Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Mummy [2017] (4 Stars)

When I first heard about a remake of "The Mummy" being planned I groaned. After all, the previous remake starring Brendan Fraser was so excellent that it didn't need to be made again. Then I heard that the film would star Tom Cruise as the leading character, the archaeologist, so I groaned even more. I avoid films with Tom Cruise unless there's a very good reason to see them. Then I finally saw the trailer, and I saw that the mummy is a woman this time, making it a distinctly different film from the previous versions. That was the very good reason that I needed. An insanely powerful woman trying to conquer the world? That's hot.

So I went to see the film. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Tom Cruise wasn't as bad as usual. He managed to play the role without grinning too much. I was disappointed with the portrayal of the female mummy. Rather than conquer the world for herself, she's planning to raise the God Set in human form to give him control of the world. So the alpha female is really just a beta female subjecting herself to the big, bad alpha male. That's disappointing.

"The Mummy" (2017) can't properly be called a remake of the 1933 film, because the story deviates enough from the original to make it a new film. It's intended as a reboot of Universal Studios' mummy franchise and a part of a reboot of the 1930's Universal monsters, an interconnecting universe that will include Count Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, the Wolfman and various other monsters from the Golden Age of Cinema.

Why are they doing this? It's because they're running out of ideas. Universal Studios has no inspiration for new blockbusters, so they're repeating what made them money 80 years ago, in the hope that history will repeat itself. That's sad. I'm sure there are talented individuals out there who would be able to write riveting stories that would draw people into the cinemas, but they're not given a chance.

Today it's all about "cinematic universes". Marvel Studios started the ball rolling by making films about different characters who all live in the same universe and interact with one another. Warner Bros. said "We can do that too" and jumped on the bandwagon by making a film universe based on the DC Comics characters. Universal Studios doesn't want to be left behind, so they've dredged the bottom of their film archives looking for something they can use. And this is it. In order to let people who don't read film magazines know that it's a new universe, they threw Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde into the film.

As a standalone film "The Mummy" is entertaining. It's no masterpiece, but I think the critics have been too harsh on it. Nevertheless, as a reboot it's totally unnecessary.

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