So, we have the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Television and Film Universes, so why shouldn’t we have a series from the company who has “universe” in its name? Universal Pictures has used their old school Monsters to create its “Dark Universe,” with a long-term plan to bring them into a new era in order to establish new franchises like Disney and Warner Bros. have done in the last decade. Their first installment enters into the 2017 Summer Movie Season with a new take on the classic tale of “The Mummy”.
Directed by veteran writer/producer Alex Kurtzman, this story revolves around Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who is brought back to life after a 5,000-year burial for killing her family to prevent a new son from becoming the heir to the Egyptian in the present day by Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), a soldier of fortune and his business partner, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson). Along with scientist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), they have to fight against time to keep Ahmanet from reuniting a stone with an ancient knife that will give her the ability to bring forth Set, the god of death, to wreak havoc upon the earth. There is even some help from some other classic characters (If you don’t know, I ain’t tellin’ ya) as the journey begins to establish the Dark Universe.
I had mixed feelings going into this screening with a run time that kept itself below two hours giving me hope that this would not bog things down in any minutia. The good news here is that this is a very enjoyable film. This is a pretty cool fresh take on the story we have been told a number of times even within this century. (For the record, this not the first time the title character is not portrayed as a female, but perhaps can be seen that way on this scale.) The story moves along nicely, weaving its back story details into the main story almost seamlessly and complimenting some great visuals and action sequences that kept me glued to the screen. Cruise does a great job here realizing what this film is and not trying to take things too seriously while playing up the creepiness of the tale as it unfolds. His work with Russell Crowe here is nothing short of the portrait of cool, and let’s be honest: don’t we all love to watch Russell Crowe chew scenery on a Pacino-ian level?
We were also able to screen “The Mummy” in 3-D, and in a world where it is used just because people feel like doing it, this is the first live action film I have watched in a long time where the 3-D works properly by giving depth to the picture, even in the practical effects scenes instead of taking two hours and going “oooh, look at the stuff that can look like it is coming out of the screen at you… TECHNOLOGY!” There is even a kind of cool choice made at the beginning where there are news reports sprinkled through the discovery moments that are not done in 3-D to give the impression that the audience is simply watching television, which I thought was pretty cool as well.
For those of you out there that are trying to avoid “The Mummy,” don’t. This is a really fun film that calls to you to grab a big bag of popcorn, a cup of your favorite beverage, throw some candies into that popcorn, and just forget about what is going on in the real world for a couple of hours. As Universal gets themselves into the pseudo-hero game, this is a really good start, and I am looking forward with great anticipation to where this Dark Universe is going to take us!