Time: 120 mins.
Academy Award nomination for Best Sound.
I, like everyone else, have been whipped into a movie-going frenzy in anticipation of PHANTOM MENACE. So, to kick off the summer movie season right I went to see THE MUMMY opening weekend with apparently every one else in the free world. Were we going because we thought it was going to be a great movie? No. We were going because we wanted to see something fun, exciting, with tons of action and cool special effects. And if that's what you're looking for THE MUMMY definitely delivers. It's a period film with '90's effects and is quite funny thanks to the comedic talents of Brendan Fraser and John Hannah. They make a great team in this updated take of the monster movie classic where the girl is smart and beautiful, the Brits are drunken cowards and the Americans are oversized cowboys.
The film begins with a giant battle sequence in the Egyptian desert at an old sacred burial ground called Hamanaptra. It is believed that this is the place where the pharaohs buried all of their gold. It is also believed to be a place of great evil. As the story goes, Imhotep, the pharaoh's high priest, conspired with the pharaoh's mistress Anck-Su-Namun to kill the pharoah and take over the kingdom. After murdering the pharoah Anck kills herself while Imhotep escapes because she knows he can bring her back from the dead. Unfortunately, the ceremony to resurrect her is interrupted by the pharaoh's guards and Imhotep and his followers are buried alive in the most cruel and feared ritual of the Egyptian people. Over the years a group of men descended from the pharaoh's guard watch over Hamanaptra to ensure that no one unearths Imhotep, whose resurrection will bring death and destruction to the entire planet.
That said it has always been Evelyn's (Rachel Weisz) dream to find the Book of the Dead rumored to be buried in Hamanaptra. A scholar of ancient Egyptian languages, she has always yearned for adventure. She gets her wish in spades. After discovering a map to the city, her brother Jonathan (John Hannah) introduces her to Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser), an American about to be hanged who swears that he's not only been to the lost city, if she helps free him, he'll take her there. She secures his release by promising to give the prison warden 25 percent of what they find. A deal is struck and they're off. Unfortunately, so is a large group of Americans led by the ever sleazy, Beni (Kevin J. O'Connor), a local with a flair for fleeing in the face of danger.
However, they don't get very far. The boat they're travelling on is attacked by the guard, who are trying to recover the map and the "key" that it came in from Jonathan and Evelyn. They are forced to abandon ship, but eventually find their way to Hamanaptra. A friendly rivalry springs up between the groups with the Americans looking for the gold and Evelyn looking for history. They both uncover things better left alone. The Americans ignore a curse and uncover the ceremonial jars Imhotep used to try to bring Anck-Su-Namun back to life. Evelyn and friends use their "key" to open the coffin of Imhotep, even after reading the horrifying nature of his death, unlocking his still juicy corpse. Nothing bad actually happens until Evelyn carelessly reads from the Book of the Dead, setting the curse in motion.
This is where the fun effects begin. Basically, the Mummy/Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) needs to suck the life out of the humans who uncovered the book poor Americans and gather the ceremonial jars in order to revive himself and his lady love. He enlists Beni's help, no surprise, to accomplish this mission. Just to make sure everyone believes in his power he unleashes various plagues on the populace of Egypt pestilence, body sores and the like to enforce his will on the people. He has also chosen Evelyn to be the new body for his girlfriend. So, Rick and Jonathan have a lot of work to do. They have to keep the mummy away, the Americans alive, Evelyn safe and discover the secret to stopping him. Much gunfire and death ensues. In the end, after much battling the trio survives relatively unscathed with a little treasure for the effort.
THE MUMMY is a light-hearted adventure with very little blood and many cool special effects and fantastic action scenes. The main problem with the film is the lack of a feeling of true menace. It's not for a lack of trying, it's just that we don't really get to know anything about Imhotep and even though he looks gross through much of the film, it just isn't that scary, considering the gore modern audiences are used to. Despite that, the film has great momentum, a dry sense of humor and a fantastic landscape to tell it's story. The actors give a little depth to their characters, but pretty much stick to the formula, which actually really works in this instance. If you're looking for some mindless fun with a so-so story, a bit of romance and good effects, then you'll probably like THE MUMMY. Brendan Fraser fans won't be disappointed.