Dull Universe
July 26, 2017 12:39 PM   Subscribe

 
Despite The Mummy being kind of a bomb Universal are keeping at it.
posted by Artw at 12:49 PM on July 26


Forgot Sofia Boutella. Pretty much as soon as I saw Cruise involved, I knew Universal was doing The Mummy dirty.
posted by Samizdata at 12:58 PM on July 26 [10 favorites]


If you like classic monsters and villains, do yourself a favour and go watch Penny Dreadful. It's everything you need/want in a monster-filled universe.
posted by Fizz at 1:01 PM on July 26 [25 favorites]


I wanted to give this a shot but I walked out of the theatre after 40 minutes because it was so generic and boring.
posted by Fizz at 1:02 PM on July 26


If you like classic monsters and villains, do yourself a favour and go watch Penny Dreadful. It's everything you need/want in a monster-filled universe.

I have to give that another shot. Started while my stuff was on a previous hiatus, then couldn't keep up. Now it is on Netflix, it makes it easier.
posted by Samizdata at 1:05 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


If you like classic monsters and villains, do yourself a favour and go watch Penny Dreadful. It's everything you need/want in a monster-filled universe.

That was a fun show up until the disappointing treatment of Vanessa Ives at the end. There was one other minor character who was treated badly earlier in the series as well. I take a sort of Star Wars prequel mentality with those two things and pretend that they didn't happen so that my enjoyment of the rest of it isn't marred too much.
posted by middleclasstool at 1:13 PM on July 26 [7 favorites]


Streamed this lack luster reboot the other day. Couldn't finish it.
posted by Gwynarra at 1:25 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Remember this is actually the third attempt to restart a Universal Monsters franchise. The first being the kinda-okay Benicio DelToro Wolfman and the execrable Dracula Untold. I haven't watched The Mummy yet, but I have to assume it was better than that Dracula one.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:51 PM on July 26


I feel a little bad for all these classic monsters being forced to do duty in these horrible modern action-thrillers. They may be evil but they don't deserve this.
posted by octothorpe at 1:58 PM on July 26 [14 favorites]


They should have had Brendan Fraser's character fight a Dracula played by Boutella. Boom, billion dollars.
posted by BeeDo at 2:02 PM on July 26 [20 favorites]


Filmmakers generally ignore what was actually haunting about ancient Egypt, while gleefully making crap up. When I heard that this Mummy would be female, I knew that, no matter how badass she might look (and indeed Boutella does), she wouldn't be allowed to be scary. She'd have to be the sexy-Halloween variant of a mummy. It's possible to be heartily terrified just by pictures of actual female mummies, like Henuttawy. That would be a monster design. But no, Ahmanet gets toilet paper hanging off her and body paint.

It's no use complaining about how the ancient Egyptian elements were handwaved away in this one (like I mean what the hell kind of sarcophagus is that, not even Canaanites made them like that). My understanding is that Tom Cruise wanted the movie to be in Iraq and so that was where it was gonna be. I just wish that, for once, someone would try.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:12 PM on July 26 [20 favorites]


If you like classic monsters and villains, do yourself a favour and go watch Penny Dreadful.

That's a pretty decent two-season show. I hope they go back and do more with it someday.
posted by happyroach at 2:22 PM on July 26 [6 favorites]


They should have had Brendan Fraser's character fight a Dracula played by Boutella. Boom, billion dollars.

I have an even better idea. Let's take it back to the '90's monster movies. Brendan Fraser battling Gary Oldman as Dracula and Kenneth Branaugh as Dr. Frankenstein. TAKE MY MONEY.
posted by Fizz at 2:27 PM on July 26 [6 favorites]


I figured this would be some hot garbage, but I had no idea it would be, like, "ritually debase the only notable female character in some completely unsubtle symbolism" hot garbage. Glad I didn't see it.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:29 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Everyone knows that real mummies are keyboardists.

Or at least sparring partners of Minoru Suzuki.
posted by delfin at 3:15 PM on July 26


I feel a little bad for all these classic monsters being forced to do duty in these horrible modern action-thrillers. They may be evil but they don't deserve this.

If they'd let the stories just be what they are, instead of shoehorning them into bland action vehicles, they could make amazing stuff. Alas.
posted by middleclasstool at 3:32 PM on July 26 [3 favorites]


Is the answer "The same way movies always treat significant, powerful, and especially villainous female characters"?

