While the updated version of The Mummy blasts into theatres this summer, the 1999 reboot was on the list of recommendations from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book for follow-up titles to Raiders of the Lost Ark.
This version, directed by Stephen Sommers, stars Brendan Fraser, Oded Fehr, Rachel Weisz and Arnold Vosloo and is very much a descendant of Raiders, and is a fairly joyous popcorn film. There’s humour, big budget effects, and a rollicking story that doesn’t bare too much of a close examination.
At it’s heart there is a dark love story, Imhotep (Vosloo) served the Pharaoh, and had fallen in love with the ruler’s mistress, Anck Su Namun (Patricia Velasquez). They are driven to murder for their love, and both end up being cursed, she kills herself in the hopes of resurrection, and he is mummified and buried alive with flesh-eating scarabs.
The story picks up in the 1920s, as Rick O’Connell (Fraser) serving in the Foreign Legion comes across a unique artefact that falls unto the hands of a librarian, Evelyn Carnahan (Weisz) and her clever, but drunk of a brother, Jonathan (Hannah).
The trio are united in their search for the treasure that the artefact reportedly will bring them, and are in a race against time as an American party pursuing the same.
Unfortunately, there is more than the treasure to be found, and Imhotep, is released from his tomb, intent on resurrecting his beloved. Even as he regains his physicality, Imhotep focuses on Evelyn as the host for his beloved.
Imhotep’s dark love story is mirrored in the developing relationship growing between Rick and Evie.
It’s a fun, romp of a film embracing its sense of fun, and not afraid to go over the top in its pursuit of box office receipts.
Some of the special effects have become dated, but the story happily pushes through them, and Fraser and Weisz, not to mention Fehr, are just so much fun on screen that you are willing to buckle up for the ride, and forgive the now dated look of some of the computer generated images.
I remember seeing this one in the theatre, and just having a grand ole time with it, and it’s a fun throwback to Saturday matinee films, and is something I like to throw on just to enjoy some fun action beats and a not overly complicated plot.
This one film was followed by two sequels, both of lesser success, and a spin-off series that spawned its own sequels. None of them capture the sheer popcorn fun of this first film in the rebooted title.
You have to wonder how the rebooted Universal Monster Cinematic Universe is going to do with the fresh incarnation of The Mummy being the first film in its potential tentpole franchise… I’m not sure it will have the same sense of fun, or playful scares that previous versions have had. But hey, we always have this version and the brilliant original.