It already seems as if we’re getting cinematic universes after another at this rate that stretch outside the likes of Marvel and DC, for now we also have Legendary’s MonsterVerse and now Universal is chiming in by reviving classic horror movie icons for the Dark Universe. To say they’ve started things off interestingly is one thing, because I’m still struggling with trying to deconstruct what it is that I’m really feeling about The Mummy right after having seen it because it only seems like this new cinematic universe will probably not go the way it was planned to be; and yet somehow that’s a part of why The Mummy only resulted in such a baffling experience. I was far too busy laughing at the stupidity of where it was going to the point I couldn’t say I was ever finding myself getting bored, yet at the same time that’s a part of why it’s difficult enough for me to even say it allows the Dark Universe to show promise.
Alex Kurtzman heads behind the camera to direct Sofia Boutella in the titular role as Princess Ahmanet, one that previously had belonged to Boris Karloff. Taking place within a similar continuity to the 1999 film of the same name which also was a loose remake of the 1932 film, The Mummy stars Tom Cruise as the unsuspecting victim to Princess Ahmanet’s curse – one that can only set foot doomsday for all life on earth with what she has planned during her own lifetime. Russell Crowe also appears midway as Dr. Henry Jekyll, if it weren’t evident enough that this film was so eager to start up a cinematic universe of its very own and there comes one note to where The Mummy finds itself crumbling even further down a darker path. With the consciousness of starting up a cinematic universe in mind it only makes clear that a distinctive identity with each film is difficult to come across, and because of this, The Mummy doesn’t want to go beyond.
Perhaps something that caught me off guard about The Mummy was the fact that Tom Cruise’s character, usually a smarter figure for action films in recent years, actually plays a role that’s far dumber than what we’ve already known him for. One can maybe even say that a fitting description of his own character of Nick Morton plays out almost against the Indiana Jones type, maybe that was where I found myself having fun just watching him being himself in The Mummy. Just seeing Tom Cruise playing against type in the form of an action hero here was probably the most pleasing aspect of watching The Mummy, because his stupidity only set course what was set to follow up and rather quickly I just found myself laughing to the point I couldn’t even possibly say that I was ever finding myself bored.
Something else I pondered about in here was the role of Sofia Boutella, because her own history seemed to have the potential for what could have been a sympathetic antagonist, a route that I’m fairly disappointed this film didn’t take if it was ever really eager to start up a cinematic universe. Granted, Boutella is great while she is spending her own time on the screen, but what’s most frustrating about seeing how everything unravels in The Mummy comes from how much of this comes shoehorned the moment Russell Crowe appears out of nowhere as Dr. Jekyll. His character feels useless given what little he even does on the film’s behalf, yet at the same time it’s so fascinating just to watch him ham up the role with a fake Cockney accent and soon following it up with even more of that upon his own transformation into Mr. Hyde.
All of this sounds as if it shouldn’t work and yet somehow it did, even though it borders towards convention on all ends. The script indeed is pretty much everything we’ve already seen before in many other monster movies and it’s nothing particularly new or interesting, and the direction is especially lackluster considering the fact that Kurtzman is a name recognized for his writing partnerships with Roberto Orci. He seems to have so many great set pieces put into play, especially when you look at how the Egyptian settings are established, but coming down to action sequences and the decisions of his own characters there comes only what would turn out to be a hit-or-miss affair. Either you’ll find yourself baffled just trying to follow along with the mishandled narrative, considering its own lack of coherence, or you’ll just find yourself laughing at where it wants to go because it’s way too hard to really care if everything is so obviously desperate as it is.
I’m not even sure how come The Mummy actually turned out to work as well as it did for me given its negative critical reception, but I can’t deny that I still found it to be such a fascinating experiment of its own sort because it seems like Universal just wants to take their Dark Universe everywhere: from horror to action and even at some points to comedy, so they put all possible results into a blender and then this is what comes out as a result. For the fun action sequences that come by there’s a misguided sense of worldbuilding that only reeks of desperation to milk out a cinematic universe inside of the future, but because of the lack of identity that The Mummy is proposing, it seems like there’s not so much promise coming their way. What you’d get here is an experience that’s so fascinating although most likely not for the intended reasons, I was just far too baffled in my own final thoughts to even bring myself to have any strong feelings either way but I can’t deny I had fun just laughing at how dumb it got from one point to the next. Disaster it is not, but good, I’m not sure I can go that far.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Universal.
Directed by Alex Kurtzman
Screenplay by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman
Produced by Alex Kurtzman, Chris Morgan, Sean Daniel, Sarah Bradshaw
Starring Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Javier Botet, Russell Crowe
Release Year: 2017
Running Time: 107 minutes