So I was a little late to watch the most recent reboot of The Mummy, the start of Universal’s Dark Universe – which was actually supposed to start with Dracula: Untold (2014) but that was such a flop that Universal has done everything in their power to make people forget about it. Well guess what, Universal? I remember, I remember it ALL.
This time around there is no Imhotep, no Anksunamun, no Rachel Weisz (bummed), no Arnold Vosloo (really bummed) and no Brendan Fraser (really, really bummed about that). This time the mummy’s name is Ahmanet, and she was a princess that the Egyptians wiped from their history because she made a deal with Set (in the film he is described as the god of death, but fans of the 1999 Mummy film will know that Anubis was the god of death, Set is the god of evil, but whatever, Universal reckons that The Mummy won’t be attracting any Egyptian mythology fanatics to the cinemas, so what could possibly go wrong?). She was mummified alive (no flesh-eating scarabs this time around) and her sarcophagus placed in a pool of mercury (Egyptians believed that mercury could trap or destroy evil).
Skip to the present day and someone unsuspectingly sets her loose upon the world.
We all saw Dr. Jekyll in the trailer and you’re probably wondering if Mister Hyde makes an appearance… I don’t want to spoil it for you but it’s kind of obvious. Sadly, this isn’t Mister Hyde like we saw him in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, he isn’t a gigantic, hulking beast; he’s slightly taller than Jekyll and is obviously considerably stronger but that’s about where it ends – and that was really disappointing.
Some of the character interactions were a little interesting (mainly between the main character, Nick Morton, and his best friend, Chris Vail). There was some incredibly forced romance which, from what I can tell, was based on a one-night-stand; this was a little funny in the first fifteen minutes of the film but after that, it just got boring and dragged on.
The best actor in the film was Russell Crowe, who played Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Everyone else’s acting was believable but seriously; don’t put Russell Crowe in your movie if you want the other actors to look good, because he will make them look terrible (same applies to Clint Eastwood, Idris Elba, Sean Connery and Morgan Freeman). I still don’t know why they chose Tom Cruise for the main role but it is what it is and there is no changing it now.
This film changed a whole bunch of stuff around in that the Crusaders were involved, and I can’t explain how without spoiling the majority of the plot. What I will say was that the climax was anti-climactic, to say the least.
Alright, so this film was supposed to set up the Dark Universe, and in some ways it did. When we first see Prodigium, we are led through what appears to be an anatomist’s laboratory. Seeing all sorts of things on display in vats of what is presumably alcohol. Among these things are a webbed hand (setting up the Creature from Black Lagoon) and a human skull with very long canines (obviously a vampire skull). There was also a rack with skulls on it in Jekyll’s office, one of them very ape-like; this could have just been an actual ape skull or a reference to a very old (and mostly forgotten) movie monster known as Paula the Ape Woman.
Films confirmed for Dark Universe so far include Van Helsing, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Invisible Man, Dracula, Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera (yes, once upon a time it was a monster movie, not an actual opera) and the Hunchback of Notre-Dame; all of these are as yet untitled.
Universal has a massive log of movie monsters to choose from, but with Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde and the Invisible Man, I feel like they could do League of Extraordinary Gentlemen while they’re at it.
Welcome to a new world of gods and monsters.
Welcome to the Dark Universe.