by Monica Hayes
Question: What is better than a Marvel or DC universe? Answer: A universe of classic horror monsters … a Monster-verse! The sole purpose of the Dark Universe is to revive classic monster movies and Alex Kurtzman’s version of the 1932 classic, The Mummy, is up first.
Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) is the rightful heir of her father’s kingdom and has prepared for years to take her place as ruler of the Kingdom. Her hopes and dreams are crushed when her father marries and has a son. Enraged, she makes a deal with the God Set to take her rightful place to the throne by dispatching all those who stand between her and ruling the kingdom. Ultimately this deal lands her a one-way ticket to being mummified.
Fast forward to modern day Iraq. Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his partner in crime Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), are on an unauthorized covert mission to find lost antiquities. However, when things go so far left that an official, military airstrike is needed to save them, the fun really starts. As a result of the airstrike, a huge ancient cavern exposing the final resting place, or “jail” of Princess Ahmanet is discovered. Together with archeologist Jenny Hasley (Annabelle Wallis) they explore the find. While exploring the cavern, Nick unknowingly sets the wheels in motion that free Ahmanet and becomes her “chosen one” at the same time. We all know that if you enter an ancient Egyptian tomb there is a good chance you will end up cursed. Guess they missed that part.
As if that wasn’t complicated enough, on the other side of the world, Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) and The Prodigium, an organization that pinpoints evil and tries to neutralize it (think M.I.B. or the Talamasca), are looking for an ancient artifact before Ahmanet finds it. If she obtains this artifact before they do, she will finally fulfill her destiny. It is now up to Nick, Jenny, Jekyll and the organization to stop Ahmanet from fulfilling her destiny.
We are used to seeing Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible movies hanging off the outside of an airplane, free climbing up the side of buildings and running – lots of running. However, this time, we see Tom in a different role. Yes, he is still running, but instead of leading the charge to destroy evil, he is cursed, struggling with his morals of good and evil and on top of that, he’s being chased around London by a five-thousand-year-old mummy.
Kurtzman’s modernized version of the Mummy is very different from the original 1932 Boris Karloff and the updated 1990’s action/comedy versions, with Brendan Fraser. In those movies, an ancient scroll or book is read, the mummy is resurrected and searches for his reincarnated love. In contrast, this is the first time the mummy is a woman looking to fulfill her destiny to rule the world and the mere act of unearthing the sarcophagus brings the mummy to life. Boutella’s Ahmanet was a much-needed breath of fresh air to the genre. She portrayed a more evil, menacing, scarier mummy than that of Arnold Vosloo’s Imhotep in the 1999 Mummy. Although we didn’t see a lot of her, Boutella was a pleasure to watch. Hopefully, in future installments, we may get more of Boutella’s mummy.
Kurtzman’s Mummy very closely resembled the 1999 and 2001 Mummy movies. The narrated opening sequences, resurrected mummies, flashbacks, running around London and CGI graphics. Even the characters are similar: Morton is the tough guy (Rick O’Connell), Hasley is the intelligent love interest (Evelyn) and Chris is the comic relief (Jonathan). The comic relief comes when Nick is somehow able to see and talk to the spirit of a dead zombie friend a la An American Werewolf in London. While he doesn’t reinvent the wheel and may seem like a lot is going on at the same time, Kurtzman telling of the story brings a fresh look to the Mummy of old.
Originally, Dracula Untold was tapped to be the breakout movie to introduce the Dark Universe, but depressing box office numbers and even worse critic reviews relegated it to the shadows. Can Kurtzman’s Mummy be that breakout reboot to make what’s old new again? Whatever the answer, the Dark Universe should be fun to watch.