Release Date: June 9, 2017
Director: Alex Kurtzman
Writer: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, Dylan Kussman, Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet
Cast: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Simon Atherton, Stephen Thompson, James Arama, Matthew Wilkas, Sohm Kapila, Sean Cameron Michael, Rez Kempton, Erol Ismail, Selva Rasalingam, Shanina Shaik, Javier Botet, Hadrian Howard, Dylan Smith, Parker Sawyers, Neil Maskell, Rhona Croker, Andrew Brooke
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 110 minutes
Production Company: Universal Pictures, Perfect World Pictures, Sean Daniel Company, Secret Hideout
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Budget: $125,000,000 (estimated)
There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel if it’s working. That’s the motto studios are taking on to deliver new forms of entertainment, and it looks like Universal Pictures is following suit. Just like Marvel Studios started back in 2008 with Ironman, they created a shared cinematic Universe of all their beloved characters. Warner Bros. was next, and now Universal is in the mix creating their own shared space of characters called Dark Universe. Back in 2014 they made an attempt with Dracula Untold (Luke Evans), but it didn’t pan out critically or commercially so that idea was abandoned. Though now they’re off to a fresh start with The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise. His casting was an interesting choice, with mixed feelings all around in the film community, but he is known to fill seats for box office returns. Though his name may have been too big for this type of monster mayhem.
When it comes to films that contain myths, legends, curses, and magic, all wrapped up in the past, the set up for the story is most important. It’s a nice treat to know the origins of power, or how they work within the film, and director Alex Kurtzman (People Like Us) did a splendid job here, creating a dark tone that sets the rules for the universe the characters are a part of. It only gets you more invested for what’s to come and preps you for the mystery around the corner. Though no matter how well your set up is, if the characters don’t fit the mold you have a mess. That’s where Tom Cruise’s character, Nick Morton, has issues. Early on he comes off as an arrogant prick, as if he has 1,000 lives, or bumped into the magical start from Mario Brothers. With no thought process at all, he blindly throws himself into danger with no plan, but makes it out alive no matter the odds, because the script says so. Being teamed up with his friend, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), doesn’t make it any better with his screaming at the camera in the middle of gun fire. In all honesty, it is funny, but it’s in the wrong atmosphere, erasing any chance of the characters appearing like they’re in any real danger.
Fortunately, once the Mummy arrives, Nick (Cruise) changes his attitude and quickly becomes a character you can actually get behind, especially during the plane crash sequence that’s shown in the trailers. He’s bold and ready to face an inevitable death, saving the lives around him, and in the middle of all this the sequence is part of the best scenes of the film. It’s clear the studio took a lot of time fleshing this scene out, showing the inside of the plane as it plummets to the earth. All of the action scenes stood out strong, but this one the most, being the best within the film.
The Mummy (Sofia Boutella) is gorgeous in her human form, and very seductive in her ways. As a Black man I had mixed feelings going in, with Hollywood always depicting Africans with light skin, but Boutella herself was born in Algeria. It’s a small distraction, but doesn’t taint the entire experience for you. Dr. Jekyll Hyde (Russell Crowe) was another great addition to the film, showing full scale what his character knows, his passion, and what he can do. With a shared universe on the rise in regards to monsters, I can’t wait to see more of the camera focus in on him.
What’s great about the story is not only did it start out strong, the film constantly dives back and forth, pulling information from different perspectives to give you more history in reference to present events. As each new nugget of information is dropped our interest level raises even higher than before. It’s a great way to keep your attention in anticipation of the action that’s to come.
Though the action isn’t all that you would expect it to be, and at times is the worst portion of the picture. Mummies need to be tarrying and scary. Besides the main Mummy herself, the rest were silly, goofy people in costume that posed no threat at all. An easy slap to the face took them down, which is beyond disappointing. There were far too many jokes on screen when they were present, and because of this the film would’ve been better titled, “Scooby Doo and Friends’ Monster Hunt.” If Scooby would’ve popped on screen at this point, there would be no surprise. This was a horrible decision and made the film go from a mystery thriller with sprinkles of horror, to an action adventure with sprinkles of comedy. The former is preferred, but the writing team decided mummies need to be funny instead of scary, which stops this film from being amazing.
Though still with all its missed opportunities, there’s still a high amount of fun to be had. And while some of the jokes didn’t land at all in the film, nearly ruining a scene, there were still a few throughout that will make you laugh. What’s most exciting are the seeds that were planted for what’s to come. This world is large, and movie goers from all around will get their fair share of it to come. The Mummy possessed a decent script that didn’t veer off too far from the rules it set, and in the end, was a fun film that average fans will enjoy.