*reads article*

Okay then.
posted by Scattercat at 3:34 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


Horror gives amazing returns on small budgets, but they want blockbuster budgets and stars so they have to go for an international market, which these days means China, and China does not care for Horror one bit. You'd thin that would lead them to scale down expectations or maybe give up on the idea, but noooo...
posted by Artw at 3:39 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


It's not just The Mummy that's done Boutella dirty.

Last three films I've seen with her she was in heavy makeup or CGI prosthetics. And on IMDB, except for Atomic Blonde, all her characters are listed as roles ("dancer", "fairy") or mononyms ("Lila", "Ara", "Eva", "Gazelle", "Jaylah", "Vix", "Ahmanet"). Not to deny the sexism in the design of her Mummy character, but there's a big deal of exoticism/racism in operation in how she gets cast as well.
posted by kandinski at 3:56 PM on July 26 [9 favorites]


Not sure if "Spy who makes out with Charlize Theron" is going to be in the for or against category there.
posted by Artw at 3:59 PM on July 26


George Romero was going to make a The Mummy at some point, and his concept for it sounds pretty good.

(The Clive Barker one maybe less so)
posted by Artw at 4:03 PM on July 26


Metafilter: what the hell kind of sarcophagus is that, not even Canaanites made them like that
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:12 PM on July 26 [16 favorites]


Despite The Mummy being kind of a bomb Universal are keeping at it.

Everything about the Dark Universe, down to its incredibly stupid name is awe-inspiringly lame. I'm so glad that sometime in the next 10 years we're sure to get a brutal grimdark exploration of man's inhumanity to man where Robert Pattinson hops around in the Creature from the Black Lagoon costume for three hours.
posted by Copronymus at 4:16 PM on July 26 [9 favorites]


Before The Mummy hit theaters, a cast photo was released showing the future stars of the franchise: Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Javier Bardem as Frankenstein's Monster; Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man. Sofia Boutella is the outlier here.
Huh. I remember seeing that photo: Annie Leibovitz or Leibovitz-knockoff, full length shot of them all, some sitting, some standing. I don't remember seeing Johnny Depp in it, though. Though I guess that is the point.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:28 PM on July 26


I will gladly cosign the endorsements upthread for Penny Dreadful and add a recommendation for Victor Frankenstein. The trailer really, really doesn't do it justice--it is a work of mad cinematic genius that makes Bram Stoker's Dracula look like Last Year At Marienbad.
posted by MrBadExample at 5:32 PM on July 26


If they wanted a chance to do get the franchise started off on the right foot, hiring one of the writers of the wretched and indefensible Star Trek: Into Darkness is probably not the way to go.
posted by Ber at 6:27 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


And on IMDB, except for Atomic Blonde, all her characters are listed as roles ("dancer", "fairy")

I'm not disagreeing with your point, but Boutella was a dancer before she started acting, which is why she's credited as "dancer." She's very talented.
posted by Stonkle at 7:59 PM on July 26 [8 favorites]


That's actually pretty amazing.
posted by Artw at 8:48 PM on July 26


I think they could churn out a decent fiilm with some proper casting. Tom Hardy as Frankenstein's monster, Channing Tatum as Tarzan, and Johnny Depp as Tonto in "Fire Baaaaad, the Musical!"
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 9:55 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


I have an even better idea. Let's take it back to the '90's monster movies. Brendan Fraser battling Gary Oldman as Dracula and Kenneth Branaugh as Dr. Frankenstein. TAKE MY MONEY.

Yeah. no. Today, watching the SDCC Justice League trailer and seeing

**SPOILER**

J.K. Simmons as James Gordon and after having marathoned all of Gotham a few weeks ago, I realized I am overOldmaned. There just reaches a point when some Oldman is good, more Oldman is great, and yet more is too damned much.

I love ya to death, Fizz, but I'm going to have to draw a line in the sand on this one. I think both you and Hollywood need to accomodate the Oldman-impaired. We exist and we are tired of having no voice.
posted by Samizdata at 10:10 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Also, the only Tom Cruise movie I have liked in forever was Edge of Tomorrow.

And that is only because he died in it.

**SPOILER**

A LOT.
posted by Samizdata at 10:11 PM on July 26 [9 favorites]


Also, upon a random flutter from Mnemosyne whilst perusing Penny Dreadful, I would like to second the recommendation for Victor Frankenstein. James McAvoy apparently does madness quite well, as I perceive, and he adds a welcome obsessive touch to his portrayal of Victor that seems much neglected of late.

