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Universal’s Dark Universe Launches with The Mummy
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Universal’s Dark Universe Launches with The Mummy

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Universal has been making Monster Movies since the Hunchback from Notre Dame, but once they hit with Dracula in 1931 things really took off for them. They quickly followed that up with Frankenstein the same year and from there The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon and others, but by the late 50s Universal ended their 25+ year reign in the monster business. Where most films lured you in with stars like Clark Gable or Cary Grant, Universal’s stars were the monsters themselves with names like Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr. Eventually, all good things had to come to an end and by 1960 Universal abandoned their monster line, though it did find a revival on TV and launched a whole new generation of “Monster Kids”. Over the next couple decades Universal tried to bring life back into their monsters with Dracula (1979), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), The Mummy (1999) and The Wolfman (2010). Some were better than others, though somehow The Mummy proved most popular spawning three movies.

Fast forward to present day and Universal has decided to make a new Mummy movie, but this time presumably with the success of the Super Hero movie franchises from Marvel and DC all taking place in the same universe, Universal has decided to get into the action and incorporate their monster franchise into its own universe, the “Dark Universe” as they call it. First up The Mummy, probably because it has been their most successful movie line of recent years despite not their most popular monster.

 

 

Universal pulled out the big guns with their first venture into the Dark Universe by casting Tom Cruise as well as Russel Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll. Many people groaned when the new trailer featuring Cruise was unveiled, myself included. Tom Cruise seems to be one of those actors that plays the same basic character in every movie he is in. He is so recognizable that despite whatever his character’s name is, he’s Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise aside, the trailer seemed to lack a Mummy per say, sure there looked to be some ancient Egyptian character back from the dead, but she was a far cry from what Karloff resembled all wrapped in bandages. But ok I get it, updating. Still, it definitely seems that Universal was taking their monsters out of the horror element and put them into the action adventure genre.

So let’s get down to it, what is actually happening in this new Dark Universe. Well, it seems Brendan Fraser and his smart ass side-kick are American Treasure hunters, oh wait I mean Tom Cruise and his smart ass side-kick are American treasure hunters who follow a stolen map to what they believe to be buried treasure. Instead what they, and anthropologist Jenny played by Annabelle Wallis, unearth, is a chick so bad ass, the Egyptians mummified and imprisoned her in a sarcophagus filled with Mercury and buried her ass outside of Egypt. That’s how much they didn’t want her around. Seems she was trying to personify Set, the god of Death into a living person. After the Mission Impossible-esque opening, the tomb is discovered. Jenny hints that this may be some bad ass shit, but fucktard Tom Cruise seems to intentionally raise the Sarcophagus. Why? That is only the beginning of many whys that are never really explained throughout this movie.

 

 

Needless to say, crazy Egyptian bitch, Ahmanet played by Sophia Boutella, gets let out and is on the loose sucking the lifeforce out of people so she doesn’t look like a shriveled up mummy anymore but instead the Witch from the Suicide Squad movie. She has her sights set on Tom Cruise to be the new vessel for Set and he is torn between being trapped under her curse and trying to get away from her.

Luckily for him along comes Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll and his monster hunters to secure Ahmanet and it is here that we get to see a glimpse of what the Dark Universe has in store. A very little glimpse as we take a walk through Jekyll’s base and see many artifacts under glass such as a hand from the Creature from the Black Lagoon and the skull of a vampire. And of course where there is Dr. Jekyll there must be a Mr. Hyde. Jekyll seems to subdue his alter ego with a serum he injects about every 20 minutes or at least whenever is most inconvenient, as in a scene where we get to see what Mr. Hyde is all about, and I must say it is rather lackluster. The transformation is really not that spectacular and different enough then what Jekyll normally looks like. Even John Barrymore had a better transformation without hardly any make-up, and that was almost 100 years before CGI.

 

 

There is no doubt T0m Cruise is the star of the movie as he is in almost every scene. The movie should have been called Tom Cruise featuring an evil Egyptian bitch. Outside of Ahmanet being mummified, there isn’t much mummy-ness going around, though she does seem to walk around in some strategically placed bandages. The star of the movie, falls from a building, crashes in a plane, gets thrown across tables, into stone walls, has a rib nearly snapped and miraculously through all of it never ever ever sports a scratch or bruise through any of it, except at the very end he gets a little abrasion on his cheek that quickly heals. Talk about protecting your investment, the screen growing public must highly frown upon a beat up Tom Cruise. His wise-ass side kick however is not so lucky and becomes Jack from An American Werewolf in London, literally.

Bottom line if you feel you need to see this popcorn doom-fest for whatever self-loathing reason you can think of, don’t say I didn’t warn you. There are so many plot holes, stale unflattering dialogue, and in a movie where you already need to suspend disbelief, you might as well hang it up from the rafters, because there is so much in this movie that is inane, without reason, and unexplained moments it makes it hard to focus on what is happening next, because you’re still trying to figure what just happened before. Not that is a confusing movie to follow, but you are left scratching your head why no one seems to be reacting the way they should or questioning the bizarre events around them. I thought maybe this movie wouldn’t be so bad, but it really is. It is as bad as you think it might be and sadly not a good start  to Universal’s Dark Universe reboot. One would hope they can only go up from here, but after this atrocity, it’s anyone’s guess. At least we still have our classic monsters, no matter how much Universal tries to ignore them.
 

 


Damien Glonek Damien is one of the Co-Creators of Living Dead Dolls (The world's longest continuing running horror themed dolls series) as well as the Director of Development at Mezco Toyz. He is also a contributing writer and artist for EvilSpeak magazine as well as previously having contributed to Ultraviolent Magazine. He has been actively vending at horror conventions around the country for the last 20 years beginning with his (now-closed) horror memorabilia company Unearthly Possessions. When not doing all of the above he submerges himself in all aspects of the horror genre and is a big collector of original horror movie posters mostly from the 60s-80s.