hard look at the universe they’re about to expand.

Universal Pictures presents a film directed by Alex Kurtzman and written byDavid Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman. Rated PG-13 (forviolence, action and scary images, and for some suggestive content and partial nudity). Running time: 110 minutes. Opens Friday at local theaters.

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