(All due apologies for the stilted language, but, should one hazard making me watch quasi-Victorian entertainments, it must be accepted as fact that one must accept the responsibility of the inevitable results. One should count one's blessing in that there's not been many of a Cockney bent to this point.)
posted by Samizdata at 11:23 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Wait, what? There are people who actually liked Victor Frankenstein? That information alone is far more terrifying to me than anything in the movie. Although, I suppose, one could claim some unholy synthesis of form fitting content for the cinematic monstrosity loosed upon the theater screens of an unsuspecting public and find some grim pleasure in their dismal construct in that sense.

(And I'm not gonna even try to parse that Last Year at Marienbad remark so as not to become completely despondent.)
posted by gusottertrout at 12:37 AM on July 27


On a more positive note, Penny Dreadful is pretty interesting in a anti-Abrams sense. The plotting sometimes is questionable, and occasionally tedious, but the character work is fantastic both in writing and performance which is a welcome change from so many plot beats are everything shows.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:58 AM on July 27 [2 favorites]


In a film steeped in baffling creative decisions, stodgy storytelling and Russell Crowe doing a Cockney accent that will allow Dick Van Dyke to sleep soundly for the rest of his days, it may be the treatment of the mummy herself, Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), that grinds the most gears.

This article, and so many others before it, does Dick Van Dyke dirty. His job was not to create a realistic Method interpretation of a Cockney chimney sweep/jack o' trades, it was to create a memorable character appealing to children. And he does! His exaggerated speech is clearly intelligible to children, and marks him as 'special'. People still remember his character Bert fondly in a film featuring animated carousel horses, a rooftop naval cannon, and Julie bl**dy Andrews as a magical flying singing nanny.

A better question for the dialect purists is when exactly Uncle Albert ("I love to laugh") moved from Philly to London.

[I know Dick Van Dyke recently apologized for the accent, and I take it as a sign of his professionalism and good humour]
posted by Svejk at 1:41 AM on July 27 [3 favorites]


TIL Gabriel used to be a vampire; now the blood fever virus subplot makes a lot more sense.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:44 AM on July 27


...where Robert Pattinson hops around in the Creature from the Black Lagoon costume for three hours.

YOU SHUT YOUR LYING MOUTH.

I have an adoring affection for the gill man, and I seriously hope this whole Dark Universe thing runs out of steam, money and interest well before they even begin looking at The Creature From The Black Lagoon as reboot material.

I don't wanna see no script, no art, no casting, nothing.
Just walk away, people. Just walk away.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 3:58 AM on July 27 [2 favorites]


His exaggerated speech is clearly intelligible to children, and marks him as 'special'.

Well, counterpoint: I introduced my kids to MP about two weeks ago and my daughter literally asked "Daddy, what language is he speaking?" The half-Australian-half-Cockney-inexplicable-extra-eighth-Bronx drawl he has is not the most penetrable thing in the world. I agree with the broad strokes of your point, but some work with a dialect coach could have helped there.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:14 AM on July 27


Well, counterpoint: I introduced my kids to MP about two weeks ago and my daughter literally asked "Daddy, what language is he speaking?" The half-Australian-half-Cockney-inexplicable-extra-eighth-Bronx drawl he has is not the most penetrable thing in the world. I agree with the broad strokes of your point, but some work with a dialect coach could have helped there.

Believe it or not, Dick Van Dyke had a dialect coach.

Who was Irish.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:41 AM on July 27 [4 favorites]


Accent aside, his performance in that movie is amazing. He made a name for himself on his old show as a champion pratfaller, but that man had Gene-Kelly-level control of his body in that movie.

Also, brilliant career aside, this photo alone justifies his entire existence.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:55 AM on July 27 [3 favorites]


Gill Man absolutely is the best one, yes.
posted by Artw at 7:18 AM on July 27


Gill Man fans may prefer to put their chips on this forthcoming Del Toro movie instead. Or possibly not...it's obviously not a straightforward take on the creature. But me personally, I'm all in.
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:30 AM on July 27 [3 favorites]


Hey Ipsifendus, I saw that trailer earlier in the week, posted it, and called it "The Abe Sapien prequel that we never knew we needed until now." One could also say that "It's the Innsmouth Look that gets the girls everytime!"
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 8:10 AM on July 27 [2 favorites]


If they'd dug up Abbott and Costello and told them to ritually debase Tom Cruise, then I might've gone to see it.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:54 AM on July 27


Remember this is actually the third attempt to restart a Universal Monsters franchise. The first being the kinda-okay Benicio DelToro Wolfman and the execrable Dracula Untold. I haven't watched The Mummy yet, but I have to assume it was better than that Dracula one.

