We live in a day and age now where every studio wants to build a cinematic universe, in a vein to mimic Marvel's unequivocal, global success. The latest to try their hand at this world-building is Universal, with their Dark Universe, and its debut entry has arrived: The Mummy.

Whilst out serving in the Middle East, soldier-scavenger-thief Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), his reluctant sidekick Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) and archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) stumble across an Egyptian tomb - that of the ancient princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). However, upon discovering this tomb, Ahmanet is unwittingly awoken from her sleep and escapes in search of a powerful dagger with the ability to unleash all hell upon the world. The aforementioned trio, alongside the help of Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), must stop the vengeance-thirsty Ahmanet from locating the dagger and causing mass destruction to London and the rest of the world.
The studio logos appear on-screen, as they tend to for most films; however, what makes this different from any other Universal release is the "Dark Universe" logo that pops up - a gutsy move, considering the whole "Dark Universe" name is currently under legal scrutiny from DC and Warner Bros, but more so because Universal have rested so much faith in The Mummy that they're confident that it will not only be a critical and commercial success but that it will indeed get people excited for and invested in the future of said universe. Now, what sort of business The Mummy will do at the box-office remains to be seen. However, as a film, unfortunately, it's not good news for the debutant member of the Dark Universe. This film is about as dead and lifeless as its titular character. And that's not good. At all.

Thankfully, The Mummy isn't all bad though and there are some - albeit if only a few - redeeming qualities to this picture. For starters, the performances are great. As always, Tom Cruise crushes it. This is an actor that has earned the respect of the world; time and time again, project after project, he commits like no one else in the business and it shows in every single performance. Not only in the demanding physicality and the action sequences but also in the delivery of the humour and in providing the film's pulse and heart. Russell Crowe is also great in this, and it's great to watch him and Cruise interact - two incredibly talented and huge actors just going toe to toe. However, this is Sofia Boutella's show and she is the standout. Boutella is constantly proving herself as a tour de force and this is no different; she fuels this role with such strength and terror, making Ahmanet as intimidating and terrifying as she is. Albeit, the writing for the characters isn't the best but the performances are still very strong, nonetheless.
Director Alex Kurtzman also does a good job at the helm of this beast, excelling in the technical aspects. The CGI and special effects - of which there are many - all look great; the cinematography and visuals are impressive too, and Kurtzman's direction and editing of the action is slick and fast-paced too. From a technical standpoint, The Mummy checks all the boxes. However, good performances and slick direction alone can't keep this film from sinking and, unfortunately, its screenplay buries it beneath the sand. This is such a poorly written and poorly executed film. Whilst Kurtzman proves himself in capably directing action and creating a technically flawless film, the handling of the story and the characters is just all askew. So many people are credited for writing this film - a total of six credited writers. And it shows. This is a combobulation of so many ideas and it's all in such disarray. This is such a convoluted film; the story is all over the place and, as a result, it becomes difficult to invest in what's going on. There's no clear objective. No real stakes. Even our characters all feel so one-dimensional and buried beneath this mess.

The Mummy is by no means awful. It has very entertaining sequences that make for some mindless, entertaining viewing but these "cool" scenes feel few and far between. The "Dark Universe" setup and lore is also really promising but the film can't decide whether it wants to be the first in a cinematic universe or whether it wants to be The Mummy. There is no horror. No tension. No suspense. There is a lack of investment because the characters fall flat, the story falls flat. This film is such a mess. Tonally, its jarring and all over the place. The screenplay is even more so. Whilst it will probably satisfy most as a "dumb, mind-numbing and silly" Summer blockbuster, its certainly not a competent film. And it doesn't promise good things for the future of the Dark Universe. Here's to hoping it was just a misfire and Universal's next monster movie can bring us back.

VERDICT:
The Mummy has its moments but, sadly its technical strengths and commendable performances can't save it from being buried by an awfully convoluted and lacklustre screenplay.



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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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