The Mummy (2017)

There are some things too powerful, too uncontrollable, too dangerous to play around with. Ancient, vanquished forces brought back to life in a world they were never meant for, doomed to fulfill prophecies of disaster. In this case, I’m talking about the 85-year-old Universal Monsters franchise properties, resurrected once more using the fearsome occult invocation “SHARED UNIVERSE REBOOT.”

Of course, most people don’t see this summer’s THE MUMMY as a remake of the 1932 film starring Boris Karloff in a fez, which is in my opinion the least memorable of the Universal Monster introductions. No, they see it as a remake of Stephen Sommers’ frantic, rhythmless action-adventure version from 1999, and they’re not really wrong. This one borrows the idea of a globetrotting adventurer hero, capable but fallible, who teams with a “funny” sidekick and a strong-willed female antiquities expert who he bickers with while exploring some tombs and accidentally unleashes an evil ancient Egyptian royal who has magic powers and a tragic backstory and at one point appears as a giant face in a sandstorm.

But it’s a contemporary version, not only because it takes place in the present day, but because by its imagery and content you can tell it was made after the J-horror wave, and the zombie wave, and James Wan, and years of conflict in Iraq, and most notably THE AVENGERS. So the mummy is pursued not only by our hero Nick Morton (Tom Cruise, THE LAST SAMURAI), but by a secret monster-studying militia called Prodigium, led by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe, THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS).

If all goes as planned, these characters will connect to a BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN movie with Javier Bardem, Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man, and some other ones. I would like to suggest 12-year member of Britain’s National Diving Squad and 1990 Commonwealth Games competitor Jason Statham as the Creature From the Black Lagoon.

Reworking the classic monsters in this fashion is a fun idea, in my opinion, but not in the opinion of the conventional wisdom, which has drawn a line in the sand next to the Marvel and DC movies and I guess FREDDY VS. JASON and ALIEN VS. PREDATOR and KING KONG VS. GODZILLA. Those all get grandfathered in, but across this line no more shared universes shall find purchase. It seems to me like many of the harsh reviews of THE MUMMY are more about rejecting a presumptuous movie franchise than about the qualities of this specific movie, but I guess that’s not for me to worry about.

Another thing I’ve seen alot is “people just don’t care about the Universal Monsters anymore.” Well then I would like to thank Universal for catering to my non-people demographic.

So anyway this Nick is a tomb-raiding scoundrel who gets mixed up in mummies trying to pull a KELLY’S HEROES/THREE KINGS while on duty in Iraq. I don’t see much of a political statement here, but there’s an establishing shot of ancient statuary labelled “MESOPOTAMIA – THE CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION” that then adds “CURRENTLY KNOWN AS IRAQ” as machine gun fire blasts the artifacts, and I think that concisely expresses a sincere sadness about the current state of civilization.

Prodigium archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis, KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD) hates Nick because he slept with her and then stole her map, but together they remove an Egyptian sarcophagus buried in Iraq beneath an extravagant ancient security system (“This is not a tomb, this is a prison”), then manage to survive a plane crash – she with a parachute, he with a curse because the mummy chose him to be her boy toy.

Yes, that’s right, a girl can be a mummy! While I do like Arnold Vosloo, and he’s probly the best thing about those Sommers movies, I much prefer this mummy portrayed by Sofia Boutella. Between this, her ass-kicking alien in STAR TREK BEYOND, and her razor-legged henchwoman in KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, she’s now the go-to exotic sexy weirdo character actress of the teens, with an Eva-Green-esque mixture of beauty and menace. In fact, Princess Ahmanet reminds me a little bit of Green’s character from 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE, a brutal antagonist who you kinda root for when you hear her backstory even though yes, she’s going overboard, going around killing everybody and what not.

It started with her getting a raw deal: after training her whole young life to be a badass warrior queen, her dad had another kid, and since it was a boy she got cut in the line of succession. She fuckin earned it but she has no penis so the job goes to a baby. It’s ridiculous.

Admittedly I cannot condone how she deals with this. She does a spell that gets her possessed by a demon or whatever, and that’s her prerogative I suppose, but then she kills her dad, and her dad’s wife I believe, and the baby, and her boyfriend in a botched ritual to make him the vessel for the Egyptian violence god Set. This is not healthy behavior in my opinion, or in the opinion of the priests who stop her, mummify her and imprison her.

But, uh, she’s out on parole now.

