The Mummy (2017): Questions the Fate of the Dark Universe
The next big action vehicle for Tom Cruise comes with greater importance to a hopeful franchise, The Mummy! Setting the staged for the proclaimed Dark Universe, Universal Studios wants to bring back all its beloved monsters. But can the The Mummy live up to the legacy that has been in place since 1932? The following review will be spoiler free.
The Mummy is directed by Alex Kurtzman and stars the aforementioned Tom Cruise along with Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, and Sofia Boutella. We follow the plight of Queen Ahmanet (Boutella) who has the throne taken away from her in ancient Egyptian times due to the birth of a son. Filled with rage, Ahmanet turns to darker forces to take the throne back. Before she can finish her plan, she is mummified while still alive. She is then encased within her tomb for centuries. Once scavenger Nick Morton (Cruise) and archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Wallis) uncover her sarcophagus, her terror is allowed to take place once again.
As mentioned above, The Mummy is attempting to kick-start an entirely new cinematic universe with the famous Universal monsters. Universal has been pushing this cinematic universe with a ton of promotional material for future films in combination with The Mummy. Recently, a picture was released detailing all the actors currently cast in roles for the franchise, including Javier Bardem as Frankenstein’s monster as well as Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man.
With all this talk of a burgeoning universe, that begs the question: Do we even want it?
For all these plans to come to fruition, The Mummy needs to capture its intended audience and earn enough money to warrant future films.
What I Liked
As one may expect coming from a Tom Cruise movie, there are some pretty spectacular moments of action interspersed throughout the film. As you may have seen in the trailer, there’s an airplane crash that occurs in the film that is visually outstanding. Using zero CGI, our characters are suspended in a zero-G conditions while the plan flips and turns, causing everyone to spin out of control and smack into sides of the plane. Knowing that the actors actually completed this stunt goes a long way in subconsciously setting you into this world of monsters.
But that’s not the only set piece that The Mummy has to its disposal. Led by Tom Cruise’s direction (and his flare for the insane), there’s a certain realism to all the action that resonates very well in your mind.
What I Didn’t Like
However, in practically every other aspect, The Mummy falls pretty flat.
As I mentioned above, there’s certainly a lot of fun action. The problem is that the characters behind the action are flimsy and uninteresting. Tom Cruise tries his best. The script unfortunately doesn’t give his character much to do, however. He’s left to spout quippy dialogue without anyone to play off of. His counterpart, Annabelle Wallis, suffers from similar issues. It’s pretty bad timing coming off of Wonder Woman where a main female character is relegated to the damsel role.
There isn’t a single bad performance in this film. Each actor is obviously trying to do their best. But, the writing it just too dismal to allow any of these people to shine.
Similar to other films that are meant to be the start of a cinematic universe, there’s more of an emphasis on world building than making characters that we’ll care about moving forward. This is why the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to be beloved by fans. No matter the story, we’re invested as an audience because we’ve grown to love all those characters.
What I Didn’t Like…Continued
Like 1999’s version of The Mummy starring Brendan Fraser, there are some obvious attempts at a light, humorous tone for this film. However, the comedic elements of this film are abysmally unfunny.
This issue predominantly comes from the framing of these jokes. For a properly constructed joke to occur, there has to be a certain quality in how its presented onscreen. There has to be a certain whimsy from the actors that is accented by atmospheric conditions such as the score. The Mummy has many moments where its obvious that a joke is being attempted. But, with the circumstances surrounding it make you question if the moment is suppose to be a joke or a scare, making you confused about what exactly you’re watching.
Jake Johnson is obviously a very funny man from his work on The New Girl, but he’s at the center of this issue.
What I Didn’t Like…Continued…Continued
The most damning problem with The Mummy may be its failure to be captivating. The Mummy isn’t a poorly constructed film. From a design standpoint, it’s actually pretty stellar. However, things just happen in this film, then the movie ends.
It’s a tough point to attribute to one single instance. But, the film wreaks of uninspiring qualities, similar to this year’s Ghost in the Shell. The one thing a movie needs is heart. And, considering that the film hinges primarily on the relationship between Cruise and Wallis’ lackluster characters, it’s obvious that the film doesn’t work.
It doesn’t help that the characters have the most unmemorable names ever. I mean c’mon, Nick Morton and Jenny Halsey? At that rate you should’ve named them John Smith and Jane Williams.
The Mummy isn’t a horrible movie. However, it lacks any of the thrills or fun that made previous attempts at the title character enjoyable. It gets a D+. The Mummy better hope that the film does great overseas. Between negative reviews and battling for viewers with Wonder Woman, the hopes of the Dark Universe may be buried. Let’s hope this is the example that once again shows studios that it’s more important to make a film that resonates with fans rather than the stepping stone for a universe.
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