Eppler: "Mummy" gets Dark Universe off to rough start

Eppler: "Mummy" gets Dark Universe off to rough start

With "The Mummy," Universal is launching its "Dark Universe," which will be remakes featuring its classic Universal Monsters. It makes sense for the studio to want the success Marvel has with its connected series of movies and characters. After all, Universal kind of invented that with its classic monster movies from the 20s through the 50s, even using the same actors for a lot of them.

The idea here seems to be remaking those as big budget action movies with bankable stars in the leads. Before "The Mummy" opened, we were already promised Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man, Javier Bardem as Frankenstein's Monster and rumors of more. But before you can plan an entire movie universe, it might be a good idea to make sure the first one is good. And "The Mummy" isn't, really.

Tom Cruise stars as a soldier/treasure-hunter or something who unearths the ancient tomb of an evil Egyptian princess. He soon realizes that was a mistake.

The princess, played by Sofia Boutella - an interesting actress - goes on a rampage. Every man she kisses becomes cursed. So basically, she's a Kardashian. For all the credit Universal got for casting a woman as the Mummy, it's squandered by being one of the most anti-woman movies in a while. The whole motivation for the Princess is to chase down Cruise so he'll be her Monster/God boyfriend, and it sets up an odd triangle with Annabelle Wallis, who is trapped in a nothing role.

As bad as that all is, the movie stops dead in its tracks to set up future movies by introducing "Prodigeum," a group of investigators that tracks gods and monsters exactly like S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Marvel universe. Wow, Universal is really running with that formula.

At least Russell Crowe is having fun as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - the head of Prodigeum, but Cruise consistently looks lost. He's trapped in a purely reactionary role making a confused or surprised face most of the time, and tossing out corny one liners. It doesn't suit him. But then again, many of the action set pieces have his signature: Hanging on the side of a plane, check, holding his breath under water for a long time, yup, lots of running from stuff exploding behind him - you bet.

My point is, this is all stuff we've seen before. The Dark Universe is looking dim.

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