“Welcome to a new world of tedious, unnecessary remakes and gapping plot holes.”


I can understand why Universal Studios decided to strangle the Dark Universe shared horror franchise in the crib after The Mummy, because goddamn, was that terrible. Truly, magnificently, impressively terrible. It was bad from the top down. From the unfinished and ever-changing shooting script, which was altered so frequently the actors stopped learning their lines and rehearsing the scenes/blocking because they knew it would change by the next day to the first trailer released meant to build hype which instead only elicited laughter fro the audience as somewhere during the process of cutting, approving, and releasing the trailer the studio neglected to add in any music, sound FX, or ADR. So instead of building hype for what should have been a blend of action/adventure/and horror it instead seemed more like a Mission Impossible movie featuring an ornate sarcophagus bumbling about in the plane with a bunch of soldiers with he sound turned off (except when Tom Cruise screams like a small child during a plane crash (somehow that got left in).

It seems that at one point, according to a few unnamed insiders who want to keep their jobs, there was a decent script buried beneath the cursed shifting sands of the Hollywood machine. However when Tom Cruise was cast as ‘Studio Approved Leading Man Type 6’ he had a few demands. Not just that his pyramid-sized trailer be full of his favorite bottled water, sunflower seeds, nubile young Scientologist sex slaves, and the complete works of L. Ron Hubbard as read by John Travolta on an endless 24 loop (live from a sound booth in Travolta’s trailer next door) but demands that had a noticeable and profound impact on the film.

“Hollywood’s like Egypt, full of crumbled pyramids. It’ll never come back. It’ll just keep on crumbling until finally the wind blows the last studio prop across the sands.”

– David O. Selznick

Example one: Tom insisted that the script, again titled The Mummy, had too much of The Mummy in it. Not because he was going for a less-is-more approach to horror like Alien, Jaws or the original Friday the 13th. No, it, The Mummy, seemed to have too much screen time for Tommy Boy’s liking. So he insisted that a bunch of scenes, presumably where most of the plot and non-ham-fisted exposition was to be found, had to be cut so that The Mummy had less Mummy and more Tom Cruise running away from things. Seriously. He brought in his very own on-call screenwriter whose job it is to take the scripts Tom agrees to do and add in more scenes of Tom, usually interacting with his female co-star half his age) and a least one scene where Tom Cruise runs away from shit.

Can you imagine what that man’s life must be like? Like all of us who have worked in Hollywood and dreamed of being part of the collaborative artform known as film, who wanted to one day write and direct their own film. Anyone who writes in this business and says they don’t want to direct is full of shit. I’ve directed exactly one film; it was a three week hell of 16-18 hour days where nearly anything that could go wrong did go wrong and at the end of at all, when the final cut was ready to start shopping around to distro companies, if you asked me right then, still exhausted from the entire process, if I wanted to do it again I would have said the same thing then as I would today; “Fuck yes.” Instead of that hellish life that is far more addictive than pure heroin administered in perfect quantities by the most beautiful person you have ever laid eyes upon that is writing and directing a film, this guy’s job is to find ways to insert Tom Cruise into scenes he wasn’t originally supposed to be in. His job is to remove key exposition and replace it with a middle-aged man with a vague English accent explaining how he’s basically Nick Fury, this is basically SHIELD, and the producers are practically holding out a tin cup on the sidewalk outside Marvel Studios hoping some of that mega-franchise/shared universe money is going to spill out of Kevin Feige’s pocket,

Example two: He felt that his character was written as being too old. Keep in mind the character is a mercenary/treasure hunter/grave robber in his 50s and that’s how he was written. They tried vaguely to give him an “Indiana Jones” vibe. However Dr. Henry Jones, for all of his questionable-to-outright-illegal archeological methods, he at least wants to see history preserved because, well, it belongs in a goddamn museum (and not in the hands of war profiteers, outright grave robbers, and the Third Reich). Tom Cruise’s character, whose name escapes me and I don’t feel like looking it up, doesn’t have the same altruistic intentions or the slightest hint of the academic background required for his chosen profession. For him, it belongs to whomever is willing to pay him for it. He would without a doubt be the villain if this were an Indiana Jones film. Sadly, it’s not, and never will be. Yet somehow they got Russell Crowe – Award Winning Actor Russell Crowe – to be in this… as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.

“Somebody said, ‘Have you ever seen Jaws 4?’ I said, ‘No. But I’ve seen the house it bought for my mum. It’s fantastic!'”

– Sir Michael Caine on his role in Jaws IV: The Revenge

Tom Cruise’s character is a guy who finds a huge cache of ancient treasure while looting the Middle East after the latest conflict, so he decides to steal as much as he can to retire, because soldiers of fortune don’t usually live until old age if they keep working because, you know, being a mercenary isn’t an easy job for a guy in his 20s, let alone a grave-robbing asshole in his 50s. Again, because he’s in his fucking 50s. Honestly, I can suspend my disbelief enough to go with ancient horror from beyond the grave awakens in the modern world and begins wrecking shit up because she is pissed about being betrayed, cursed, and entombed alive for thousands of years. I can get behind that. What strains credulity is that no matter where they are, what sort of supernatural creatures THE MUMMY is unleashing along with (AGAIN) GIANT SANDSTORMS IN LONDON Tom “He’s in his 50s for fucks sake” Cruise can outrun all of it, usually with an attractive love interest at his side who is old enough to be his daughter, hell, his character’s actual daughter probably has a few years on her.

