Wellity, wellity, wellity, what do we have here? Another shared universe attempting to launch itself? Oh, what’s that? It’s about bringing classic horror icons together again? Well, slap me in a dress and call me Boris Karloff, this sounds just grand *obvious sarcasm is obvious*. Because I can’t get enough shared universes these days. Yes that’s right, Universal have launched their ‘Dark Universe’ which hopes to resurrect (hehe) classics like The Wolfman, The Mummy, Frankenstein and so on in another shared universe…because why not. So first on the roster (after false-start Dracula: Untold) is the *new* Brendan Fraser-less version of The Mummy. The question is, was this actually a stroke of genius or just a rotting corpse that needs to stay buried in classic Hollywood?
You see? I told you Ahmanet, you keep wearin’ them fingerless gloves and your fingertips’ll fall off.
The Mummy is directed by Alex Kurtzman and stars Sofia Boutella (Kingsman) as The Mummy and Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible) as Nathan Drake– I mean Nick Morton. This *new* version of The Mummy follows a treasure hunter/war profiteer and his annoying buddy as they unearth an ancient Egyptian tomb, and then proceed to go spelunking and unleash the evil buried within it. Because that’s what smart people do. Fast forward to a plane trip (or crash) to London and then all hell breaks loose. Now I’ve painted this in a pretty sarcastic light, but that’s because short of the actors attached to this I had no interest in seeing this movie. Hell, I audibly groaned the first time I saw the trailer. Which is why it was all the more shocking to me that this film was actually GOOD.
Who’d have thought this Dark Universe thing would actually work out?
Actual footage of me hearing about the ‘Dark Universe’
Yes, against all odds and an audience I reckon is nigh-on imaginary, The Mummy is actually not the steaming pile of garbage I expected it to be. Now does that mean it’s great? No, not really. But it’s certainly a lot better than some people are making it out to be.
This is definitely a movie with flaws, but to its credit it semi-revives a type of film that I’ve truly missed seeing in cinemas: the classic adventure film. This movie feels close to an old movie made new again, much the same way last year’s The Magnificent Seven resurrected the classic western through a modern lens. Credit to the production design team and director Alex Kurtzman here for making something that really felt like a worthy revamp of ‘The Mummy’. Serious classic Hollywood vibes here, with a dash of Indiana Jones thrown in that was almost unmistakable. *slow claps*
There’s Prometheus-level set designs here. Byotiful. 10/10, Zagat!
Now let’s get critical! First of all we have the biggest plus-point this film has to offer: a good cast. As we all know, Tom Cruise is just cinematic dynamite. Say what you will of him but the man just loves to keep you entertained; that’s an attitude in Hollywood that should really be respected and cherished. Here he’s no different, playing a likeable scoundrel that’s both parts action-guy and comedic everyman. Then there’s Sofia Boutella, whom most will know from Kingsman as the *literal* Blade Runner. Sorry, Oscar Pistorius. Boutella isn’t a standout in the trailers but turns out to be a fairly decent performer here; bringing a lot more *life* to the role than I was expecting. You’ve also got Russell Crowe wandering around in the background (whom I went to see the movie for) and he’s as solid as ever; playing an interesting role that never detracts from and even enhances the story at hand.
“Now let’s go over this again, you can be Indy, and I’ll be Nathan Drake. Now all we need is a borderline racist sidekick.”
Now we’ve mentioned the good roles of The Mummy, let’s talk about the bad roles…
Jake Johnson (you know, that one hipster dude in the control room in Jurassic World) is cast as a form of human torture equipment in the role of Vail. Vail is supposed to be Cruise’s wise-cracking best bud, but you’d be lucky if half of his jokes land as he plays a gratingly annoying character that you just wish would go away. To use a comedy euphemism; while good in other roles, here Johnson just dies.
That joke works on multiple levels. Somebody hire me.
The other let down of the film is ‘staple woman character’ Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) who is just blander than wallpaper paste. I mean seriously, we’re given a character that enters the movie saying ‘I am an important researcher/architect woman’ and then proceeds to do nothing of interest for the rest of the film. Cut Jenny out of any sequence in this film short of the very ending, and I doubt you’d really change a thing. This is an even bigger thorn in this movie’s side now, considering it directly follows the smashing release of Wonder Woman. Yowch.
Still not as annoying as my little buddy Benny. But CLOSE.
Now we’ve already covered how this movie surprised me, but now I’ll tell you why. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in wondering how a sandstorm appeared in the middle of London in the trailer, but The Mummy is an ingenious little bugger. Once again I was pleasantly surprised as every window our heroes passed shattered and the obliterated glass gathered to make an almighty sandstorm. Pretty neat, right? There’s a lot of stuff like that here, things that you’re so used to being lazily explained away with ‘because movie’ are given that little bit extra. From these touches to the set design and even the music (solid recurring theme btw), The Mummy counteracts a mish-mash of tones with good ‘moments’ that all around make up a decent adventure film. This movie actually felt like the people behind it gave a damn, and were actually trying. And that’s despite having SIX writers credited to this script.
Ahmanet, we’ve talked about you recreating the It trailer in our underground bathtub before…
All in all, The Mummy is a surprisingly decent adventure/horror film that really threw me for a loop. Good action, thrills, comedy and horror (yes, they didn’t hold back actually) are all on display here, enough even to win over a stuffy ol’ Brendan Fraser lover like me. Nothing amazing, but just a good time at the movies. Like the ’99 version!
I feel confident in saying this is a decent first step for Universal’s Dark Universe, and has already surpassed the Kong/Zilla monsterverse for me. Because Kong: Skull Island happened. Ugh.
Critics are giving this one a hard time and frankly I just don’t see why, this is far more than I expected from The Mummy, and far better than I think most imagined.
Wicked Cool Rating: 75/100
That’s a B for ‘Boy does this movie make me feel like a cynical douchebaguette’.
Bravo The Mummy, you’re not awful. Not even a bit, not even at all.
Here’s hoping Johnny Depp doesn’t sink your new universe, Universal. You’ll be sorrrrrryyyyyyyyyy.
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