Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan Exit The Dark Universe
Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, the masterminds behind Universal's shared cinematic world for its classic monsters is exiting the franchise leaving a huge question mark over the future of The Dark Universe.
Writers and producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan were the architects of Universal's grand plans to bring the likes of The Mummy, Dracula, The Invisible Man, and The Bride of Frankenstein up to date in blockbuster style. Universal was so eager to get started; they swiftly cast Javier Bardem as Dr Frankenstein, Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man and set up a photo shoot to introduce the world to their A-list monsters. Sadly, the overall reception to their first offering directed by Kurtzman was less than optimistic with the Tom Cruise-fronted The Mummy.
Savage reviews and a lacklustre box office performance to The Mummy caused Universal to reevaluate the direction their Dark Universe would take. As a result of this reevaluation, production on Bill Condon's Bride of Frankenstein was delayed from its February start date to rework the script. In the time since that announcement, no rescheduled date has been revealed, and the 2019 release has been abandoned.
I'm not sure where to start with what didn't work with The Mummy, but in the interest of brevity I'll distil it down to three critical points. Firstly, Cruise was given too much control over the film and his changes to the script to give his character more importance in the story were deeply misguided (more on this in a moment). Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, there wasn't an ounce of horror anywhere to be found. While you could say the whole film was a horror to endure, for a reboot of The Mummy, there was a lack of even an attempt to put the frighteners on the audience. Even the Brendan Fraser one popped in a couple of cheap jumps, it's not often you say you miss the subtlety of a Stephen Sommers movie, but by Jove now is that rare moment.
My final critical point is director Alex Kurtzman. A proven producer and writer with Star Trek, Now You See Me, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but Kurtzman hadn't directed a movie before, and many reports indicated that Cruise oversaw almost every aspect of the film (as per his contract) leaving little for Kurtzman to contribute. Ultimately, Kurtzman was an untested director, and Universal gave the star of their planned franchise unprecedented creative control.
There is plenty of potential for reviving Universal's classic monsters for modern-day reworkings, however, drop the big world ending spectacle and return these titans of terror to the horror genre from whence they came. Don't throw hundreds of millions of dollars at something glossy, spend less and take some risks.