This is the start of the Dark Universe!
For those of you not in the know, Universal recently decided that they wanted to do their own Avengers/Justice League type cross-over deal, with the Mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the Invisible Man, all those classic horror stories eventually coming together for… whatever reason gets asses in seats. In 2014, back when this plan was made public, the movie DRACULA UNTOLD was supposedly the start of this upcoming franchise. But I guess Universal scrapped that idea and decided to make this the start of it all.
Upon first glance at this movie, I doubt it’s going to be very good, but it looks fairly entertaining enough. I question how exactly the protagonist simply stumbles upon a sinkhole and happens to find the tomb that holds the titular mummy. Other than that, it’ll probably be a dumb but fun movie. I do enjoy some of the cast though.
Speaking of which. Starring, we have Tom Cruise (JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK , MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION , ROCK OF AGES , and upcoming films M:I 6 – MISSION IMPOSSIBLE  and TOP GUN: MAVERICK, due out… who knows when) and one of my new favorite actresses, Sofia Boutella (STAR TREK BEYOND , KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE , and the upcoming ATOMIC BLONDE ). In support, we have Russell Crowe (THE NICE GUYS , THE WATER DIVINER , and MAN OF STEEL ), Annabelle Wallis (KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD , THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY , and ANNABELLE ), Jake Johnson (SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE , JURASSIC WORLD , and TV show NEW GIRL), and Courtney B. Vance (OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY , TERMINATOR GENISYS , and TV show AMERICAN CRIME STORY).
Now for the crew. Directing is Alex Kurtzman, known for PEOPLE LIKE US (2012). He’s usually a producer who will also be producing some of the future Dark Universe films. Red flag alert: three writers! Suddenly, I’m concerned. Co-writing the script are David Koepp (INFERNO , WAR OF THE WORLDS , SPIDER-MAN , and upcoming films BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN  and the as-of-yet-titled Indiana Jones movie ), Christopher McQuarrie (MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION, JACK REACHER , THE USUAL SUSPECTS , and the upcoming M:I 6 – MISSION IMPOSSIBLE), and Dylan Kussman, who is known for stuff that I’ve never heard of. Three writers… not usually a good sign. Composing the score is Brian Tyler, known for THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (2017), THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM (2016), and AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015). Finally, the cinematographer is Ben Seresin, known for WORLD WAR Z (2013), PAIN & GAIN (2013), and TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (2009).
Overall, I’m not overly excited for this. Early ratings and reviews seem to paint it negatively. I can’t pretend to be surprised, but it’s Cruise. I can’t imagine this movie being boring. So… I go in with high hopes of entertainment, not the next DARK KNIGHT (2008).
This is my honest opinion of: THE MUMMY
Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) was destined for the Egyptian throne. But when her father had a son, she killed her family, relying on magic from the God of Death, Set. Eventually set on releasing the god into the mortal world, she was stopped by her people and imprisoned in a tomb far from Egypt for eternity. In the present day, she is unearthed by a soldier of fortune named Nick (Tom Cruise) and unwittingly releases Ahmanet onto the world and must stop her from taking back what she thinks belongs to her.
Yeesh, and we thought the DC movies were in trouble. The movie isn’t very good. In fact, it’s so not good that I agree with the critics that this might rightfully stop this “Dark Universe” from taking off. Yeah, it’s that bad. It’s by no means the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but this franchise shouldn’t happen if more effort isn’t put into them. Not to mention these classic monsters that have rooted themselves so deeply in pop culture for generations deserve so much better than what this movie presents.
Eh, it’s probably best to start with the few things that I do enjoy about the movie. First off, I will never not like the double irises in the eyes. I love that look and even if this movie franchise dies, I hope that look lives on in something better. And while we’re on the subject of double-iris eyes, I really like Sofia Boutella. She is quickly making a name for herself as “the woman in make-up.” If she doesn’t have prosthetic apendages, then she’s completely undercover in some fantastic make-up, making a unanimously popular role in STAR TREK BEYOND. Now, cue that same chick in a role that, on paper, should be a match made in god damn Heaven. The original mummy was a role made famous because of the ground-breaking make-up. Her casting makes a great deal of sense. Even though the make-up is… underwhelming and nearly half the time her mummy character is CG, Boutella still makes it look good and her acting does come through.
