Though safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient queen whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.
Whilst Brandon Fraser has all but disappeared from the big screen, his legacy of The Mummy franchise lives on – and now even gets a reboot with none other than Tom Cruise following in his footsteps. The original series is known for its outright silliness, and this update tries to keep some of that whilst at the same time taking a slightly darker approach: suitable at least in name, as it is the first movie in Universal’s so-called ‘Dark Universe’.
This Dark Universe consists of a collection of monster movies that are to share a movie universe – so indeed, someday cross-overs between these movies will start…. Besides The Mummy, other monsters in this new universe will include Frankenstein (Javier Bardem), Dr Jekyll (Russell Crowe), The Invisible Man (Johnny Depp), and not yet cast but announced are Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame with other A-list names rumoured to join this Dark Universe being Dwayne Johnson, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence. Indeed no lack of ambition.
But back to the debut reboot of The Mummy, with Tom Cruise playing Nick Morton, a soldier who spends more time looking for treasure than fighting the good fight. Having stolen a treasure map off Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) he accidentally uncovers an ancient tomb. Not too long thereafter it turns out he’s unleashed an unimaginable evil unto the world… There is a little bit more to the story, but not a lot. Just enough to create a few hooks into the Dark Universe; Russel Crowe introduces the movie, and is introduced to us in a role I suspect may turn out to be one that will feature across the Dark Universe; and there are hooks for a sequel of sorts.
But if you remember Brendan Fraser’s Mummy movie, what was its attraction? A good movie it certainly was not; but to be fair, it was silly, campy, not at all scary but fun enough scares for kids, with an Indiana Jones meets The Jewel of the Nile type of comedic and romantic relief all the way through. Unfortunately, they tried a bit too hard to replicate that in this new, darker Mummy. Tom Cruise is a good action star and has a track record in romantic movies – but he isn’t funny. He doesn’t manage to pull of the comedic relief and that makes most of the jokey bits fall flat, and the romantic bits don’t work at all; there is more exciting chemistry going on in a solid-state battery than between the leads in this movie – but luckily things go back to action soon enough. And the action looks pretty good; almost, but not quite, good enough to glance over a plothole here and there.
A great introduction to the new Dark Universe this movie is not. Plenty of pretty decent action interspersed with a a few too many sprinkles of clunky comedic relief, and less-than-sizzling love interests, leaves you wanting a bit more. More darkness, more real scares, more depth in the story and the characters – any of them – but as it is it is just a little of everything mixed together into a lot of not-quite-exciting-enough. I hate to admit it, but Russel Crowe actually delivers the best performance in this movie (even if the plot around his character is questionable, but then I get into spoiler territory). On the upside, if his character is going to be one to connect dots across the Dark Universe, that is at least somewhat promising.