I don’t mean to single anyone out here, but I’ve talked to or read multiple people saying that this MUMMY “doesn’t know what it wants to be.” I’m always skeptical of this criticism because often it just means that it’s trying to do a bunch of different things, which is not bad, it just doesn’t work for you. Like, somebody could theoretically say that FROM DUSK TILL DAWN doesn’t know whether it wants to be a bank robber movie or a vampire movie. They would be wrong. THE MUMMY “doesn’t know if it wants to be” a monster movie or a Tom Cruise action movie, because being both is something we haven’t seen before and is what is fun about this movie.

The scorned princess’s desiccated corpse slinks around, sucking soul-juice out of people’s faces like LIFEFORCE or HELLRAISER II or SPECIES, but her powers of seduction are more of an achievement than those ladies since she’s got rotten stuff falling off of her. She commands a squad of weird zombies and summons swarms of spiders, birds, rats, etc., skulking in shadowy places like beneath a dock, in a moonlit forest, in a dark alley, more of a classic horror atmosphere than I expected.

But this is not a mummy movie that happens to have Tom Cruise playing one of the characters, it is a Tom Cruise movie, so he dedicated himself to very show-offy zero-gravity and underwater stunts. They gave away the plane crash thing in the trailers, but jesus christ you people, how did he do that scene really flying around weightless and everybody is just like “yawn.” I thought that stuff was great.

I agree with the complaint that it lifts a little too heavily from AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, with the conceit of the dead friend (Jake Johnson, REDBELT) who appears to him in mauled form trying to guide him through his curse. They also throw in a “suddenly he realizes he’s naked and has to cover his cock” joke in the same scene as if to say “yes, you are correct, it’s AMERICAN WEREWOLF.” It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s a little weird what a straight up lift it is.

I do not agree, though, with the more common complaint that the “shared universe” adds nothing or is distracting. There’s nothing tagged on about it, this is just the angle the story takes, that the guy going after the mummy happens to hunt monsters because he’s a guy who has to inject himself in order to not flip out. And if they do continue the series it could be cool. It means this mummy could come back as a supporting character or even ally in a different type of monster movie rather than the standard MUMMY RETURNS style rematch.

It makes sense to see the monster designs credited to Crash McCreery. A veteran of Stan Winston Studios, he did designs for THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies, RANGO and many others. His mummy begins as a wobbly, spindly thing, running around on her hands like an ape. She’s covered in layers of flaking bandages, her face marked with text, her eyes sometimes growing extra pupils and irises, which pleases me having grown up obsessed with the image of an allegedly double-eyed Chinese governor on a brochure I got from the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum in San Francisco.

Nick is not professional-impossible-doer Tom Cruise, he’s the new model of kind-of-a-dumbass-self-deprecating Tom Cruise like in EDGE OF TOMORROW. So he’s allowed to be a chump some of the time. As soon as he catches a telepathic glimpse of the princess in her pre-mummified state he has a boner for her. The Moonlighting thing he has going with Jenny cannot prevent him from having his mind on the mummy and the mummy on his mind. And he’s too weak to realize that she’s just trying to lure him in to cut him open and stuff him with Set.

You know that old saying, “if there’s a part where Tom Cruise and Mr. Hyde are throwing each other against furniture, and there’s a mummy chained up in the next room puking up mercury, then it’s worth seeing?” Well, THE MUMMY passes that test. There is alot of cool stuff in this movie. He gets chased by a bunch of zombie crusaders underwater. From the looks of it, they had stuntmen in zombie makeup swimming for real. It’s fun.

I don’t think this is one of the great summer movies, or one of the great Tom Cruise movies. It’s less satisfying than a MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. But to me it’s a far superior take on what they were doing in those Brendan Fraser movies, which I found substandard on all levels. These monsters are so much cooler, and unsurprisingly the FX are much better (Sommers seems to take the first draft for all his digital effects). The action is thrilling rather than obnoxious. The humor is much more my speed. (SPOILER DIALOGUE PARAPHRASE.) There’s this part where the mummy is trying to seduce Nick into her point-of-view, trying to convince him that she’s misunderstood, she’s the good guy. And he’s like, but you killed your boyfriend. And she says no, I was trying to make him live forever. And he says okay, but you killed your father. And she says I loved my father, I didn’t want to do that to him but he took away what was mine, I had no choice. And he’s like yeah, but you killed a baby. And she’s like, uh… times were different.

Also it cracked me up any time Nick would be a little too friendly talking to a mummy. They’re fighting and she says something that surprises him and he says, “Sorry, what?” Most people don’t give mummies the courtesy of “sorry.”

