So I am a little late to the game here. Took me a while to get this review out but I am finally here to let you all in on how this film did from an entertainment perspective. The next big franchise from Universal Studios is The Dark Universe. In the same structure as the Marvel Cinematic Universe also known as MCU and the D.C. Extended Universe also known as DCEU, the Dark Universe will be a series of films that all take place in the same timeline and same universe where even though each movie will be different they will all have a common bond and that’s the setting. The first of many films to come is The Mummy which is one of the many featured monsters that will be used to create the Dark Universe made famous back in the early 30’s and so on.
The film is twisting the story a little bit introducing the first monster as a woman. Sofia Boutella (Star Trek: Beyond, Kingsman: The Secret Service) is taking on the role of the mummy, which I believe is an excellent choice. She brings a sense of vulnerability to the role as well as dominance to not be messed with. She is awaken from her tomb and unleashes terror upon England to carry out an unfinished curse set in motion over a millennia ago. Opposite her is the protagonist Tom Cruise who plays a con man Nick Morton who is to be her chosen to finish the curse. Tom Cruise is known to be very selective with his roles and has a big involvement on how the movie is carried out, even if he is just the actor in the film. So when you know he is involved, you have the feeling he wouldn’t waste his time with a dud.
This movie had a lot of pressure to be the best and start off something that many people are saying could be the next big thing in movie franchises. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to the hype and puts the popularity and the trust that this Dark Universe is going to succeed. I want to talk about the movie first and then discuss what I believe it means for the future of the franchise.
“The strategy of making The Mummy an action comedy was not the best way to go.”
First of all, the movie wasn’t boring. I was paying attention the whole time and didn’t feel like the film was wasting anytime in between action sequences or storytelling. What was lacking is that if they were trying to make this a comedy or light-hearted like they did with The Mummy starring Brendan Fraser, the film failed miserably. Tom Cruise I have seen make me laugh with his antics. His body language and charisma with his co-stars shine in a comedic way from examples like Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Jerry Maguire, and even some funny one liners from Knight and Day. Cruise in this film was not funny at all. Playing a man who doesn’t really “get it” and looking like he doesn’t know what’s going on just isn’t working. I have seen better performances from him and I think he may have been trying to hard to recreate the magic Brendan Fraser brought to this role. I don’t think he was trying to mimic him but he would have been better off not trying to be the funny guy in the film. His right hand man, Chris Vail played by Mark Johnson (Jurassic World) is known for being funny but even his chemistry and style of comedy didn’t help. A surprising nod to An American Werewolf in London is a big component to their screen time together in the film.
The film also tried to give us some scares with loud jump scares and in your face mummified minions assisting the villain. I think mixing the two of scares and attempted comedy just didn’t blend very well. On top of all that, the action sequences while some were fun to watch seemed mismatch making this film a little scattered with the direction they were trying to set. “The strategy of making The Mummy an action comedy was not the best way to go.”
The introduction to the under the radar facility run by Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe) made sense to introduce him and the company into the film to of course set up the notion that the story doesn’t end with just the mummy. His character was given the moment to shine by giving us a taste of what happens when he lets his inner demon a.k.a Mr. Hyde come out to play. His involvement was needed but not required. He should have been a cameo at best and only provided means to push the story of the mummy forward instead of giving him more to do and taking focus off the other villain.
Overall as a stand alone movie. I thought it was just okay. The end of the film definitely left the audience with unanswered questions and foreshadowed many things to come in the future. Sofia Boutella was great as the villain and I definitely wanted more of her. I’ve seen stronger characters from Cruise and was not very impressed with his character in this film. Even if this wasn’t a part of a bigger cinematic universe, I don’t really think it was good enough for a sequel or its own franchise. What I received from this film with the exception of a female mummy I could watch in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. The Third one doesn’t exist to me. The movie had some fun elements that will keep you busy for almost 2 hours but nothing really memorable to take with you afterwards. Now when you look at it from a different perspective as the first installment of a bigger plan, this movie doesn’t really provide a good example of wonderful things to come. I just hope in the future as they continue the Dark Universe series they rethink some things to make these films better and keep us going to the theatre to see more.
2 1/2 out of 5
Now onto the franchise as a whole and why they are in trouble if they are going to be anything like The Mummy.
Where’s the Horror??
Correct me if I’m wrong but this Dark Universe franchise are based on a set of horror films. Why isn’t this movie a horror movie. Tom Cruise taken on this role, I thought he was going to make sure this movie carried a majority amount of suspense or straight up scary shit. I don’t need it to be a full on scare fest but at least less of a comedy.
I believe these films would be better off as a horror movie. I know that the thing to do right now is to make these epic over the top action films with funny and witty characters to keep each other on their toes but why copy a formula of another franchise. Be your own franchise and come out with a set of really good thought out horror films that connect to one another. Especially from an amazing eclectic group of villainous characters I don’t see why they wouldn’t tap into that. Horror is definitely making a big comeback in ways I haven’t seen in a long time. Horror movies are starting to be successful year round instead of just around Halloween Month. Horror is also changing the game now with movies like Get Out and It Comes At Night. Both films tapping into that human emotion and social interaction to provide that realistic feel. Even with fictional monsters like Dracula and Wolf man, those characters along with the other planned characters they plan to bring to the big screen comes from human emotion that drives the character to become the monsters the are fated to be. Hell, Bride of Frankenstein wouldn’t even exist if it didn’t provide the human emotion of loneliness and love. If they decide to change the tone and make the next films more of a horror movie, they will do better.
Trust your Audience
Universal should have trusted the audience to know that this is the first movie of many in the franchise. Giving us all these hints of movies the public already knows about is just taking time away from the main story. With the amount of advertising used for the film before its release, I think anyone who is going to see this movie in the first place knows it’s a part of something big. As you can see from the many reviews that have been circulating, one even saying this film is the worst Tom Cruise film he has ever done. It seems you don’t know your audience that well. If going the horror route is not the answer make sure the direction you are going is what the audience wants.
Stop Trying To Be A Superhero Movie
People are going to see the Transformers series and all the superhero movies out there for a specific reason. I don’t like the Transformer series but i go because I always have hope they are just going to get better and better. So even though the money says one thing, what people are saying after it’s all done is another. If money is the only mission when it comes to creating this universe, go for it. The cash may come flowing in but this franchise will go down as one of the worst cinematic universe ever if they are anything like The Mummy. That reason is not why they are going to see a movie about monsters. Especially classic monsters. This series should be treated as unique and different as the characters in the film and the audience should be treated as such also. Tap into an audience that is not getting what they want from these superhero action packed movies and give them something they haven’t seen before.
I don’t believe this franchise is dead. I think there is potential here and with the all-star cast they have in the works to be involved in most of these films says that they could have a good thing going here. This is an opportunity to show the world what remakes should truly look like. The producers already have decided to nix the idea of having an “Avengers” style movie where they all come together in one film a la Monster Squad. Run with that and keep making a difference that separates these films from the rest. I guess we will see what happens next when they start advertising Creature Feature #2 which is hinted to be Bride of Frankenstein.
Thank you all for reading this extended review and I would like to know what you thought of the movie and the idea of having a Dark Universe Franchise. Do you think it will work? Comment below and see you at the movies.