Revisiting The Mummy Trilogy, By Way Of A £3 CEX Steelbook

Halloween 2014. A quick visit to CEX. A second-hand The Mummy Trilogy steelbook for just £3. Nostalgia called. The side of me that hates myself answered.

Nostalgia is a funny thing because its dictionary definition is wrong. What nostalgia actually means is 'that thing where your brain forgets all of the bad bits'. It's like being drunk but infinitely less fun. If it was a comic book character, nostalgia would be The Joker: an absolute riot of a laugh just before it shoots you in the head.

What nostalgia means for The Mummy is that you remember all of Brendan Fraser's charm, one liners and floppy hair, Rachel Weisz's Golden Age good looks and a generally good take on a classic character. What you forget is Kevin J. O'Connor's tremendously annoying comedy relief, the extremely poor special effects, the Aladdin-esque opening voiceover and the classic band of stereotypes that includes the one casting choice that tells you this is the case: Omid Djalili as a swarthy, sweaty, duplicitous man, of non specific origin.

Actually though, The Mummy is not a bad film. Though cut for its UK cinema release and some video releases, this DVD retains the original 15-rated cut. There's no way it should be a 15 now but, on principle, we're at least in a time before studios main aim was to make Horror as safe as possible, to return as many pounds as possible. Fraser is charming and funny and Weisz is beautiful and classy. The set pieces are both dreadfully entertaining and dreadful. Arnold Vosloo is a menacing Mummy.

Certainly, when compared to The Mummy Returns, the first film is a major success. Abandoning any pretension of making something for adults, the second film downgrades to a 12 by cutting just a head-butt, showing that the 12-ness was in its blood all along. The central plot, for instance, revolves around Rick (Fraser) and Evelyn's (Weisz) son who is, and there's no nice way to put this, a horrible little shit.

Returning to subjects around nostalgia: hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? You suspect not for The Mummy Returns producers, who secured on-the-edge-of-stardom Dwayne Johnson and then not only failed to use him adequately within the film but replaced him for a CGI monstrosity during the conclusion. There are many crimes in this film and that may well be one of the most gratuitous.

The producers, meanwhile, were not finished yet. I had no feelings of nostalgia towards The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, having never seen it. It was a happier time.

The third film in this series shows how much skill it takes to craft a rosy, knockabout blockbuster tone, which is too easy to take for granted. New series director Rob Cohen, taking over from Stephen Sommers, doesn't only fail to get that tone, he apparently sets out to resolutely destroy it. In a newly child-friendly franchise, Cohen goes for a supremely bizarre sex scene and a joke about 'excavation' early doors, before moving on to such larks as a Yak being sick ('yakking', DO YOU GET IT?), CGI yetis that look like The Gruffalo and sundry other terrible, previously unimaginable things. He even manages to make Maria Bello unwelcome, which takes something.

If it hadn't been for Cohen's effort, I might even have left this franchise revisit thinking that nostalgia wasn't so bad after all. No such luck.

The Mummy
The Mummy Returns
The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

No comments:

Post a Comment