In a day and age where every movie is trying to set up the next great franchise, 1999’s The Mummy was a fun action-adventure that wasn’t worried about what comes next.
Written and directed by Stephen Sommers, The Mummy (1999) is a loose remake of the 1932 Boris Karloff Mummy. Arnold Vosloo plays high priest Imhotep who’s in love with Anck-su-Namun, the mistress of Pharaoh Seti I. When the Pharaoh discovers their secret love, both Imhotep and Anck-su-Namun kill him. After Anck-su-Namun kills herself, Imhotep try’s to resurrect her by stealing her corpse. Seti’s bodyguards, the Medjai, halt the resurrection as Imhotep and his priests are mummified alive.
Brendan Fraser stars as Rick O’Connell, an American who served in the French Foreign Legion discovers Hamunaptra, the City of the Dead. When Evelyn Carnahan’s (Rachel Weisz) brother Jonathan (John Hannah) shows up with a map to Hamunaptra they recruit O’Connell from a prison to take them there. What possibly could go wrong?
The Mummy celebrates its twentieth anniversary this month and even though it’s not the greatest movie ever made I can’t remember one not named Indiana Jones or Star Wars that I’ve enjoyed just as much.
The Mummy could be looked at as a poor mans Indiana Jones, after all it does involve going to ancient ruins, it has plenty of action, romance, after all our male lead has to get the girl, plus flesh-eating scarab beetles. Fun, love and bugs.
The romance between Evelyn and Rick gives the action/horror film heart. Fraser’s wisecracking adventurer gives us plenty of heroics, while a great supporting cast delivers on the humor, especially John Hannah.
One of my favorite moments in The Mummy is during the boat ambush, when Rick calmly stops to reload his guns during a firefight…but doesn’t notice the line of bullets heading straight for his head. At the very last minute, Evelyn pulls his head out of the line of fire. Fraser’s reaction is perfect, with a look of what the hell and thank you all at the same time.
Arnold Vosloo who portrays the High Priest Imhotep is brought back to life 3,000 years after he is cursed and mummified for betraying and killing the Pharaoh. Even 3,000 years later Imhotep still wants to resurrect his lover and when he sees Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) he stops at nothing in order to bring back Anck-su-Namun.
Vosloo as Imhotep is what makes The Mummy work if you ask me. Yes Fraser and Weisz are great together on screen, but if you don’t have a good performance from your villain, in this case Vosloo, then The Mummy doesn’t work. After all, the movie is titled “The Mummy”.
Industrial Light & Magic did the special effects for The Mummy and while there were plenty of effects when it came to Imhotep it didn’t feel special effects heavy. We got fireballs falling from the sky, water turning to blood, flies and flesh-eating beetles. Of course let’s not forget bringing Imhotep back from a clothed wrapped corpse. In a movie where special effects are obviously needed to complete your story they never became a distraction or took you out of the movie.
Nearly two decades later Universal tried rebooting The Mummy in 2017 starring Tom Cruise. If you’ve watched the Kurtzman/Cruise Mummy you may or may not have picked up on the reference to Brendan Fraser’s 1999 movie. The Book Of The Dead that was used to bring back Imhotep appears in the Kurtzman/Cruise movie. The Kurtzman Mummy movie is set some 70 years after the O’Connell’s adventure and The Book Of The Dead is still around, just not Rick and Evelyn.
In today’s movie society where comic book movie franchises like the MCU, the DCEU and X-Men rule the box office The Mummy holds it own and is just as rewatchable in 2019 as it was the first time in 1999. It spawned two sequels and a spin-off with The Scorpion King. Tom Cruise’s, The Mummy can’t even say that.
If you like Indiana Jones, but have never watched Brendan Fraser’s 1999 version of The Mummy then you need to stop what you’re doing and watch it.
It opened on May 7, 1999 taking in $43million its first weekend and would finish 1999 as the sixth highest grossing movie earning $415 million
The Mummy was released in U.S. theaters on May 7, 1999.
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Jonathan Hyde, Kevin J. O’Connor
Synopsis for The Mummy (1999)
The Mummy is set in Egypt, where over 3,000 years ago the high priest Imhotep (played by Arnold Vosloo) was given the all-important assignment of preparing the recently dead for their journey into the afterlife. However, Imhotep made one terrible mistake – he became smitten with Anck-Su-Namun, the mistress of the Pharaoh himself. Driven mad by jealousy and love, Imhotep murdered the Pharaoh, and his punishment was to be buried alive and suffer the torment of an eternal life in his wretched tomb. In 1925, a band of adventurers seeking fame and fortune – led by Rick O’Connel (Brendan Fraser), an American expatriate who has joined the foreign legion, and Evelyn Carnarvon (Rachel Weisz), an amateur archeologist – find a previously unknown burial site in Egypt. The team starts to dig, hoping to find lost riches, but instead they disturb the tomb of Imhotep, and soon the cursed priest rises from his grave to wreck vengeance on humanity.
Categories: Movie Anniversaries