Since we had a Marvel Cinematic Universe with a series of interconnected movies all taking place in the same world, many other movie studios have tried to copy the success of Marvel Studios. So far, the studios have not yet had the success of Marvel. That, however, does not mean that they are not going to keep trying. The latest cinematic universe to launch into theaters is the Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe, recently dubbed The Dark Universe. The first film in the Dark Universe is the rebooted The Mummy, starring big time movie star, Tom Cruise.
Unfortunately, this film is no figurative Iron Man (the film that kicked off the MCU)
Tom Cruise plays Nick Morton, a soldier/antiquities dealer/grave robber, who is after the next big score which he finds out is in Iraq. He has stolen a map to a mysterious tomb of an Egyptian woman who was mummified because she was so evil. Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) is the evil woman who we hear all about in the long expository writing in the film’s first ten-fifteen minutes. After finding the tomb, Nick inadvertently brings back the woman in her mummy form, with all the supernatural powers that goes with that, and somehow becomes cursed.
The story is pretty lackluster and is missing some real key elements. Mainly, the movie goes from being a movie about a mummy to a movie setting up a universe that at times features a mummy. It is very obvious that they are doing world building as a cinematic universe needs. The problem is they did not bother to make a good movie.
Not to say that everything about The Mummy was bad. Tom Cruise was his normal solid self. We get out share of crazy Tom Cruise action pieces and stunts and we get more than our share of seeing Tom Cruise run. Sofia Boutella was good as the mummy in what they gave her to do. There is some solid, if not excellent, CGI and special effects.
The biggest problem I saw with The Mummy was that the film did not know what it wanted to be so it tried to do it all. It tried to be a horror movie and had some jump scares. It tried to set up the world of the Dark Universe so it gave us Easter eggs of other monsters. It tried to be funny and quippy, and it told jokes that really were not funny. It tried to recapture the tone of the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies so it tried to be an action/adventure film. The mummies in this movie were really zombies so it had some Walking Dead flavor to it as well. Since it tried all these things, it never got around to knowing what it should have been… a monster movie.
The tone of the film really suffered from its lack of identity.
I did enjoy the “Nick Fury” of the film in Russell Crowe. Crowe plays Dr. Henry Jekyll and we do get a flash of Mr. Hyde. He was somewhat interesting, but he did not fit into the film that they were trying to do. He will most likely be that connective tissue to bring all of the Universal monsters together, much as Nick Fury did for the MCU (or perhaps, like Phil Coulson did).
Another issue here was the romantic coupling of Tom Cruise’s character with Annabelle Wallis, who plays Jenny. Jenny is the stereotypical damsel in distress, despite beginning the film with hope that she would be more than that. I never once believed that Nick and Jenny gave two craps about each other and the connection between the two of them is vital in where the narrative (as it is) goes. I did not understand why Nick, who is shown to be a bit of a jerk, has any feelings for Jenny. Because of the lack of connection to eac other, what happens in the movie’s third act can only be explained as happening because the script says it does. There is no real emotional connection there.
Then, the ending of the film has zero resolution. It is so obviously setting up the next film in the franchise that it is fairly annoying.
Having said all that, there is some dumb fun to be had with The Mummy. If you want to go to the theater for a dumb summer movie, you could do worse. Lower your expectation, shut off your brain and you might have some fun with the Mummy.