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Will Tom Cruise and “The Mummy” actually launch a new cinematic universe?

Last week, the Dark Universe unveiled itself. This cinematic universe the powers that be over at Universal are hoping to launch began with a reboot of The Mummy. Partly a Tom Cruise vehicle and partly a modern monster movie, this summer blockbuster had a lot riding on it. By all accounts, the plan is to have a series of these things, leading up to potentially an Avengers style team up. Well, the beginning could have gone better for the Dark Universe, but there’s still hope. We’ll talk about that in a bit, but also, let us briefly discuss The Mummy itself, which is a definite outlier on Cruise’s resume. Read on for more on the film and the universe it’s set to launch.

This cinematic universe began on Friday with The Mummy. That film centers on the chaos that ensues when an ancient princess named Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) is accidentally awakened from her crypt by Nick Morton (Cruise). He and his cohort Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), along with Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), uncover her tomb beneath the desert, leading her to place a curse on Nick. This connection could bring about world domination, so it’s up to Nick to hold off Ahmanet, even as he learns from Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) just what he’s up against. Alex Kurtzman directs and co-writs the flick with David Koepp, Dylan Kussman, Jenny Lumet, Christopher McQuarrie, and Jon Spaihts. Cinematography is by Ben Seresin and the score is from Brian Tyler, while the supporting cast includes Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Parker Sawyers, and more. I hate to say it, but it’s a giant waste of talent.

Frankly, this is a rough start. The middling box office speaks for itself, as this is one of the more disappointing cinematic offerings of the year so far. Wasting someone like Cruise is an inexcusable offense, as he’s an action hero for a reason. Yet, he’s surrounded with CGI and his entire selling point is negated. It made no sense to cast him with that take on this material, and it made just as little sense for him to sign on. Alas. If Cruise is going to help anchor this connected universe, hopefully they tinker with things a bit and give him more to work with. If not, it just will be even stranger of a decision.

Going forward, the Dark Universe looks to next reinvent The Bride of Frankenstein, with outings like The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, and more. Again, the assumption is that they’ll all meet in a team up movie, not unlike The Avengers. The universe won’t lack for star power either, as Javier Bardem is already on hand as Frankenstein, while Johnny Depp is The Invisible Man. They’ll join Cruise, Crowe, and whoever else gets added on in the years to come. It’s an ambitious idea, to say the least. Fingers crossed that the ship gets righted and these become something to really look forward to.

Hopefully, The Mummy is just a bump in the road for Universal. Growing pains, as it were. We’ll see what happens in the years to come, but the Dark Universe could have used a different starting point, that much is rather clear. Even so, nothing is beyond repair right now. Suffice to say though, this isn’t like how the Marvel Cinematic Universe began. It’s not even like the DC Cinematic Universe, if we’re being forthright. Still, it deserves a chance. The monsters of Universal will be getting their 21st Century moments in the sun, so stay tuned to see how this universe ultimately develops…

Be sure to check out the start to the Dark Universe in The Mummy if you’re interested. It’s in theaters everywhere right now!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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