I’m a sucker for the old Universal movie monsters. I love them all. When I heard Universal wanted to get into the shared universe game with their classic horror characters, I howled in delight. They’re calling it Dark Universe and plan to release new, connected films featuring the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Van Helsing, Wolf Man, Bride of Frankenstein, Frankenstein, Dracula, the Invisible Man, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the Phantom of the Opera.
Their first outing? The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise.
I had very serious concerns walking into The Mummy because it was not doing well at all on Rotten Tomatoes. I tend not to put too much stock in reviews if I want to see the movie badly enough, but my concern regarded the future of my other Dark Universe movies. I worried that if The Mummy floundered, Universal would abandon the Dark Universe initiative and I wouldn’t get to see my Invisible Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Bride of Frankenstein. After all, this is exactly what happened with King Arthur: Legend Of the Sword. (Yes, I’m still made about that.)
So here’s the thing, I saw it with three other guys, and we all liked it for various reasons. Is it the greatest movie ever made? No, not by a long shot. But, it seemed like they put a lot of effort into it, Tom Cruise delivered a likable character, the special effects were cool, the action was great, and the movie generally entertained. Yeah, there were a few plot holes. Sure, parts of it we’ve seen before. It even got a little confused at times as to whether it wanted to be a horror movie, a buddy action comedy, or a romance. And the ending, well, somehow the ending came off both clichéd and vague.
But, like I said, it entertained throughout. There were all kinds of visual hints and references to the other Universal monsters, and it actually had us chuckling more than we expected. I would definitely consider it far more of an action thriller than a horror movie. Cruise had great chemistry with his wingman in the film, Jake Johnson.
Tom Cruise played a man who is mostly a decent guy, but he’s also a little egocentric, a little bit of a thief, a little blockheaded, and, for quite a bit of the movie, very confused. But, Cruise pulls all of this off with his usual charm and charisma. And while there’s plenty of action, I wouldn’t call Cruise an action hero in this one. He’s more often than not the victim of action and just trying to survive.
It was also a lot of fun to see Russell Crowe hamming it up as Dr. Jekyll. He will supposedly be the connecting link between all Dark Universe films, and, like Cruise, he is a generally magnetic actor. If you’re hoping for a Mr. Hyde appearance, by the way, you won’t be disappointed. Of course, the transformation didn’t make a whole lot of sense. We cracked a few jokes after the film about how he really needs to get one of the timers a lot of older folks use with their medicine, but that’s okay.
Actually, that’s my mantra for The Mummy — “That’s okay.” I wasn’t expecting much, and it lived up to my expectations. Were the female roles a little bland and shallow? Yes. Did the story itself never quite come together organically? Yep. Did parts of the movie look like they had been snatched right out of other films? Absolutely. Did the ending leave us generally confused? Definitely.
But, even having said all of that, we had a great time. We had fun. Fun. Let’s not disregard the importance of that word. Sometimes we want to just go see a monster movie and have some fun. That’s okay.