First there was The Mummy. It was hardly high art, but it was good at what it was intended to be–a fun popcorn flick and a delivery system for hot, hot mostly-naked Arnold Vosloo.
Then came The Mummy Returns. Less fun, but somehow Arnold Vosloo was even hotter in this movie, so all was forgiven. At this point, watching Brendan Fraser flail around haplessly has gotten quite old. “Help, I’m ineffective! Someone call in geriatric Elvis to finish this guy off!”
Next was the spin-off, The Scorpion King. What a piece of crap.
So the franchise died, as well it should have. Pop culture sensations very rarely have the momentum to live through multiple iterations of badly-written, pushed-to-release-to-capitalize-on-the-only-actual-success movies.
Have you ever owned a t-shirt so long it went from cool to uncool and right back into cool? Franchises often revive themselves this way, and the last few years have been all about reviving already-owned properties than risking money on a new venture; the Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Battlestar Galactica, and even the X-Files have seen their day dragged out from the closet and into the sun, some more wildly successful than others.
In a recent issue of Wired, Scott Brown developed a Nostalgorithm for pop culture sensations.
Where L= probability of lameness. “Translated crudely from the calculus, this simply means pop properties have expiration dates, like Lunchables or Tom Cruise. And fan love doesn’t steadily decline — it plummets as exposure (E) reaches an unhealthy level….But as Noah points out, non-awesome pop objects are primed to become awesome again. While what’s old is eventually new again, it takes about a generation (tgen = 20 years) for kids to pick up what their parents discarded.”
Although I failed calculus for myriad reasons, including but by no means limited to 7am classes, inept teaching assistants, no grades counted other than two tests, a basic lack of caring on my part and Unreal Tournament, to the best of my ability, I have figured that the prime release date for a Mummy revival (if one is EVER appropriate, which is debatable) is 2021…not summer 2008.
Apparently studio execs liked Unreal Tournament even more than I did, and ‘The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor’ is set to release this weekend. Unbeknownst to any historians, the Egyptians weren’t the only cultural group who grooved on mummies, oh no. The Chinese got in on that action, starting with a terrible foot-binding accident, and that explains why an archaeologist with a primary focus on Egypt is muddling around China when an Emperor rises from the dead to start a quest for world domination. When he’s done, the whole planet will be known as One China. And they’ll ALWAYS get the Olympics. And that’s just unacceptable to Our Bumbling Hero.
Now that we’ve started bastardizing living cultures, let’s keep this mummy train rolling. I’d like to pitch *my* movie idea, called ‘The Mummy: Curse of the Liger Czar’. It will be set fifty years in the future. Brendan Fraser has accidentally locked himself into a frozen dairy case, thus fulfilling a prophecy made by his mother when he was but a lad–“If you keep making that stupid face, it will freeze that way.” Thanks to the global warming caused by Al Gore, it becomes too expensive to continue to enjoy delicious frozen treats, and the power is disconnected to Fraser’s freezer case, loosing his powers of stupidity onto the world. By coincidence, his clothing style happens to be back in fashion, so no one believes him when he says he is from the past. He discovers that his now-geriatric wife (who never really went to all that much trouble to find him and now looks like a mummy herself) has been kidnapped by a risen Russian Czar to be his wrinkly bride, and that this same Russian Czar also has control over legions of what were previously dismissed as mythological creatures, which are wreaking havoc worldwide. He also runs into a smolderingly hot twenty-five year-old who claims to be his son, but neither the looks nor the timeline fits. Fraser sets off in a rage to find his pancake-boob wife because she’s got some ‘splainin to do. Hilarity ensues.
…What? It can’t be worse than what’s coming out tomorrow!