So let me have this one, you guys. I will take this one and THE SCORPION KING and the part with the yetis in the Jet Li one and some of the terra cotta warrior stuff. You can have the rest of that garbage. All of it. I don’t want it. Keep it safe. You can borrow THE SCORPION KING sometimes if you want though because I feel it is underappreciated so you can help spread the word.

First time director Alex Kurtzman is sort of infamous as one half of the writing team of the TRANSFORMERS movies and COWBOYS & ALIENS and THE ISLAND and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (still haven’t seen that one). But these guys started on Hercules and Xena, they did a good job on MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III and at least the first STAR TREK. I think maybe something is a little bit off about his comic timing, but he does well with both daylight action and gloomy night time monstery business. He’s working from a script by David Koepp (I COME IN PEACE, TOY SOLDIERS, JURASSIC PARK, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, STIR OF ECHOES), Christopher McQuarrie (THE USUAL SUSPECTS, JACK REACHER, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION) and Dylan Kussman, story by Jon Spaihts (PROMETHEUS, DOCTOR STRANGE), Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet (she wrote RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, is the daughter of Sydney Lumet, the granddaughter of Lena Horne, and an actress in TOUGHER THAN LEATHER. The most interesting woman in the world).

Hey, do you guys remember that before Universal decided “ah, just let that Sommers guy do it with Brendan Fraser or somebody, I really don’t give a shit at all, I just want to go home,” it was Clive Barker that was gonna do THE MUMMY? He wrote a script with Mick Garris that he kinda describes in this Fangoria interview and I think he’s saying that his mummy (or hero?) was also a woman, but was born a boy, and it was kind of a twist. This article says it was about a museum run by a cultist trying to resurrect all the mummies they have. It also says that George Romero was attached for a time too, his with a script by Alan Ormsby (DERANGED, PORKY’S II, THE SUBSTITUTE) and John Sayles (PIRANHA, MEN OF WAR). And then Joe Dante was on it, with Daniel Day-Lewis to play the mummy! Shoulda gone for that one. Maybe he wouldn’t be retiring because he woulda become friends with The Rock on the second one and they’d be doing an endless series of buddy movies together.

Also in the ’90s, John Carpenter developed a remake of THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON with Rick Baker makeup. Later Guillermo Del Toro tried to do one, and he developed the monster for a FRANKENSTEIN he never got to make. And wasn’t Mark Romanek gonna do THE WOLFMAN? I wonder what ever happened with that?

(Oh… that’s right. I forgot about that.)

Some of these never-happeneds sound potentially more interesting than Kurtzman’s movie, if they worked. But MUMMY: IMPOSSIBLE isn’t exactly safe either, as proven by the tepid box office. I mean, what is there to say except it’s two types of movies I like that I never expected to see combined? I can’t tell you it’s anything more than a pretty cool low-expectations afternoon viewing experience, but that’s a hell of alot better than most mummy movies!

Cruise better wear a fez in the next one though. And Ronda Rousey should play the Scorpion King.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 26th, 2017 at 11:21 am and is filed under Action, Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

44 Responses to “The Mummy (2017)”

  1. There’s a scene in “I Come In Peace” where the FBI villain says to Dolph Lundgren, “I know things, before anyone else. That’s my whole job.”

    Cate Blanchett says the same exact thing to Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones 4, and it’s because both films were written by David Koepp!!

  2. Damn it Vern, I was safely going to skip this one, but now you have me somewhat interested in catching this on the big screen.

    I think you’re too harsh on the Sommers Mummys, they’re pretty fun I think

  3. Vern is great at giving movies a chance and making you want to see them. He likes John Carter and I think it sucks. I wonder how I would feel if I saw it after reading Vern ‘s review.

  4. Funny review, enjoyed reading it. Normally, like HAAAAAANS, Vern’s word on something like this would be enough to get me to give a movie a try — but not this time, I don’t think. That it compares so favorably to the Sommers Mummies is not much of a selling point to me. Plus it’s Alex Kurtzman. I have disliked-to-strongly-disliked pretty much all of his film output so far, and I don’t think this one is what’s gonna turn me around him.

  5. Ooh, good catch David Balls. Is it verbatim the same line?

  6. What’s frustrating about this movie isn’t that it’s terrible; it’s that you can see a better movie just underneath. The best part in the entire film is that stretch where Cruise goes to the old church up through the point where the mummy is capture by Dr. Jekyll’s men. I loved how Cruise takes on those zombie men, and his arms and legs kind of get stuck in them. There are moments like that that promise us a nice little adventure/horror hybrid, but there are also moments where the jokes don’t land and everything seems kind of off.

