The Mummy

1999, Alphaville Films

At first I was a little reluctant to go down this road, not being at all into mummy-themed films. Little did I know I was in for a treat, because it's really a fun homage to old-fashioned adventure films—think Indiana Jones Lite—with Brendan Fraser as a charismatic, appropriately-slightly-hammy lead. Critics had no clue what to make of this huge sleeper hit, which earned five times what it cost to make.

     

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The Mummy Returns

2001, Alphaville Films

Stephen Sommers struck box office gold again with his silly yet magically captivating formula, this time tapping Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to play the Scorpion King, an appropriately stupid-looking CGI monster. Once again, critics were looking for something meaningful in what's nothing more than pure popcorn fare—and there's nothing wrong with "wasting time" with films such as these, so long as you're enjoying yourself. Returns returned four times the cost of the film.

     

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The Scorpion King

2002, Alphaville Films et al

Set 5,000 years before the Mummy series, this spin-off reveals the origins of the Scorpion King (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) as featured in The Mummy Returns. More of the same silliness, seemingly created so that The Rock had more opportunities to grimace and flex his pecs.

   

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The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

2008, Alphaville Films et al

Regrettably, Stephen Sommers started losing his touch with his third Mummy, trading some of the adventuresome spirit for more CGI. Still, it's a fun ride that won't make you feel too guilty for having spent 111 minutes taking in such a silly spectacle. As a postscript, three more sequels were planned; however, they were all cancelled when Universal decided to reboot the franchise.

   

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The Mummy

2017, Dark Universe et al

The Mummy franchise had a stake driven through its heart by Tom Cruise, who barged into what was already a troubled project and promptly trashed it, taking control of nearly every aspect of production and post-production. The result of Cruise's obsessive micromanagement, the first of Universal's planned "Dark Universe" series, was spectacularly awful. Universally panned by critics, it cost nearly $200 million to make yet grossed a mere $80 million in North America. It actually left me just a little sad that Cruise has killed any hope of enjoying more of Stephen Sommers' fun flicks.

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