Universal as a studio made its name with a series of monster movies in the 1940’s and 50’s based on the gothic horror of Mary Shelly and Bram Stoker. These classic tales are ripe for reimagining and reinterpretation and that is what Universal plans to do with their Dark Universe series, a film franchise that creates a cinematic universe of monsters, like Marvel did for superheroes and Warner Brothers did for Kaiju (giant monsters). The first release under this new banner surprised me, as The Mummy isn’t the most well-known Universal Monster Movie and starring one of the nicest men in Horror, Boris Karloff, however, if it can kick-start a franchise of gothic terrors what is the harm in that?
In present day Iraq two soldiers-of-fortune, Nick and Chris, discover an ancient Egyptian tomb that contains the immortal body of Princess Ahmanet, an Egyptian princess who sold her soul to Set to gain the thrown. When Nick releases Ahmanet, he and Chris are cursed and thrown into a world of Gods, monsters and secret organisations.
The Mummy, although a movie from this year feels like a relic from the past, something akin to the 1999 version starring Brendan Fraser. However, it is not as funny, it is not as entertaining, and isn’t even as scary.
The plot is overstuffed with hints and references that are far more interesting than anything in the main story and there are elements that are left completely unexplained with massive plot conveniences. The story clops along at a surprising pace and yet it lacks any form of depth to allow for any sort of attachment to the characters or action on screen to develop. Instead, me and the people I went with, played a game of “where does that element come from?” because The Mummy is a bizarre Frankenstein’s Monster of other parts of better movies.
The dialogue is rather cliché and the actors do nothing to hide that fact. Tom Cruise tries to be a lovable scumbag but ends up just being a terrible person, who has no real character development, and is shown to be a beater of women in the climax of the film, which I found a little disgusting especially with Wonder Woman playing in a theatre right next to The Mummy. While I didn’t even realise Annabelle Wallis (from The Tudors and Peaky Blinders) was English till I looked it up because her accent is all over the place, she is perhaps the most wooden of them all, having the most awkward exposition filled mumblings ever.
Now there are somethings that I found entertaining; I particularly liked Russell Crowe as the head of a secretive organisation, Dr Henry Jekyll, yes that’s right. It is clear that he was having some semblance of fun in the role and I would have happily have watched a film about him rather than the paint by numbers save the world and get the girl schlock we actually received. Jack Johnson is also charismatic as a sort of Werewolf in London-esque friend and fellow cursee. Similarly, the references to Universals other creepy properties in the secret organisation’s secret hideout was fun for me as a film buff to speculate and recognise. But these slightly entertaining parts were buried under the sands of a film that will be forgotten quickly after the studio shoves it out on DVD.
The Mummy appears to be as dead and dry as its namesake, and if reports are correct its box office may have killed The Dark Universe, which is a shame because I would have liked to have seen Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde and The Creature from the Black Lagoon menace our screens once again.
You Can Watch The Mummy in Cinemas now