Universal has planned a “Dark Universe”, a series of interconnected movies about the studio’s famous monsters. It not only feels like an attempt to cash in on Marvel’s success, it feels something of a late entry. There have been so many crossovers of creepy creatures from legend and literature already, Dracula and Frankenstein have met each other in countless books, movies, comics and even cereal adverts. It thus seems unlikely the Dark Universe will have anything really new to bring to the table, especially if The Mummy is any indication.
I actually would hesitate to call this year’s The Mummy a remake of either the 1932 or 1999 films of the same name – the titular mummy here is not Imhotep but Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) – but there isn’t really anything here that hasn’t been done before and better. Not only does it do things the previous Mummy movies did better, it makes use of a technique that was stronger in An American Werewolf in London.
Tom Cruise plays Nick Morten, who accidentally uncovers Ahmanet’s tomb and ends up cursed by her, allowing her to invade his mind. She plans to use him as a vessel to bring the god Set to Earth, yet Mark wasn’t really a character I could care about. 1999’s The Mummy was no less silly but Brendan Fraser was actually likeable and got in some fun banter with the other characters. There’s sadly little of that here.
Boutella’s performance as Ahmanet is actually successfully seductive and sinister, and the film is probably worth a watch for her alone. Another notable performance is Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll (and Mr. Hyde; having both is the only thing this universe has done better than Penny Dreadful so far). It made me want to see him play the role in an actual adaptation of Stevenson’s novel, so that is one area this film made me want to see more.
The Mummy is a flawed film and offers little new, but it’s not a total waste of time.