A group of Americans accidentally unleash an ancient,
powerful mummy and must work fast to destroy it.
The Mummy (1999)
Written and Directed by Stephen Sommers
Starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah,
Arnold Vosloo, Kevin J. O'Connor, Oded Fehr, Jonathan Hyde,
Erick Avari, Stephen Dunham, Corey Johnson, Tuc Watkins
Remake of 1932's The Mummy
Oscar Nominations - Best Sound
The Mummy is one of my all-time favorite films. It's one of the earliest gateway movies I saw, that is films that led me to discover horror, alongside Beetlejuice and Ghostbusters. It's not quite horror, but it's just about there. There are moments that are quite frightening, but overall it's an action-packed fantasy adventure with roots set firmly in the Indiana Jones franchise, among other classics. Stephen Sommers had a short-lived career as an a-list director, with The Mummy being the film that shot him right to the top. Of course, G.I. Joe was the one that brought him back down and we haven't seen him since, but The Mummy is still an underrated but celebrated masterpiece of cult cinema.
Karloff's iteration is all but ignored, with the villains' names being pretty much the only thing lifted from the source. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as I feel the original lacks focus and imagination. This film, though, has both in spades. Brendan Fraser shines as dashing adventurer Rick O'Connell, who goes head to head with the reanimated mummified corpse of Imhotep (Vosloo, another underrated character actor) after timid librarian and Egyptologist Evelyn Carnahan (Weisz) brings him back by accident. The cast all shines, and I wish they'd gone on to do bigger things. Rachel Weisz was really the only one who escaped the curse of The Mummy, going on to win an Oscar and become an a-lister. We had high hopes for Brendan Fraser, but he had his own set of problems that brought him down. Still, he'll always have the first two Mummy films. The less said about part three, the better.
The Mummy has such a unique style to it. It feels timeless. It's by far the best version of this story ever brought to film, with Karloff's 1932 original being too dull and Cruise's 2017 disaster being just complete shit. If they really want to win back fans, look to what's been done correctly and build on it. A fourth Mummy with this cast, done right of course, could be huge for Universal. Maybe ignore Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, like they did with Halloween. Regardless, I'll always consider this movie a favorite and I love introducing it to newcomers.
The Mummy has always been one of my favorite movies. With plenty of action, humor, and a dose of horror, this film has never failed to leave me entertained. Brendan Fraser completely owns the role of wise-cracking hero Rick O'Connell, with the rest of the cast being just as impressive. Like I said, I've loved this movie since I was a kid and still do.
While the film strays a little from the horror roots of the original, it still has plenty of scenes that will creep you out. The filmmakers expertly keep the horror intact with many early scenes involving Imhotep hunting down the men who have the jars with his preserved organs. Apart from that, the film works as a rousing action/adventure with plenty of well done humor thrown in. The cast also does a fantastic job with their characters. As stated earlier, Fraser is fantastic in the lead role, being a badass action hero while spouting hilarious one-liners. Rachel Weisz and John Hannah are perfect as siblings Evelyn and Jonathan Carnahan, respectively. Hannah, in particular, is hysterical, never failing to make me laugh. Arnold Vosloo is downright creepy as the mummy, Imhotep. He perfectly portrays this iconic character.
I still love everything about this movie. From the setting to the characters, The Mummy continues to be a fun time at the movies. Apart from some occasionally creepy scenes, this is a film that I look forward to watching with my own family someday.
I was fortunate enough to see this flick in theaters as it premiered when I was 16. At the time, I was a big fan of Brendan Fraser from Encino Man and Airheads. This is my third favorite Fraser flick. Having no real experience with the original Universal flick starring the legendary Boris Karloff other than knowing the title, I didn't carry any baggage which (as we've all come to know) can make or break your experience with a remake/reboot. Coming after other action films with elements of horror (Anaconda, Congo, The Relic, and Mimic) had varying levels of success (though I still scratch my head as to why Mimic did so poor at the box office), The Mummy has a delightful blend of action, comedy, and horror that put butts in seats for a wild ride. This flick raked in the cash as it was a huge success (budget: $80 million, return: $416.4 million) and, according to some, saved Universal at a time when it wasn't doing so well. As with most cash cows, Universal kept milking this franchise with a ridiculous number of sequels/offshoots that never lived up to the first.
The opening of the flick sets up the conditions in which we meet our titular monster played in human form by Arnold Vosloo. He is Imhotep, the priest of Pharaoh Seti I, and it is revealed that he is having an affair with the Pharaoh's mistress, Anck-su-namun. The Egyptian Romeo and Juliet kill the Pharaoh with the plan that Imhotep will revive her and they can be together forever. A little lame but this also gives a little humanity to an inhuman villain and a real motivation for coming back. Of course, Imhotep is punished for his crime in the most horrific way as he is mummified alive and closed in a sarcophagus with flesh eating scarabs. The stage has been set and our mummy has been created but the narrator has warned that if he is awakened, he will return as a 'living disease' to consume the world.
Flash forward a couple thousand years to the grand ole time of 1926 as we meet our hero, Rick O'Connell (Fraser), as he is in a desert shootout with the French Foreign Legion near the location of an ancient city holding a dark secret. That city is Hamunaptra, the City of the Dead. Rick is cornered by the army he was fighting and they get spooked when the realize they have wandered into this ancient, cursed place. He is captured and taken to prison to be hanged. It is in the prison that he meets Evelyn and Jonathan, who pay for Rick's release so he can lead them to the city. It is turned into a race when they come across another group of American adventurers lead by Rick's former Foreign Legion "buddy", Beni Gabor (O'Connor). Once inside the city, the horror takes over as they find Imhotep and bring him back to life with a catch: he has to consume the organs of the ones who brought him back before he can be whole again. Until then he is a shambling, skeleton with rotted flesh dangling from his bones. One of my favorite gags (albeit done with CGI) is when the Warden (played by Omid Djalili) as his greed gets the better of him when he unknowingly steals what he thinks are jeweled scarabs that turn out to be the real thing and one burrows into his body and it is shown scurrying under his skin like some fucked up Tom & Jerry cartoon.
There are some horrific moments in this flick though the director doesn't lean too far into it and balances it well with action and comedy. It almost feels like the characters of Rick and Imhotep represent the genres action and comedy, respectively, and they fight it out on screen. That moment, to me, is summed up perfectly when Rick roars back in the face of a monster rather than backing down in fear. Though Roger Ebert considers him a 'low-rent Indiana Jones', I really like how Rick O'Connell is portrayed by Brendan Fraser. He has the physical presence to be an action man and also the comedic timing that allows him to showcase Rick's fallibility. He is not perfect but very resourceful in accomplishing his mission. The effects, for the time, were extremely effective and really showed the power that Imhotep was capable of in scenes like him summoning a sand storm to destroy Rick as he pursues in an airplane. Those effects were handled by none other than Industrial Light & Magic using motion capture technology to make a mummy that was "mean, tough, nasty, something that had never been seen by audiences before" which is a quote from John Andrew Berton who was the visual effects supervisor on the film. It was definitely an achievement and set the tone for the films that followed.
All in all, you can't go wrong with this movie. It is a big, dumb action movie with just enough horror and comedy to make it enjoyable for a wide audience. The fact that this film grossed almost a half-billion dollars tells you that plenty of folks enjoyed this. I hadn't watched this in a while so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this flick still hits for me and I was happy to talk about it on the podcast. Grab a camel, mind the spitting, and settle in for a great popcorn flick about adventure, love, flesh-eating bugs, and mummies.