From the 1930s till the 1950s, Universal Studios was on a roll with their horror franchises. The iconography that the films produced has tremendously shaped the public’s perception of these monsters across the globe. Desperate to recapture the audience’s attention as it did all those years ago, Universal tried twice to reboot those monsters onto the big screen and provide an answer to the comic book’s domination of the big screen with their own franchises. While both attempts did not live up to Universal’s expectations, they each are two broadly different approaches to establish a legend. The first one, this week, is the most recent one, taking us back to Mesopotamia for a retelling of the legend that is The Mummy.
Member of the United States Reconnaissance Forces by day, treasure hunter and profiteer by night. Sgt. Nick Morton, and his buddy Cpl. Chris Vail, uncover a sealed tomb as a result of an ISIS firefight. The duo is then assigned to protect Jenny Halsey and her excavation of the new discovery. In unearthing this tomb, Nick has gained more than he bargained for, as an ancient curse brings back its occupant, and she has been waiting 6000 years for revenge.
The film is more evocative of the 1999 remake as opposed to the 1932 original, relying more on comedy and flashy C.G.I. to help enhance the film. As such, the film never wastes a single frame. It is relentless in a way that aids Tom Cruise’s unique style. Fans of the classic Karloff’s Imphotep however, maybe initially disappointed with the lack of mystery and pace. At no point does Ahmanet disguise herself as a human and attempt to ingratiate herself into society. She does rely on possession, and manipulation, but its embedded with stunts, battles, and hilarity that makes up for it.
It is impressive how much of this film reminded of other films. The Mummy utilises ravens in the same terrifying way they’re used in The Birds. Nick also has humorous conversations in the same way as the same with American Werewolf in London. We are introduced to Russell Crowe’s Doctor Henry Jekyll and the monster hunting organisation Prodigium. It appears the intention here is to have the horror cast working together, like the League of Extraordinary Gentleman. It is a film that tries to ingratiate concepts that have worked well previously into one package, ultimately showing great promise that the future films would also be able to bring what works well today, to help tell these stories.
The Mummy is a film for the masses. If you like Mission Impossible style stunts, buddy humour, zombie outbreak films. It served as a strong precursor to a rich horror franchise, that would have otherwise been buried. The Mummy is a classic monster movie with the current day sensibilities, that despite its hilariously unprepared trailer, is a film that is worth unearthing.
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