“Tom Cruise headlines a spectacular, all-new cinematic version…”
It was with that opening line that Universal started their plot summery for June 2017’s The Mummy. They didn’t preface it with the next installment or an upcoming re-imagining. Instead, they went for “Tom Cruise headlines…” And it makes sense, doesn’t it? After nearly a decade since The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and almost 90 years since the original classic, is there really any other way to begin a plot summery for an upcoming movie that deserves every bit of hype and excitement than by leading with a reference to the film’s star and, arguably, the most iconic actor in the business?
Tom Cruise is just as generationally relevant now as he was back in the 80’s when films like Risky Business and Top Gun were speeding to the top spot at the box office. It’s amazing to think of his ‘celebrity’ because, in many ways, it’s very similar to that of the Universal Monsters. The classics, popular when they originally released, made a resurgence during the 60’s and 90’s; Universal hopes to revive interest in their brand with the start of the Monsters Universe of shared films. With the success of films like Mission: Impossible, Jack Reacher, and Edge of Tomorrow who better to carry the first proper and major monster movie since 2010’s The Wolf Man?
While one could debate that the Tom Cruise of Rain Man or Days of Thunder fame is not the same Tom Cruise of Jerry Maguire and Vanilla Sky, or War of the Worlds or Oblivion for that matter, he sure knows how to bring in audiences and entertain at the risk of life and limb. Say what you will about the 54 year old actor, but he always entertains.
With super hero movies dominating the theatrical pop-culture conversation, and many real actors signing up for roles within “shared universe” movies, it was only a matter of time before Tom Cruise became a part of a studio’s plan to release films sharing a connective thread. While he could have eventually appeared in a Marvel or DC motion picture, Cruise would find himself joining and headlining The Mummy – the first of several Universal Monsters movies.
A major film enthusiast, Cruise has wanted to make a horror movie for quite some time. About 5 years ago he was associated with Guillermo Del Toro’s planned adaptation of Lovecraft’s “At The Mountains of Madness.” The film, to be released by Universal, eventually fell through.
While Variety reported in April 2012 that Jon Spaihts would be scripting The Mummy, it was also reported just a month later that Universal was developing a “reimagined ‘Van Helsing’ with Tom Cruise attached to star and produce.” Director Rupert Sanders (Snow White and The Huntsman) was originally considered as a likely candidate to helm Van Helsing, but not much ever came from what Twitch Film considered “breaking” in October of 2012.
For three years, eager fans of the long in development Universal Monsters Universe films heard nothing of the proposed re-imagining of Van Helsing, until Variety exclusively announced that Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer (The Thing, Nightmare on Elm Street reboots) had signed on to co-write the film based on the Bram Stoker character.
Sometime around this announcement, fans learned that Tom Cruise was no longer attached to Van Helsing. As a big Cruise fan, myself, it was disappointing that the movie lost such a major player as Cruise would have undoubtedly helped create an engaging adventure much different than 2004’s Van Helsing, starring Hugh Jackman. But, all was not lost.
In late 2015 and in January of this year, we learned that Tom Cruise would now be starring in The Mummy – a film with an equally long and interesting history.
We’ve never seen Tom Cruise in an outright horror movie. Other than Interview with the Vampire and the fantasy film Legend, it’s kind of surprising that Cruise has made just about every other kind of movie except a horror/monster film. The Mummy looks to change that and we’re already aware that “this one is kind of more designed to seriously scare the s— out of you,” according to Russell Crowe, who will appear as Dr. Henry Jekyll. But despite this element, co-star Rez Kempton did say to expect action and stunts. So how much of Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy will be horror by way of Hammer as apposed to horror by way of Uncharted?
Despite having Tom Cruise headline the movie, it’s almost guaranteed that this will not just be a Mission: Impossible movie involving the supernatural and monsters. Yes, we’ll see Cruise do everything that he does such as running, performing stunts, and more running, but now imagine this transplanted into that of a horror movie:
Take Tom Cruise out of an action/adventure, place him in a horror movie, and then put his character through the ringer. We know each time he’s either climbing the world’s tallest building or hanging off of an airbus that he’s going to make it, but what if we took that element and raised the stakes? What if we believed that his protagonist might not actually make it? Throw in a mummy for good measure that is plaguing his dreams and causing wild visions and you’ve got a pretty intense and scary movie. The hero might die in this one.
It’s really quite exciting to watch a horror movie when you have characters that you relate to or could place yourself in their shoes. Once you’re hooked on the idea that it could be you or what choice would you make, it becomes infinitely more exciting and scary when the stakes are raised. While Edge of Tomorrow wasn’t a horror movie, it played with elements that challenged what we’ve come to expect from a Tom Cruise vehicle. How would he survive? Would this nightmare of a day ever come to an end?
In one of the earliest drafts, there’s several scenes where the Tom Cruise character has shared visions of/with The Mummy. You see The Mummy (this was the version where it was a King) in the underworld and it reads a little like a cross between 2005’s Constantine and Event Horizon. There’s images of damnation and general horror that we never really saw in Stephen Sommers’ and Rob Cohen’s The Mummy films. I would think most of these concepts will have stayed in, especially with creature performer Javier Botet involved in the film.
Admittedly, there’s going to be action and what not. However, it does sound like we are getting an honest return to what ‘The Mummy’ originally was and it’ll be creepier by way of Conjuring, Annabelle, and modern horror as opposed to creepy by way of Indiana Jones.
And who better to headline The Mummy than Tom Cruise!
As always, stay tuned to Universal Monsters Universe for the latest on The Mummy.
“Tom Cruise headlines a spectacular, all-new cinematic version of the legend that has fascinated cultures all over the world since the dawn of civilization: The Mummy.
Thought safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient queen (Sofia Boutella of Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond) whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.
From the sweeping sands of the Middle East through hidden labyrinths under modern-day London, The Mummy brings a surprising intensity and balance of wonder and thrills in an imaginative new take that ushers in a new world of gods and monsters.”
The Mummy is directed by Alex Kurtzman, from a script by Jon Spaihts, Dylan Kussman, and Christopher McQuarrie. The film stars Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Marwan Kenzari, Courtney B. Vance, Russell Crowe and Sofia Boutella as the iconic creature now revealed to be an ancient queen. The film opens June 9, 2017.
(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)