The Dark Universe and The Bright Lights of Hollywood


Image: The Mummy via Facebook

On May 22nd 2017, The Mummy was premiered in Sydney before being released in the US on June 7th. It was set to be the exciting first instalment of the Dark Universe film series that is dedicated to reimagining the old classic monster movies for the millennial world but received criticism for the jaded Hollywood cast, particularly for the choice of middle-aged Tom Cruise as the lead for an action movie.

The franchise aims to put a modern spin on ancient ghosts and ghouls and proposes an alternate universe that is set in present-day London. The trailers emphasise the mixture of ancient and modern through the tagline, which welcomes the protagonist and audience simultaneously into “a whole new world of gods and monsters”.

The all-star line-up featuring Russell Crowe, Jake Johnson and Tom Cruise was thought enough to lay the foundations for a successful movie. However, despite being Tom Cruise’s largest opening weekend movie with almost $170 million, The Mummy has been a disappointing entry in the franchise and is expected to lose almost $100 million.

In this case, utilizing established Hollywood celebrities seems to have backfired and the cast has been a focal point for professional critics and general audience. There is a widespread belief that a large-scale franchise such as the Dark Universe should shoot actors into fame and not vice versa. Here, the cast makes the “whole new world” far more familiar than it should be.


“Tom Cruise” by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

One of the famous faces is Russell Crowe, who plays Dr Jekyll, and is introduced as the leader of Prodigium, a secret society dedicated to studying and controlling evil forces in the world. This society is set to overarch some of the instalments and suggests that a remake of Henry Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde may also be in the pipeline.

That sounds like good news. The dual character of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde has captured the imagination of creators and the general public for almost a century. It has been featured on the stage, in radio, and in multiple children’s TV shows such as Loony Tunes and Scooby Doo. He is an adaptable and interesting character who is now even featured in the online gaming world with a slot machine named after him on the Mr Green casino website. Brands channel this mass fascination and, just as the dual Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde offers two characters in one, Oddschecker currently highlights an offer to double your money on your first deposit at Mr Green, where you can play the aforementioned slot. If the remake captures the interrogation into the dual aspects of human nature with a modern twist, you could definitely take a gamble that the Dark Universe can be saved.


“dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde_harry-and-caresse_www-harryandcaresse-com-10” by Brian Nichols

The Mummy is the first film of this franchise and it had the difficult task of establishing a whole new universe. Therefore, it is understandable that producers would choose familiar faces for the major characters. Arguably, because this is the first piece of a jigsaw puzzle, the audience cannot yet fully appreciate a wider picture. However, with familiar faces and familiar literary characters, the producers must generate excitement through modern twists and this will hopefully create a brighter future for the Dark Universe.