“Welcome to a New World of Gods and Monsters”
Directed by Alex Kurtzman
Starring Tom Cruise, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, Marwan Kenzari, Russell Crowe
The first Mummy movie – and, as the original Universal Mummy, the direct ancestor of this current version – was The Mummy (1932), starring Boris Karloff as Imhotep, an Egyptian priest, mummified alive for the blasphemy of trying to restore his girlfriend Ankh-es-en-amon. Restored to life by someone carelessly reading aloud from a scroll, Imhotep seeks forthe reincarnation of his love, intending to kill and mummify her, so that Ankh-es-en-amon can be returned as an immortal mummy. In the nick of time, the girl in question remembers enough of her past life to call on Isis, whose statue ends Imhotep’s unlife with a god laser to the magic scroll.
There have been roughly a shit-tonne of mummy movies since, including a Hammer Horror series, beginning with The Mummy in 1959 which featured Christopher Lee as the title character, Kharis.
The Hammer series wrapped up with Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb in 1971, a rather histrionic adaptation of Bram Stoker’s ‘Jewel of the Seven Stars’ which featured a rare instance of a female Mummy (Valerie Leon).
The next major entry – as opposed to direct to video efforts – was Stephen Somers The Mummy, a 1999 super-loose remake of the 1932 film, but bigger, dumber and just… a whole lot of fun. Featuring Brendan Fraser as adventurer Rick O’Connell and Rachael Weisz as librarian Evelyn Carnahan, this version was a rollicking adventure with an emotionally tough heroine who displayed genuine agency. It was followed by the vastly inferior The Mummy Returns (2001) and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), which had an interesting idea, but poor execution and a marked lack of Weisz (Maria Bello stepping into the role with an iffy accent.) It also span off the Scorpion King series, so there’s that to thank it for.
The new version is the first film in the ‘Dark Universe’, Universal’s somewhat delayed (Dracula Untold was intneded to be the first, but has since been detached from the franchise) attempt to get on the expanded universe gravy train.
In 1197, a group of crusader knights bury their comrade with a significant red gem. In the present day, the tomb is discovered by Crossrail excavation and taken over by a mysterious group of archaeologists in black, led by a man we will later learn to be Dr Henry Jekyll (Crowe), who proceeds to translate and narrate the story of Ahmanet (Boutella), an Egyptian princess of the New Kingdom who responded to being disinherited in favour of her infant brother by murdering her father, stepmother and the baby after making a pact to bring the god Set into the world. Prevented from completing the ritual, she is mummified alive and buried far from Egypt.