In the '30's and '40's, Universal produced a series of horror
films (featuring Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney) about a resurrected
Mummy seeking vengeance on those who disturbed his tomb. Eager for a
crowd pleasing hit, Universal has whisked the dust off the character
and unwrapped it for a new generation. Rather than a straight horror
film, this $80 million version of The Mummy is a rollicking good
adventure yarn in a similar vein to the popular Indiana Jones series.
The Mummy is perfect Saturday afternoon matinee material, albeit with
a distinctly '90's sensibility and a sophisticated edge.
The action of The Mummy takes place in Egypt in 1925. The
B-grade Indiana Jones-type character here is Rick O'Connell (Brendan
Fraser), a foreign legionnaire who knows the location to Humanaptra,
the mythical lost city of ancient Egypt. He is hired by virginal
librarian and amateur archaeologist Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz,
from Swept From The Sea, etc) to lead an expedition to the buried city
and its reputed treasure trove.
Along the way they encounter a rival expedition, led by Kevin
J O'Connor, which has less scholarly pursuits in mind. However, when
they find the city they unwittingly unleash the ferocious power of
Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), an evil priest buried alive 3000 years
earlier for murdering the pharaoh, and are forced to join forces to
battle his supernatural powers. Imhotep brings with him numerous
Biblical plagues as well as legions of undead, which he turns loose on
the modern world. He also sets his sights on using Evelyn as a human
sacrifice in order to resurrect his dead lover. Director Stephen
Sommers, best known for his live action version of The Jungle Book,
brings plenty of pace and excitement to the film. He also maintains a
wonderful tongue in cheek approach throughout this entertaining yarn.
Cast largely against type as the swashbuckling hero Fraser is
superb, and he brings an enthusiasm, physicality, and sense of humour
to the role that ideally captures the film's tone. Weisz brings a
combination of vulnerability and strength to her role as the bookish
Evelyn, who is suddenly out of her depth when fighting centuries old
curses. John Hannah (from Sliding Doors, etc) adds much comic relief
as Evelyn's roguish brother Jonathan, although his occasionally
irritating character is something of a cliché.
Unlike another recent big budget sci-fi blockbuster currently
screening around town, the impressive array of digitally created
special effects on display here serve only to beef up the story. The
effects, especially those that recreate fierce sandstorms and
re-animate skeletal armies, are superb and enhance the fanciful
material. The Mummy is ideal entertainment, and heaps more fun than
the over hyped The Phantom Menace.
Copyright © 2000 Greg King