Did you ever see a live comedy show and witness somebody bombing? It's uncomfortable and you start to feel bad for them as they try very hard with diminishing results.
That's exactly how I felt for Tom Cruise as the confused, painful mess THE MUMMY unwrapped before me in a Wednesday night sneak peek.
Cruise is an officer of some kind who moonlights with his buddy Chris (Jake Johnson of "New Girl") taking possession of antiquities that they sell on the black market.
They stumble on a major find during a skirmish in Iraq when they discover the hidden tomb of Princess Ahmanet (a stunning Sofia Boutella).
Once they unearth the well protected tomb, ignoring every measure of common sense in a crap screenplay written by committee, they unleash a very nasty evil spirit.
Even in its first half hour, the uneasiness starts to creep in as jokes land with a thud, the mechanics of the writing force everyone to make long speeches to explain the action and Cruise does everything but jump up and down on Oprah's couch to keep you interested.
There's a fantastic midair sequence that's a triumph of special effects and sound design, followed by a half hour that nearly exactly replicates the hilariously twisted plot of Toby Hooper's 1985 "Lifeforce". As the princess goes around soul sucking strangers, Cruise goes all Bruce Willis in "Unbreakable", trying to figure out why he is the sole survivor of the massive plane crash. Luckily he has the mysterious Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) around to guide him toward a doctor who she is sure can help him.
From the moment that they meet the Dr, played by Russell Crowe in a performance that lets us know he's just as bored as we are with this wreck, the film goes startlingly off the rails.
Universal has decided that they dont have Disney's Marvel films or Warner Bros. DC films, so they have created "Dark Planet". Bringing back all their famous Movie Monsters of the 30's and 40's, they are going to create a massive series of films to wow us as they explore the legendary monsters.
If this is the opening shot in that battle, its a blank.
More "American Werewolf in London" than Mummy, more "Indiana Jones" than Mummy, hell, it's more "Jerry Maguire" than Mummy.
What a mess.
The special effects team is at the top of their game. Cruise and Boutella give it all they've got, but as the final half hour plays out and you realize you're watching a pathetic effort at building a cinematic universe, the dialogue gets worse and anyone over 10 can see every plot point coming way before it lands on screen with a thud.
Watch this baby open big Friday and then slide away into a deep quicksand of bad word of mouth.
Somewhere, Brendan Frasier is sitting quietly at home laughing loudly and counting his blessings.....
Strained, desperate and dumb, they should wrap this turd back up and bury it back under a sand dune in Iraq. It's the perfect gift for Isis, a big-ass bomb.
THE MUMMY gets a D.