Starting with 1932’s The Mummy and venturing into 2017’s latest reboot/remake, a lot has changed in regards to the rules and dynamics of raising the dead. In this particular case, bringing back a mummy. At first it was simply opening a tomb, reading from a scroll and before you knew it, you had a mummy on the loose merely seeking to resurrect his love to make her his bride. Kind of sounds like a pitch for a new reality/dating series! The simplicity of the stakes of raising the mummy did change over time with 1999‘s seeking not just to bring back Anck-su-Namun, but also as a power hungry villain that could easily bring about the end of the world. While audiences were entertained by mummies again in 2001 and 2008, the stakes remained the same. Ahead of the June 9, 2017 release of The Mummy, directed by Alex Kurtzman and written by Jon Spaihts, UMU has decided to take a look at the stakes of raising a mummy and the complications that come with it.
The Mummy in 1932 wasn’t that much of a threat to the larger world. After he’s brought to life after an assistant reads from The Scroll of Thoth, the assistant played by Bramwell Fletcher goes mad, and two other people die, with the inadvertent hero Frank Whemple (David Manners) almost getting killed by Imhotep/Ardath Bey’s mystical forces. Oh, and Zita Johann’s Helen Grosvenor is nearly sacrificed before the statue of Isis comes alive to save her.
Imhotep/Ardath Bey seemed like he was more of a direct threat to those around him and to those that stood in his way as he attempted to defy the gods and resurrect Anck-su-Namun. The collateral damage was kept to a minimum and the film bordered more on the terror of what he could do as opposed to what he did after being raised from the dead.
In the subsequent Universal Studios Mummy films – The Mummy’s Hand, Tomb, Ghost, and Curse, the undead creature became more violent and more physically terrifying. Almost a precursor to the classic slasher film villains, The Mummy would now attack and kill without hesitation. Kharis, a true b-movie creature, would entertain audiences starting in 1940 all the way to 1944.
Possibly the biggest threat to not just who raised him, but to all of Egypt and the world was Imhotep in Stephen Sommers’ 1999 picture and 2001 sequel, The Mummy Returns. After Evy (Rachel Weisz) reads from The Book of the Dead, Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) awakens, brings the ten plagues with him, and it seems as if he could bring about the end of the world. We’re actually threatened with this at the start of the 1999 picture and in 2001’s The Mummy Returns with Anubis’ army to rule the world.
Of course, our heroes stop Imhotep both times. And inadvertently send him to hell in Returns.
The story follows Navy Seal Tyler Colt and his mission in the Iraqi desert to find a group of terrorists hiding out in a bunker. To him and his teams surprise the terrorists within the bunker turn out be nothing more then some grave robbers who have all magically died. Upon entering the bunker Tyler and his team also succumb to some mystical forces out of their control. They soon realize the bunker they have infiltrated is actually a centuries old tomb. Mayhem erupts as all the Navy seal members start turning on one another and are captivated by the forces within the tomb. Tyler is the only one to make it all the way deep within the tomb alive to find an Black Iron Sarcophagus. It’s marked with Egyptian symbols like the Ankh and Eye of Horus. Here Tyler is entranced by the forces to open up and release what is inside. But after placing his hand onto the sarcophagus he is immediately stabbed in the palm with a star shaped symbol. From then on his mind is cursed with visions of Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria…..The Mummy.
While we know certain details have changed, particularly in regards to the mummy’s sex – 2017 features Sofia Boutella, it seems more and more that we will be seeing a variation of the above plot considering Tom Cruise and Jake Johnson‘s roles as members of the military. Unlike the previous Mummy movies, 2017 takes place in modern day, just like the conclusion of 2014’s Dracula Untold. So, what are the stakes of raising a mummy in modern times?
Well, for starters, audiences are a little too smart for just having a mummy come to life to bring back his girlfriend and it would seem a little hokey if we had the mummy (a female) come back for her boyfriend.
But what if Sofia Boutella’s long lost love was another woman? And perhaps that’s why she was killed ages ago because of her sexuality. That could be just the kind of forward thinking the new Universal Monsters Universe movies need.
Yet, even so, under the direction and care of Alex Kurtzman and producer Chris Morgan, it would seem much more likely that the plot, plans, and motivations of Boutella’s character would be much more rich than that.
So what exactly are the stakes of raising a mummy in modern times? First, you need the threat of mysticism, but instead of that being an issue for a select group, it needs to challenge the world. The stakes need to be global. Secondly, the character/creature of the mummy needs to be powerful in all facets. We need to believe our heroes might not be able to stop the creature. And, let’s not forget, we do have Tom Cruise in this.
For 2017’s The Mummy to work, audiences need to believe in the terror of raising a mummy, either purposely or accidentally. And we also need to believe in the stakes.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.