Universal’s plan to reboot their adored cinematic monsters with an action heavy slant is already backfiring on the powerhouse studio. While films like The Mummy, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman and Creature from the Black Lagoon were all originally played as straight-forward horror films (The Mummy did boast a very romantic angle to the story), Universal has decided in recent years to betray the roots of these characters. It all started – on a grand scale – in 1999 when Universal unveiled the hokey schlock that was – get ready for it – The Mummy, a character the studio seems entirely incapable of getting right these days.
We’ve seen a few decent little monster movies come our way since – primarily the better-than-expected Dracula Untold – but Universal doesn’t seem too dedicated to the general idea of remaining faithful to these characters’ roots. They seem to think that the monsters that were so crucial in building Universal’s success deserve to be relegated to cheesy actioners aimed at naïve 13-year old children. Universal has, and apparently will continue to defecate on their beloved monsters and the millions of us who cherish those vintage tales of the macabre.
Well, it’s already coming back to bite Universal in the rear, and I can’t pretend to be angry about that. Alex Kurtzman’s new Mummy film isn’t as over-the-top as those wretched Brendan Fraser flicks, but it does sport plenty of facepalm worthy CGI, and bad dialog. Tom Cruise feels completely wrong in the heroic role, and while I’m not sexist in anyway, the female mummy did nothing for me, and apparently plenty of others.
Universal deserves the backlash that’s headed their way. You can’t spit in the face of the fan, essentially tell them their opinion doesn’t matter, and then expect colossal box office figures. It doesn’t work that way, guys.
This weekend’s box office figures definitely support that very harsh (but honest) opinion.
Wonder Woman, now in its second week of release, crushed The Mummy with ease, raking in another $57 million (pushing its total to $205 million), while The Mummy was a distant second with an underwhelming $32 million debut… against a $125 million budget.
Unfortunately, the folks at Universal will likely stick to their guns for at least one more film, and we’ll see another classic Universal monster disrespected and relegated to goofy action entertainer. You’d think the fan doubt and early negative response to The Mummy might teach Universal something, but it seems highly unlikely that Universal will adjust their plans to create an action-oriented monster universe. They’ve got their minds made up, even if it appears those “minds” are stuffed away where the sun don’t shine.
Monsters typically appeal to horror fans while operating in dark and often gruesome realities, while muscle bound tough guys with memorable one-liners own the action genre. Universal, somehow, doesn’t get it. They’re under the belief that it’s all going to be A-okay by blending those two genres with timeless icons, and it isn’t. As a Universal monster fan, I showed up for The Mummy with high hopes that emphasis would be put on the scare factor over the big action sequences. It was not to be, and I wasted $15 that I won’t even contemplate dishing out when the next movie in the Universal Monster Universe is released. It’s just too damn obvious: Universal doesn’t care about horror fans or the monsters that enabled them to grow into the enormous entity they are today. It’s all about money for these folks, and they’re foolish enough to think that dropping their iconic beasts in action films will net big bucks. Surprise, Universal, we’re smarter than you thought.