SHE HAS RISEN! Sunday’s with…The Mummy!
Earlier this month monster lovers around the world, especially us at UMU salivated over our local movie screens to see the new incarnation of The Mummy, as well as the kick start of Universal’s Dark Universe. Since early June the internet has been abuzz with reactions and reviews of the film, and honestly they were less than favorable. As with any film I take reviews with a grain of salt, I understand people have their own likes and agendas and the only real way to judge anything is to see it for yourself. So this past Friday I sat in my seat with my small popcorn and cherry Coke and anxiously awaited the journey to begin. After seeing the film I have one thing to say: the Classic Monsters Universe is not coming back. I say that with two trains of thought. The first being of sadness because I absolutely love the classics, they bring me back to some of the happiest and life-forming memories. The second train of thought is inevitability. The Universal Monsters are so beloved and classically regarded for several reasons but first of which was because of their originality to the time period they were released. The creature makeup, story and scares alike were all revolutionary and rarely if ever seen before. In today’s modern audience one has to understand that the same story or effects would not cause a frenzy like they did in the 30s and 40s. It was inevitable that these characters and stories evolved to fit the time.
I attribute many of the harsh feelings towards this film to misconception. The Mummy completely changes not just the original story line, but also the beloved Brenden Fraser films (which were very close to the original), but THIS IS NOT A BAD THING! The Mummy introduces a new audience to the original classics through a brand new story. As an audience we should ask ourselves do we want to see a line-for-line remake of the original or do we want something new? This is a tough question to answer but regardless of our feelings evolution has to happen! The Mummy is taking a much bigger beating than it deserves. It is chock full of solid story telling, graphics, as well as scares.
Back when the trailer was first released I went on record and expressed my fear that this film would turn into an a-typical Tom Cruise action flick. While the film did sport a good amount of action it was nowhere to the extent I feared. The action scenes in the film were necessary to the story that was unfolding and added to the overall enjoyment of the film. This was not Mission: Impossible with mummies like I feared it would be. From a marketing and financial standpoint this also made the film more accessible to a wider audience who may normally scoff at a straight up horror or monster film.
Aside from the action, The Mummy was filled with solid graphics and scares, but one of the most impressive things was the story. Not wanting to give too much away we are introduced to a world in which monsters are real and have been for centuries. Through the Prodigium, Kurtzman establishes the groundwork not only for a shared universe but also for a world already in motion. The man in charge of running the Prodigium is Dr. Jekyll, portrayed by Russell Crowe. Hidden inside are artifacts collected about “evil” found throughout the world, including a vampire skull as well as a hand of a certain creature from a certain lagoon. This beautifully teased future films as well as excited monster lovers as myself. Another iconic Easter egg was found here as the Book of the Dead, essential to the Brenden Fraser Mummy films, made an appearance. Aside from the Prodigium, the film excelled in separating itself from the previous films by changing the location. Moving the landscape from the traditional Egypt to Iraq and England was a smart way to individualize itself for this modern connected universe. And of course the biggest unique factor of the film was making the Mummy female, something I will dive into in a bit.
As mentioned before Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll plays a big part in the film, and seems to be the one constant in each new film. He is leading Prodigium and its fight against evil. Aside from his characterization it is Crowe’s performance that really stood out. He is a perfect fit for the tortured character as he captures his inner struggle in his short screen time. He is both honest yet menacing, which further helps push the idea that even the “good” guys have their demons, a theme throughout the entire film. We are also treated to a great scene featuring the other side of Jekyll’s personality and that is Mr. Hyde. It is a great scene in the film and allows Crowe to fully embrace his bad side. The visual distinction between the two characters is slight however distinctive, and it is one of the many things I am looking forward to in future Dark Universe films. Having the narrative almost run through Crowe is a great way to not only connect the stories but guide the audience through them.
Out of all the good the movie does my absolute favorite thing is Sofia freaking Boutella! Before I get into her character I have to say she is drop dead gorgeous, especially when in full undead Mummy garb. The change from the tried and true male Mummy to a female Mummy was an absolutely genius move as she brought such a different set of attributes to the character. As mentioned before she is beautiful, and that alone makes her character even more dangerous. This is a factor we haven’t seen before from the character. The Mummy Ahmanet is also, in my opinion of course, the most brutal Mummy we have seen on screen. Any time you kill a new born you jump to the top of that list! It is her motivation of not just revenge but to take what is hers that also differentiates her from the male mummies before her. She isn’t motivated by lust but by reclaiming what was hers. She is cold and calculated and those traits clash so perfectly with her beauty it makes her the perfect evil total package! The visual of The Mummy are very striking and creepy. Her movement also differs from the traditional Mummy as she is often seen on all fours moving very quickly, but when she is fully regenerated she is slow and deliberate. Visually she is striking, especially her eye effect, and the whole regeneration process is horrifying! On top of all that Boutella does an excellent job of channeling both sympathy and horror from the audience. She is without a doubt the best part of the film.
This Mummy isn’t the Mummy of the 30s of even the 90s and that is ok. We are presented with a fresh new take that is entertaining and special. I equate the initial negativity towards The Mummy and the Dark Universe much to the same problems that have plagued the DCU, and that is expectations. Fans and critics alike go into these connected universes with an idea as to what it should be, and when the tone is different from what is expected, people tend to shit on it. Everyone seems to expect a connected universe to be a carbon copy of the MCU, but it doesn’t work like that. The MCU format is successful because the characters and films fit the tone of that established universe, and that doesn’t work for everything. I for one am still not only excited but really anticipating the future of the Dark Universe, and The Mummy was a good step forward. So don’t let the negativity dissuade you, see it for yourself and be the judge, however taper expectations if you are looking for a remake of the classic 30s or 90s Mummy.
As always, stay tuned to Universal Monsters Universe for the latest on The Mummy and the Universal Monsters Universe of films.
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 tomb deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient princess (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. The film is now playing in theaters everywhere.
(Rob Texter – @GrundyXIII)