Cinematic universes are not a new thing. In the 1930’s up until the 60’s, Universal Studios had their own movie universe consisting of monsters like Dracula, the Wolfman, the Invisible Man and the Creature from the Black Lagoon just to name a few.
With the success of Marvel Studios, it seems that every film studio desires to have a cinematic universe. So the company who formed one before anyone knew they wanted one has returned with the “Dark Universe” – composed of the monsters who made the company’s fortune, starting with a retelling of “The Mummy.”
The film is an iconic property about an Egyptian who kills the king and as punishment receives the ultimate death – the Home-Dai aka being tortured and mummified while alive. The fear is that anyone who this ritual is performed upon, if brought back from the dead, would become all-powerful. We saw this play out brilliantly with much fun and action in the 1999 reboot with the Brandon Fraser.
So now, with bigger actors, can a new version of “The Mummy” live up to the heritage of this franchise? The quick answer is no. This version is not as fun or suspenseful as the other films. “The Mummy” has three major problems that hinder it, from the opening sequence to final credits.
- Overseer of the Universe – the major part of creating a cinematic universe is not the properties but the people you place in charge. Marvel has a good captain stealing the ship, while other studios struggle with leadership. Universal Studios chose a man who failed at creating another universe. Alex Kurtzman was the driving force behind the Spiderverse for Sony Pictures. His major flaw is that he focuses so much story and energy upon the universe that he forgets to make a good movie.
- Serving Two Masters – by focusing upon the building of this monsters universe, the film lacks focus and direction, and at times flows as two different movies happening at once.
- Rise of the Exposition – the film gets bogged down from the beginning of the movie with exposition, much narration, as well as one character whose only purpose is to literally tell the audience where the story and plots are taking us – and it stinks as a plot device.
The only reason anyone would want to sit through this film is that there is something to be said for superstar actors and actresses. Tom Cruise is his usually dependable action star self – with body language, facial expressions and acting expertise that captures the frame, along with his signature crazy action stunts and running scenes.
Russell Crowe provides the gravitas for this film, but even he is used as a plot device to unite the monster universe. His character is unique and a bit juicy, but his role doesn’t serve the story.
Sofia Boutella continues to impress with action type roles that don’t require much dialog. She was in enticing in films such as “Kingsman” and “Star Trek 3” but we have yet to truly find out whether she can act.
The other main roles were just in the movie to move the plot along. Annabelle Wallis as Jenny Halsey and Jake Johnson as Sgt. Vail were the typical love interest and best friend characters that this film would have been better served without.
In the end, the curse of the mummy didn’t attack the movie, it fell upon us as the viewers. As an action movie, fans won’t be fully disappointed – as it has just enough star power and good looking set pieces to pass as a good time, and offers just enough tidbits to want to see what’s next in the coming Dark Universe.
But if you ask me, “Who’s my Mummy? I will say it’s the Brandon Fraser incarnations of “The Mummy.”