    I wish the film had spent more time in Iraq. We could have seen the relationship between Cruise and the love interest develop instead of having it all filled in by exposition. It would have helped to make Cruise’s moral dilemma more interesting because we would have been able to see him be more of a prick instead of having it described to us. And I think Cruise should give up on his cocksure chauvinist persona. He’s just too old for it, and films have changed enough where it just doesn’t work the same way it did thirty years ago.

  7. I kind of enjoyed this one as well. I’ve even been liking it more since I’ve seen it and been thinking on it. That said it has flaws and I don’t think the marriage of Cruise-action movie and PG-monster mash up too well but what we get (of both sub-genres) is pretty decent I’d say. I’m kinda game for more of these just to see more of Russell Crow having a blast playing Mr. Hyde (SPOILER).

    I agree that this one has a better Mummy with a much cooler power-set than the Sommers one though. That said, I do think the ’99 one is more consistent than this one. I know you railed against this comment in your review but: the ’99 one knew what it wanted to be, a pulpy serial-style adventure*. You either went along with it (or didn’t mind the characters) or not (I won’t defend it too much). This one gave me a bit of emotional whiplash of it jumping from action to horror. I think the action portion could have been cooler if they went for a 3×3 EYES type of situation where take advantage of Cruise not being able to die and just have him keep dying (even get synergy with EDGE OF TOMORROW). I guess you can’t do that in a PG-13 movie though.

    Overal, I pretty much agree RBatty’s take especially his first paragraph.

    *Supposedly most of the character traits and set pieces where lifted wholesale from Peter Jackson’s 1996 KING KONG script.

  8. I didn’t hate this one, but it was totally meh. I thought Cruise was woefully miscast. And he should’ve worked. He sounds great on paper, so I’m not sure what happened. Bad directing? Cruise having too much power? Studio interference? Whatever it was, I didn’t buy him at all being the smarmy, charming thief (which sounds tailor-made for Cruise!). I also didn’t buy him having any kind of crisis of conscious that turned him into the hero. Maybe it’s like Rbatty says and we were told too much instead of shown his character.

    The female lead was completely generic and forgettable. Insert pretty girl here. And she and Cruise had no chemistry. The best chemistry was with his friend who was *SPOILER* killed right away only to appear in bad CGI a few times.

    Which leads me to my next complaint. I thought the CGI used on the people’s faces was awful. The mummy herself looked good, but when they used it on the friend and Mr. Hyde it took me right out of it.

    Reading Vern’s review, there was some fun action, like the plane, but when I left the theater I thought to myself, was there any action in that movie that wasn’t running from mummies and then punching mummies? It felt repetitive and not interesting.

    The story was good, but almost every aspect of executing it fell short. It could’ve been good, but like Rbatty says, that’s the most disappointing part. I think it could be an interesting universe, so I hope the next one (if they don’t scrap it all after this tanks) is better.

  9. I’m curious enough to see how this all plays out that I’ll probably catch this one at some point, but I just can’t get past the unbelievable wrongheadedness of taking a classic horror icon and trying to fluff it into a huge-budget action franchise vehicle. To the extent that the Universal Monsters are known at all, it’s as horror icons. What in the world would make anyone think they would (or should!) have any salience outside that context?? I mean, they just keep trying to start this “Dark Univserse” thing and keep abandoning it and starting over (Del Toro’s WOLFMAN, DRACULA UNTOLD, probably again because this underperformed) but they still can’t seem to accept that the problem is in the fundamental idea. It just smacks of an intentional refusal to admit that sometimes things are iconic for a specific reason, and just because they’re public domain and enjoy a wide name-recognition among the lucrative 18-34 demographic doesn’t mean you can utterly upend that context and still maintain their original potency, no matter how much you might wish otherwise. And I just can’t imagine any sane writer or director feels otherwise. All Hollywood movies are made for crass commercial reason, of course, but it’s rare to so many resources being spent to craft a work of art entirely at the behest of the marketing department.

  10. Although I think it’s kind of hilarious that this is Universal’s third go round in their attempt at creating a Monsterverse, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad idea. Hell, these were kind of like the original shared universe movies, so it makes sense to bring them back. I actually hope they follow through with some of these.

