Or too many cooks spoil the cloth?
AT FIRST WHEN Universal first posed the concept of a shared Universe, now known as the Dark Universe, in order to release a string of movies that would link all their classic monsters together, I wanted to say that it was a bold approach, but it’s not exactly new.
As a fellow horror enthusiast pointed out on a social thread, Universal were the originators of the crossover worlds with the likes of House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula.
They were though, wanting to relaunch this product into a modern world for a contemporary audience, but there are a few things that prove as an obstacle to completing their vision.
And with these obstacles, Universal find themselves navigating a minefield of troubles which leads the picture to snag on every component along the way and unravel before our very eyes.
So let’s take a look at these obstacles, starting with the elephant in the room, otherwise known as…
I’ve been reading a lot about this in the past few days and something that strikes me a little is that people are very quick to point their fingers at Mr. Cruise, citing too much involvement and interference on his part.
But here’s the thing, whether or not this is true, the buck has to stop with Universal and their director.
They decided to cast Cruise in this vehicle and with that you have to expect him to bring some weight and opinion to the piece.
He is known for getting hands on with every project that he takes on, including all the stunts that he performs himself.
So why so surprised when this turns into a Tom Cruise project?
Director Alex Kurtzman may have handled big picture projects as a writer, but prior to The Mummy, he has handled only one other feature at the helm, People Like Us.
So was this a case that veteran actor, Cruise took advantage of this and began to steer said film instead?
Perhaps more questionable is that the script itself is so disjointed and incoherent that you wonder how someone like Kurtzman, (who also wrote this movie) with the vast amount of writing credits to his name managed to make such a botch job of it.
Which comes to the second point.
Lack of character.
Sure enough we are presented with a back story to Princess Ahmanet, but at no stage do we engage with her or identify with her plight.
This basically means that her level of menace is weakened and the fear element is lost – the anchor of the PG-13 rating on it and like the Mummy, the film spends most of the time restrained and unable to break free.
By the time that she does, it’s all too little too late.
I really had high hopes for the female Mummy component and seriously wanted her to kick arse, but when it did happen, it was fleeting and reduced to a whimper.
The supposed transformation of Russell Crowe
So restricted were the creative team behind The Mummy that even Russell Crowe was reduced to a feeble example of Mr Hyde.
On paper, this casting sounded perfect as we have seen portray some notably dark characters on screen before.
Instead we’re present with a gruff version of himself with yellowy eyes.
Sure, I get that they may have wanted to go with a more subtle approach, but why do this if the whole point is to let the monsters loose?
“You can be my wing-zombie anytime.”
While it was good to see Nick Morton (Cruise) spa with his buddy Vail at the beginning of the movie, which highlighted his recklessness, and I know I might be sounding fickle here, but it kind of got my goat, when they started riffing off An American Werewolf In London and have Vail come back as a zombie-buddy.
Even more so in the films climax, when they walk off into the sunset, ready for their next adventure.
The question is, will there another adventure?
Going off the poor box office receipts, you’d be forgiven to think that Universal would scrap their plans, but my overall feeling is that they’ll give it another push to win over their audience, which means there would be a lot riding on their next feature Bride of Frankenstein in order for them to see any payoff.
If the dominoes are now set in place for the crossover stories to take hold, then maybe, just maybe the producers will be free to flex their writing muscles and let the narrative go into some bold, new territory.
Ironically for their Dark universe to truly see any reward, Universal need to consider living up to the brand they’ve living by and take it darker.
As such, The Mummy was a mess that was placed too far into the light feel-good category for it to have the impact that horror fans were craving for.
- Paul Farrell