Universal has a set of widely recognizable characters at their disposal. These Universal Monsters have a long history. One they wish to resurrect, much like The Mummy. Well, they want to, we’ll see if they succeed…
The Film: 1/5
Universal has tried to make the Universal monsters relevant again a few times this generation. The most successful of these was probably The Mummy franchise with Brendan Fraser. While not a traditional horror movie by any stretch, the franchise was financially successful. It re-envisioned the concept of the mummy from what you saw in the old Universal or Hammer flicks. Instead of a creepy atmosphere and a more deliberately paced flick, it borrowed some of the archeology from Indiana Jones and the pacing from 90’s action scene.
The result was a success that spawned a sequel and a spinoff series. They even had director Stephen Sommers follow the first two up with the regrettable Van Helsing. Since then, they have tried going back to the well of The Mummy with Brendan Fraser (and without Rachel Weisz or Imhotep). Then they put out the unsuccessful The Wolfman and Dracula Untold failing to produce any palpable energy behind a revival.
Not one to be deterred, Universal still has big plans for their monsters. Much like what they created back in the 30s and 40s, they want to bring the monsters into a shared universe. Yeah, just like Marvel is having success with and what DC is aping. This very desire is apparent very quickly in The Mummy. The movie isn’t just about the Mummy, Ahmanet this time, but it introduces an organization that is focused on fighting monsters across the globe. This organization happens to be led by Dr. Jekyll, portrayed by Russell Crowe. Already, we are presented with an opening for why the same characters could meet the Wolfman or Frankenstein and his monster. Interestingly enough, this may have been the best part of the movie. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Tom Cruise plays Nick Morton, a Sergeant in the military who uses his assignments as an opportunity to steal valuable items to sell for personal profit. Alongside him is his friend and fellow serviceman Chris Vail, played by Jake Johnson of The New Girl fame. These two dissidents get in over their heads while failing to thieve well and call in air support to save their worthless tails. The resulting explosions wind up uncovering a tomb. The archeologist accompanying the unit, Jennifer Halsey played by Annabelle Wallis, demands that they explore the tomb. Secretly she is part of the organization that investigates and stops monsters. As such, she knows the importance of evaluating the threat of this tomb. The three go down and awaken the obviously lurking dangerous force. While transporting the sarcophagus, trouble breaks out and the plane goes down (you saw this part in the trailer).
Later, Nick wakes up in the morgue magically alive through unknown means. Come on, we all knew they wouldn’t kill off Cruise in the first act. The ghost of Vail soon reveals that not only is he going to haunt Nick à la An American Werewolf in London, but Ahmanet has revived him with a curse so that she can possess him with the spirit of Set. And this is where Jekyll’s secretive Prodigium comes into play. They seek to stop Ahmanet’s plan by imprisoning her and preventing Set from possessing Nick by any means necessary.
Does it work? Only on rare occasions. Most of the flick plays out like a standard action flick, but with worse organization. There is lots of noise, lots of flashing lights, lots of fighting. Not much beyond that unfortunately. I think the sardonic Vail worked well. He was a welcome feature that reminded me quite a bit of the friend in An American Werewolf in Paris. Also, Dr. Jekyll worked well. Nick was Tom Cruise. It could have been any one of many Tom Cruise flicks and it would have felt the same. And it really fails for this role. But there were still glimpses of pieces that could work in the future. While The Mummy left me disappointed this time, I am hopeful for the next entry in the Dark Universe. Well, I would be if it were ever going to happen.
Technical Details: 4/5
The technical details are perfectly fine on this desk even if it doesn’t distract from the blandness of the film itself. It looks pretty good. It sounds pretty good. But neither are overwhelming. At least the surround is well-designed and the dialog is clear throughout. Likewise, the dark scenes in the movie stay clear and avoid annoying murky blacks.
Packaging and Special Features: 2.5/5
Commentary: Kurtzman(director/producer), Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis and Jake Johnson get together and talk through the movie in a fine commentary. The cast has some good energy and provide more entertainment than the movie itself.
Deleted and Extended Scenes: More of what nobody wanted to see.
Cruise & Kurtzman: A Conversation: Cruise and Kurtzman sit down and discuss various parts of filming the movie from casting to coming up with different scenes. This is an interesting watch if only to see how the two really thought they were creating something special.
Rooted in Reality: A discussion with Kurtzman, Cruise, and crew about bringing the Ancient Egyptian mummy into the modern day. Discusses how they wanted to pay respect to the classic Mummy and monster movies.
Life in Zero-G: Creating the Plane Crash: Apparently this was an idea that Cruise brought to the table. This feature shows a behind the scenes look at bringing this idea to the screen.
Meet Ahmanet: A look at coming up with the character Ahmanet and how they made use of Boutella’s talents to maximize the presentation of the character.
Cruise in Action: This focuses on the cast and crew working with Cruise, specifically in the action sequences. This focuses largely on his energy and willingness to throw himself into difficult shots and stunts.
Becoming Jekyll and Hyde: A short look at Crowe’s performance as Dr. Jekyll and the monstrous Hyde.
Choreographed Chaos: A somewhat overenthusiastic look at the fight scenes and how much Tom Cruise enjoys them.
Nick Morton: In Search of a Soul: More focus on Tom Cruise’s character that he didn’t pull off. He seemed interested in playing this character, its just not in his wheelhouse.
Ahmanet Reborn Animated Graphic Novel: A cool feature that would be more interesting when used for a better film.
The Mummy comes in a standard Blu-ray case with a slipcover matching the cover art. This is pretty much what is appropriate for a movie like this. However, the special features are surprisingly enjoyable. The features are in general better than the movie and they deserve better company. And the cast is enthusiastic about the product which makes me wonder if they ever saw the finished product before their interviews.
The Mummy Overall: 2/5
Universal intended for The Dark Universe to burst onto the scene with a bang. That much is clear given the actors they signed to be in The Mummy. Unfortunately, the only bang you can associate with the movie would be found in the special effects on the audio track. The movie itself hits with a thud. In A Bronx Tale, Robert Deniro said “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” I believe this holds true for the terribly wasted potential for this movie in regards to property, ideas, and talent. The A/V looks good at least. The extras are also better than the movie they fail to elevate. Just don’t bother. Go watch the Brendan Fraser The Mummy until this one hits basic cable. Don’t worry, you won’t be lost if you watch the next Dark Universe film (if one is made) without seeing this one.
If you do want to take the plunge you can pick up this Blu-ray from Amazon of other fine retailers.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.