Friday, June 9, 2017

Movie Review: The Mummy (1999)

The classic monster was brought back to life at the end of the millennium for a silly and fun adventure film directed by Stephen Sommers. A prologue narrated by the Magi leader Ardeth Bay (Oded Fehr)  introduces the priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) who fell in love with the Pharoah's mistress Anck Su Namun (Patricia Velasquez) and was entombed and cursed.  Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) is a soldier who finds the lost City of the Dead, Hamunaptra. He is allowed to escape by the Magi who watch the city so that the mummy is never resurrected. Three years later, Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) works at a library in Cairo thanks to a donation from her wealthy, deceased parents when her brother Jonathan (John Hannah) brings her a map in a puzzle box.

Evelyn saves Rick from execution in a prison run by Warden Gad Hassan (Omid Djalili) who is promised a percentage of the treasure in Hamunaptra. They set out a journey up the Nile accompanied by another crew of Americans led by O'Connell's fellow soldier and betrayer Beni (Kevin J. O'Connor). The two groups dig in separate parts of the period. Gad Hassan discovers the scarab beetles and suffers a terrible fate. The group of Americans uncover the Book of the Dead and collect the organ of Imhotep. Rick, Evelyn, and Jonathan discover the juicy corpse of Imhotep. Evelyn steals the Book of the Dead from Dr. Allen Chamberlain (Jonathan Hyde) and reads the words awaking the mummy. A plague of locusts descends on the camp.

Retreating inside, the American Mr. Burns (Tuc Watkins) trips and loses his glasses before having his eyes and tongue stolen by the mummy. O'Connell shoots the mummy but is warned by the Magi of their mistake before leaving Hamunaptra and returning to Cairo. The plagues and curse follow them as Imhotep hunts down each collector of the organs including Dr. Chamberlian, Mr. Burns, Mr. Henderson (Stephen Dunham), and Mr. Daniels (Corey Johnson). The mummy regains his flesh and power with each attack but is afraid of cats, which O'Connell uses to deter Imhotep. The mummy also believes that Evelyn is the perfect sacrifice to bring back Anck Su Namun. 

The mummy employs Beni as an assistant in his plan, promising him gold and riches beyond imagination. Imhotep captures Evelyn and brings her back the Hamunaptra to perform the ritual. O'Connell, Jonathan, and the Magi Ardeth pursue him back to the City of the Dead. The special effects do look a bit dated as a new version arrives in theaters but the wall of sand with the mummy's face is still an iconic scene. Imhotep awakens his priests to fight O'Connel as he prepares the ceremony to bring Anck Su Namun into Evelyn's body. 

O'Connell fights the priest mummies and the pharaoh's bodyguard mummies while Jonathan and Evelyn decipher the book of Amun-Ra to make Imhotep mortal and cast him back into the underworld. The Mummy is a very exciting and action-packed film that I've enjoyed greatly since I was young. Fraser has a star turn as the adventurer having great chemistry with Weisz. There is plenty of humor from Weisz to balance the very minor parts of horror. The action is still pretty fun even if the effects look a little faker than I remember. This film is a classic campy adventure movie that is fun to revisit every so often.

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