    Also, I forgot to mention that as much as I liked the swashbuckling adventure element of those scenes in Iraq, they were a little culturally insensitive. The first image we see is of some ISIS assholes shooting up an ancient statue, and then when they finally find the mummy, they have to get it out of there because these savages can’t be trusted with their own ancient artifacts. I get that the movie was aiming at ISIS and not Iraqis in general, but there’s a whole history of Westerners going into other countries and raiding their historical and artistic treasures because they felt the people who actually live there couldn’t be trusted. At the very least, you could have an Iraqi accompany Tom Cruise and the New Girl Guy, so it isn’t quite as uncomfortable.

  11. Vern really should review the film The Book of Henry. It’s another movie that looks like it doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to be and it’s also getting vitrolic reviews because he’s the director of episode IX.

  12. I was pretty convinced to see the movie until you mentioned Clive Barker trying to do the Mummy with a trans character in the 90’s and jeeze I sure would rather watch that.

  13. Maybe he wouldn’t be retiring because he woulda become friends with The Rock on the second one and they’d be doing an endless series of buddy movies together.

    there really are superior parallel universes out there

  14. It was nice and short, which I liked. Too many action-blockbusters run over two hours these days. I really liked the fact that some of the imagery was, surprisingly, quite nasty and clearly aimed at that wonderful 80’s PG feel. Kids like being scared dammit, so scare them!

    Cruise as a bit-of-an-asshole character is also quite welcome (and he’s really good at it), and again he demonstrates his total commitment to awesome stunt-work. Boutella, again, is fantastic in a role with little dialogue. I would really like to see her get a talky role as I bet she will smash it.

    On the downside, I thought Annabelle Wallis was pretty bad (I was shocked to learn that she’s English as her accent seemed awful), and the American Werewolf in London rip-offs were too overt.

    Overall, I’m down for the next installment of the “Dark Universe”.

  15. It’s refreshing to read something that isn’t all devolved, ape-man-like rambling about this being a “Tom Croooose movie”, so thanks Vern. Can always count on you.

    Apparently, he had a ton of creative control over the film, and it sort of morphed into a Tom Cruise vehicle. But so what? Doesn’t Tom Cruise generally make really good movies.

    It’s a damn shame this isn’t getting more traction at the box office, as Sofia Boutella deserves more recognition. She was a highlight of that boring Star Trek film, and a badass in Kingsman.

    Fuck it, I wasn’t going to, but I’m gonna go see this now.

  16. Ha, I joked that Jake Johnson would either play the best friend who dies too early or the best friend who disappears for most of the movie, but I didn’t expect him to play both!

    Good to hear that it seems to be a more interesting movie than it looked like. It will now definitely be a home video rental.

  17. The Undefeated Gaul

    June 27th, 2017 at 5:39 am

    I haven’t seen this yet, but am curious about one thing: how is the score? Because that’s one level where the first two Brendan Fraser films definitely did not fall short on. The ’99 one had a great Jerry Goldsmith score and Alan Silvestri did THE MUMMY RETURNS – I doubt Brian Tyler did a better job (looking at his credits, his only quality score seems to be IRON MAN THREE, there’s not much else of note). Also, I would be surprised if this film equals the pure fun factor of the first two Fraser films, but I will give it a shot eventually.

  18. “This film doesn’t know what it wants to be” is one of the absolute worst film criticisms. Partly because it’s such a cliché phrase but mostly because it is actively calling for films to be more one dimensional, less idiosyncratic and interesting. I wonder if the critics who use it apply that same philosophy to other areas of their lives. “This cheeseburger is all over the place. Is it a dairy product? A meat product? The chef should have really spent a little more time thinking about what he wanted to accomplish with this.”

    I also always wonder how those kinds of criticisms would play in South Korea or India. “They’re complaining about the film combining two genres.” “Yeah, I know, right. Kind of lame. The filmmakers must not have had the time or budget to add in the other four genres.”

  19. I should read that article where they were blaming everything on Tom Cruise, but as you can tell from the review I think one thing that makes it work (to the extent that it does – admittedly it’s not a home run) is that it’s a Cruise vehicle. I honestly do think since it’s supposedly an actiony version of the monsters it would be cool if it became a star driven series. In my dream of a Statham from the Black Lagoon his one would have elements of a Statham vehicle mixed with a monster movie.

    Supposedly Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron are both trying to get BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN but if they both drop out I vote for Milla Jovovich to drag Bill Condon down into her world of digital b-movies.

  20. Statham as Creech is beyond inspired. I really hope Universal takes Vern’s suggestion to heart.

  21. Same with Milla as the bride. She really can bring an otherwordly vibe to the role that Charlize and Jolie cannot. She is an expert at keeping her eyes coldly blank but still saying more than enough through them that it can really work. Good stuff Vern.

