You might think that having the Marvel and DC universes spawning new movies seemingly daily, that we don’t need another massive franchise. Then stay away from The Mummy as it is a doorway into the brand new Universal Dark Universe. As well as the titular character, we also get our first encounter with a doctor named Jekyll and a villain named Hyde, both played with aplomb by Russell Crowe.
Now, I want to tackle this in two halfs, the uppers and the downers, as the film has a few things that made me want to throw my hands up and scream and a few that made me laugh and filled me with enjoyment.
Firstly the downers – The film takes one of the main plotpoints of American Werewolf in London and rips it off completely. In AWIL, this works as the character who is brought back from the dead (well technically still dead) is funny and likable and you care that bits are falling off of him. Here, Cruise’s best friend is annoying when alive and I was praying that he would be a quick death, but no, we have to tolerate his constant jokes and hell, if he wasn’t already dead I would want to kill him myself! There is also a little steal from The Exorcist, not quite as photocopied, but if you have an evil entity chained up, DON’T make her growl “It burns!” as a whole section of the audience will turn off instantly. Thirdly, if you are an American film, don’t use “wanker” when you don’t know the way the English use it, it will sound silly and also get you in trouble with the censor board who DO know its offensiveness.
Now, the uppers – BOY, The Mummy is fun, just a stand up adventure which brings to mind the cartoon action of a James Bond or an Indiana Jones, there are some breathtaking scenes here. Tom Cruise is great, at no point does he stop to think about what is going on, he is Tom Cruise, so hey! I wake up in a body bag, just shake it off and jump up, no problem. (until the heroine enters and he realises he is naked. Brilliant. There are many swift jokes such as these throughout.)
The effects are great, The Mummy is genuinely freakish but also strangely seductive, a great rebirth of one of cinema’s greatest creatures. As I say, the film is also a Dark Universe intro and on the evidence of this, I will be ready when more monsters come out to play. A final + point is that the film clocks in at an hour and three quarters, speeding ahead to get to the thrills instead of dragging like so many of today’s big screen adventures. All film makers can learn from this…