I’ll be completely honest, I am an absolute sucker for a fictional universe. Among the myriad of achievement that cinema has made in the last twenty years, the fictional universes that house our favourite films are a phenomenon that I believe won’t be paralleled for quite some time. You can understand my excitement when I learned that Universal Studios was going to start their very own called The Dark Universe. The first film in this franchise is the Tom Cruise-fronted Horror Triller: The Mummy.
The first thing that jumped out at me may very well be the same thing that jumps out at you: It’s a remake. A reboot. Call it what you like, we’ve seen something very similar not so long ago. You’re right. Universal’s Dark Universe will be a re-imagining and re-telling and I dare say a re-hashing of the classic Hollywood era of horror movies that brought us some of the most iconic screen portrayals of monsters such as Frankenstein, Wolfman, and Dracula.
I was massively excited to the universal logo fly into the screen to reveal the Dark Universe logo. I felt like I was going to see something really interesting.
I didn’t really know what I was going to be met with once the logo disappeared and I was given the first musical drones of the score. The film opened up in the exact same formulaic way you would expect of a big budget Hollywood film. In fact, everything about the mechanics and structure of this movie felt like it was taken from a shelf in the warehouse. Some of you may argue “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Or “What did you expect, practice what you preach and enjoy it for what it is.” And you’d have a fair point. But what you need to remember is that Universal Studios is trying to kick start its own fictional universe in a world where pretty much every big media franchise has already done so (To varying degrees of success.) Universal has been given free lessons on what to do and what not t, therefore, I expected more of this.
The story tells of an opportunistic and highly unpredictable soldier turned grave robber Nick Morton (Cruise) who stumbles across an ancient tomb holding a long-forgotten Egyptian princess, Ahmanet. Who is hell bent on completing her pact with the god Set. The premise is classic and has the same feeling as every other historically based action thriller. I could go to my usual quote and say that it would be worth the watch if you don’t mind watching something that is quite forgettable and throwaway. But I’m not because this is a clear attempt from Universal to compete with Marvel, Sony, and Warner in the war of the fictional universes. The overall story was formulaic and stock and did not deserve the hype it got.
To its merit, the plot did show some promising signs of foreshadowing and there were parts that did set up what will become the larger Dark Universe continuity. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t go into it but there are moments of genuine entertainment in this film. Namely, the early scenes featuring a far less alluring portrayal of Ahmanet. Apart from these scenes, I am sad to say that pretty much everything else failed to shock, surprise and in some cases to entertain at all.
I would like to shine a spotlight on the crowning achievement in the visuals of this film. You may by now be very aware of the scene that takes place in the plane famous for its release as a viral blunder and it being the focus of many interviews during the promotional circuit. This is a part of the film that deserves all of its merit and hype. It was obvious from my seat that the scene was perfectly executed and the desired effect was achieved in spades. Is it worth sitting through the entire film to see? That’s entirely up to you. But I do believe in giving credit where credit is due. Especially when we live in a world where most effects can be achieved digitally to some degree of success. This being said, can we base a film’s success mainly on its visual feats? I think if it serves the story then maybe. But I’m not so sure they do in the film.
The Mummy will not go down as being the best work of any actor involved in the film. I consider myself a fan of Tom Cruise, but I think the reason for that is because of his work as a stuntman as opposed to a serious thespian. Annabelle Wallis’ portrayal of Jenny Halsey did provide a moral compass to the otherwise amoral leanings of Morton and his sidekick Chris Vail played by the New Girl actor Jake Johnson. Russel Crowe’s Portrayal of Dr. Hyde provides a hint a mystery and promise in regards to his appearances in other Dark Universe films. His place in the narrative seems to be that of a slightly more active version of Nick Fury from the M.C.U.
The focus is of course set upon the character of Ahmanet played by Sofis Boutella. Hers was a story of heartbreak and destiny. Boutella did give the otherwise monstrous character a human edge that helped us feel for the character. There was a very personable side the mummy which is possibly quite rare in dealing with monsters. It did, however, mirror that of the previous Mummy in the Brendan Frasier led version of the franchise.
I did feel the characterisation of Ahamanet fell into the realm of sexualisation one to many time. The way her mummy bandages seem to rip and tear in such a way that we start to find an actually zombie seductive does tend to set the equality clock back a few minutes. We’re going through an era of cinema where female characters are being empowered in different ways and I feel that this film could have been a little more imaginative in its portrayal of a would-be queen. But then again I suppose it in keeping with the film general lack of originality.
The Mummy is still out in cinemas everywhere. And just tos ave you any dissapointment. There are no post credit scenes. Apparantly, that’s Marvel’s domain.