  22. First up, I agree with everything Maggie posted.

    Second, Vern, why would put the idea of Milla Jovovich as the Bride of Frankenstein(‘s Monster) in my head and accept anyone else to play the role? That’s just not fair…

    I think that article on how the movie was amazing until that no-talent clown Cruise joined is bullshit and just part of the ‘pointing-fingers’ phase that happens when a movie doesn’t catch on. For one thing, the article expects you to believe that Alex Kurtzman was going to knock this one out of the park, to his credit I liked how he handled the horror/monster scenes, but then Cruise ruined it. Yeah going off both’s resumes I’m inclined to side with Cruise being the better talent here. Plus, they managed to snag a legit movie star for this thing. You can tell this character was written with one of those disposable bland white (usually Australian for some reason) actors they keep shoving down our throats. Instead they were saddled with an actor who has screen-presence and charisma. How did they ever have a chance to pull this thing off after getting stuck with that? So yeah, anonymous source guy can fuck off with his Cruise ruined the movie bullshit (while reluctantly (at least as written in the article) admitting that the movie had problems before Cruise even signed up).

  23. Kai, as in Cobra-Kai

    June 27th, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Wise words, my man. I couldn’t agree more.

  24. Kai, as in Cobra-Kai

    June 27th, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Damn, I wanted to quote your wise words…
    So let me have this one, you guys. I will take this one and THE SCORPION KING and the part with the yetis in the Jet Li one and some of the terra cotta warrior stuff. You can have the rest of that garbage.

  25. Vern

    The “I Come in Peace/Indy IV” dialogue is very close but not quite identical.

    I’m not sure I ever would have made the connection if I hadn’t read a review in which you revealed that Koepp was an uncredited writer on I Come in Peace.

  26. Wow, I’m shocked you liked this as much you did Vern.

    I guess I’ll give it a redbox.

  27. The Undefeated Gaul – You’re spot on, man, those soundtracks are great. Silvestri’s THE MUMMY RETURNS score is one of the few I bought despite not actually liking the film it was written for. It’s got stuff like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S16QUxocOec&list=PLDmdF1ma6cZpR8rFp7Fupg0xd6fWBtUqM&index=15

    or this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PY5VlziWeo

    Also, despite our host’s assertion that the Fraser MUMMIES are “substandard on all levels”, I’m a fan of the first one. That film’s absolutely solid – atmospheric, great production design, good action, likable leads etc. It’s neither any dumber nor more frenetic than any comparable modern blockbuster. In fact, the pacing’s almost classically restrained when you put it next to any given X-MEN/MCU/TRANSFORMERS film.

    I may be fairly alone on this, but the only way Universal could interest me in their DARK UNIVERSE would be if they turned it into a full-on legacy-quel series to that first Fraser movie (let’s not dwell on the follow-ups, Just…retcon that stuff.)

  28. The Undefeated Gaul

    June 28th, 2017 at 5:41 am

    Good to hear, CEPE. Glad I’m not completely alone in these things!

  29. Was really dissapointed by this one. The “Paint it Black” trailer pretty darned competently sold the image of a Mummy movie with a dark, intense, serious tone. And I was all in. Come to find out, Tom Cruise and co. chose to chase Brenden Frasier’s sloppy seconds. With three Mummy movies that went the madcap, slapshticky, cheeseball route, allready out in the world… Tommy and co. decided to revisit *that* well. Epic facepalming, here.

  30. Amazing Spider Man 2 is the most underrated of all the super hero films.

  31. Disagree Renfield. I think Guyver: Dark Hero is the most underrated. GUYVER!

  32. Is that the second Guyver movie directed by the guy who did Drive? Vern should definately review that one. Good fights in that one.

  33. I love GUYVER: DARK HERO. Does a great job of capturing that KAMEN RIDER for adults/man-children vibe the comic goes for. Helps that the action direction and special effects are top-notch. Especially shocking for a cheapie DTV sequel to a DTV movie (though they initially planned on the releasing the first one in theaters). Between GUYVER: DARK HERO and DRIVE, Steve Wang should have been thrown all the projects

  34. Totally agree with you both, Sternshein/geoffreyjar. Considering it came off the back of a terrible Power Rangers-style original film (starring Mark Hamill no less), the sequel is really underrated. It also stars the writer of the best X-People film (X2), David Hayter, in the title roll. Vern should check it out.

