‘The Mummy’: The reason not to make reboots

JUNE 16 — Seventeen per cent. Seventeen per cent! That’s what Rotten Tomatoes gave 2017’s summer blockbuster, The Mummy.

I was utterly flabbergasted when I read this aggregated tally. To be fair, it measured the relatively high standards of reviewers rather than that of us ordinary viewers but even so. I did not enjoy movie myself but even I would not have given it seventeen per cent!

On paper, it looked good — Universal Studios teaming up with DC Comics, added to which is one of the most durable actors in Hollywood, Tom Cruise. 

I don’t mind admitting that, when I first watched the trailer in December last year, I was quite enthralled. My only complaint was that I had to wait half a year before the movie’s actual release.

Since this film bears a resemblance to 1999’s film of the same title, it would be inevitable that comparisons be made. 

The 1999 version starred Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz as well as a very funny John Hannah. It was a sleeper hit, as I remember. 

No mean feat considering it was released the same time as The Phantom Menace. It was not even because it was a new era in CGI. It was the direction and the chemistry of the actors. 

So what went wrong with Tom Cruise’s The Mummy? For a start, Tom Cruise himself. Tom Cruise simply cannot carry off these Peter Pan type roles anymore. 

While Mr Cruise does seem ageless to people of my age (he’s been around since the early 80s!), in The Mummy he looked rather tired. Added to that his love interest who was literally half his age, it did not make a fitting match, in my opinion. 

He should have been paired with a more middle-aged actress like Tina Fey or Amy Poehler whose comedy pedigree would have carried this film a little further.

But it was not just Cruise himself, it was also the rhythm of the film. There was simply no time for a good build-up to the main story. 

Within 10 minutes, Cruise and sidekick had already found the Mummy’s tomb. They were prancing around the actual burial chamber a minute later where the Mummy would inevitably be released (this is not a spoiler... if the Mummy isn’t released, there is no film!). 

Then before you knew it, they were already on the flight back to London! This simply left me reeling. There was no time for me to get to grips with the characters. There was no time for them to do so either!

Compare this with the 1999 film. Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz had an attraction but also a deep irritation for one another. Added to this was John Hannah’s comic role playing off Fraser’s straight man and Weisz’s (who played his sister) prim and proper character. 

They were given the time to make the journey to the desert before which they encountered some fellow treasure hunters. By the time they met the Mummy, we actually care about what happens to them. It pays to take time to establish the story and the characters. 

Another thing which totally derailed 2017’s The Mummy was the fact that it was part of DC Comic’s “Dark Universe.” It is the opening film, if you will, and a lot of effort was put in to establish that. 

Russell Crowe’s character — whom I shall not name — felt like he was shoehorned in. There simply was not enough time to make him likeable at all. 

He and Cruise’s protagonist could have hit it off very well (using the John Cleese-Kevin Kline formula of the hostile yet funny Anglo-American dynamic) but this opportunity was simply passed up for lack of time. When you try to do everything, you end up doing nothing.

By the time the climactic (and I use the term loosely) end of the film came, I simply did not care that they had a little twist for the audience. The twist had been too obvious. 

This was a film to prepare us for more films but rather disappointedly, I shall not be taking the bait.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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