Universal is on the verge of making not just a remake of a 1999 action adventure title, but true to Hollywood form, they are rebooting an entire array of classics to become a franchise all unto itself. The Mummy will kickstart the studio’s love affair with the monster movies courtesy of the Dark Universe, a domain where The Wolfman, Dr. Jekyll, Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Invisible Man roam free.
With stars Russell Crowe, Johnny Depp, and Javier Bardem locked in for the extended romp, Tom Cruise can take over from where Brendon Fraser left off some 9 years prior. That series ran from 99 until running out of steam with the 2008 installment The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. In between was a 2001 sequel The Mummy Returns and a Dwayne Johnson-led spinoff The Scorpion King. Each feature returned Universal with a handsome sum at the box office ($1.4b in total) but creatively the characters and storylines became ridiculously over the top.
There were so many rough edges to these movies that camera crew was often spotted in the background fixing watches, popping up behind pillars or reflecting off mirrors. Plot holes were plentiful and details, no matter how big or small, were overlooked simply to make the spectacle bearable for the PG-13 pictures.
Fingers crossed the studio can learn from these mistakes when 2017’s The Mummy opens this month. In the event they don’t, we will be treated to a lot of laughs in theaters. But it won’t be with them, it will be at Universal’s expense.
15. Watch Check By Unsuspecting Assistant
In the first instalment The Mummy, Brendan Fraser’s character Richard “Rick” O’Connell enjoys a drink at a watering hole in between two other Americans. Before the extravagant set-piece where the water turns into blood to mimic a classic moment of biblical proportions, we see something a tad unusual. It would be none other than an assistant to director Stephen Sommers who makes an unwanted cameo. His hand would appear on the left of the screen as he feels the need to check his watch, only for the viewer to see something highly unprofessional. Sommers would later admit in an interview that the first AD was checking his watch and it is anyone’s guess if A) he kept his job with Universal or B) if that footage ever came across the editing room. Star Wars Episode IV showcased a clumsy storm trooper and that wasn’t picked up, but in 1999 – surely that could have been cut out.
14. Reverse Numbers Showcase Wrong Shot
There are small checks you can take to notice little glitches that aren’t the real deal. Akin to The Matrix, sometimes you can sniff out something that is off just enough to call it out. They are everywhere on YouTube, whenever a clip has the reverse of what is actually taking place – that is when the jig is up. In those cases, the user does not have the rights to the content. But how the flipped plane numbers got past the editing room in this instance is anyone’s guess.
This occurred when Imhotep was transporting Beni and Evie to Hamunaptra in the 1999 original title The Mummy. Before screaming for O’Connell, she is searching for something in the air when she hears the echo of a plane in the sky. Evie gazes upwards to see a yellow machine with a gunman in the rears. Yet what we see running across the aircraft is “BE228” in unusual writing. This is a mirror image of “B5538” to illustrate that the plane on screen backward.
13. Earplugs Visible During Gun Fight
The boat gunfight scene is not a classic by any measure, but it put O’Connell and the gang against some tough looking Western gunslingers. They had the facial hair, the gruff accents, the grizzled chins, the weapons and the bad attitude to boot. All of this is very on message and keeps with the stereotype of what a cowboy would look like, but there was a clear error that the filmmakers missed while shooting this shootout.
Earplugs were clearly visible for the group of outlaws as they were exchanging bullets from afar – a mistake that could be forgiven if they were performing for a group of tourists at Disneyland. For an $80m production like The Mummy? It is fair to say that is not one of the most intimidating features and a serious faux pas once again. We would hope that would put an end to the lapses in judgment, yet it would be the tip of the iceberg for a ridiculous franchise.
12. Cat Fever Fails To Make Sense
Arnold Vosloo’s classic villain Imhotep is The Mummy that we are supposed to fear, unleashing all types of hell that was kept in the dark depths of Egypt for centuries. When he is let out of his tomb, that is when the audience is positioned to fear this character and his tremendous power. But his kryptonite would not come in the form of a green spear or a magic potion, it would be …. cats.
In one take, O’Connell frightens the life out of Imhotep by holding up a white cat. This moment would never dawn on the others to have one close to them in any instance they encounter The Mummy ever again. If this plot hole was not enough, there is a factual error to boot. Imhotep says he fears cats because they are “the guardians of the Underworld”. But in Egyptian mythology, cats are associated with the goddesses Bastet (protection, motherhood, and fertility) and Sekhmet (healing). Does not sound very Underworld-like.
11. Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
The tomb entering phase is one that is built up into the opening film. Echoing scenes from Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Evie shifts a mirror that deflects light onto another set of mirrors. A beam then subsequently bounces off one and other as it forms a chain of light around the tomb, glowing in glorious gold. Aesthetically this looks fantastic, but the reality is that the speed of light moves too fast for the camera and the audience to recognize the process happening. This light did not slow down for the cameras, it was a man-made mistake that does not take into account what a real deflection would look like on screen.
To make matters worse, this would have required adjusting approximately every four minutes. The Earth’s rotation, as proven by Mythbusters, needs the source of the beam to follow its trajectory and as such, cannot be left to sit there. In real life, the tomb would have descended into darkness very quickly. Did it? Of course not – this is The Mummy. Who needs things like facts?
10. Slow Beetles Turn Quick And Deadly
The beetles/scarabs are one of the most unique features of The Mummy franchise. These little critters are one of the signature scares when you hop foot on the official ride of the movie on the lot in Universal Studios. But there is a glaring contradiction that has to be brought up if we are to take dialogue seriously and consistency in the script writing.
When a collection of the scarabs are poured over Imhotep, this is the moment when the villain receives his own version of brutal justice. Evelyn explains to us, the audience, that the beetles enjoy to devour a corpse “very slowly” to prolong the pain and agony. Why then, whenever random passersby are caught in the beetle crossfire, are they eaten up in an instant? These tiny killers transition from a slow cooker to a burning fire in the space of a second, suiting the immediacy of the plot. This all overlooks the fact that Jonathon’s ripped shirt is miraculously put back in tact when he checks for any bites.
9. Case Of The Missing Book
Rachel Weisz‘s character Evie was one of the more redeemable in the entire series, offering a damsel who was not so much in distress, but offered an intelligent counterpoint to the brutishly clumsy and cock-sure O’Connell. However, there were a few instances when the obvious error/plot hole crept into her domain as the filmmakers let slip all types of details. One of those would come in a library scene, a department which the fastidious Evie would have checks and balances on every copy on the shelves. In this take, as she was climbing the heights of the giant ladder for the upper decks, her balance shifts and one book falls to the ground. For an OCD operator like Evie, she would have to climb all the way down, pick it up and put it back in its right place again, right? Well, as soon as the camera pans back to show the ground, this book cannot be found and Evie goes along with her day. If only real life could work that easy…
8. Bloodied Hands Turn Dry Instantaneously
Imhotep endures some awful injuries in The Mummy. The soul-destroying killer that returns from the grave tries to take his vengeance on 1930s society but instead is eaten by scarabs and is stabbed by Rick at the conclusion of the film *spoiler alert – sorry*. This deathly blow is supposed to be a watershed moment as the renegade American finally saves the day by putting Imhotep out of his misery. But then the PG-13 rating kicks in, and while we see some blood appear on his hands from the wound to the abdomen initially, the next frame has his hands completely clean from the wound. Now did the actor have time to wash his hands before they went again? Of course. But should Imhotep have that same privilege? No. He has just been stabbed! This is oversight of the highest order as director Stephen Sommers and the editing team did not notice that their main antagonist had the incredible gift of seeing his blood disappear.
7. Skateboard Visible Under Evie
The earliest history of skateboards can be traced before they became a pop culture phenomenon in the 1970s and 80s. But it is fair to say that the Tony Hawk craze did not kick into the 1930s when Rick and Evie were chasing these ancient and evil creatures. The Mummy had an entire database of errors and when The Mummy Returns arrived two years later in 2001, the hope was that Stephen Sommers had learned the lessons and would not be so fast and loose with his photography, graphic errors and plot holes. Alas, we see Evie riding a skateboard underneath her body when she and Rick fall through a wall of water together. The black board is clearly visible under her garment and when Fraser’s character composes himself after the miniature ride, we can see one below him as well. The movie looked fun to make, but escaping for your life was not supposed to be this cool of a ride.
