The Dark Universe, which is looking to rely on Universal Studios back catalogue of classical Horror icons such as Frankenstein, Dracula & The Phantom of The Opera to name a few. In order for this to succeed, it is crucial that the first instalment entices the audience for future releases! In this case, it’s the freshly rebooted The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella & Russell Crowe, which has been given the job of getting the franchise to hit the ground running.
So this time around, we have Nick Morton (Cruise), a US military officer who with his close friend Sergeant Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), use their military duties as a cover to ransack ancient temples in order to sell onto the black market. After one operation goes wrong in Iraq, they end up uncovering an Egyptian burial site, with the assistance of archaeologist Jennifer (Annabelle Wallace). Things quickly go downhill as they end up releasing vengeful soul of Princess Ahmanet (Boutella) into the modern world,
If it was the role of The Mummy to get the audiences enticed, than unfortunately, it’s failed spectacularly. What we end up with a story, which is all over the place, where The Mummy ends up playing somewhat of a support role! Universal Studios seemed way too keen to start setting up its future movies during the entire middle 3rd of the film, with character reveals and plot details for the future. The film had a total of 6 different screenwriters that can explain the lack of cohesion in the plot. The Mummy opens pretty well, with the initial burial site discovery and the dramatic airplane crash scene, which featured prominently in the trailers, is by far the best scene in the entire movie.
Ahmanet is set up as a menacing foe, with the power to revive the dead and literally suck the life from anyone it touches. The plot for Ahmanet also seems very archaic, after the inspiring Wonder Women, here, Ahmanet’s main goal, to find her chosen one. We end up with the Mummy playing second fiddle as the film decides to explain the appearance of other characters, and loads of dialogue. It’s here where the film sadly loses its momentum. If it had continued the action packed opening half hour, we could have ended up with an entertaining ride, but the film screeches to a halt, and never really picks up again.
The cast are a mixed bag. Tom Cruise is of course box office, but his character here is arrogant and unlikable, which isn’t a bad thing, but his character arc never goes anywhere, and pretty much stays the same throughout. His action scenes of as always, great, so it’s a shame the film really didn’t have more action packed set pieces. Although Cruise is a huge name, even then, it feels like the movie is so focused on him, it feels like Tom Cruise ft. The Mummy!
Jennifer is pretty much just there to get into trouble, and be the love interest for Nick. The problem is, the two never show any kind of interest in one another, nor do you ever really care what happens between them. You barely see them have any meaningful dialogue, bar a few scenes. A very forgettable & bland persona. Boutella is by far the best of the bunch, following her captivating roles in Star Trek & Kingsman, she is proving to be a well accomplished star. Russel Crowe’s character is purely there for the sake of future movies, and really could have been cut out entirely, or be reduced to a post credit scene if needs must.
The film does try to include a lot of comedy, mainly with the interactions between Nick & Chris. These scenes don’t ever feel comfortable here, as this movie is much darker than the 1999 version. It really felt like a move to follow the banter that Marvel movies seem to revel in.
The scenes that show the full mercy of The Mummy across London, makes you expect an action packed finale across the London backdrop, but instead, it all concludes in a dark, underground cavern. Taking away the awe factor of what could have been a far more dramatic conclusion.
To sum it all up, The Mummy is simply boring. The sad thing is, the Egyptian lore and backstory has great material to work with, and if the film was solely about The Mummy v our hero for the entire runtime, that probably would have worked better. What we get is 3 stories attempting to be told at once, with The Mummy barely featuring in a turgid middle act, removing the most interesting part, in an effort to try and get us interested for what may come.
With big names like Johnny Depp & Javier Bardem already signed up for future Dark Universe movies, it is unlikely the franchise will be affected by the lukewarm reviews to The Mummy, but it has a lot of work to do in the run up to the next planned release in 2019, Bride of Frankenstein.