Let’s stir up some ancient Egyptian dust with The Mummy circa 2017 starring Tom “The Maverick” Cruise aka the last of the action hero and answer the question this failure should not be the end all for Universal Dark Universe.
What The Mummy does for Dark Universal is make it harder for the studio to establish some credibility with audiences. And as inconceivable as it may sound, this may not be at the end all stake in the heart for this franchise. There is hope and it has webbed feet.
Also, The truth about the risk of watching movies: criticism in the age of easily accessed opinions. The heat is on as movies continue to not garner much excitement and fail at the box office. But who’s fault is it: the studio or the critics?
Jokes 01: Yo mummy so old, when she died they buried her in bandages.
Jokes 02: Yo mummy so old, she knows Brenden Frazier.
Brendan Frasier’s career is like the elusive Bigfoot or Val Kilmer.
Dark Universe Monsters are not creatures, right?
We started this discussion of Kong and The Creature Feature and the creatures spawned from nature’s creation. Now, we enter into the realm of the Creature Feature rooted in the monsters spawned from our imagination and fears.
Between the 1930’s and 1950, Universal produced many monster movies and labeled this thread of films The Dark Universe. Although monstrous in their actions Dracula, The Mummy, Werewolf, and Frankenstein they were all human-like in their origins. Plucked from English lore and adapted into motion pictures, this new wave of successful monster films made Universal a major contingency in the film industry at a time when cowboys were a dime a dozen.
Like many things Hollywood, the creature feature movie had its moment before audiences moved onto the next best thing. Movies, like, Jaws, Aliens, Night of the Living Dead… Horror movies with credibility back by money and ingenuity. Cheesy string effects and damsels in distress were replaced with violence and neighborhood evils we could relate to within the world of our reality.
Can’t say that I was a huge fan of the creature feature monster movies, especially the baleful black and white films popularized in twenty years before American syndication. They weren’t cartoonish nor were comical, like, The Munsters but they did scare me. I spent most of the time during these movies watching through my eyelids, so I’m not an expert nor too reliable a witness to account my experience as a young boy watching what was then the only horror movies I had access to viewing.
Relaunching the creature feature films of the Dark Universe as this new franchise is brilliant, however, flawed in its introduction to the contemporary media of today. Most of us older folks know The Mummy films as Brendan Frasier playing an Indiana Jones-like character in search of artifacts touring places where curses result in serious repercussions. Those movies were good because they were a fun and a well formatted reimaging of the less action-y Mummy films of the 1930’s and 1940’s.
One stark difference between The Mummy 1999 and The Mummy 2017 is that the Mummy 1999 was good.
The 1999 Mummy’s introduced the character or concept of the Mummy to audiences in a different way a was fun, fast moving, action packed. Fast forward some twenty years and we get the same type of Mummy movie with Tom Cruise as a fast-talking Tom Cruise tomb robber who helps to unearth a secret hidden thousands of years ago that is simultaneously being sought after by a nefarious no-good do-gooder, Dr. Jekyll aka director of the tour de resistance Bureau of Antiquities (a nod to the book and original movie I believe).
This 2017 Mummy actually made worse the 1999 Mummy that still holds up. The two stars of this movie Cruise and Russell Crow added no additional benefit to the film than to have attached to the project a couple of notable names for the summer tentpole plot. The inclusion of Dr. Jekyll was an obvious attempt to set up the franchise rather than serve a much-needed purpose for this particular movie. Russell Crowe– or the actor formerly known– as, dials in an underrated performance for a role he doesn’t fit. Jekyll has always been presented as a more suave Englishman. Crowe’s interpretation of the scientist on the edge was more brutish in stature and less believable in his portrayal. You never really believe that everything he says is the truth. So, I guess he fits the role as a shyster and not necessarily a mild-mannered introvert. The better casting would be to have Crowe as the Director of the Bureau of Antiquities and Dr. Jekyll played by a Hiddleston or Jude Law.