In fact, the acting isn’t really the problem… er… except for Russell Crowe, but we’ll get to him in a little while. Cruise has a surprisingly refreshing role that is completely different from what he usually plays. In nearly every action movie, he’s confident, calculating, a tried and true bad-ass with or without a weapon. In this movie, he’s… kind of incompetent. There’s this scene in the beginning where he’s gotten himself and his partner, Chris (Jake Johnson) in a fire-fight with some insurgents and they’re cornered on a roof being shot at on all sides. Chris is panicking and Nick is shouting, “Just let me think!” After a beat or two, Nick cries out, “We’re gonna die!” It’s… surprisingly funny to see him so hopeless. Whereas Jack Reacher, or Ethan Hunt would have had a plan B through Z three times over, this character is kind of idiotic. He spends most of the movie freaking out and being confused, and gets his ass hilariously kicked by Ahmanet later on. As a result, I kind of love it. I don’t think I want to see it again, but as a first off, it was probably more entertaining than it should have been.
Beyond the actors, I do admit to enjoying the twitchy zombies that Ahmanet creates when she sucks the life-force from her victims. I don’t like that they’re CG most of the time, but it’s a fun and even creepy visual. The swarm of crows taking down that plane was also a really fun scene to watch. I don’t know, death by beaks is always a bit of twitch for me. And there’s a scene where Ahmanet hunts down Nick and shatters the glass around her, converting it back into sand, and then we get the iconic and popular sand-face effect.
So… some fun visuals, a refreshing abnormal character for Cruise, and Boutella being the best part of the movie, as seems to be a pattern with her, but… the good qualities come to a dead stop. And I don’t mean a slow petite screeching halt, I mean hit-a-titanium-wall-at-top-speed dead stop.
The first red flag is right before the movie even starts. You know how both Marvel and DC are creating a cinematic universe involving crossovers with the most popular superheroes from their respective comics? You know they’re affectionately called The Marvel Cinematic Universe and The DC Extended Universe? Well… when did any of these movies openly say that in the movies? The correct answer is that they don’t. You know why? They don’t need to be that confident. Well, guess what this movie does? It flashes it’s traditional “Universal” across the planet, but then completely circles around, and in the same shot, a new logo circles Earth and we see “Dark Universe.”
Does this movie honestly think that audiences wouldn’t know that? Even if they don’t, they’ll pick it up when they realize that Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde are in the movie. But really, if that was my biggest complaint about the movie, we’d be in a better spot. Sadly, this is not the case.
Nope. We get one of four movies that I saw this weekend that decide that it’s necessary to throw in a narration. I am getting really sick of these things. I know voice overs may be necessary to explain backstories that the movie wouldn’t otherwise showcase, therefore supposedly explaining certain details that would be random and or confusing without context. However, when a movie uses it just to talk over the events already played out, it’s wasted resources. In this opening, we see Ahmanet training to be a fighter and overlooking Egypt with pride, in a manner that she knows she will rule over it all one day. But then the infant prince is born and Ahmanet begins to worship the evil god and goes on a familial killing spree. Then she aims to sacrifice her “chosen” to the evil god and possess him so that he can enter the mortal world. Everything that I just said, it’s all visual and pretty easy to understand. The narration explaining everything that we see is completely unnecessary.
As much as I like Johnson as an actor, he can be really funny even if the movie isn’t, but he is some seriously pointless talent in this movie. His character, Chris, is annoying as hell. At first, it just seems like he’s playing the hysterical cowardly type who has no sense of adventure. It’s been done, but some of his humor comes through okay. And to be fair, when he gets into a fire-fight, he does look natural holding an assault rifle. But once that bit is over, all he does is whine and complain. The worst is when he, Nick, and Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) have already entered Ahmanet’s tomb and they’ve just been attacked by a swarm of camel spiders, leading to Chris getting bit. He starts firing his rifle wildly, already a dumb-ass move because, you know, ricocheting is a thing, and starts freaking out begging to leave. I don’t know, man, if you’re a grown-ass adult and you don’t want to be somewhere, then don’t be there. It really shouldn’t be that hard.
