Cert: 12 Runtime: 125 mins Director: Stephen Sommers Starring: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah and Arnold Vosloo
Death is only the beginning
The Mummy is a film every child has watched during the last 10 years, it’s always on TV so you can’t really miss it. After watching it on Sunday evening, I decided it is my blast from the past this week. In ancient Egypt, high priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) started a forbidden relationship with Anck Su Namun, Pharaoh Seti’s Mistress. When Seti finds out about what’s going on, Imhotep and his loved one stab him, but can’t escape the trustworthy guards: Anck Su Namun chooses to commit suicide while Imhotep is bestowed with the Hom-Dai, the most feared curse of all: He is mummified alive in Hamunaptra, the city of the Dead. More than thirty-six centuries later, in 1923, to be exact, adventurer Rick (Brendan Fraser) leads Egyptologist Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) and her brother Jonathan (John Hannah) to mysterious Hamunaptra. While Jonathan is keen on finding the legendary Egyptian treasures, Evelyn wants to search for the Book of the Living, which would clarify a lot in historical knowledge about the ancient Egyptians. Unfortunately, they and a rivaling group of careless American adventurers free Imhotep’s mummy from his eternal prison. Now, with the ancient and quite agile high priest on the loose, the adventurers and scientists face not only a dangerous enemy, but also a massive threat to today’s world: Imhotep wants to bring Anck Su Namun back to life by using Evelyn’s body, but he also wants to rid the world of the disbelieving crowd of democracy-supporters to be able to enforce his tyrannic dictatorship.
The film’s director and writer, Stephen Sommers, must be really well-versed in adventure films. He knows how to bring out the boyhood sense of fun in nearly every scene, and he never fails to do anything less than make this a rousing thrill ride. He never does anything particularlyl innovative, but his ability to breathe life into the adventure genre again is refreshing. His emphasis on characters and humor make this a more satisfying experience than most other summer blockbusters. It’s nice to see a movie that has true intentions of entertaining the audience, and not just try to make a quick buck.The action sequences are a partial reason for the movie’s success. Sommers tries out something different for every action scene. There are gunfights, swordfights, tense chase scenes, and a breathtaking sandstorm. But Sommers wisely doesn’t exhaust you with non-stop action. The real non-stop thrills don’t begin until the 1-hour mark. He does a nice job of building the momentum with adventure, humor, and romance.Speaking of the romance, Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz have an undeniable amount of sizzling chemistry. They work well together and it would be nice to see them in a film outside of this genre. Fraser is the perfect choice for the ruggedly handsome hero. He does a great job for the physical parts and his charisma is just as strong as his acting. Weisz does end up mostly playing the damsel in distress, but there’s great fun in that acknowledgement and she plays her part quite well. Plus, the fact that she’s very cute doesn’t hurt matters. John Hannah as the comic relief is quite hilarious. Some of the jokes he’s given aren’t necessarily funny but his delivery is so dead-on, I couldn’t help but laugh.The lead trio have the most presence. The actors playing the villains don’t really have much dialogue. Arnold Vosloo is a menacing physical presence and though he doesn’t say much he does ooze with a certain sense of icky creepiness (could be due to those mummy effects). Patricia Velazquez doesn’t do much other wear some skimpy clothing. As a mummy, she basically shrieks her way through the role. Once again, it’s not as if though these villains really need to be well-defined.
Sommers’ script isn’t anything brilliant by a long shot, but it’s a very entertaining and well-spun tale, which is better than what can be said for most big-budget summer films. The dialogue, though sometimes seemingly corny, actually works perfectly and is often quite hilarious. The humor, obviously intentional from all standpoints, keeps the movie’s pacing tight and adds an extra degree of fun to the whole production.Sommers also injects the film with the right tone and mood. It’s hardly a frightening film, and that’s certainly not the point. He keeps things on a light-hearted, though still tense and thrilling, level. The movie doesn’t take itself very seriously, and as a result it’s a movie experience that’s all the better for it. We’ve already had a horror-related film about a mummy, and it was time for something more cinematically rousing, which is definitely Sommers’ intent.The special effects are quite outstanding. The initial sight of the mummy is obviously far too CGI, but it works within the film’s tone. Having a seriously scary-looking monster would have ruined the slight tongue-in-cheek attitude the movie was going for. The rest of the visuals are great. The design of Hamunaptra is convincingly ancient and mystical. The large wave of locusts and beetles are also a sight to behold, but the film’s best effect is the sandstorm, which Sommers films from the perfect angles, giving us a sense of how immense in size and scope it is.The Mummy has obviously had the largest lasting impression of 1999’s summer films. It may not have the money of Phantom Menace or the innovative visuals of The Matrix, but it’s a film that is superb because it succeeds in what it promises to do, and that’s to thrill and entertain you for a couple of hours, and it has no pretensions about doing so.7.5/10