Friday, April 28, 2017
If you're a big monster movie nerd like I am, then you've probably heard that Universal Studios is trying to make a shared universe mega-franchise using modern day remakes of their classic monster series. The new 2017 film 'The Mummy' is going to be the first film in the series. Now, the reaction of most people when they hear this is something like: 'Oh, they're just trying to be Marvel. Just like everybody else is.' And there is definitely some truth in that. Pretty much everybody IS trying to be Marvel right now. But if anyone has a right to try and be Marvel it's the Universal Monsters. They did it first. 1943's 'Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman' was one of the first ever film crossovers, and then Universal brought Dracula into the fold with 1944's 'House of Frankenstein' and 1945's 'House of Dracula'. There's a longstanding tradition for Monsters meeting up and fighting each other.
Universal made headlines when they announced that the new Mummy was going to be female. 'First ever female Mummy!' Somehow the news spun that as Universal is a champion for women's roles in Hollywood? Like we didn't think women could play monsters before, or something? (I feel like there's a Mother-in-law joke in there somewhere). The thing is: Anyone who REALLY KNOWS MUMMIES should know that this isn't true. One of the earliest and most influential mummy stories is Bram Stoker's 1903 novel 'The Jewel of the Seven Stars' which featured the vengeful queen Tera who was a FEMALE MUMMY. Later installments in Universal's original series such as 'The Mummy's Ghost' and 'The Mummy's Curse' had Princess Ananaka, ANOTHER FEMALE MUMMY.
One thing to note is that this movie, and I assume the other movies in the series will be as well, is set in the modern day. It'll be interesting to see how they pull this off. So much of what makes Mummies in particular work is the backdrop of superstition and mysticism of an early 20th century setting. All that 'Curse of the Pharaoh's' can come off as Saturday Morning Cartoon stuff so many years after the discovery of King Tut's Tomb.
Let's talk about the latest trailer. Looks like it could be promising. We've got a variety of locations, a look at Russell Crowe's Dr. Jekyll - who appears to have a wise-yet-judgemental 'How dare you unleash the ultimate evil on humanity?' role, a few glimpses of the action (That awesome flooded tomb!) and a look at Princess Ahmanet's powers. I gotta say, the way she flips and scurries up that chain like a spider is awesome! I'm a little concerned about her ability to make a giant flying head appear in the sky though. That's the signature move of Imhotep from Stephen Sommers' 1999 Mummy series. There are enough fans wondering why this movie stars Tom Cruise instead of Brendan Fraser as it is. Personally I think this movie would do better if it avoids comparison to a popular film series that a lot of people grew up with.
That said, let's talk about the title, huh? The 1932 Mummy, the 1959 Mummy, the 1999 Mummy and this new film are all simply called 'The Mummy'. That gets a little confusing, doesn't it? Maybe they should take a page from 'Kong: Skull Island's' book and give us a new title to go with our new mummy.