‘The Mummy’ Review: The Dark Universe Is Certainly Not Alive

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The Mummy is a disaster on so many levels

Universal made big waves on social media when they announced their Dark Universe – for the second time. Universal has been wanting to get in the cinematic universe game for some time now with their monster movies. Dracula: Untold was supposed to be the first one but that didn’t work well. This time around, they have Tom Cruise. However, even with Cruise as the star, the Dark Universe will need some serious necromancing after The Mummy.

Nick Morten (Tom Cruise) and his pal (Jake Johnston) are in the Middle East to steal some treasure. When they get caught, they call the airstrike to help them get out of trouble. The battle ensues an underground opening to the sarcophagus of Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), a princess turns to the dark side. Now, Nick Morten (Tom Cruise) and Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) need to find a way to stop Ahmanet from destroying London.

It’s clear from the start that even though the movie is called The Mummy, its purpose is to set up the Dark Universe. It introduces us to Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde and Sofia Boutella’s mummy which are very interesting, particularly Boutella’s look. It barely succeeds in peaking interest for future movies but it isn’t without potential. With a universe filled with monsters still remains interesting even though most of The Mummy sure is dull.

Universal is new to the universe business and it greatly shows. Like I said, a big focus of The Mummy is spent trying to build up the cinematic universe paving the way for more movies of its kind. This is why much of The Mummy feels like lazy storytelling only present to advance the plot or the universe. The way Ahmanet is found and released is clumsy. It makes no sense concerning the characters and plainly exists to advance the plot. In other words, it’s lazy plotting.

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Russell Crowe is the only reason this Dark Universe still has a pulse – source: Universal

Old monster movies had a sense of dread throughout to create a creepy serious atmosphere. The Mummy doesn’t seem to want to go that route. Instead, it sprinkles in pretentious comedic moments that do nothing but kill the prior mood. There’s a running joke set throughout the film concerning a dead person that is probably the most annoying thing I’ve seen all year. During supposedly scary moments, more often than not, the characters spout out some of the stupidest dialogue that the film takes as comedy. Probably the most laughable element is the sexual undertones of Ahmanet and Morten. The rating of the film kept it from being fully sexual or fully gory which would have been a great benefit.

Though, The Mummy isn’t all silliness and jokes. It has some action-thriller type moments that again, feel just as bland and annoying as the rest. It’s action set pieces feels corporate-like trying to appeal to everyone and it piles on more generic elements as the movie continues. It doesn’t take to notice that The Mummy never delivers on the craft of the 1932 film nor the fun campy Branden Fraser remake.

The essence of what made those 1930s monster movies so much fun is completely absent here. It hardly pays homage to the originals and taking all the wrong modern horror tropes. These movies, particularly Frankenstein, were Gothic horror masterpieces and yet The Mummy‘s Gothic influence is pretty slim. Some places are of modern gothic influences but it doesn’t add to the atmosphere like the originals did. The craftiness of the original Mummy was also absent in this loose remake. Again, it’s very corporate filmmaking.

The Mummy, with all its flaws, has surely gotten this monster universe to a bad start – again. Its preoccupation with building a universe will be the reason why there won’t be any universe. And it’s a shame because there’s potential in the idea. Though, the Dark Universe may need a little help from Dr. Frankenstein before Universal can scream ”It’s Alive”, however, it isn’t dead yet. The next film is The Bride of Frankenstein and here’s to hoping that the third time is a charm.

GRADE: D

The Mummy is released to theaters on June 9. 

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