I am a fan of the 1999 version of “The Mummy” which starred Brendan Fraser. I even liked its’ first sequel and spin-off, “The Scorpion King. They were campy, fun and filled with adventure. Universal has of course gone the reboot route in hopes to launching their Universal Dark shared universe which will bring back all the classic movie monsters. Tom Cruise was a wise choice to help usher in this ambitious plan. After all, Disney and Warner Bros have their shared universes, why can’t Universal? The problem is, despite having a great cast, visual effects, and an iconic monster to work with, “The Mummy” takes itself way too seriously and the fun suffers because of it.
As the film begins, Nick Morton (Cruise) and Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) are searching for treasures though the Persian Gulf, when they stumble upon a tomb that is thousands of miles away from where it should be, they wind up assisting archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) with the extraction of the sarcophagus. What they fail to realize is that the coffin contains the evil and powerful Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who murdered her family and sold her soul to be a living god. Now that Ahmanet is free, she must get her hands on a special dagger and stone so she can ram it into Nick’s chest and bring the God of Death to life. She chose Nick because he was the one who actually freed her.
Because the studio is trying to build their monster universe, The Mummy” isn’t the only familiar creature here. Russell Crowe plays Dr. Henry Jekyll, and of course his alter ego, Hyde. The good/bad Doctor has his own agenda to stop Ahmanet and that doesn’t bode well for Nick’s future.
“The Mummy” isn’t bad, but it had far more potential than what was delivered. I loved Boutella as the title character and I got a kick out of Johnson’s “An American Werewolf in London” inspired character arc. One of the problems is that Cruise’s character had frequent moments of levity, yet they often felt out of place.
Writer/producer Alex Kurtzman makes his sophomore feature film directorial effort with “The Mummy” and one of the things I couldn’t get out of my head what how would this film have turned out if someone like Brad Bird got behind the camera, or even Christopher McQuarrie (who actually worked on this screenplay)? Despite its’ problems, I am curious to see where this shared Dark Universe goes. After all, it took the current DC universe 3 bad/mediocre films before hitting a home run with “Wonder Woman”.
By: Marc Ferman