A Dark Universe is threatening the cinematic world. The Mummy is the first chapter.
A point to remember reading this post: I am biased. Could The Mummy have been a better film? Maybe. Yet, I’m so into this Dark Universe project, the first Universal Monsters and the notorious Mummies, that I have to say, I liked even Kurtzman’s.
Let’s begin with the plot. An ancient Egyptian tomb is casually discovered in Iraq by the smuggler and former U.S. soldier Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his sidekick Chris Vail (Jake Johnson): it’s the resting place/prison of the cruel princess Ahmanet (an amazing Sofia Boutella). Once freed, she releases her dark powers over the city of London in order to give a human body to the god Seth and rule the world. Obviously, this has to be Morton’s body. In the meanwhile, Ahmanet is also focused on killing the smart and beautiful archaeologist Jennifer Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), Morton’s love interest and “partner” of the mysterious Henry Jekyll (Russel Crowe), who is determined to erase the Evil from the world. However, as Morton will discover, a different purpose moves his alter-ego, Edward “Eddie” Hyde.
The aspect I liked most is the idea of using a female mummy and to have a man as “chosen-one”, differently from what happen in the 1932 and 1999/2001 movies. Sofia Boutella is amazing – I loved her performance and the fact that her monster isn’t moved by love like previous Mummies, she is just bad! Surprisingly, I didn’t dislike also Nick Morton’s character, although Tom Cruise isn’t one of my favourite actors. I’ve also appreciated the fact it is a serious movie, without all the forced jokes that seem to be trending in the lately: it’s Darkness, it’s Evil, why should it be funny?
Among the flaws I should admit, there’s the fact that a lot of things are just thrown into the movie, without deeper explanations. The Mummy tells, at the same time, too much and too little about the Dark Universe: the idea of the endless conflict between Good and Evil is sketched but what Jekyll truly wants? Who/what are these monsters? Due to the attention given to this theme, Ahmanet’s story isn’t deepened. Too arcane are the powers of Ahmanet, who summons rats, crows and spiders and moves faster than light, appearing suddenly everywhere. Same thing happens to her relationship with Morton: Cruise’s character keeps showing up where the Mummy wants him to be, but we don’t know how he goes there. Teleport?
I liked the cinematography, even if I’ve found all the movie too dark, and the CGI, although I’ve “felt” its presence too much (the sand storm in London is great). I honestly believe the set designers played the videogame Tomb Raider: Legend. Yet, I have to admit I missed the typical Egyptian environments: where are the Egyptian tombs?
Finally, two aspects that keep me wondering: why the sidekick shouts all the time? But, overall, are the zombies mummies or are the mummies zombies?
I can’t assure you will love or even like Kurtzman’s The Mummy, but the chance to see Universal Monsters back to life is too exciting. I can see myself already buying the Dark Universe’s box set in ten years…