Ass-uming you’ve never seen it, 1932’s The Mummy may be a tad unexpected. For a film that inspired an entire sub-genre of mummy monster movies, it bares very little resemblance to subsequent films. There aren’t any real action set pieces and the story is a strangely poetic fantasy of a love that transcended the ages. The tit-ular mummy (played by the beyond great Boris Karloff) is only bandaged for a short time at the beginning, so there’s very little shambling. It’s a deliberately paced film with gloomy, eXXXpressionistic atmosphere. After over 80 years of other mummies in its wake, the film still feels unlike any other film to feature a bandaged ghoul. One such film that it has very little in common with is 2017’s The Mummy.
Universal actually has a history of rebooting this particular monster. While commonly referred to as “sequels,” the truth is that the Mummy films of the 1940s were hardly a continuation of the Karloff original, despite the first installment’s (The Mummy’s Hand) use of sets and footage from it. Imhotep of the original was replaced with Kharis, the shambling mummy most audiences vaguely recall. The Kharis films moved at a faster pace, had more action, and more comedy. They were all a great deal of fun, but none of them came close to the beautifully eerie original. When Universal took another crack at the sarcophagus with 1999’s The Mummy, they clearly found more inspiration in Kharis than Imhotep, although they did borrow the latter’s name.
With this new Mummy, it seems that the filmmakers drew from the 1999 film more than any of the other previous films. There’s hardly an ounce of Karloff left in it. In essence, it’s the reboot of the reboot of a film made 85 years prior. With that in mind, it’s pretty easy to divorce it from the first film. And as one in a long line of monster movies, It’s pretty enjoyable. If viewed as just a bit of fun monster nonsense, it’s a good deal of fun. This film is precisely the sort of film you should be watching with an eXXXtra large soda in one hand and a plastic tray of nachos (and/or Twizzlers and Reeses’s Cups :)) in the other.
I’m also pleased to report that, for the most part, the film is a ho-rror film. That is to say that there’s a good deal of zombie-ish mummies, creepy critters, terrible curses, shocks, thrills, and soul-sucking. I doubt there’s anything that’ll give you lasting nightmares, but it’s always fun to see some theme park-y scares on the big screen. The action and spook-scares compliment each other nicely and make for a groovy night at the movies. While I would’ve preferred something a little more Gothic, what we have pretty entertaining.
The film stars Tom Cruise as a scrappy treasure hunter (very similar to Brendan Fraser’s Rick O’Connell) and Sofia Boutella as the tit-ular Mummy. Mr. Cruise seems like he’s having a blast and gives charm to a somewhat jerky character. Ms. Boutella is striking and fairly menacing as the Mummy, but she really isn’t given much too do. This version of the monster is devoid of any of the tragedy of the role once had. As much as I enjoy Mr. Cruise (and trust me, I do!! :)), I do wish they had focus more on the Mummy as a character. Instead, she seems like secondary figure in what should be her film. Also in the film is Russell Crowe in the role(s) of Dr. Jekyll and… you know who. He’s fun in the film, but it seems like they plan on eXXXploring that character(s) in a potential sequel.
The Mummy is intended to be the first in a series of new Universal Monster Movies and I do ho-pe it does well enough for sequels. By no means is this a great film, but it’s a fun popcorn flick. The Universal Monsters are among my dearest ho-mies, so any eXXXcuse to bring them back is fine by me. Ho-pefully, the sequels will embrace the Gothic nature of the original films and bring back some of the cl-ass-ical horror that made them immortal. For now, The Mummy is monstrous enough for me. To a new world of Gods and Monsters.