All work and no play makes Jack Reacher a dull boy
Tom Cruise needs to get back to work and take on roles that are less saturated in action and hijinks and more challenging to his acting abilities. I love Mission Impossible and Edge of Tomorrow, and hell, I’ll probably enjoy this Luna Park movie, however, I do miss seeing him stretch his challenge his own acting abilities. Movies like Collateral (all-time favorite) and Magnolia, which I haven’t seen; Born on The Fourth of July, Interview With A Vampire, Jerry Maguire, A Few Good Men… Tom Cruise can act, but we haven’t actually seen him acting in a while.
*Why can Tom Cruise just have fun doing the projects he likes?
*Death of the movie star. Studios now have all the control.
The Underwhelming Success of The Mummy Doesn’t Doom The Dark Universe; just makes it harder for us to care.
Universal slated eight releases for the next ten to fifteen years. Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman, The Invisible Man, most of us are familiar with all of these in some way or another because of remakes within the past, say, twenty years. All of them horrible.
Recent Remakes of The Dark Universe
- I, Frankenstein
- Hollow Man
- Dracula Untold
Therein lies the problem: too much of dependency on preexisting characters when there are at least a handful more with this lot of monsters audiences know little to nothing about.
Obscure Dark Universe Titles To Consider
- Weird Woman
- The Frozen Ghost
- Pillow Of Death
- The Mole People
Any of the titles listed could kick off a franchise going in a new direction. Go with the lesser known movies; ignorance sells more than notability (in most cases). With the less known, there is the ability to envision a true beginning and set the stage for a character or set of characters we haven’t seen a movie from in ages.
Chew On This:
Why when we think of Dracula does he has a widow’s peak, pale skin, and a black cape? Because the movie gave us an image of the character from the page.
- Bram Stokers Dracula and Nosforatu – Two Draculas who do not fit the stereotypical mold.
- Almost every person who read Twilight pictured Bella and sparkle boy not as being Kristen Stewart and Robert Patterson, however, we do now.
Audiences like to be surprised, and what higher of a cliff to jump off of would there be than to introduce newcomers to this genre of film with a movie no studio (even Universal) has sought to remake ever: The Creature From the Black Lagoon.
Here’s a monster no one particularly likes as a model monster that is known by the masses. He’s no Dracula or Wolfman. He is obscure, a derelict among notable names with too much film history weighing down their up swim to the surface of contemporary media. The Creature From the Black Lagoon poses an interesting challenge to anyone brave enough to script a movie about a lake creature who sees a girl and terrorizes people to get her.
Creature from the Lagoon would not fit into the current action narrative of this “Dark Universe.”
For this movie and the ongoing success of the franchise, there would have to be some major changes made to the production of future films starting with the budget. Cut it by, like, sixty percent of The Mummy (2017) and plan to make three movies instead of making one movie for $110 million with aging stars who haven’t banked huge box office successes in quite some time.
Hire some directors on the indie circuit who specialize in horror, like Ana Lily Amirpour who took a different approach to conceptualizing dystopian life as we would not like to know it in The Bad Batch, and who concocted a vampire spaghetti western in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.
Universal needs to think Disney before moving forward with the next Dark Universe Film.
Use your movie money wisely Universal and invest in more content. Disney has had a lot of success but they are invested in this keeping the creativity flowing and doing so by hiring an assortment of directors to produce films within the franchises the aim to keep around for years to come. They had some misses but continue to create. Jump off the blockbuster bandwagon already. Series are where the money is at the moment. Learn from Warner Bros and Disney and tell the stories of the characters within the realm of this dark franchise.
We need this now, more than ever. Take the bottom of the totem pole and climb to the top that is Dracula. Disney didn’t get to the Avengers without Iron Man. The Avengers is the product of Iron Man, Thor, and even The Incredible Hulk.
Sergio Leone didn’t get to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly without A Fist Full Of Dollars. Exercise some risk and make a damn good Mole People movie or Creature From the Black Lagoon. This studio could produce at least four films for the cost of one Mummy and release some lesser known titles within the Universal Dark through a subsidiary company or streaming outlets like Netflix or Hulu. Keep it simple and give the audience what they want and right now that’s content is horror.
