When Universal began the reboot of the Universal Monsters earlier this year with the launch of Dark Universe and the release of The Mummy I failed to make it out to theaters to see the film. It’s one of my biggest regrets of the year.
The Mummy was panned by critics — though our own Kalyn Corrigan enjoyed it — and was a massive flop at the box office, especially domestically. For whatever reason, and there are a number of them that people have listed, the film just didn’t land with most folks. With the film now out on Blu-ray I was finally able to give it a watch and I absolutely loved it. LOVED IT.
Off the bat, I’ll tell you The Mummy isn’t perfect. It has some issues that knock it down a peg or two. The big thing is Russell Crowe and his Dr. Jekyll. Crowe himself is fine, but the character overall is unnecessary to the story. I understand why he’s there and I know Universal wanted everyone to know from the jump that this was the start of a brand new cinematic universe but Jekyll really doesn’t serve a purpose here. When the film opens up Nick, the lead character played by Tom Cruise, has a note written by Jekyll that he believes will lead him to a treasure. We see the note, we see who it is written by, why not just end there? What if going into this film we had no idea that Crowe was playing Jekyll and then we saw that note? I would have lost my shit! My first words after the screening would have been, “Did you see who the note was from?!”
Or if you really need to get Russell Crowe into the movie, why not just have one scene with him at the end? Just something small to lead us into the next film? That would have been a little less subtle than just having the note, but it still would’ve been awesome and a nice little surprise for the audience. Even if the rest of the movie was a total bust a nice, unexpected bonus like that would have created so much buzz.
Instead of taking either of those routes, Universal decided to have Crowe’s Jekyll sort of serve as a guide and narrator. Not even sort of, he does narrate. Why is Dr. Jekyll narrating a film about The Mummy? That doesn’t make any sense, but I would have been ok with this if the approach was different. What if he narrated but we didn’t see him until the very end of the film? That would have been pretty cool, but again this only works if we don’t know beforehand that Crowe is in the movie which would never happen in this day and age. Oh well.
It is possible the Jekyll stuff here works better as we get deeper into the Dark Universe world assuming that all still happens. As it stands now it feels a bit misplaced.
Outside of the use of Jekyll my only real complaint is that some of the CGI doesn’t look great. Not all of it, but there are a few moments that already look dated. It’s never awful, I want to be clear about that, but there are just a few scenes here and there that jumped out at me as looking not as good as I would expect from a movie of this magnitude. The most noticeable comes when they first discover Ahmanet’s (Sofia Boutella) tomb. The sarcophagus is raised out of water and the digitally effects are way too obvious.
The rest of the film though — awesome fun! Cruise is as charming and energetic as ever. He’s one of the world’s few legit movie stars. He’s larger than life and when he’s on screen you can’t help but be glued to his every move. What I really loved about Cruise here is that he showcased great comedic timing. We know he has the action down and he has been funny in the past, but I think he might be his funniest in The Mummy. It’s the little things he does really well too like a simple shrug of his shoulders with a perplexed facial expression. He also works really with Jake Johnson.
And that brings me to Jake Johnson. At this point, Jake Johnson should just be in everything. He makes everything better and as stated above he and Cruise worked fabulously together. I look forward to seeing the two of them again, hopefully in more Dark Universe movies. Also, his character being a reference to Griffin Dunne’s character from An American Werewolf in London is an added bonus that I certainly did not expect but very much appreciate. Kudos to whoever came up with that idea.
Of course, we cannot talk about The Mummy without mentioning Sofia Boutella who is absolutely dynamic as Ahmanet. Playing the titular mummy isn’t an easy thing to do. The character requires a lot of effects which can sometimes overshadow the performance of the actor. That’s not the case here. Boutella’s talents shine through. And she balances perfectly with Cruise’s portrayal of Nick. Nick, despite all the charm and charisma Cruise brings, is sort of a douche so to see him powerless and completely under the control of Ahmanet is rather fitting.
One thing Universal typically does pretty well, at least for their bigger films, is deliver strong Blu-rays. The Blu-ray release of The Mummy is spectacular. Even if you dislike the movie you can’t deny that the Blu-ray is very good. The picture quality is stunning, which is another thing the film gets right. Even when it’s flawed, it looks good (minus some of that CGI that looks a little off). It’s overloaded with all kinds of bonus content. There’s an audio commentary that includes director Alex Kurtzman and cast members Boutella, Johnson and Annabell Wallis and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are a number of deleted scenes, an animated graphic novel and 8 different featurettes. Once the movie ends you’ll have well over an hour of extras to keep you occupied.
The Mummy isn’t perfect. It’s likely not what any of us expected when Universal announced they’d be bringing back the Universal Monsters in a shared cinematic universe. But the movie is a blast and has its heart in the right place, and sometimes, that’s enough.
The Mummy is now available on Blu-ray from Universal.