  35. I used to watch THE GUYVER 2 almost everyday back in the VHS era. Now I don’t really remember much of it at all. It’s been that long. Judging off the praise it does sound like me initially overlooking the original for the sequel because it had a superior video cover (a dark Ultraman looking cat in superhero pose vs. Mark Hamill with a gun) was the right move.

    Only thing I ever heard about the original is that Hamill morphs into some giant bug like thing but it retains his human looking Mark Hamill eyes. Which definitely sounds like something right up producer Brian Yuzna and director Screaming Mad George’s respective allies.

  36. Stern: Actually Steven Wang (co)directed the awful first one as well. He has stories and agrees it’s a pile of shit that he probably should have walked away from when the writing was on the wall (Like he did with MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE when Fox was just treating him as a glorified special effects director and wouldn’t let him have any story input (he thought the script was terrible and stated that the movie they made was an accurate representation of said script).
    -It was his first directing so he was excited that it was being backed by New Line and the guy who produced RE-ANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND was producing it.
    -Was already familiar with the comic book and cartoon adaptions and is fan of the original Japanese version of Kamen Rider and Super Sentai (re-tooled as Power Rangers here) so was excited to make one himself
    -Then learned that New Line saw it as a NINJA TURTLES replacement and thus didn’t want an accurate (very violent and gory) representation of the comic and wanted a goofy kids movie instead, at the time it was unknown if Golden Harvest was going to give them distribution right to the third Turtles movie so they were looking for alternatives/replacements. Lloyd Kaufman talks about this in EVERYTHING I LEARNED ABOUT FILMMAKING I’VE LEARNED FROM THE TOXIC AVENGER where New Line courted Troma to make a TOXIC CRUSADERS movie but then bailed when they got the NINJA TURTLES 3 rights. Troma sued and won.
    -The producer guy sided with New Line on everything and it was apparent that like Fox would later on with him, New Line saw him as a glorified special effects director. That inspired him to make his enjoyably gofoy indy-film KUNG FU RASCALS and secure the rights to GUYVER himself and make the one he wanted to. He tried to make a third GUYVER when a new cartoon was made back in 2006 but the rights were too tangled up so it didn’t happen. He since went actually got to make an American KAMEN RIDER series but it bombed, which is a shame because at least until the last 10 episodes it’s pretty good if you’re into that sort of thing, and no one does practical effects anymore so he strictly makes Statutes for (mostly video game) studios now.

  37. Broddie: You made the right choice. Other than some cool/fun monster effects there is nothing to recommend the first movie on. And hell, the second movie has way more and way cooler monster stuff so no reason to backtrack still. Not even a Jeffrey Combs cameo can save it! Only other recommendation I can give it is if you’re a fan of the comic or cartoons and want to see how they take the ultra violent source material and turn it into a goofy kids movie complete with comic relief racist stereotype monster and silly sound effects and music cues.

    Movie Bastard: Gonna mention him writing X2 and not him being the (disgruntled) voice actor for Solid Snake (even though I’m sure Vern wouldn’t know what a Snake that is also Solid is)? Or at least the poor security guard Ray Park pounces on in the first X-PEOPLE movie?

    In conclusion, it would be cool if Vern reviewed them (the live action ones though the first cartoon adaption is a stand alone direct-to-video movie so technically there are 3 movies and 1 direct-to-video cartoon series and 1 cartoon TV series). This is not a request/plea btw.

  38. Great insight Geoff. Didn’t know Hayter played some schmuck in X1 either!

  39. Renfield is almost right about TASM2. The unfortunate reality is that the film, and it’s lesser but still decent forerunner, are barely even acknowledged as existing. I kind of love TASM2. Garfield is a huge dork in it, no doubt, but he brings a young adults emotional vulnerability to Parker, and there’s real pathos in his relationships with Harry and Gwen, and his search for the truth about his parents.

    I should also say I usually like my super hero movies a bit darker, which in the past has made Spiderman my least favorite character, but I could get behind this one. I mean, Gwen bites it, and I didn’t see it coming. It’s a fully satisfying, almost epic story on levels that are bypassed for gimmicks and franchise/universe expanding in most of what’s been happening in the MCU since CAPTAIN AMERICA TFA.

    Can’t comment on HOMECOMING till I see it, but this constant rebooting leaves a bad taste in my mouth, especially when I start warming up to the characters, and story momentum is disrupted on good films like TASM2. Fucking bi-polar studio committees don’t know a good thing till its sitting on their face shitting $100 bills.

  40. I look at HOMECOMING the same way I look at all mainstream comics now: ‘Why should I care or even try to get invested when all you’re going to do is reboot them in a few years anyway?’

