Universal is looking to finally cash in on a 100 year old investment in an age where no movie can be complete without a trilogy or a shared universe.
The classic Universal Monsters are part of film history and their impact on pop culture can hardly be replicated. Yet, we’re about to see a relaunched franchise begin with modern takes on The Mummy, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and Dr. Jekyll/Mr Hyde.
First up, is the Tom Cruise starrer, The Mummy. I don’t expect a sweeping success, instead a domestic failure. Yet, that may not stop Universal’s Dark Universe plans.
In The Mummy, Nick Morton (Cruise) a black market antiquities dealer accidentally unearths the tomb of an ancient Egyptian princess. The problem with bringing her out of the tomb, is that she is cursed and her malevolence has only grown stronger in the thousands of years she’s been sealed away.
Sofia Boutella (Kingsmen, Star Trek Beyond) plays the vengeful mummy, Ahmanet. Her character works because, while her agenda was very linear, the possible outcome was not. She’ll stop at nothing to fulfill the curse and mission she was tasked with. Some of the better scenes deal with the mystic powers she’s able to place on Nick. Even though he seems like a reasonable protagonist, the threat of him doing her bidding is always there.
The Mummy gets off to a rocky start as it forces a comic relief character (played by Jake Johnson). Thankfully, the focus is soon placed squarely on Cruise and his co-lead Annabelle Wallis. Cruise is one of the most reliable leading men in the industry and this movie proves it. He single-handedly takes a movie that feels far too serious for its own good and adds necessary camp value. His characterization and line delivery brings energy to scenes where there may be none.
The problem with shared universe movies is that they try too hard to show the connection to the other movies in the franchise. This effort takes away value in having a great stand-alone feature. The Mummy fails with this, as it shows too much too soon with Russell Crowe’s character. He is meant to be the tie between the franchise, but his inclusion feels rushed. He’s only there to bridge the stories and explain what’s happening to the world. Essentially, he’s basically our go-to exposition guy.
The Mummy is the type of adventure movie that belongs in the post Summer season, but is somehow welcome at the same time, as it’s rare to see adventures on the big screen now. This is not a must see theater experience, but may end up being a guilty pleasure Saturday afternoon movie.
If you keep your expectations under wraps and see this movie with a sense of enjoyment and camp, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with a movie that isn’t just another action flick. B