The Universal "Dark Universe" unraveling is for the best
Hollywood has no idea what they are doing. This is a statement most people would widely agree is true, and there’s not much else to add to it. When Hollywood executives aren’t fondling underaged actors and actresses without their consent, those hacks spend their time coming up with the worst ideas known to humanity. Ideas so dumb that most people would be like, “hey wait a minute, that movie sounds awful, who would ever want to watch it.” This is how we get movies like Lucy, where anyone actually USING all of their brains would’ve shot it down. Or the Lone Ranger remake, which no one asked for and bombed horribly. Or the Ben-Hur remake, which no one asked for and bombed horribly. You see the problem here? It’s almost like cheap, awful remakes that no one asked for don’t do well in the box office.
Remakes no one asked for, as illustrated by Rotten Tomatoes
So, when Universal first pitched their complete dumb idea of the “Dark Universe,” the obvious response to it was that it was going to fail. Yet, Universal still tried. Boy, did they try. To be fair, the idea of all the famous Universal monsters coming together for one big monster mash is not a bad one, and could lead to some fun fan service if done properly. All they had to do was go back to the horror roots; tap the nostalgia like it’s some kind of mobile clicker game and put out something goofy, but fun. Of course, that’s too smart of an idea for Hollywood, who chose to make a terrible remake of The Mummy, which already had a really successful series of action movies fairly recently. If it’s one thing we learn from Spider-Man though, it’s never too soon for another reboot. Or, perhaps a sequel reboot. A seaboot, if you will. Universal made the brilliant idea to have the a digitally-edited Tom Cruise play their action hero to launch their new cinematic universe.
To everyone’s surprise, The Mummy flopped domestically and was critically panned. I was completely floored by the idea that The Mummy movie that never looked good during any part of production turned out to be a real stinker. Yet, the movie did well in China. In fact, it actually made a lot of money overseas, which was really disappointing. Most people decided that this just meant Universal would keep pumping out these awful Dark Universe films, all of them would suck, but still make money. It’d be like if Michael Bay made an expanded universe of his films. Such great films we’d get to look forward to, like Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man or Javier Bardem as Frankenstein’s Monster. I could feel my soul slowly leaving my body, ascending onto a plane in which this horrible cinematic universe didn’t exist. The Dark Universe wasn’t the one they were selling, but the one the audience was living in. Truly a terrifying prospect.
Fortunately, it seems that the people have finally won and Hollywood isn’t going to do something incredibly dumb anymore, at least for now. It was recently revealed that the main writer-producers, Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, left the Dark Universe experiment. The overwhelming forces against the Dark Universe project must have been too great for them, and they left Universal. The Bride of Frankenstein has also been shelved indefinitely, which is essentially a stake in the coffin of this creativity-sucking Dracula of a cinematic universe. A silver stake, bathed in holy water and cloaked in garlic. The world no longer faces the torment of the Dark Universe, thank the gods above.
Is this really for the best though? What about the potential future movies not being a complete landfill of badness? What if one of them managed to break 50% on Rotten Tomatoes? Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I sure am glad this is dead (or, perhaps undead). This is only partially because the Dark Universe idea makes my skin crawl, as if the Creature from the Black Lagoon was gurgling in my cereal bowl. There was just no way their cast could work. Now, there’s nothing wrong with Russell Crowe, Russell Crowe is a beautiful creature who deserves better than this Dark Universe garbage. I would pay to see him in the lead of an awful Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde movie because he might actually make something passable. But everyone else just makes it seem terrible. Particularly Johnny Depp, who hasn’t put out anything worth watching in years. And why Tom Cruise, of all people? Tom Cruise is pushing 60 now, he’s not the action superstar he used to be. The youth crowd who typically eat up this cinematic universe crap don’t care much about Tom Cruise either. Something went horribly wrong here, and there’s no way the movies would’ve been good. Any of them. If someone has crossed over from an alternate dimension where the Dark Universe took off, please tell me if the movies got better after The Mummy. I have to know.
The other, more important part of the Dark Universe failing is that it means we might FINALLY stop getting these unnecessary, cash-grab, fan-bait fiestas of cinematic universes. Since Marvel hit it big with their expanded film universe, everyone and their dogs are trying to pull together whatever random franchises they have rights to and create their own cinematic universe. DC, sure, okay, compete with Marvel, do your best. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice was the best nap I had in 2016, so I hope Justice League can hold up to that standard.
Then you had the Godzilla/King Kong cinematic universe, which could either be really good or really bad depending on how it’s executed. Kaiju films are always a treat to watch when they are done well, who doesn’t like watching giant monsters fight each other? Then it was confirmed we’d be getting Star Wars movies until the end of human existence, which I’m sure won’t get old after a while.
Image from IndieWire
The desperate culmination of this trend chasing was the Dark Universe, which unraveled faster than cheaply made sweaters from the Grandma who can’t really knit very well but bless her heart she tries. It failed, it fell flat, it’s completely donezo. So, hopefully the next Hollywood hack who isn’t too busy sticking his hands where they don’t belong will be discouraged from trying a cinematic universe. I honestly doubt that’ll stop Hollywood, but we can hope.
Universal truly fumbled their cinematic universe, but it’s not all bad. It’s not like the monster movies of old have all vanished and we can’t watch them, they still exist and they’re still fantastic. In fact, they’re better because those movies were crafted by people who loved film and wanted to make something people would love for generations. They weren’t made by Hollywood executives and focus groups, desperately chasing the next hot trend, hoping to get a piece of the slowly disappearing pie. Even DC and Marvel might not be able to keep up their cinematic universes for much longer, how much of a chance do you think an action oriented Universal monsters cinematic would have? At the very least, they should’ve got Brendan Fraser. Please, the man needs work, he’s hungry and still paying off his crazy ex-wife. Give Brendan Fraser a chance.
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