    Shit the movie even has RDJ AND Michael Freaking Keaton and I have no real incling to watch it.

    So congrats, between ONE MORE DAY, cancelling SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN (the cartoon), continuously rebooting the movies: this life-long Spidey-fan can’t be bothered to care about him anymore.

    This is life in 2017.

  41. Mastor Troy: “[THE AMAZING SPIDER MAN 2 is] a fully satisfying, almost epic story on levels that are bypassed for gimmicks and franchise/universe expanding in most of what’s been happening in the MCU since CAPTAIN AMERICA TFA.”

    Oh, I get it, this is a novelty handle about a character from a fictional alternate universe where the only difference is they had the exact opposite of the version of TASM 2 that we got in this reality! Whew, for a moment there I thought you had gone completely insane!

  42. I just watched this movie, and was surprised I really enjoyed it I often love this crap…the critically dismissed filed attempts at mega franchises…but this one kind of caught me off guard.

    In my honest opinion, yeah, the story was sort of a mess. But everything visual…the action, the look of the Mummies, etc. was great! And yeah, Tom Cruise Vs. Mr. Hyde while a Mummy pukes mercury in the next room…is pretty next level weird.

    This movie is enhanced by hearing over and over again how terrible it is. Lowers expectations and makes you forgive the stupid shit. I liked Mumblecore mainstay Jake Johnson as the friend…and was surprised to see him die. And then come back. Glad I didn’t get spoilers on that. And the end (which hasn’t been spoiled yet in this review, so I won’t either) was quite a bizarre twist.

    I hope they continue these. I don’t think they will, but one can hope. I was entertained and I can’t be the only one. Might be a cult movie brewing around the block.

    I do like the first Brendan Fraiser Mummy. Similar to this…not the best by a long shot…but dumb fun. Well, I would LOVE if this turned out to be in the same Universe, and The Scorpion King showed up in modern times! Somehow I doubt that will happen, but they made 4 Scorpion kings, and 3 Mummies, plus some other shit like a spin off cartoon…so they must have made money somehow.

    This movie didn’t contradict the 99 Mummy Franchise that much. The Flashbacks to ancient Egypt looked very similar. It is a totally different Mummy in a different time period with a different agenda. The characters and the powers are similar. Different look, and way less CG jokiness…but nothing contradicts.

    So…Mummy 2 or 3, after we’ve had a couple of these…The Rock returns. Critics will loath it, the public will despise it and the internet will mock it. But I think they will still see it, maybe be pleasently surprised…and maybe not. But Cruise Vs. The Rock will probably draw a crowd.

    Or…maybe not. I was actually really let down by the MUMMY RETURNS back in 01. Mostly because they hyped it to expand the universe like EMPIRE STRIKES BACK did and instead it was the same shit but dumber, and THE SCORPION KING didn’t do anything. His own movie was slightly better. But…the potential is still there. Epic Battle Royal between Cruise, The Scorpion King and whatever other fucking shit has joined this franchise by then.

    If they make it, I’ll be there the first day.

  43. Yeah I recently rewatched the Fraiser MUMMY trilogy and came to the conclusion that I’m team MUMMY: IMPOSSIBLE. I loved the ’99 one when it came out and still think it’s mostly successful at what it’s going for. I too was disappointed by RETURNS, I’ve since come to enjoy it a bit more thanks to Patricia Velasquez’s performance. Seriously she should have had a better go as an actor. TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR is still extremely disappointing. It had the best ingredients and somehow Rob Cohen made a movie worse and more light-weight than Stephen Sommers* did.

    Meanwhile MUMMY: IMPOSSIBLE is incredibly flawed but I think it’s enjoyable and too weird to ignore. Plus it gave us that awesome MUMMY: DEMASTERED game.

    *BTW what happened to Sommers? Is he in director jail or something? I never hated the guy, his heart always seemed in the right place. Still feel him and Bay should have swapped Hasbro movies.

  44. Watched it yesterday and I liked it in a “okay, it wasn’t THAT good” way. It’s entertaining, has some clever ideas, the whole stretch with Dr Jekyll feels completely out of place if you don’t know about their attempt to create a shared universe, but is still a lot of fun. I just wish that Cruise and Johnson had switched roles. Because a.) Johnson probably would’ve succeeded to make that asshole character, who “convinces” his best friend to go on a stupid suicide mission by poking a hole in his water supply in the middle of the desert, actually likeable. And b.) I just love moments of “Holy shit, that big movie star died!”

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