If an indie shark movie with Mandy Moore can drum up business on a shoestring budget, I’m sure a company with a long history of successes and cash talent could get audiences excited about something that isn’t comic book inspired.
We’re On Your Favorite Social Media App!
@talkingburritos and #showyourburrito, let me know your thoughts on this episode
The Scoop Dujour – Criticism and The Risk of Watching Movies
Criticism is not new. Before the internet: you picked up a newspaper, flipped to the entertainment section and read the latest review from your favorite entertainment columnist. However, now, in the age of accessibility, many of those single opinions operate as a collective voice within sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. Good or bad, the review was less than a scathing hit piece and more like work of art. Words weren’t necessarily meant to hurt or influence someone away from watching a film (in most cases), but to inform and give moviegoers insight from a professional point of view.
Leading columnist got their status’s from people; the people who respected their opinions or found them entertaining. There weren’t scores to urge potential ticket buyers to either avoid or deluge box offices around the country in the name of a certain film title. People read reviews either because A. they couldn’t make it to the cinema, B. enjoyed talking about movies, or C. the talent reviewing the film.
Take some of the more popular news rags of the 1980’s with Ebert going at everyone he disagreed with about a film. Ebert was an expert at both subjective and objective criticism of a film.
What if one of his columns was reduced to 140 characters or less.
Steven Soderbergh, starts off telling one story only to abruptly shift gears in order to tell a completely different one.
There are 879 more words to this article that lays out the film’s plot, Rooney Mara’s awesome performance in only her second movie acting, and a criticism of Soderbergh’s overuse of the long shot.
It’s not that Rotten Tomatoes is bad for the information it provides; we’re just lazy visual stimulus monkeys who prefer pretty colors and cute shapes. Anyone of us searching that site or any other magazine site like it could click on the review from the critic that takes us to their site and read all of what they wrote for a better understanding of their opinion.
There is more to criticism than 140 or 240 characters and an icon.
It hurts to read from a phone, and that’s why we swipe. We swipe, swipe, and keep swiping until convincing ourselves that all those pretty little shapes are worth the night out and dollars spent.
We need a tender site for movie critics. Keep swiping until someone with trusting eyes and a love for Michael Bay action kittens catches our attention.
Our laziness takes the risk out of watching movies which for me is the fun of it all. I liken the feeling to the days of Blockbuster video when you would search the shelves for movies and pick one based on the fact you liked the cover. Sure, the movie was shit bad but every now and then it was worth the risk. The risk in watching movies is an experience in watching movies. You never know whatcha gonna get.
There is, however, an economic aspect to consider. Why waste your hard earned dollars on a film you know you will not like? That’s when film criticism works logistically. However, I urge you delve into why this critic gave that film whatever score so that your decision is better swayed by your own reason for deduction rather than some pretty icons
Did you know that Rotten Tomato and Metacritic scores are a combination of reviews from critics who contribute to those sites? Critics have websites where any one of us could find a plethora of opinionated pieces to sway you in a more knowledgeable direction. Don’t just read the tweet, find out the why in the story and be better informed.
Or…or you can just take your chances, watch the movie, and form an opinion for yourself — like me.
Remember a tomato is a fruit. Grows on a vine. And just as you sometimes buy fruit that doesn’t taste good, how will you ever know if you don’t cut it up and sample what’s inside?
LINKS MENTIONED IN THE SHOW
Upcoming Tom Cruise Project: Luna Park
FLAVA TEXT THIS WEEK: Ya Motha!
We’re always open for suggestions and/or a favorable comment
But Machete don’t tweet. Okay, well leave us a voicemail or email:
WHERE TO SUBSCRIBE AND LISTEN:
- The full catalog, minus, shownotes
- Our podcast subscription page
- Listen on Apple Podcast:
- Or download to your Android device using these suggested apps: Subscribe on Android
- If you enjoyed this episode, leave a review in iTunes!
Thanks for listening and never forget to share whatever entertains you.