More studios are now into the whole world-building thing, notably with the Marvel and DC comics crossovers, where superheroes have solo films and then team up for group projects. The latest “universe” to hit the big screen is horror-based, as Universal Studio rounds up a bunch of its classic movie monsters and mixes them up.
In theory, I’m all for it. Dracula, the Wolfman, Invisible Man, Frankenstein, etc. having throw-downs in between teaming up? Sounds awesome. But in practice the enterprise is off to a shaky start.
First up is “The Mummy,” starring Tom Cruise in a film that borrows heavily from the Brendan Fraser / Rachel Weisz flicks that debuted almost two decades ago. (Well, technically “Dracula Untold” from 2014 was supposed to be the official start of DU, but the studio has since backed off of that owing to the film’s middling box-office performance.)
Tossing an aging action star into what is essentially a remake doesn’t sound like a great idea, and Cruise does his level best as Nick, a soldier / scalawag who’s more interested in treasure hunting than doing his duty. He gets picked by Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), the revived spirit of an Egyptian princess/sorceress, to be the vessel of the reincarnation of the death god, Set.
Their relationship is an energetic mix of smoochy / stabby, which triggered some recollections of past girlfriends.
Annabelle Wallis plays Jenny, an archaeologist who teams up with Nick in between ardent prostrations of her attraction to him. Things move along with the usual assortment of big action spectacles and a liberal helping of CGI special effects. Russell Crowe turns up fairly late in the game as a certain doctor with … temper issues.
The movie’s fun at times, but terribly disjointed and half-baked. Marvel and DC spent years germinating their franchises, and based on this film the Dark Universe needs more time in the cooker.
Bonus features are quite good. There’s a feature-length audio commentary track with director Alex Kurtzman as well as actors Boutella, Wallis and Jake Johnson, with the obvious glaring omission of Cruise. He does appear in a one-on-one conversation with Kurtzman.
Additional extras include deleted and extended scenes, seven making-of featurettes and the “Ahmanet Reborn Animated Graphic Novel,” with more about her descent into the monstrous underworld.
Film: 2.5 Yaps
Extras: 4.5 Yaps