The best thing about seeing The Mummy was knowing that I’d never have to watch the awful trailer, the one that has been playing in front of basically every film for the last several months, again. If I got anything out of those trailers, though, it was not to have high expectations for this movie. I didn’t, and as I suspected, I was neither disappointed nor surprised.
Universal has jumped on the bandwagon to create yet another cinematic universe. What’s different about their endeavor, however, is that they decided to build up a franchise of films from the start. The other three major universes (Marvel, DC, and Warner Bros.’s “MonsterVerse”) all started with at least one film before starting up their interconnected series. Universal made the choice to do theirs before they even made the first film, so rather than a potentially interesting monster movie, we get a fraction of that along with nothing but setup for a universe.
The “Dark Universe”, as it will be called (complete with a logo at the beginning of the film), will allegedly include famous monsters like Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, etc. A few of them are even foreshadowed or outright introduced in The Mummy, and I feel like that was the problem. I was actually more intrigued by Russell Crowe’s character (I won’t spoil who he plays) and the organization he has set up that will likely be to this universe what S.H.I.E.L.D. is to Marvel’s, than I was by the actual mummy plot. One reason the movie failed, among other reasons, is that is mashed the two plots and couldn’t decide what it wanted to be.
Tom Cruise is about as good as he can be in this movie with the material he’s given (and the horrendous dialogue), and while I wouldn’t necessarily call it a “good performance”, I’d definitely say he’s a likeable presence. I enjoyed him in the film and it would probably be much worse without him. His character, though, has nothing to him. He’s a thief who accidentally helps to unearth an ancient tomb and ends up cursed by the mummy, Ahmanet (who’s a girl this time around). There’s nothing behind his character, or any of the characters for that matter, that makes me care whether they live or die.
The action and chase scenes, while visually impressive, are bland and have virtually no tension. The design of the mummy herself is pretty interesting, but like almost everything else in the film, she’s a weak villain. I mentioned Russell Crowe’s character, who seems to be the Nick Fury of the Dark Universe, and I actually found him to be the brightest spot in the film. He’s not a wonderfully fleshed out character, but he seems like he could have more to him and the potential there caught my interest. He also has a fantastic scene with Tom Cruise that’s probably the most intense in the film, which isn’t saying much, but I did enjoy it.
I can’t imagine this Dark Universe going to the heights that Universal may have hoped for. The Mummy was beat out in the box office this weekend by Wonder Woman, and I can only see it dropping more. I can see potential in the idea of rebooting the classic Universal monster movies, but they’re taking the wrong approach. If the studio were less concerned with setting the stage for their new franchise and more involved in making a fun and interesting solo movie, this incarnation of The Mummy could have been one of the more memorable reboots of the classic monster.
— Camden McDonald