Seeing as how every major film studio wants to release an anthology upon the world it’s seems only fitting that The Mummy (Universal Pictures, Rated PG-13, Directed by Alec Kurtzman, Running time: 1 hour 47 minutes) has been delivered by Universal to begin its own series of films known as the “Dark Universe“. This grouping of connected monster movies will focus on well-known creatures of Hollywood lore such as Dracula, The Bride of Frankenstein and The Creature From the Black Lagoon among others as a way of luring in audiences and reviving old properties once beloved to be long since deceased. But as the initial film in this collection, does the Mummy deliver an adventure good enough to kick start this franchise or is it another example of a character that should have stayed buried in the sand?
The story centers around Nick Morton (played by Tom Cruise) who as a military scout uses his position for nefarious means and along with his partner Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) discover a ancient burial tomb in Iraq looking for treasure but got much more than what they bargained for instead. Accompanied by researcher Jenny Halsey (Anabelle Walls), Morton’s incessant need for mischief and greed that causes a chain of events that unleashes the wrath of the evil Princess Ahmanet (Sophia Boutella) and brings danger to all those try to oppose her. Only Morton, Halsey and a team headed by Dr. Henry Jeckyll (Russell Crowe) with secrets of his own are capable of trying to stop this dangerous threat before Ahmanet can gain the full power of the Egyptian gods.
Without delving too much into spoiler territory what can be said is that this version of the tale veers in a decidedly different direction than its 1999 predecessor. Choosing a path of chills, thrills and scares as opposed to the campy fun of the previous iteration, director Kurtzman tries to encompass the original 1950’s horror aspects of the character while bringing it to a modern, PG-13 realm. With Morton spearheading the cause, the chase (and the film) runs through the Streets of London at a breakneck speed but to use a “Mummy” metaphor it’s here where most of the problems lie within.
While Cruise does an admirable job playing the egotistical, self-preserving character throughout the film the returning thought is that audiences have seen him do this on a number of occasions before… and with better results. This in a nutshell sums up the film because across the board on every detail whether it be narrative, special effects, acting or presentation it never escapes that “been there seen that” feeling even when our heroes are trying to evade certain death themselves. Only scenes that contain Crowe and Cruise give viewers an interesting glimpse at the possibilities of what could be in store for this “Dark Universe”.
At 107 minutes, The Mummy doesn’t overstay its welcome which is one of the best attributes that can be said about this film. No, it doesn’t amaze at really any given point but its shorter run time prevents it from becoming a chore to watch. The Mummy just doesn’t really move the needle in any direction and while it’s not going to “rise” the Dark Universe series in the way that Universal hopes it doesn’t bring on a “curse” for audiences seeking out that next great movie anthology.