One of my favourite films as a teenager was The Mummy and its increasingly ridiculous sequels. The films were over the top fun that never disappointed in their epic over the top action sequences, with quippy one liners and an absurd plot. The films are a testament to their time and turned Brendan Fraser into an action movie star and introduced the world to Dwayne Johnson “The Rock” (who could ever forget that horrible CGI!) Now Universal want to cash in on the cinematic universe trend and have officially started their Dark Universe (look out Warner Bros. are coming for you!) with the first film in the franchise The Mummy.
This time around Tom Cruise is cast as the lead Nick Morton, a treasure hunter profiting off Isis destroying ancient artifacts. When he steals a map from a one night encounter, he accidentally uncovers a hidden tomb belonging to Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who was cursed for her crimes in a bloody flashback scene. Once set free she sets across the land sucking the life out of others and creating zombie servants. She chases Nick to London to unite a jewel and dagger that were separated in the Crusades as she believes that the God of Death will come to life through Nick and rage war upon the Earth.
The first half of the movie works, it has the silliness that the Mummy movies demands but with some beefed up CGI and action sequences it moves along quite well. That is until Universal step in and demand the establishing of their Dark Universe and the rest of the movie turns to rubbish. In walks Russell Crowe as Dr Henry Jekyll (yes that one!) and introduces Nick and his guide Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) to his Monster-arium in which he captures, studies and imprisons Gods and Monsters to save the world from evil. It sounds cool on paper, but the change of pace that it introduced to the movie that was meant to be The Mummy irritated me a lot.
This didn’t add anything to the story of The Mummy, it didn’t help or enhance the story, it instead veered away from it and brought about a mediocre second half and ending that stopped this from being a great action movie. The whole thing could have been introduced in the Jekyll and Hyde film that we are no doubt going to see. Crowe was great as the iconic character, however the whole premise did not fit in with the Mummy movie and was a waste.
Visually the film delivered, the updated CGI effects are a massive step forward from the Scorpion King from The Mummy Returns. Ahmunet herself had a lot of make up and costume effects that helped her character look real and less CGI (especially that double pupil CGI thing that looked odd) Cruise is not at his best her, this film required comedic timing, and while he has shown that he can do this previously in films like Tropic Thunder, it fell flat in this film and makes you realise the comedic genius that Brendan Fraser was.
Overall this film disappointed me, it was set to launch a shared universe and whole it tried, I can’t help but think studio interference forced the story to crash half way through and become a world building film instead of a great stand alone. I fear if it was the Invisible Man or even Frankenstein you could probably get away with it, but The Mummy has had the most recent remake and had a service to its fanbase that it did not deliver.
Is it too late to re-cast Tom Cruise? Please Universal? PLEASE
The Mummy is in cinemas now.
Review by Alaisdair Leith