Every inch a traditional, joyously corny, pith helmetswashbuckler flick -- complete with damsel in distress -- Universal's post-modernremake of "The Mummy" is a masterful marriage of '30s adventure/horrorand self-cognizant, Millennium-era, thrill-a-minute action.
Packed with awesome CGI special effects and anchored byBrendan Fraser, an ideal dashing-but-scruffy, lantern-jawed hero, thereisn't much left of the 1932 Boris Karloff original here, but as good old-fashionedadventure goes, this "Mummy" is giddy, low-brow fun.
Fraser stars as an soldier of fortune in 1923, leadinga group of treasure hunters and archeologists to a mythological 3,000-year-oldEgyptian city he stumbled on to once before. During their dig, the groupinadvertently awakens an undead and unfriendly mummy -- an ancient priestwho was buried alive in a sarcophagus filled with flesh-eating scarab beetlesmillennia ago for diddling a Pharaoh's mistress, and now he wants her back.
The mummy effects -- and there are many as he regenerateshis rotting flesh by sucking the life out of the party members with theleast dialogue -- are the most seamless work out of Industrial Light andMagic since the last "Jurassic Park." The decayed antagonistis played by a Billy Zane look-a-like (and act-a-like) named Arnold Vosloo,but while he's fantastically ominous when finally fully fleshed, the effectsdo most of his work for him as his supernatural powers allow him to roarwith an unhinged jaw and dissolve into sand to leak into a locked bedroomthrough a keyhole.
Inside that locked bedroom is Rachel Weisz ("The Land Girls," "GoingAll the Way") as a pretty, prim antiquities museum librarian who transforms herself into a sensuous sex bomb with theremoval of her glasses and a couple bobby pins.
As the dig's resident Egyptologist, she extols mythologyand pretend she dislikes our unmannerly hero despite a firey sexual tension.As the only girl in the picture, she's also there to be abducted by theMummy as a new body for his also-mummified love and to be chained to astone slab during the climax, as Fraser commits feats of daring-do in ajoyously over-the-top battle against legions of the undead.
If you care to pick it apart, "The Mummy" isfull of stupid mistakes. Why did the Pharaoh kill this priest in such away that he was sure to some day come back omnipotent? How did this mummystay undiscovered for so long when its mysterious protectors -- who attackwhenever there's a lull in the story -- are so inept? Why doesn't the scholarlyWeisz know better than to read from the book of the dead?
But writer-director Stephen Sommers ("Deep Rising,"the live-action "Jungle Book") pokes fun at the inevitable flawsof a movie based on cheesy antique horror with such deliberate self-mockerythat "The Mummy" is all the more enjoyable because of its silliness.
"That happens a lot around here," Fraser deadpanswhen the wind blows ominously through a scene for the fifth or sixth time.When, in the throes of the Mummy's supernatural havoc, he's asked whathe's going to do, he replies matter-of-factly, "Rescue the damselin distress. Kill the bad guy. Save the world."
While "The Mummy" sees its source material throughIndiana Jones-colored glasses, Sommers embraces the corny spirit of the30s adventures in a way the Indy movies don't. It's silly and proud, andI like that in a action-adventure.
Run time: 125 mins
In Theaters: Friday 7th May 1999
Box Office Worldwide: $415.9M
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Alphaville Films
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 46 Rotten: 37
IMDB: 7.0 / 10
Director: Stephen Sommers
Starring: Brendan Fraser as Richard O'Connell, Rachel Weisz as Evelyn Carnahan, John Hannah as Jonathan Carnahan, Arnold Vosloo as High Priest Imhotep, Kevin J. O'Connor as Beni Gabor, Oded Fehr as Ardeth Bay, Jonathan Hyde as Dr. Allen Chamberlain, Erick Avari as Dr. Terrence Bey, Bernard Fox as Captain Winston Havlock, Patricia Velásquez as Anck-Su Namun, Stephen Dunham as Mr. Henderson, Corey Johnson as Mr. Daniels, Tuc Watkins as Mr. Burns, Omid Djalili as Warden Gad Hassan, Aharon Ipalé as Pharaoh Seti I, Carl Chase as Hook, Mohammed Afifi as Hangman, Abderrahim El Aadili as Camel Trader, Jake Arnott as Mummy, Mason Ball as Mummy, Isobel Brook as Mummy, James Traherne Burton as Mummy, Peter Chequer as Mummy, Porl Smith as Mummy, Ian Warner as Mummy
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