1999; Rated PG-13; 127 Minutes
Brendan Frasier: Rick O'Connell
Rachel Weisz: Evelyn
John Hannah: Jonathan
Arnold Vosloo: Imhotep
Kevin J. Connor: Beni
Jonathan Hyde: The Egyptologist
Oded Fehr: Ardeth Behr
Produced by Patricia Carr, Sean Daniel and James
Jacks; Directed and screenwritten by Stephen Sommers
by DAVID KEYES
legendary monster movies were not the kinds of films that
would leave an audience shrinking down to their seats. They
were usually ridiculous attractions, in which the lame special
effects and utterly ludicrous storytelling were the cause
of much laughter and mockery underneath the theater screen.
Furthermore, the 'monsters' weren't even scary--instead,
they were ugly, vile, sometimes goofy-looking creatures
that must have been thought up over a dinner table when
a filmmaker witnessed an infant create something using mashed
potatoes and various other foods.
yet most of these movies remain either popular or unforgotten
in some way. Why? Because even though they looked awful,
they were actually quite exciting--unboring, fun, action-packed,
and filled with an inexplainable entertainment value. Curiously,
these pictures also gave us some of the notorious monsters
we recognize today: the bloodsucking vampire, the creepy
Frankenstein, the howling werewolf, and of course, the bandage-wrapped
mummy. Each creature came equipped with all the necessary
devices: a meaning in life, a creator, and, of course, a
way of being destroyed. A stake through the heart, for instance,
could kill the vampire, while shooting a werewolf with a
silver bullet would put a halt on his horrendous rampage.
The ploys have been carried down the line of horror films,
making the legends of these creatures so clichéd and so
obvious that, even if you haven't seen the movies, you could
still identify who they were, what they did, and what killed
aside those monsters for now. They don't matter. Instead,
think of the Mummy, which is essentially one of the most
strangely ridiculous creatures that could have ever been
thought of by human minds. Here is something that does nothing
but sway around, holding his hands out, trying to grasp
the victim that it is chasing. And yet it never occurs to
any of the victims that, if they could just unravel those
bandages, nothing is underneath, and they can stop running.
an idea seems almost nonexistent in Stephen Sommers' "The
Mummy," a film that looks and acts like an old Hollywood
monster movie, but remains quite exciting by stretching
the truth about what we think is the legend of a bandage-wrapped
creature. There isn't even a walking zombie in the movie,
other than a skeleton with an ugly smile, which rebuilds
its body using the meat and limbs from those who set him
free in the first place. Afterwards, what we get is the
visage of the legendary Imhotep, an ancient Egyptian man
who slept with the Pharaoh's mistress. He tried reviving
her after death, got caught, and was cursed and then thrown
alive into a tomb filled with flesh-eating Scarabs. Sworn
to return years later after one would read the words off
of the book of the dead, he emerges in the film's main setting,
the 1920s, when (in the movies) adventurers were young and
winsom, heroines were fetching and regal, and villains were
creepy yet idiotic. All of these traits are used to the
director's advantage, who, in this case, is also the writer.
They take on new meaning because they are matched up against
elements of fantasy and adventure that have scarcely been
seen before. Think of "Indiana Jones" meeting the 1930s
Boris Karloff film "The Mummy," and you'll understand my
movie's idiotic impressions begin right after the setup.
Once we've seen Imhotep and his burial, we begin with Brendan
Frasier, a treasure hunter of sorts, battling desert priests
in the territory of Hamunaptra, the city of the dead, which
only appears at dawn. He is there looking for, naturally,
some sort of treasure, and realizes that this territory
carries deep secrets. First we hear a whistle in the air,
and then a roar in the ground; he crosses the path of an
Egyptian statue, and the face of Imhotep emerges from the
sand underneath it. The image is intriguing, but nothing
to jump up and down about.
like those lead towards the thickening of the plot, in which
Rick and his treasure-hunting friends accidentally read
words from the book of the dead and set this evil spirit
of Imhotep free. There is an instance when we see a walking
skeleton come towards an American treasure-seeker, and he
lets out a scream of fright. Later, we notice that this
hunter's eyes have been torn out of their sockets, so that
the walking corpse can see again.
small consolation for these people comes later on, when
they are told that the spirit they have revived is a legend
who, once resurrected, would bring with him the 10 plagues
of Egypt. Furthermore, their mistake is reversible by only
one thing--going back to the city and locating a golden
book which, once read, will set Imhotep's spirit free of
the curse and allow him to pass onto the other side. Too
bad that their only Egyptian hyroglyphic-reader, Evelyn,
is Imhotep's prisoner, and hers is the body he plans to
use when resurrecting his old lover.
Mummy" doesn't have a reason to be funny, but we're given
humor anyway. This is so, in case one gets bored with the
action, we have something else to be amused by. And believe
me, the humor sells the film more than the actual visuals.
For instance, there's a scene in which the skeleton of Imhotep
approaches Rick (Frasier), and he opens his mouth and roars.
To show how tough Rick remains in situations like this,
what does he do? He roars back! And if you think that's
funny, wait until you see Imhotep get scared off by the
hiss of a cat. Now that's a riot!
my protests of the movie being (at times) ridiculous and
preposterous, I haven't actually called the movie a bad
one, although I will admit that people have their own right
to label it with that word. Why? Because these kinds of
foolish entertainments never appeal to everyone. I cannot
argue against the movie's ridiculous premise, annoying characters,
or even the contrived situations. I simply believe that,
in any case, people can either choose to enjoy the foolishness,
or revile it with all their might. I am one who chooses
to enjoy it. After all, I did admire films like "Congo,"
"Batman And Robin," and "Anaconda."
are enabled to have a weakness or two at the movies. If
a person, for example, could find anything entertaining
about "Armageddon," shouldn't I be entitled to enjoy something
like "The Mummy?"
rest my case.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.