Shared movie universes are all the rage these days. Well, since Marvel gave themselves a license to print money, anyway. DC Comics,Transformers, the Fox X-Men films and many more are all in development so it’s only natural that Universal Studios who practically invented this concept with their monster movies, back in the 30s and 40s have decided to throw their hat back in the ring.
The first entry in Univeral’s Dark Universe, their new series of shared universe horror films, is The Mummy. Starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella, The Mummy has been savaged by critics and flopped theatrically and I’m not quite sure why. Maybe people expected too much, but I enjoyed The Mummy for what it was, an action packed, horror-tinged adventure film. A mash of genres and full of excitement, even if it never manages to be truly scary, The Mummy nonetheless maintains tension and pulls the viewer along at a fast pace. The film only ever slows down when introducing the shared universe stuff, even then, never becoming boring.
Tom Cruise stars as Nick Morton, a sleazy army officer more concerned with stealing artifacts along with his pal Vail, played by Jurassic World’s Jake Johnson. While attempting to loot a tomb in Iraq, Nick encounters Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) An archaeologist he has some history with and together they accidentally unleash something ancient and evil. Sofia Boutella plays Ahmanet, a vengeful Egyptian Princess sentenced to be mummified alive for murdering her father and his son. Along they way she also tried to summon Set, the God of Death and control the world. Basically, if you’ve seen the Brendan Fraser version, she’s Imhotep and Tom Cruise is Rachel Weisz.
Packed with awesome effects, some big laughs and loads of violence, The Mummy is a great romp. I kept waiting for it to get bad, but it never did. Sure, Cruise is not giving it his best, but it never dips into being unwatchable. If you’re into cheesey horror adventures, you’ll love it. This one has a huge budget and TOM FUCKING CRUISE in it.
One scene that absolutely wowed me was the plane crash, as heavily shown in all of the trailers. What a dizzying, thrilling set piece that is! Breathlessly shot and very tense, it creates a sense of dread and Cruise sells the whole thing. Like a spooky Mission Impossible stunt.
Sadly, I can’t say The Mummy is Oscar worthy or even massively original. In fact you can play “spot the influence” all the way through. Personally, I found a huge John Landis influence, the zombies had a Thriller vibe and the ghostly apparition of a dead friend warning of trouble was straight out of An American Werewolf in London. It had that typically Landis darkly comedic tone all the way though, the main character cursed, yet seeing the funny side. It also felt at times like the Uncharted games, very quippy and dry, with a similar desert setting. Cruise was actually dressed a little like Nathan Drake too.
Cruise himself has had a fair bit of a critical bashing, which is undeserved. The romance angle between Nick and Jenny didn’t fully work, but it fits his character and by the end, everything does make sense. The scenes with Cruise and Jake Johnson were great, Johnson surely has to end up leading his own franchise at some point. He’d make a good Boomerang if they ever do a Superior Foes of Spider-Man movie.
The film looked great, with each setting looking different and reflecting the tone of the scene, kind of how Bond films do it. Or maybe it’s furthering the Uncharted influence and acting like video game levels. I particularly liked the Prodigium headquarters with all the references to other monster films.
Okay, so let’s talk Dark Universe. At the time of writing, The Mummy is getting buried at the box office, surely affecting future creative plans. I hope nothing too drastically, as what is set up here is actually very cool. I also LOVED Russell Crowe as Henry Jekyll and his old pal Eddie Hyde. As a pair of supporting characters Jekyll and Hyde will hopefully pop up in the next Dark Universe film, Bill Condon’s Bride of Frankenstein. Due to open February 2019, staring Javier Bardem and if rumours are to be believed, Angelina Jolie. Everyone’s favourite hat wearer Johnny Depp is the Invisible Man too, but where he will appear isn’t certain. All puns fully intended.
Don’t listen to the critics, judge The Mummy on your own terms. I found a lot to like and was left wanting more from this world. Great action, effects and funny, worth the time of every horror fan. Even if it’s not truly a horror film.
The Mummy is still in cinemas now
For Fans Of :
The Mummy (1999)
An American Werewolf in London