I thought I, Frankenstein (aka Yo! Frankenstein!) was the first attempt to get this nonsense off the ground.
posted by straight at 8:55 AM on July 27


The Abbot and Costello casting news is what I really want to hear.
posted by Artw at 9:09 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


TFA notes they hope Fahrenheit 451 gives her a better chance .. I don't recall any positive female roles in that book. (Well, the young girl next door who is a minor role, or the older woman who immolates herself, also a bit role.)
posted by k5.user at 9:36 AM on July 27 [1 favorite]


I just wish that someone would direct a good Frankenstein that follows Shelly's book. Branagh gets points from me for at least attempting it but his film was so terrible that it I'd love to see someone try to get it right. Both he and DeNiro were horribly mis-cast and the screenplay added in way too much melodramatic nonsense about his dying mother and such.
posted by octothorpe at 9:48 AM on July 27


TFA notes they hope Fahrenheit 451 gives her a better chance .. I don't recall any positive female roles in that book. (Well, the young girl next door who is a minor role, or the older woman who immolates herself, also a bit role.)

Likely the girl-next-door role. The earlier movie adaptation aged her up from the teenager she is in the book and expanded her role a little, so they're probably following that.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:34 AM on July 27 [2 favorites]


Also of concern about F451 is if they're going to do the whole "PC libruls caused all this" horseshit underlying the premise that everyone forgets about.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:27 PM on July 27 [1 favorite]


Evil SJWs are taking flamethrowers to all the Reddit and Chan servers in a bid to push so-called-books.
posted by Artw at 5:57 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


So it seems every film going forward has to be a massive four-quadrant world-wide-appealing dumbed-down souless mega blockbuster in a easy marketable continuing shared-universe of some kind (oh ok, you can have the odd finely machined Oscar-bait effort). Keep hoping it's all gonna collapse. But there's not sign of it at the moment.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:06 AM on July 28


I have no idea if Valerian bombing helps or hurts with that.
posted by Artw at 9:10 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


I have no idea if Valerian bombing helps or hurts with that.

It goes in the same file as Jupiter Ascending
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:33 AM on July 28


(ie it's not going to help)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:49 AM on July 28


One day someone will manage to make a film or TV series of Anno Dracula (I think the last attempt to develop one was quashed by the prospect of competing with Penny Dreadful), and they'll probably make a mess of it, but at least I could then mention it here. Personally, my favourite is the second book, The Bloody Red Baron.
posted by Grangousier at 10:42 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Oh, and the ongoing Dark Universe slog is soul-destroying, but I'm tentatively looking forward to The Shape of Water, which looks as much Jeunet as del Toro.
posted by Grangousier at 10:45 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Shape of Water isn't a Dark Universe thing, though. The DU is Universal's nonsense, and del Toro's film is being made by Fox. (Who also own the Hellboy rights, hint hint.)
posted by tobascodagama at 11:03 AM on July 28


Yes, that should have been an "and" rather than a "but". I had the impression that as the DU is so inexpressibly tedious it would be good for us to talk about things that looked nice, even if they strayed off-topic a bit. And I think that looks nice. I suppose a cleverer person than I could compare the way it puts at its centre the talented and slightly unconventional-looking (and, to be honest, completely fab) Sally Hawkins with the way the talented and slightly unconventional-looking Sofia Boutella was rudely shoved aside to make space for Tom Cruise's ego.

Odd that they can cram such an enormous ego into such a tiny man. I suppose ego doesn't recognise the ordinary rules of space and time.
posted by Grangousier at 11:12 AM on July 28


In fact, that cleverer person could compare GdT's imaginative takes on classic tropes with what Universal is doing, although checking his Wikipedia page it seems that he's working on a Frankenstein for them, so let's see how that turns out. Personally, I'm expecting a parting of companies and GdT morphing into Brett Ratner.
posted by Grangousier at 11:21 AM on July 28 [1 favorite]


Yes, that should have been an "and" rather than a "but".

Ahh, gotcha.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:35 PM on July 28


(Who also own the Hellboy rights, hint hint.)

There are fresh talks about new Hellboy movies. But they'd be different. No GdT, no Perlman.
posted by middleclasstool at 1:05 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


One day someone will manage to make a film or TV series of Anno Dracula (I think the last attempt to develop one was quashed by the prospect of competing with Penny Dreadful), and they'll probably make a mess of it, but at least I could then mention it here. Personally, my favourite is the second book, The Bloody Red Baron.

Kim Newman needs more cinematic love. Although I do think The Bloody Red Baron would be one of the most appealing in a filmic fashion, I love all of them.
posted by Samizdata at 8:20 PM on July 28 [2 favorites]




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