Movie

Next installment of ‘Mummy’ franchise features new cast, high-tech setting

Universal Pictures released the first trailer for their 2017 summer blockbuster, “The Mummy” this week. Starring Tom Cruise, Jake Johnson and Oscar-winner Russell Crowe, 2017’s “The Mummy” will be the eighth installment of the major franchise over the past 20 years — if you include “The Scorpion King” and its three straight-to-DVD stinkers. This will also be the first volume without actor Brendan Fraser as adventurer Rick O’Connell, and the once turn of the century British-Egypt setting has been swapped for high-tech, 21st century archeological digs.

Whether or not Cruise and company themselves are able to change the vibe surrounding “The Mummy” is another story.

I actually love “The Mummy” from 1999. It’s kind of corny, but I laugh at the jokes, cringe at the shoddy CGI, and swoon at Rachel Weisz across from Brandon Frasier. It’s one of the better epic action movies from the ’90s, a decade that had previously offered tons of carbon copy, big-budget adventure flicks.

Cruise is best known for his work in the famed “Mission: Impossible” series, the perfect example of those late ‘90s blockbuster action films. In regards to “The Mummy” revamp, casting Tom Cruise illustrates the similarities in audience appeal between “The Mummy”and other movies of its kind. Production teams figure, “Hey, if audiences shelled it out for Cruise in ‘MI: 4,’ we can get some of them to follow him to ‘The Mummy’revamp.” Moves like this prove that originality has been long exchanged for rehashed complacency at the theater, with audience participation like cash-flow dictating the art.

But on the bright side, the 2017 volume of “The Mummy” responds to casting criticism. Sofia Boutella will play Ahmanet, a mummified Princess from ancient Egypt. This will be the first installment of “The Mummy” where the mummy itself will be played by a female. While the 2000’s “Mummy” drew some criticism for an almost entirely white cast playing non-whites, the conversation will likely stray from racial divides as Boutella, who is portraying an Egyptian, is Algerian.

This version of “The Mummy” looks to be a little darker, with the writing team emphasizing “the frightening and the cosmic.” Keep this in mind — past mummy films, even the Boris Karloff versions from the ’30s, proved to be very campy. They weren’t really scary beyond the fact that someone on screen was wearing a mask.

That’s where this movie hopes to be a bit different, screenwriter Jon Spaihts explains:  this “Mummy” will have all of that action and adventure, but with “a legitimate power to terrify.”

Though there are no concrete release date plans for “The Mummy” yet, crews are thinking it will premiere sometime during summer 2017.

Brian Hamlin is a junior  communications and  rhetorical  studies major.  His column appears weekly in Pulp. He can be reached at brhamlin@syr.edu.

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