Evil Has Arrived
A few weeks ago, the new film version of The Mummy was just another Tom Cruise action movie that did not seem to be generating much interest. Then Universal announced that the movie would actually be the first in what they are calling the “Dark Universe,” a Marvel-like movie universe that would be shared by some of their most iconic movie monsters, including the likes of Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, and The Invisible Man. Depending on who you are, this announcement either meant nothing or it generated a whole new level of interest in the movie. For me, it was the latter; maybe not an increased level of excitement, but it certainly made the film that much more intriguing. Shared film universes are tricky, but when they work, they add an entirely new layer to the movie-going experience.
Having more in common with the 1999 Brendan Fraser remake than the 1932 Boris Karloff version, The Mummy is more action-adventure than horror flick. Tom Cruise stars as Nick Morton, a military man and treasure hunter who stumbles upon an Egyptian crypt in Iraq, which is odd, being that Iraq is thousands of miles from Egypt. The archeologist Jenny Halsey believes that the sarcophagus may contain the remains of an Egyptian princess whose existence is rumored to have been intentionally erased from history. Mysterious things happen while they are attempting to transport their find back to London to be examined, which ends with their plane crashing into the English countryside, killing everyone on board.
Not Nick, though. After being presumed dead, Nick wakes up in a body bag without a scratch on him. Having visions of the ancient princess, Nick comes to understand that he is her “chosen one” whom she will imbue with the power of the God of Death so they can rule the world together. This fascinates a British doctor who explains in his lab filled with mysterious relics that his organization is charged with fighting and destroying all the evil in the world before it can be unleashed upon it. But it seems that the good doctor himself may be hiding a dangerous secret.
Universal is not being shy about this being the beginning of their shared universe. Immediately following the Universal logo at the top of the movie, the studio’s Dark Universe logo is revealed. The movie introduces the organization called the Prodigium, which is essentially this universe’s S.H.I.E.L.D with Russell Crowe filling the Nick Fury role. The movie also wastes little time introducing us to another iconic literary and cinematic monster, and does so without stealing too much focus from the story at hand.
The movie delivers some very exciting action set pieces and has a solid sense of humor, which makes for a fun movie that is easy to keep up with. The special effects are good and there are a lot of them, but for the most part they serve to support the story rather than distract from it. The movie rarely resorts to the firework shows that very often conclude most modern special effects extravaganzas, ending instead with a rather reserved, but nevertheless exciting final battle between the hero and the villain.
Tom Cruise is in full Cruise mode on this one and seems to be having quite a fun time with it. The movie at times feels like a best-of-Tom-Cruise stunt reel as the actor survives a plane crash, a car crash, outruns a sand storm, and then runs and runs some more. Expect lots of Tom Cruise running. The mummy princess is played by Sofia Boutella, who stole much of Star Trek Beyond last summer. Her performance stands out less here than it did in that movie, but she makes for a decent villain.
Jake Johnson is the film’s designated comic relief and essentially plays two different characters in the movie. The first incarnation of his character can be a little too much at times, but when he shows up as a less noisy version of his character in the middle of the movie, he provides some nice comic touches. Finally, Russell Crowe’s character seems like an interesting one to guide us through the universe of monsters the studio is planning to unleash on us, and due to the nature of his character he will probably get a little more to do than Samuel L. Jackson in the Marvel universe.
The movie moves briskly and is never too far away from its next action set piece. Fans of the classic Universal monster movies might be disappointed that the movie aims to be more of an adventure than an atmospheric horror, but anyone looking for a good fun action movie will find a well-made, fun summer blockbuster. So far, the Dark Universe seems to be in good hands.
The Mummy is rated PG-13 for “violence, action and scary images, and for some suggestive content and partial nudity.” Like most PG-13 action movies, there is a lot of violence, but little blood. There are some scary mummy and zombie images though, that could scare younger viewers.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of The Mummy.