As DC found out, launching a connected universe can be difficult
Where as Marvel had some stand alone films under their belt before launching The Avengers, Warner Bros. Pictures attempted in a rather clumsy manner launch an extended movie universe from scratch, that whilst not winning over many critics, did produce a lot of money for the studio. In this business money talks.
The so-called Dark Universe has been in the works for a while, with its first stab at creating a monsterverse the 2014 Dracula origin story Dracula Untold, sadly despite an interesting storyline and a strong cast, the film failed to make the kind of returns needed to justify sequels, instead The Mummy became the second crack of the whip.
You would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of at least one of Universals monsters, from Count Dracula to Frankenstein’s Monster, The Wolf Man to The Creature from the Black Lagoon, these creatures are synonymous with classic horror pictures and a staple of the Golden era of Hollywood, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone that Universal would want to bring back some of their prized assets to the silver screen and at the same time jump on the recent bandwagon of extended universes, especially as there was a certain amount of commingling going on between the monsters back in the day.
Mush the same as the 1999 version starting Brendan Fraser, the story revolves around a cocky hero Nick Moreton (Cruise) stumbling upon an ancient tomb whilst searching for treasure, accidentally releasing the malevolent Princess Ahmanet and ending up cursed to become the human host of Egyptian god Set in the process.
I’ll start with the bad points as sadly there were more than a few, the biggest of which is the clumsy way in which the extended universe is forced into the movie, with scenes and characters introduced to the audience that make no real difference to the plot, in fact most of the time it just slows the main plot down, this is especially true of Russell Crowe’s character, whom I felt had his true nature revealed way to casually, where as a more slow reveal would have made an excellent twist at the end of the film going into the sequels.
Another of the main issues I found with the film was the contrasting tones, half going for straight up horror and half going for happy-go-lucky action flick, neither of which blend together particularly well, with some of the action sequences feeling almost like the equally derided League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) in parts, while the horror elements forming the better parts of the movie.
My final criticism of the film was the lack of development of the supporting cast, with practically everyone apart from Nick Moreton feeling like an after thought, with next to no character development given to them apart from a line here and there, meaning half the time you don’t really care if they are in danger or not.
The movie did however have some good points, as I stated above the horror portions of the film were generally quite scary, with Princess Ahmanet becoming am interesting and imposing foe throughout, whilst Cruise clearly tried his hardest to escape his comfort zone and try his hand at something different to what he usually appears in, sadly neither of these are enough to make the film anything other than a middle of the road monster feature.
You can see what Universal were trying to do with The Mummy, sadly it’s not that easy to make both an interesting stand alone film and launch a cinematic universe from scratch, I for one hope they do succeeded as I would love a to see some of famous old creatures return to the big screen.