6. Crew Head Pops Up Behind Pillar
Is this an Easter Egg of completely lame proportions? Or just a member of the crew showing up where he was not supposed to? This pillar faux pas speaks volumes about the lax attitudes and professionalism on the set of the blockbuster, seeing unwanted characters emerge on screen where no one seemed to care. The moment took place when Evie, Rick and Ardeth enter into the first city where Imhotep took their soon. Evie is then making her way around the hall, the exact location where she earlier had a vision of fighting Anuk-Sun-Amun in a life before this one. It is supposed to be a powerful scene where she engages in the ancient powers that have been bestowed upon her, but as she moves around the room, there is a random head poking out of one of the columns. It could have been a sound technician or lighting expert, but whatever their field, their spacial awareness was not up to par.
5. Fighting Lefty, Fighting Righty
The Scorpion King became the spinoff from The Mummy Returns that few were asking for. Dwayne Johnson was introduced into the franchise as a 3D animal with scorpion features and while that was an underwhelming debut that few remembered, Universal saw it in their wisdom to let the former WWE star become the leading man in a career that has blossomed.
Yet a clear mistake is made by director Chuck Russell in the very first battle scene, seeing the King start proceedings by holding his sword in the right hand and the shield in his left. Much like the plane incident, we see The Rock switch hands to completely reverse the image. Either one of two things has happened – the wrestler turned actor is ambidextrous and given his talent, who could rule that out? Or the shoot flipped the script on the scene without them realizing this moment of negligence. Given the history of the series, it would be fair to assume the latter.
4. Arm Wrestle Switch-er-Roo In Scorpion King
Having a preferred hand/arm is clearly a detail that filmmaker Chuck Russell did not take much time examining while he was making this flop of a spinoff despite a healthy box office taking of $165.3m. The fight scene between Balthazar and Mathyus is quickly followed by a tribe celebration as the warrior people are always looking to party or lock horns – it was a simple time for simple people. Then Arpid, one of the more alpha male characters group, takes on a woman for an arm wrestling contest, he gets way more than he bargains for. This starts out with the man going Southpaw via his left hand, then the next shot he switches to the right. A remarkable turn around that we did not see coming, giving one arm a rest while attempting to battle on the other. Another case of ambidextrous fighters or flipping the mise en scene? The answer should be pretty obvious by now.
3. Predating Steel Swords
Steel is the element that is utilized to make the swords we see swung around on The Scorpion King, giving the weapons that heavy edge to take down a fellow warrior. But if the filmmakers took a look at a history book, they would see that this type of equipment would be pre-dated around 2000 years. The movie takes place prior to the building of the grand Pyramids around 3200 BC, leaving much weaker tools at their disposal. The same goes for the chainmail around Takmet’s neck, a piece of additional clothing that would not be around to wear until it was invented in 1000 BC. To play around with time is one thing, but then geography is thrown out of the window as a concept. Memnon’s training session sees an opponent use a Japanese training sword known as shinai. This weapon was not around at this time, nor was there ever evidence that Japanese and Egyptians had any contact. At best, this is inventive filmmaking.
2. Unwanted Camera Crew
Productions are super aware of the obvious error that can be made in the case of mirror reflections. Glasses for characters on screen are a particular stumbling block waiting to happen, and now in most cases these individuals will sport shades that cannot reflect back what is behind their heads – a collection of people holding lenses and sound equipment. Even as late as 2008 though, the third of the trilogy in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor did not see a crew member’s head visible at the back of the room via a mirror. To add to the general sense of hilarity at this moment, the man turns his head in the reflection and smiles – as if he knows exactly what he is doing right at that moment. This is as much as an oversight as recasting Evelyn O’Connell with Maria Bello and hoping that no one notices.
1. Seduction Gone Wrong
Neck rubs are not everyone’s cup of tea. Some like to have the shoulders or back worked on where most of the stress lies, but Rick cannot complain too much when Evie is giving the tired adventurer some much needed R&R while he rests on his comfortable armchair. As he falls asleep while reading a book, we see Evie try and seduce Fraser’s character by sliding her hands gently down his neck. Would they be there in the very next frame? Not a chance. They are resting well above the head, as if she forgot what her relationship to O’Connell actually was. Of all the mistakes throughout The Mummy franchise, this is one of the more minor indiscretions. Hands move up, they move down, who cares. But is it any wonder the series was stopped in its tracks to require a huge overhaul and reboot some 9 years later? All four movies were clumsily put together, poorly edited and had zero consistency about issues surrounding geography, timelines, physics and left vs. right.