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The Mummy

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Mummy

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz
Director: Stephen Sommers
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 124 Minutes
Release Date: May 1999
Genres: Horror, Action

*Also starring: John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Kevin J. O'Connor, Tuc Watkins, Aharon Ipale, Bernard Fox, Oded Fehr, Patricia Velasquez

Review by Walter Frith
2 stars out of 4

'The Mummy' strikes a familiar chord along the lines of irreverent film making in so much as that it turns out to be nothing more than popcorn entertainment. As this was clearly the intention, the hustle and bustle of its sheer aim to please can't quite escape the fact that the film is out of control, over the top, over simplified and overly dependent on special effects. There are few laughs because the campy humour isn't understood by all, few injections of character fuel, and the film is like a rollercoaster gone out of control. Instead of building a slow momentum leading up to the action sequences, the film is determined to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up indefinitely in its second half and it never gives you a chance to breathe and it feels all wrong.

'The Mummy' does deserve credit in several areas. The first of which is its look. Designed to look and feel entirely different than the 1932 feature with Boris Karloff (technology sort of makes it impossible to look like the original I suppose), this film has impressive production designs, sweeping special effects which are good but over done. It's attempt to poke fun at films like 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and other movies of a similar nature isn't necessarily a good thing. Doesn't Hollywood leave the lampooning of classic films to Leslie Nielsen?

Brendan Fraser stars as an American in the French Foreign Legion named Rick O'Connell, who, on an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Hamunaptra accidentally awakens the Mummy who is the evil Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) from the days of the ancient Egypt around 1300 B.C. who was tortured, buried alive and whose soul never laid down to rest upon his death and he seeks revenge upon being awakened in what is now 1923. O'Connell is joined in his adventure by Evelyn Carnarvon (Rachel Weisz) and her brother Jonathan (John Hannah).

The film might have come across better if it had a few big name and experienced stars to carry it during its weak spots the way Jack Nicholson carried 1989's 'Batman' through some of its weaker areas when the film seemed like it was sagging and Nicholson's clear improvisation saved it from collapsing. The budget looked so big in 'The Mummy' that I suppose there was little chance of latching onto a big name when most of them now command 20 million dollars a picture which is approximately 1/5 of a big studio film's standard budget.

Director Stephen Sommers ('Deep Rising') makes the fatal mistake of allowing the film to run over two hours (124 minutes to be exact). 'The Mummy' feels like a marathon runner's feet at the end of a long run. It's tiresome. There's no doubt that the film is great to look at on the big screen in many instances but the audience I saw it with had a lot of kids and after seeing the look on the face of many parents in the crowd I think they realized the film wasn't exactly a family adventure and the film definitely isn't for young children under the age of 12.

On the veteran's end of the scale, 'The Mummy' has some redeeming satisfactions. Oscar winner and multiple nominee Jerry Goldsmith is responsible for the film's sweeping original score and Oscar nominated camera man Adrian Biddle ('Thelma and Louise') gives the movie a gleaming and refined look of beauty.

Every entity has a weakness that leads to its destruction. Superman had Kryptonite, the Death Star had a hole two metres wide and the Blob had the cold. 'The Mummy' has the distinction of being the type of film that over uses special effects and doesn't have enough of anything else and it should have realized that when special effects are involved, sometimes less is indeed more.

Copyright 2000 Walter Frith

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