It seems that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has kicked off a trend over in tinseltown. Shared franchises are all the rage at the moment, and why not. Marvel has taken over $10billion. DC has finally finding its footing with Wonder Woman and Legendary are fusing Godzilla with Kong: Skull Island to create their own monster universe.
But for every success story there is a failed series that didn’t quite grab the cinema-going public with The Golden Compass and The Last Airbender immediately springing to mind. Nevertheless, Universal Pictures has pushed ahead with creating its own ‘Dark Universe’. Proceedings kick off with The Mummy. But how does this reboot fare?
Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) is a soldier of fortune who plunders ancient sites for timeless artefacts and sells them to the highest bidder. When Nick and his partner (Jake Johnson) come under attack in the Middle East, the ensuing battle accidentally unearths Ahmanet, a betrayed Egyptian princess (Sofia Boutella) who was entombed under the desert for thousands of years. With her powers constantly evolving, Morton must now stop the resurrected monster as she embarks on a furious rampage through the streets of London.
First-time director and long-time screenwriter Alex Kurtzman crafts a film that moves at breakneck speed, features a lot of nifty set-pieces and is an intriguing precursor to the next instalment of the franchise. It’s pretty good fun to be honest.
Tom Cruise is as reliable as ever, and does all the Tom Cruise staples; running, heavy breathing, shirtless preening, but the stand-out performance here is Russell Crowe’s Dr. Henry Jekyll (yes, that’s right). Despite being slightly underused, Crowe is a fantastic choice to play this multi-layered character. Elsewhere, Sofia Boutella is very good as Ahmanet.
Unfortunately, Jake Johnson (Jurassic World) and Cruise’s love interest Annabelle Wallis (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) feel miscast with Wallis in particular having no believable chemistry with her co-star.
To look at The Mummy is first-rate. Gone are the campy special effects of the Brendan Fraser-era films, instead replaced with crisp CGI – though the dark and gloomy filming style hampers the obviously great effects. Nevertheless, the aircraft and subsequent crash sequences that have been marketed in the trailers are gripping and produced very well indeed.
Unfortunately, The Mummy relies heavily on jump scares, of which there are far too many, and the trade-off for that rollercoaster pace is a film that feels disjointed, relying on visually stunning action sequences to cover over cracks in the story. Some of the humour also falls flat.
Ultimately though, these are small gripes in a vastly entertaining popcorn flick that is a very solid starting point to a series that will include films like The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein and The Wolfman.
Whilst not the most original film you will see this year, The Mummy opens up some intriguing doors and whilst I’m in no rush to see it again, though it is competent, I’m excited to see how Universal will bring all of their iconic monsters back to the big screen in one unified franchise.