If it doesn’t sound like The Mummy and it doesn’t look like The Mummy, don’t call it The Mummy.
Is nothing sacred anymore? The Mummy, starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, is one of my absolute favorite movies. I’ve watched it countless times over the last 16 years, and every time it comes on my television screen, I fall more in love. The cheesy humor, the mythology and history, and the beautiful cinematography make for a balanced action/adventure film that stands the tests of time.
So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
And yes, I’m aware the 1999 movie is a remake of the 1932 classic film of the same name. It’s one thing to reboot a movie for a new generation 67 years after the fact. It’s a whole other story to do the same thing less than 20 years later.
Plot details are still vague, but having the movie set in the present fundamentally alters the entire feel of the movie. We still have a lot to learn about the Ancient Egyptians, but setting the story in the 1920s made the movie feel more present, like it was on the cusp of a great moment in history. King Tut, after all, had only been discovered four years prior to the start of the film.
I don’t have anything against Tom Cruise, but I think his talents lay further within the realm of drama and action, rather than comedy. And yes, comedy is necessary when you’re trying to get an audience to believe a mummy has come back to life for the sole purpose of ruling the world. A movie like this that takes itself too seriously is bound to elicit the same reactions DC adaptations sometimes get — which is to say, if they were any darker, we wouldn’t be able to see the film at all.
I realize that much of my disapproval of the Mummy reboot comes from nostalgia and the love I have for the 1999 film, but I still don’t think that excuses this trend of rebooting or writing sequels to movies a decade or two after the original debuted. The majority of movies these days are remakes, sequels, or adaptations. Where are all the original scripts?
There’s no reason why Universal has to call this movie a remake. They could have named it just about anything else and introduced a new way to tell the story of a mummy coming back to life. It is, after all, not an entirely original concept. But to reboot a franchise with so many loyal fans so soon after it was originally released makes it seem like there’s something wrong with the original that needs to be fixed. It attempts to negate that canon and replace it with a newer, shinier version of itself — a version that is not wholly welcome.
Of course, there are those who would argue that rebooting a franchise is not the worst thing to happen to a beloved property. After all, there are some who enjoy Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man far more than Tobey Maguire’s, and it allowed the studio to play with better graphics in a time where superhero movies are all the rage.
Ghostbusters is another hot topic. An all female Ghostbusters team left some people scratching their heads while others thought it would freshen up a 30-year-old franchise. As beloved as that film is, there are many who are excited to see what this reboot will bring to the table. After all, much of of what we know about the new film seems to pay homage to the original.
This reboot of The Mummy, on the other hand, is seemingly stripping away everything that makes the original so endearing.
Unfortunately for those of us who love the 1999 version of The Mummy, it sounds like Universal is in it for the long haul. They’re planning and Avengers-esque team-up between the heroes of several new monster movies. The concept is interesting, to be sure, and it will garner an audience with those who like complicated canon and tie-in universes, as well as those who feel the superhero genre is oversaturated. But is it necessary to bank on that built-in audience instead of wrapping it up and calling it something new, something different?
It may just seem like semantics, and in a lot of ways it is, but it still feels unwanted. We didn’t ask for a remake, so why would they think we want one?
Who knows, maybe by the time 2017 rolls around I’ll have fallen in love with this concept all over again. Maybe I’ll be awaiting release day, eager to see what kind of Easter eggs they’ve hidden in the film. Maybe it’ll be much better than it sounds right now, in this moment.
But can you look me in the eye and guarantee me that this isn’t all some kind of a flimflam?
I didn’t think so. And to that I say, “No, thank you.” Find another way to tell this story without piggybacking off of a franchise that was just fine before you came along.