So Universal has kicked off their Dark Universe. I think it’s pretty cool, although I did think it was weird to see “Dark Universe” on the screen when I’ve been waiting for the DC movie of the same name. Apparently Warner Bros. thinks it’s weird too, because the internet tells me they’re thinking about suing Universal for use of the name. But as evidenced by the new logo, Universal ain’t too worried about it. Another weird thing is that apparently this universe includes the Phantom of the Opera and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, neither of which are monsters to my knowledge. But anyway, on to the movie.
I had fun, guys. I spent too much time trying to figure out if I actually liked this movie, but after a certain point I was sure I liked it. But you know, my liking a movie shouldn’t be so contingent upon one scene.
I think I had trouble liking it toward the beginning because it was more of the same stuff I’ve seen in Mummy movies of the past. We get narration and a recap of the mummy’s past, which is pretty standard. She wanted power, she betrayed (and killed) a person of power, she got caught, she got killed. It was nice because it was Sofia Boutella, but otherwise it was paint by numbers. Also, we get introduced to our “hero”, which is Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise but less likable than most of his characters, who have a nice charm to them. Sometimes. He has a friend named Chris Vail, played by Jake Johnson, who initially wasn’t as funny as he was meant to be. Also there’s Annabelle Wallis, playing the “feisty” Jenny Halsey. I got feisty from the movie’s Wikipedia page, by the way. She’s not that interesting in the movie. So yeah, aside from Sofia Boutella’s mummy, the beginning is full of characters I don’t care about.
Back to Jenny, though. She’s introduced and the first thing she does is slap Tom Cruise, calling him a thief (which he is, so fair enough). Then they go into how they slept together and he wasn’t adequate, blah blah blah. So they seem to hate each other. But by the end of the movie, we’re supposed to believe they care deeply about one another just because the movie tells us so. The relationship doesn’t develop well and it feels very forced. After seeing Wonder Woman handle a love story so well, this one frustrates me even more. But to fully get into this, I gotta go into spoiler territory.
SPOILER TERRITORY: SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON.
So, Jenny dies. She gets drowned, it’s pretty messed up. But Nick is able to bring her back, because he decided to become a vessel for the Egyptian god Set. Sorry, I’m going out of order. Let’s bring you up to speed:
- The Mummy (Ahmanet) wants to bring Set back in Nick’s body, so Nick has to be stabbed by a special dagger.
- Nick is like “Nah fam, I’m good.”
- Jenny is an archaeologist who secretly works for Prodigium, a monster hunting group (the S.H.I.E.L.D. of the Dark Universe) headed by Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe).
- Dr. Jekyll wants wants to bring Set back in Nick’s body, so he can kill Nick, destroying Set.
- Nick is like “Nah fam, I’m good.”
- Jenny for some reason thinks Nick is a good man now, and betrays her team so he won’t die. I’m not questioning her not wanting to kill a man, but I do question why she states that he’s a good man now.
- Jenny dies, and Nick for some reason decides it’s worth it to be possessed by an ancient Egyptian god of death in order to bring back this woman he doesn’t know that well.
So that’s where my issue comes in. Nick and Jenny, as far as we know, slept together once and then he stole from her. That’s the extent of their past. Then she hated him, then inexplicably didn’t, and then she died. Somehow, that was enough to make Nick think “Yeah, her life is worth giving up not only my own life, but potentially the lives of EVERYONE.”
But enough of that, let’s talk about the scene that made me like the movie. Dr. Jekyll has a comically ineffective antidote to keep himself from turning into Mr. Hyde. He has to take it like every few minutes, it’s ridiculous. But that’s good for the audience because the scene with Mr. Hyde is the best in the movie. Russell Crowe’s performance is on point when switching from distinguished Henry Jekyll to the rowdy Mr. Hyde. His accent changes and everything. We only get to see him for a short time, but everything he does and says as Mr. Hyde makes me want to see more of him.
In the spirit of ending on a positive note, Sofia Boutella was great as always. Aside from Eddie Hyde, Ahmanet was only character I cared about, and that’s all due to Sofia’s performance. Even without much to say, she kept me enticed. Also, although I didn’t care much about Tom Cruise’s character, I have to commend the actor. He’ll be 60 in a few years and the man is still running like a superhero and doing insane stunts. He stood on a falling roof, did a ridiculous amount of zero gravity shots, and JUMPED INSIDE OF A MOVING BUS. They threw a bus at this man. If you told me they just crashed a plane with him in it, I wouldn’t even be surprised.
With this installment being mostly adequate, I’m still excited to see what’s coming for the Dark Universe. Monsters interest me, and I really just want to see more of Eddie Hyde.
tl;dr: The characters and some story elements could use some work, but it’s a fun time. Sofia Boutella is great and Tom Cruise is always entertaining.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10.