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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 Greg King
4 stars out of 4

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

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