As this happens early on in the movie, so I don’t consider it a spoiler, but Chris dies not long after. That bug bite allowed Ahmanet to possess him and he kills a dude, and then Nick shoots him dead. But his appearance is later relegated to being a comic relief vision in Nick’s head, who is obviously trying to entice Nick to making the choices that Ahmanet would want him to make. These appearances are about as annoying as they sound. Hell, there’s a good stretch of time when Johnson is completely dropped from the film and doesn’t come back until the final twenty-ish minutes.
If it wasn’t bad enough that we have annoying characters, we’re also exposed to characters we don’t care about. Take Wallis’ character, Jenny the archaeologist. Literally, this is her entrance: suddenly appear, slap Cruise, and spend a good five to ten minutes about awesome or not awesome the sex was, and that he stole a map from her. Where do I begin with this? It is so painfully obvious that these two characters are going to do that stupid cliché of hating each other, but the audience knows they’re going to hook up at the end, which they do. You see it coming a thousand miles away and it’s boring. She’s not an interesting character. You never care what happens to her, or the contrived relationship she has with Nick. She’s just the pretty face that Cruise gets to make out with and make him look good. Wasn’t this type of female character supposed to be killed off when SPIDER-MAN 3 (2007) ended and why we never really got another “Mary Jane” character? It’s sad that Wallis had this role because she doesn’t seem like a bad actress. To her credit, she’s not bad in the movie, but she’s got nothing to work with that would leave an impact on audiences.
Beyond the characters, there’s a lot of questionable story and directing choices. Like during that scene with the camel spiders, Nick is exposed to visions of Ahmanet, which clearly freaks him out. Yet, he says nothing to anyone about them and seems perfectly okay with being near Ahmanet’s sarcophagus. If that were me, I’d be up against the wall on the opposite side of the room until I was outside and able to run away like a bitch. You also have dumb characters that see something that any normal person would stay away from and call it in. But these characters do the “Alien” thing by sticking their faces in them to get a closer look and lo and behold, they get axed off. Bleh. And while Ahmanet is quick to dispatch nameless extras, she takes her time killing Jenny when she has the chance because… pudding. I don’t know, but it’s as good as any other explanation this trope offers.
And what’s with the Jekyll and Hyde stuff? Okay, in some ways, this makes sense. I mean, it’s a crossover universe with these classic monsters coming together. Jekyll is this universe’s Nick Fury, which is fine. He illustrates the scale and points the direction in which these movies will go. When it’s just Jekyll, it’s fine. But when he turns into Hyde, it’s literally just fan service. Can’t have Jekyll without Hyde, right? You can, but this movie disagrees with me, especially since his story isn’t the focus. But in addition to that, isn’t Hyde supposed to be a hideous creature? I’ve not been liking these incarnations of Hyde in recent media, like this movie and TV show ONCE UPON A TIME. In every iteration of the character I’ve seen, he’s a violent monster and such. Almost inhuman in appearance. But these movies depict the character as a charismatic and pompous dick who is more or less attractive… or in Crowe’s case, no deviation in look other than a couple warts. Shouldn’t Hyde be a complete transformation in appearance? Even ONCE UPON A TIME got that down.
Overall, it’s not a good film. The story is cut-and-paste, most of the characters range from meh to annoying, it’s littered with senseless sequences and choices, and marinated in tropes. Having said all that, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few things that I enjoyed about it. Cruise is a humorously incompetent fighter, and of course, Boutella steals the damn show for me. None of that really makes it a recommendation, however, so I’d say you could skip it. It’s not something that you should run away from, but it’s a rental at best. Even then, that’s a pretty weak suggestion. See it if you want to see Boutella as a homicidal mummy who kicks Cruise’s ass, but don’t expect a good movie between those scenes.
My honest rating for THE MUMMY: a weak 3/5