The Mummy (2017): Franchising the Universe Before It Even Exists
In 1999, The Mummy hit theaters with Brendan Fraser in the lead role. It was a big success at the box office which led to 2 sequels. Universal Studios decided to try and reboot this film without Fraser involved and make a new movie with a new cast that would fit into building their Dark Universe. Universal already tried to jumpstart this franchise with Dracula Untold, which was a massive failure. But even I don’t think Universal Studios could have anticipated the absolute travesty The Mummy (2017) would become in an attempt to catch onto the connected universe trend.
Nick Morton (played by Tom Cruise) is an Army Ranger in Iraq looting ancient artifacts when he comes across the tomb of ancient Egyptian princess, Ahmanet (played by Sofia Boutella). After taking her sarcophagus out of its resting place, evil begins to wreak havoc and it seems Ahmanet chose Nick to be the vessel for the Egyptian God, Set. With a long dead princess resurrected and a ticking clock, Nick along with his colleague Jenny Halsey (played by Annabelle Wallis) must find a way to break the curse before hell is unleashed.
Oh God, where to begin with this film?! Let’s begin with the elephant in the room: this is a reboot of a very beloved classic franchise. The Mummy (1999) is beloved for its simple plot, fun tone and charismatic lead from the one and only Brendan Fraser. While the visuals of those films are dated, its corny tone keeps the original Mummy rewatchable to this day. The Mummy (2017) is soulless and spits in the face of the classic. Even the visuals of the 2017 version don’t hold up and even make the 1999 version look Oscar-worthy by comparison. Hell, Van Helsing’s visuals look far superior to 2017’s The Mummy! The only bright spot this film had was its reference to the original with “the Book of the Dead” in the unnecessary easter egg library scene.
Of course, Universal Studios decided to try and jump on the shared universe trend and tried to make a film series surrounding their classic monsters such as Dracula, The Invisible Man, and of course The Mummy. Their first attempt was with Dracula Untold and I honestly think that one gets more hate than it truly deserves. While it isn’t great and takes itself far too seriously, it isn’t horrible. However, The Mummy (2017) makes Dracula Untold look like The Damn Godfather! At least Dracula Untold didn’t try and sell the shared universe like The Mummy (2017) did. Universal took an unfortunate page from Warner Bros. on that front, practically copying and pasting Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which nearly killed any potential for The Dark Universe for the foreseeable future.
Speaking of Brendan Fraser, we love him because he played a charismatic scoundrel with a soft side. While he isn’t a reluctant hero like Han Solo, he definitely gave him a run for his money in terms of cool factor. Conversely, Tom Cruise’s Nick Morton is neither charismatic nor likable. He literally spends most of the runtime with a very confused look on his face as if he took some bad shrooms, and the fact that Morton started off the film stealing from locals in a firefight makes him even harder to like. And Annabelle Wallis does not help with her stone faced expression and monotonous exposition delivery. The only likable character in this film is Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, but he’s in the film briefly, making him unmemorable.
It may be a reboot, it may have been an attempt to jumpstart a new shared universe, it may have some very hard to root for characters, but the worst part of this film has to be the story. I’ve seen Transformers films that have an easier to follow plot! The film jumps from Ancient Egypt, to the Crusades and to modern day several times in places that make no sense making the pacing irrevocably incoherent. Not to mention how boring the story is, and there aren’t enough explosions in the world to cover that up, unless it was Michael Bay directing…at least we know what we would be getting into then. It is hard to feel the stakes of the narrative if we already see the direction it's going or if the stakes actually make sense, but whatever.
The Mummy (2017) is such an atrocity that this is probably the only film I wanted to ask for my money back, and I saw this for free in a theater…let that sink in. With unlikable and uncharismatic characters save for Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, along with a boring and hard to follow story and visuals that set back any technological advancements 20 years make for one infamous movie. If it wasn’t for the bonehead move of following in Warner Bros footsteps; If you still think there’s hope for the Dark Universe, Universal is moving forward with plans for an upcoming Renfield movie series revolving around Dracula…again.