Universal are getting into the shared movie universe game with its Dark Universe brand. Because of course it is. In all fairness, the concept of making modern updates to the classic line-up of Universal monsters is an interesting one. Too bad their first and now-aborted attempt – Dracula Untold – was a sign that good things weren’t exactly to come.
Still, they’ve pushed out their next attempt to jump-start a franchise: The Mummy. An actual reboot to the Brendan Fraser/Rachel Weisz movies, yes. It stars Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, and Russell Crowe. The script is written by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, and Dylan Kussman, and it’s directed by Alex Kurtzman.
Yes, Alex I’ve only directed one movie no-one saw give me a $125 million budget Kurtzman. Why is the internet so hung up on Patty Jenkins directing Wonder Woman again?
The Mummy is rated 15 in the UK (It's a super soft 15 all things considered) which will most certainly hurt ticket sales and who knows if it will hurt the state of the Dark Universe in the bigger picture. It feels like Universal have put all their eggs in one basket here, even so much as create a Marvel/DC-esque Dark Universe logo to open the movie with.
The problem is, The Mummy really isn’t very good at all. It’s a shame, because I always love the commitment Tom Cruise puts into his films (By that I usually mean he just throws himself into the next stupid stunt) and one of the final trailers actually sold the movie to me, but much like trailers have clouded my judgement before (Suicide Squad, obviously), The Mummy is a pile of ancient guano.
So much of the movie just goes so wrong. For one, when you think mummification, you think Egypt. Egypt only really makes an appearance at the very beginning of the film and in Tom Cruise’s many, many visions. While it’s explained why they move the titular mummy to what is now Iraq, you’d assume there would be more usage of Egypt or even the Middle-East, but really it’s only a catalyst to get us back to England after Cruise, Johnson, and Wallis find the sarcophagus of Boutella’s mummy.
Though the reasoning to get things back to England is a solid one – the use of the Crusades and relic-stealing makes sense – it also just gives us a drab moody England that has next to no character or geography. The one character that London does bring to the film – Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll – serves the annoying purpose of universe building and a rather lame Mr. Hyde vs. Tom Cruise fight to brew up excitement for more Dark Universe.
Jesus Christ. The Dark Universe. Essentially Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll is the Nick Fury or Batman it seems of this universe. Where he headlines a secret society underneath the Natural History Museum where supernatural evil is hunted and destroyed. Yeah.
One of the biggest sins this movie causes as a blockbuster is that of immense boredom. For a good amount of the only 107 minutes this film runs for, you just don’t feel anything. It’s similar to Suicide Squad where you’d rather swiftly be bored of anti-heroes you don’t care for yet take down mindless drones, The Mummy just doesn’t inspire anything in you.
The comedic exchanges last several lines too long, the action is relatively uneventful, the colour scheme is just so unspectacular, the characters are unlikable, the story is exposition-heavy and not even engaging, it’s as if everyone looked at 1999’s The Mummy and went “Nah, let’s remove everything.”
The Mummy from 1999 is not at all the best movie ever made, but what that had which 2017’s incarnation doesn’t is that it was fun. And Egypt was used a lot in the films (Which is a hell of a lot more refreshing than English forests at night and the grey of overcast London). And the characters were unique and defined. And you managed to get great chemistry out of the stars and make Brendan Fraser look good!
Tom Cruise’s The Mummy, however, is a disappointment on every level. It’s an adventure movie with a big lack of adventure. It’s a horror movie without any horror beyond heavily lampshaded jump scares. It’s a blockbuster with no incredible set-pieces apart from a throwaway zero-gravity plane crash sequence. It’s a franchise-spawning film much in the vein of disappointing like Batman v Superman.
Kurtzman really doesn’t know how to direct this sort of film. Patty Jenkins went from Monster to Wonder Woman across 14 years. Kurtzman has written movies such as Transformers, Star Trek, and Mission: Impossible III, all from great (Yeah Michael Bay is in that list) directors who know how to direct things. Yet here he is having not learnt a single thing.
It’s even a wonder when you look at the screenwriters. It’s curious to know of Kurtzman did many script changes himself, but when you’ve got the writers of films like Jurassic Park, Jack Reacher, and Spider-Man, it’s a wonder just how wrong one can be with this film.
The Mummy is seriously not worth your time. It will bore you. It will disappoint you. It will make you harken back to those films at the turn of the century starring Brendan Fraser and some horribly dated CGI and make you want to watch those instead. Including the third one. Which says everything.
Do seek those movies out, though. For they are more exciting and full of life, even the undead. Here you get a Sofia Boutella wasted despite the fact we know she can do villainous well looking at Kingsman.
Here, however, everyone has been wasted. Between the potential for a great script from those writers and the potential of the actors bringing it to life, Alex Kurtzman could have definitely done a better job here. Even ignoring the Dark Universe (god) that’s trying to be set up (again), there could have been such a better execution of the idea.
Time to bandage up and put these ideas back in the tomb, methinks.