With Tom Cruise's controversial The Mummy reboot now in cinemas worldwide, audiences can decide for themselves whether the movie is a pleasant surprise or, indeed, the wildly unnecessary trainwreck that its detractors claim it to be.
1999's Brendan Fraser-starring The Mummy was of course itself a remake of the 1932 Boris Karloff classic, though it has endured over the last two decades as a thoroughly entertaining adventure film, and one that many suspected Cruise's new take on the material would be unable to live up to.
So, running down all the crucial criteria on which a movie can be judged, it's time to figure out which of the two films, when taken precisely on their own terms, is actually the best. Does Fraser's rollicking adventure flick stand the test of time, or does Cruise's bigger-budget tentpole make the most of advances in filmmaking tech and improve upon what came before?
The 1999 Mummy was eventually written and directed by Stephen Sommers, who had just directed middling monster flick Deep Rising the year before. Despite his fairly dubious prior credits, he did a rock solid job making the movie feel like an old-school adventure serial in the tone of the Indiana Jones movies. It popped visually and Universal were happy enough with his work to invite him back for The Mummy Returns two years later.
The Mummy reboot is meanwhile helmed by Transformers and Star Trek writer Alex Kurtzman, in his first gig directing a blockbuster movie. Though Kurtzman certainly delivers better-than-expected work given his lack of experience, he also doesn't really do much to write home about, and is clearly just working from the bland tentpole playbook.
Winner: Sommers' work simply feels much more confident and assured, while Kurtzman still has a lot to learn.
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