Stephen Sommers’ “The Mummy” was so good and (most important of all) so profitable that they not only made a sequel, but they made a prequel out of a minor character. In its truest form, “The Mummy” is an old-fashioned adventure movie, filled with fluff romance, outrageous action sequences, and humor that straddle the line between lowbrow and, well, slightly above lowbrow.
“The Mummy” stars Brendan Fraser as Rick O’Connell, an American who, as the film opens, is part of a French Legion unit that is about to be slaughtered by a secret society of Egyptian warriors. It seems the Legionnaires have found a lost city that is purported to contain vast fortunes as well as the evil corpse of a mummy name Imhotep, a long-dead Egyptian mystic who desires to rule the world. O’Connell survives the slaughter only to be recruited into the services of lovely Evie (Rachel Weisz), a spunky archaeologist and her clumsy brother Jonathan (John Hannah). The trio goes after the lost city using O’Connell as a guide, but that’s when things really start to hit the fan…
To say that “The Mummy” is nothing close to being complex is an understatement. For all of its attempts to interweave a historical and epic-scale story about Imhotep (the mummy in question) and his quest for global domination, the movie’s real storyline is a simple retread of any James Bond movie. Along the way, the mummy decides Evie is the reincarnation of his long lost love, which means O’Connell (who has by now already fallen heads over heels in love with the lovely lady, and vice versa) must get her back, which leads to a final showdown between man and mummy. It ain’t brain surgery, that’s for sure.
What “The Mummy” does well is engineer terrific action set pieces, including (but definitely not limited to) a string of mummy-vs-humans battles, humans-vs-insects battles, and toward the end, humans-vs-a-giant-sandstorm. Oh yes, “The Mummy” is one of those movies where, after having finished watching, you can assuredly say that you won’t be asking for your money back. This is a fun film, filled to the brim with over-the-top comedy and heroics.
Despite the fact that their romance is possible only in the movies, Fraser and Weisz manage to become quite the couple. Both actors are clearly in on the joke and never tries to take the film for anything other a wild period romp through the desert and early 20th century Egypt. Comedy is courtesy of John Hannah, as the less talented sibling, and Kevin J. O’Connor as Beni, a cowardly worm that would betray his mom for a buck.
The one thing “The Mummy” isn’t is scary. There are no scares to be had, unless one counts an army of invading beetles or a mummy in the process of resurrection. I don’t, because these scenes are more likely to induce a reaction of, “Wow, that’s cool” because of the special effects involved. Which is to say the film isn’t scary at all, and calling it anything other than a Fantasy Action Movie is stretching things a bit.
For what it is, “The Mummy” delivers everything it promises. A better time at the movies I haven’t had in a while.
Stephen Sommers (director) / Stephen Sommers, Lloyd Fonvielle, Kevin Jarre (screenplay)
CAST: Brendan Fraser …. Rick O’Connell
Rachel Weisz …. Evie Carnahan
John Hannah …. Jonathan Carnahan
Arnold Vosloo …. Imhotep
Kevin J. O’Connor …. Beni Gabor
Oded Fehr …. Ardeth Bay