The Mummy (1999)
When I first sat down to watch this movie I thought was I not going to like it. I was pleasantly surprised at the humor, adventure and all round good time the film presented. The Mummy, as a screen vehicle, has been around for more than 65 years now. From the 1932 Karloff classic, the evil high priest Imhotep has been coming back from the dead to scare movie audiences around the world. In this latest incarnation, the plot may remain pretty much the same but the telling of the tale has a few little twists and turns that make for an enjoyable couple of hours of entertainment.
The film opens up some three thousand years ago as we discover that the high priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) is having an affair with the Pharos' mistress, Anck-Su-Namum, played by model/actress Patricia Velazquez. Anck-Su-Namum and Imhotep kill the irate pharos are caught and taken to of the dead, Hamunaptra, the city of the dead. The mistress is killed and mummified, the other priests are mummified alive, but the special punishment is reserved for Imhotep. He has his tongue cut out, is wrapped in bandages, and placed in a coffin along with about a million flesh eating scarabs. Next the scene shifts to the late twenties where French Foreign legionnaire, Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) is fighting for his life against a desert horde. He manages to survive after the horde realizes he is standing at the front of the forbidden Hamunaptra. Scene shifts again and we see a mousey (well almost mousey) librarian, Evelyn, played by Rachel Weize (Stealing Beauty). She manages to knock down every bookcase in the library with one little 'oops'. This sets the pace for a classic Indy Jones type film., the handsome adventurer and the beautiful and virtuous klutz. After a brief introduction in a prison where Evelyn saves O'Connell from hanging (He had too good a time in town), the motley crew is assembled to find the treasures of the lost Forbidden City. The film possesses a pretty good supporting cast. There is the standard mix of slimy guides, rival Americans, near-do-well professors and of course, Evelyn's drunken brother wonderfully played by John Hannah.
Director, Stephen Sommers does a fairly good job of holding this movie together. His style is very close to the old adventure/comedy films of the forties and fifties, a genre revived by the Indiana Jones trilogy. The action moves along and time will pass for you without your being aware that it has gone. This is what this type of movie is about, pure escapism. The special effects are one of the true stars of the movie. The use of computer graphics is integrated rather seamlessly into the action and actually does help to forward the plot. Still, the real gem of this movie is the comedic timing most of the actors have. The jokes are sometimes subtle, other times a out right pie in the face type of sight gag. The comedy seems to be there to demonstrate that this is not a movie that takes itself seriously so why should you. Just sit and enjoy it, don't worry about plot holes, goofs and other such things.
The DVD is very well done indeed. The animated menu is cleaver. The selections of the menu are in hieroglyphics, and are translated into English when the focus is on the words. The Dolby 5.1 is intended for louder than normal reproduction so don't attempt to watch this movie late at night unless you do not have neighbors that are capable of hearing. The added features are tops. They include; an audio commentary by writer/director Stephen Sommers (I) and editor Bob Ducsay "Building a Better Mummy", an original 40-minute documentary featuring writer/director (I) Sommers, Stepen, visual effects supervisor Berton, John, and the crew of "Industrial Light & Magic" as well as an in-depth look into the creative and technical processes behind the heart-stopping special effects "Egyptology 101", a collection of facts about ancient Egypt and Egyptian mythology. There are also a couple of deleted scenes. In all, this is a good, not great afternoon of movie watching. Still, good is better than a lot of movies out there!