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Back in 1932, all The Mummy (1932) director Karl Freund needed to evoke a sense of spectacle was horror veteran Boris Karloff and an odd narrative that mixed archaeological wonder, classic romance, and stiff monster scares.
Freund’s The Mummy could never really be at the level of James Whales’ Frankenstein (1931) or The Bride of Frankenstein (1932) in terms of sophistication and the duration of its effect. Nonetheless, it did what it was required to do: create fear out of what was then an exotic piece of history. (WATCH: First official ‘The Mummy’ reboot trailer released)
Fast forward to 1999, an age of special effects and movie stars. Stephen Sommers re-envisioned his The Mummy as a showcase of what computers can accomplish for cinema as he churned out scene after scene of characters battling digitally created dangers.
Sure, Sommers’ movie is soulless and is probably as memorable as the last rollercoaster ride you’ve experienced, but again, it did what was required to do – bring the characters into the modern age, where studios produce sequel after sequel to maximize profit.
Now that we live in an age of superheroes and their fictional universes, Universal Studios wants a piece of the pie and is jumpstarting its own universe of cinematic monsters teaming up to fight a more monstrous threat.
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Alex Kurtzman’s mission with his take on The Mummy is simple: create a movie that is as spectacle-filled as Sommers’ remake, but also to garner audience interest over the universe of oddities from the distant past who are now being forced into an arena of surface-level coolness.
The result, however, is a mishmash of unfulfilled intentions.
Kurtzman’s The Mummy is a mess. From its narrated introduction to its finale that suggests a staggered continuation of a story of very slight intrigue, it makes the most straightforward story.
In the movie, a military man (Tom Cruise) moonlights as a tomb raider who suddenly awakens the titular mummy (Sofia Boutella) from her centuries-long imprisonment. It turns into a confusing extravaganza of zombies, lousy scares, dull humor, and useless characters that only add starpower at the expense of crowding an already crowded movie.
There is very little of the sense of adventure or discovery that dominated Freund’s movie and appeared once in a while in Sommers’ blockbuster. While the special effects dazzled sometimes, the visual pleasures of digitally enhanced wanton and destruction are short-lived and shallow.
The romance between the movie’s hero and his archeologist girlfriend (Annabelle Wallis) is half-baked, relying mostly on Cruise’s charm and charisma as a movie star rather than on any effort in writing a believable love story. However, the movie’s high points rely on the effectivity of the love portrayed and if that love is not believable, the movie can never make emotional sense.
In the end, The Mummy does not make any emotional or logical sense. It’s a dud.
The Mummy is as generic as it can get.
It doesn’t even strive for any unique vision, relying mostly on a rehashed plot, Cruise’s appeal, and the promise of better sequels to earn its keep. Truly, this is a franchise that is better left dead than revived in an attempt to create another needless universe for a society that will hopefully soon get tired of that inglorious fad. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ ‘Tirad Pass.’ Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.