Genre: Horror Adventure
Running Time: 110 mins.
Premise: Renegade adventurer Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) discovers an ancient tomb, housing an evil Egyptian princess named Ahmanet, and accidentally unleashes her, setting off a chain of events that throws all of London into chaos.
Behind-the-Scenes: This is the first in Universal's planned "Dark Universe" series of films centered on its classic staple of monsters. Clearly designed to ape the good fortune of Marvel's cinematic universe, and after having previously tried and failed with 2014's Dracula Untold, the so-called "Dark Universe" is a bold move. Universal is stacking the deck on this one as it already has Bill Condon (Beauty and the Beast) lined up to direct Bride of Frankenstein, with Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man and Javier Bardem as Frankenstein's Monster waiting in the wings. The connective tissue is Russell Crowe, who plays Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and heads up a shadowy organization called Prodigium. Director Alex Kurtzman has one other directing credit under his belt - 2012's People Like Us, but he has numerous screenwriting credits to his name, including Star Trek and M:I-3.
The Good: There are some solid action set pieces, especially the plane crash seen in all the trailers. Cruise remains an immensely watchable screen icon. The first hour of the film is well-paced.
The Bad: Cruise is totally miscast. He's usually a reliable indicator of quality control, but this one gets away from him. Jake Johnson, usually so great in everything, is left stranded in an unplayable sidekick role that mostly just serves to crib from An American Werewolf in London and make him look ridiculous. This is a joyless and ugly-looking movie that grinds to a halt in the middle when the "Dark Universe" elements start to creep in. Crowe is laughably bad when he turns into Mr. Hyde and starts barking like a Cockney gangster.
Should You See It?: No. Stick with the Brendan Fraser version.
Star Rating: ** out of 5 stars.
Better Than: Lions for Lambs
Worse Than: The Mummy (1999)
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