Back in June when The Mummy was released thetrically, Universal Pictures had high hopes that the film would launch their newly designated “Dark Universe” of films consisting of all the studio’s classic monsters — Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolfman, Dracula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Phantom of the Opera and Van Helsing (also previously produced by Universal with Hugh Jackman). Of course, Universal had previously produced Dracula Untold as a stand-alone film, but that was where the idea to create a “monsters universe” originated, and a new ending was shot and tacked on to that film to bring Dracula to the present day. Unfortunately, the $70 million movie earned just over $56 million domestically by the end of its run (with an additional $161 million from foreign markets), so the idea of a monsters universe was put on the back burner.
And then Universal went back to the drawing board and decided The Mummy would be the new launching pad for the newly christened Dark Universe, ignoring Dracula Untold, and casting The Biggest Movie Star in the World©, Tom Cruise, as the conflicted hero. They also snagged Russell Crowe to play Dr. Henry Jekyll (and Eddie Hyde), who is sort of the linchpin around which the Dark Universe will revolve with his organization that collects various antiquities. Annabelle Wallis joined as Cruise’s adversary / love interest, Jake Johnson was the comic relief sidekick, and Sofia Boutella took on the title role. The film was directed by Alex Kurtzman, who had only previously helmed the low-key comedy / drama People Life Us, but had experience with big action-effects films including Mission: Impossible III (where he met and became friends with Crusie) and the current crop of Star Trek films. So with a great cast, a pretty interesting story and a movie filled with action, effects humor and monsters, why did it do so badly at the US box office, grossing just over $80 million against a $125 million budget? Thank the box office gods for international movie-goers who ponied up a cumulative $327 million which will probably ensure the continuation of the Dark Universe (we’re particularly excited for Bride of Frankenstein, which is to be directed by Bill Condon who is coming off the mega-smash Beauty and the Beast, and who has a bit of history with this tale having directed Gods and Monsters, based on a perhaps fictionalized version of original Bride director James Whale).
So, The Mummy has very quickly made its way to home video and I won’t go into another review of the movie. Feel free to visit our review of the theatrical release. The short of it is it’s an entertaining thrill ride that was unjustly overlooked. The recently released Blu-ray offers a strikingly gorgeous image for a movie that was actually shot on film. While the color pallette is muted, there are pops of color that leap off the screen while the blacks of the darker portions of the movie are beautifully inky. The director utilized a higher percentage of actual set construction augmented with CGI when needed, so all of the details of the sets and costumes really pop on Blu-ray. The audio is a Dolby Atmos track that uses all the speakers in your sound system. Dialog is clear and sound effects and music engulf you, making The Mummy a reference quality disk that you will want to use to impress your friends.
The Blu-ray also includes the following extras:
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (4:52)
- Cruise and Kurtzman: A Conversation (21:15) is as promised, a sit-down conversation between the two men discussing the process of getting the film made, both with a lot of enthusiasm for the project.
- Rooted in Reality (6:52) looks at how the production team was intent on setting this fantastical story in the very real world.
- Life in Zero-G: Creating the Plane Crash (7:32) goes behind the scenes to examine the process of filming the movie’s most breathtaking scene in true zero gravity.
- Meet Ahmanet (7:39) looks at the casting of Sofia Boutella and the process she went through to create the character of Ahmanet, including more than twenty different makeup tests.
- Cruise in Action (6:09) looks at Cruise’s work ethic particularly when it comes to doing stunts.
- Becoming Jekyll and Hyde (7:10) takes a look at Russell Crowe’s process in creating a character who’s a little bit Stephen Fry, a little bit Ray Winstone, and what went into the fight scene with him and Cruise.
- Choreographed Chaos (6:35) looks at the filming of the movie’s climactic action scene in the actual streets of London.
- Nick Morton: In Search of a Soul (5:43) looks at the conflict within Cruise’s character.
- Ahmanet Reborn: Animated Graphic Novel (3:52) gives a quick overview of Ahmanet’s story told through narration and animated imagery.
- Feature Commentary with director Alex Kurtzman and cast members Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella and Jake Johnson. An enthusiastic but somewhat frenetic track with the cast members often speaking over each other (this track shows just why you need a moderator) as they see the movie for the first time … without sound. It sounds like thay had a great time together, and some information about the making of the movie is revealed, but there’s often too much going on to make it an enjoyable listen for fans who want more detail about the filmmaking process.
If you missed The Mummy on the big screen and have an interest in Universal’s Dark Universe (and keep in mind that Cruise will definitely show up again at some point, as will Crowe) with stars like Javier Bardem (Frankenstein’s monster) and Johnny Depp (The Invisible Man) already cast for their solo films, you should enjoy The Mummy as a jumping off point. It does tell a stand-alone story but introduces enough elements that you can see will carry through the other films without leaving many loose ends untied. The cast is great, the production design and special effects are top notch and there is a little easter egg in there for fans of Brendan Fraser’s The Mummy franchise. It’s not a movie that demands a lot of you except to just sit back and enjoy the ride. The Mummy is available on Blu-ray, DVD, 4K UltraHD and Digital. Unfortunately, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has opted not to release a Blu-ray 3D edition of the film in the US. A Region 2 version is available from Amazon UK for those with multi-region players.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment generously provided Hotchka with a Blu-ray of the film for reviewing purposes.