Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tom Cruise Running From Ancient Egyptian Zombies, or Thoughts on The Mummy

Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: Tom Cruise is no Brendan Fraser.  The key to a successful action horror movie is comedic timing; an ability to not take the subject matter seriously and laugh at yourself and the situations your character finds themselves in.  And while Tom Cruise is arguably one of the last of the true Hollywood stars, he takes himself oh so seriously, and he never relaxes enough in his performances to laugh at himself.  He’s too busy being cool, being the hero, being Tom Cruise; he plays the same character in all of these movies.
The Mummy (2017), while short on the yuks, is long on the Mission Impossible stunts (because this is a Tom Cruise movie and don’t you forget it); you also get scenes of Tom Cruise Running, Tom Cruise Fighting, Tom Cruise Swimming and of course Tom Cruise Flirting with that iconic, 1000 watt smile.  Do I really need to broad stroke the plot for you?  It’s Tom Cruise and The Mummy, based on the 1932 Universal Monster made immortal by Boris Karloff, but now The Mummy’s a lady.  And there’s no denying that Sofia Boutella’s Ahmanet is a cool mummy, what with her tattoos and mummy wrap bodysuit, slinking around like she’s an updated Gozer the Gozerian, or the Enchantress from Suicide Squad (2016), another over-hyped and immediately disposable summer movie.
Russell Crowe is introduced as Dr. Jekyll, the leader of Prodigium, located under the British Museum, and another one of those League of Extraordinary Gentlemen/Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense/Men in Black/R.I.P.D. secret government agency.  It’s interesting that Russel Crowe and Tom Cruise are basically the same age, though they could be five years older because I’m pretty certain everyone in Hollywood lies about their age.  Cary Grant was 55 when North by Northwest (1959) came out, which I would argue is a far more appropriate and artistic use of one’s talent than starring in a generic summer action movie and desperately holding onto your action hero physique until you become a parody of yourself.
The last remake of The Mummy, the aforementioned Brendan Fraser film, came out in 1999.  For your reference, that same year Tom Cruise came out with Magnolia and Eyes Wide Shut.  And here we are almost 20 years later with Tom passing on scripts like those and instead starring in another tired remake.  Tom Cruise is in the position where he gets to choose his parts, he’s making these movies because he wants to; he likes them, and this is turning into the cinematic equivalent of Michael Jackson’s face.  There’s no one to censor him or tell him no, he’s surrounded by people that remind him that he’s the World’s Greatest Movie Star, and after 36 years on the big screen, who am I to say any different?

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