For reasons completely unfathomable to anyone with a brain, the powers that be in Hollywood felt that we needed a gritty reboot of The Mummy. Gone is the subtle horror of Boris Karloff’s portrayal of Imhotep from the original, replaced by a hefty dose of CGI and some lady with far too many pupils. And if you were hoping for a dashing and wise-cracking hero à la Brendan Fraser you’re shit out of luck. This time around we’ve got everyone’s favorite diminutive Scientologist action hero, Tom Cruise.
Basically the elements that made the previous films enjoyable — we completely disavow any of the Fraser led sequels — will not be present in this one. This is yet another example of Hollywood executives having a fundamental misunderstanding of what audiences actually want to see out of a franchise. After the success of The Dark Knight (a blockbuster that made an assload of money and critical acclaim) Hollywood seems to think that audiences crave seeing every beloved franchise being thrown into a dark, depressing, and, most importantly, “real” world.
They did this to Superman, they did this to Spiderman (but sort of learned their lesson), they did this to Miami Vice, and, for some damn reason, the Power Rangers. By doing so they are sucking the soul of what made audiences fall in love with a franchise — nobody wants a flawed Superman or a non-wisecracking Peter Parker — and replacing it with a cookie cutter template for action films.
The Nolan Batman films work because Batman is a darker story at its heart, it’s about a man hellbent on avenging the death of his parents. You can’t just slip any story into this same tone and expect it to work. The reason 1999’s iteration of The Mummy worked was because it was fun. F-U-N. All the characters were flying by the seat of their pants and bumbling their way into trouble before Fraser’s character would pull them out of it and make some silly quip. Rachel Weisz’s bookish character was the perfect companion/love interest was the perfect counterbalance to Fraser’s bravado, and the greedy idiotic brother (played by John Hannah) kept things moving along at a clip.
On the contrary, 1932’s The Mummy is a horror classic. The creeping menace Karloff portrays throughout the film is still unsettling 80 + years later. It would be possible for directors to choose to emulate this version of the film and still create something on the dark end of the spectrum, if that’s absolutely what they are going for, but this would mean forgoing the over the top special effects. And let’s be honest, there is no way in hell that is going to happen.
WhenThe Mummy opens in theaters on Friday the only recognizable element from the previous films will be the Egyptian location. At least for a few minutes. Maybe. Since the trailer shows London getting destroyed we make no guarantees. But, it’s not all disappointment around here, because these mummy tattoos will never abandon their roots to please a bunch of Hollywood execs. Enjoy.