What do you if you’re a big movie studio with a large back catalogue of classic movie monsters? Why reboot them into a monster cinematic universe of course. And that’s the plan that Universal Studios is hoping to get off the ground with their new Dark Universe, an interconnected set of movies featuring Hollywood monsters from the early part of the 20th century, starting with the Mummy.
The early reviews from critics have not been kind to the Tom Cruise starring vehicle, so it was safe to say that my expectations were already low when I went to watch The Mummy. From the sounds of it, the Dark Universe was going to crash and burn before it even got started.
But surprisingly, I didn’t think that The Mummy was that bad. Faint praise I know, but it’s not the train-wreck that critics would have you believe. The first act of the movie explains the back story of the titular mummy, Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), and how soldiers of fortune, Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), along with archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) find themselves on the wrong side of the mummified monster.
It’s during this section that the movie is the strongest. Cruise, going against character, plays a self-serving opportunist and throws himself earnestly into the role. It’s his sheer charisma and self-effacing nature that carries the film and brings a surprising amount of levity. This film has a lot more humour than I thought there would be, and a lot of it stems from Cruise. As the threat of the Mummy grows, we learn more of the lore and why exactly Nick Morton is so vital.
But once we get introduced to Prodigium, a shadowy organisation run by Dr Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), the movie loses its way. The script starts focusing on setting up all the connections for the shared monster universe, and forgets about carrying the moment that it gained during the first act. Crowe is fine as Jekyll, but his role is solely there to setup future films nothing more. I wish they had introduced his character towards the end of the film, or even in an end credit sequence.
Not much use was made of Annabelle Wallis as Jenny Halsey either. Meant to be an equal to Cruise’s Morton, she spends more time delivering exposition and yelling out Nick’s name than doing anything else. (Seriously, every second line was “Nick!!!'”). She was there as part of a shoe-horned romance that felt neither real nor earned, and I felt no attachment to her character. Rachel Weisz she is not.
Boutella as the Mummy was appropriately menacing, but the film relied too much on jump scares to make her more than an under-developed threat. The final showdown with her was underwhelming and you could see how it was going to play out. Her portrayal of the mummy didn’t really bring anything new to the table, and even used a few cliché’s from previous Mummy movies.
All said and done, the action and effects in this movie are pretty good for the most part, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Cruise does put in a decent performance, and hopefully his star-power will be enough to get more of the Dark Universe films made.
This is not a film that you need to see at the cinema, but it’s entertaining enough if you do decide to check it out.
I give The Mummy a 6.5 out of 10 and no, there is no end credit sequence.