Seriously. Outrunning a supernaturally powered sandstorm. Ever tried outrunning a regular sandstorm? Ask anyone who has spent time in the Middle East. You don’t. You see it coming on the horizon and you try to seal up every tent and building and nail everything down that isn’t already nailed down and you hope for the best, and that’s without the storm being controlled by an ancient evil that wants to kill everyone. But don’t worry about Mr. Cruise, his name is on the Marquee, he’s drinking buddies with the producers, he’ll triumph in the end. 

Orson Welles: It’s the damn money men. They never know who’s a windbag and who’s got the goods. Then they all think they’re directors.

Ed Wood: Ain’t that the truth? Did you know that I’ve even had producers recut my movies?

Orson Welles: Ihate when that happens.

Ed Wood: And they’re always trying to cast their buddies. It doesn’t even matter if they’re right for the part.

Orson Welles: Tell me about it. I’m supposed to do a thriller at Universal, but they want Charlton Heston to play a Mexican.

 – Orson Welles & Ed Wood, Ed Wood

And yet, somehow, before any of these atrocities (Except perhaps the music and sound FX-less trailer) came out, Universal did a bunch of very embarrassing and poorly photoshopped cast photos of the presumed stars up their upcoming Dark Universe films. Its painfully obvious that none of those actors are in the same room with one another. Almost as painfully obvious that this MCU wanna-be was stillborn and none of those actor except those in THE MUMMY were getting any work out of this franchise… well, with the exception of this silly photo spread for the trades that none of the talent could be bothered to show up for.

As a horror fan, a screenwriter, and someone who grew up watching the classics these films were going to be rebooting I have plenty of ideas on how even just The Mummy could have been done so much better (none of those ideas involve replacing Sofia Boutella as The Mummy, because she was supremely creepy in the few scenes she got and was perfectly cast in this otherwise shitstorm of a film). However, I learned a long time ago when I gave someone in the business some ideas, an entire series bible in fact, thinking nothing would come of it and got to watch it years later make a ton of money and get heaps of critical praise, that I should have taken my mother’s advice; never do something you are good at for free.

While we are on the subject of ideas so bad that they would be obvious to uninvolved people on the street who just happen to be near the building where the choices are being made: Dr. Henry Jekyll. Don’t get me wrong, Russell Crowe does a great job playing both the fatherly Dr. Jekyll and his murderous alter-ego. That’s not my problem. That was a wonderful bit of casting. My problem is they put him in charge of collecting, capturing, killing, and otherwise dealing with every supernatural thing in the world and half the time he is a murdering, rapist, narcissistic, EVIL sonofabitch with superhuman strength and endurance, who seems to know everything his counterpart does. It’s a bit like building a prison for the worst, most dangerous people in the world and making the warden one of them because he’s only evil half the time, as long as he gets regular doses of his medication. Find me a prison run that way in real life and I’ll show you an orgy of debauchery and murder that takes roughly 12 hours to begin and ends with everyone in the community around the prison (in this case DOWNTOWN LONDON) being brutally murdered, and the man responsible for causing it will feel very guilty for exactly half the time. The other half he’ll be participating in the carnage.

I know he was supposed to be The Prodigium’s Nick Fury, but Nick Fury, while he lies and withholds things from his underlings (he is the director of a spy agency after all, that sort of comes with the job) he does it for the greater good and is, at his core, a man who doesn’t want to see the world end. He doesn’t spend half the day shooting up blue goo to keep from raping and murdering his way through his employee roster. Who, in the real world of screenwriting, thought this was a good choice? Of all the characters who could have fit the bill. Abraham Van Helsing, Prof. Grost, or any number of other characters or their descendents would have made ideal choices. So who do they pick, then not bother to explain at all why? Someone who should be LOCKED UP IN A CAGE WITH THE OTHER MONTERS THEY HAVE CAPTURED. Yeah, lets go with that, logic and the basics of storytelling be damned, let’s throw in another monster so Tom Cruise can have another action scene in between the other two action scenes.

I’m not even going to get into the lack of security in this place. How many people had access to the Mummy? Who could have just walked up and asked for an autograph or a selfie? You have one of the most powerful and malevolent entities active on Earth at the moment and she has less security measures to keep her in place than a shoplifter from Macy’s.

The ending is… well, its garbage. Tom fights the Mummy, things get a little sexual (on his part I can totally understand, on her part, she deserved an Oscar), his one night stand from earlier dies, and he decides to become a vessel for the God of Darkness, Set. SET. Which, among other things, proves the Egyptian pantheon of Gods was/is real, which opens up all sorts of other questions, but the film doesn’t have time for that because a 50-something year old grave robber has the strength of will to overcome the influence of a being that is at least older than the human race, if not much, much older. Then he yells at his one night stand with monster teeth after he sucks all the life/power from the Mummy and his one night stand is alive again and he leaves. Apparently in total control of himself. No hint of ‘Set is my Co-Pilot’ tattooed on his ass. He’s just Nick. 50-something year old grave robbing mercenary with all the powers of the Egyptian God of Darkness at his command with no drawbacks or consequences. Hell, he even resurrects his undead spirit guide for the hell of it. You remember him? I didn’t really talk about him because the plot device was so painfully, obviously lifted from John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London that even talking about it felt like I was doing a disservice to a much better film.

…and they ride off into the desert, for no apparent reason. The end.

Whoever greenlit this film shouldn’t be fired. That’s too easy. That’s like stealing from a mafia-run casino and they just throw you out with a stern warning to never come back. No, no, the people responsible for signing off on this script, for ‘punching it up’ for having anything to do with it should be taken into a disused warehouse somewhere and have their hands beaten with hammers until even Martin Scorsese, Robert Rodriquez, Eli Roth, and Quentin Tarantino say “Whoa, guys, that’s enough, its been almost four days, I think they get the message.”

/end scene.


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