The Mummy is a seriously flawed film that is saved by only two things: Its tongue-in-cheek attitude and the over-the-top action. Sure, there were some spectacular special effects, but they hurt the film more than they helped. I’ll get to that later.
As the film opens we are transported back three thousand years where we meet Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) a high priest that is cursed and buried alive the burial/mummification is quite a nasty process. Flash forward to 1923 where we meet adventurer Rick (Brenden Fraser) O’Connell who is hired to lead a librarian Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) Carnarvon and her brother Jonathon (John Hannah) to find the lost city of Hamunaptra in Egypt. At Hamunaptra, Jonathon expects to find a buried treasure. Evelyn is going for the challenge; Hamunaptra has never been found nor explored. Along the way we also meet a mysterious group of men who seem to have some vested interest in Hamunaptra and give the adventurers a warning, “Leave or die.” There is also the sub-plot about another group of adventurers led by a backstabbing former friend of O’Connell, Beni (Kevin J. O’Conner).
When the groups get to Hamunaptra both go in different directions with their explorations. But, together they find something completely evil: Imhotep. After mistakenly reading out of the wrong book, Imhotep is revived from the dead and is now out to unleash the ten plagues onto Egypt not a pretty sight given that it includes locusts, flesh-eating scarabs, and other things that would make your skin crawl. As you might have guessed it, it’s up to O’Connell, Evelyn, and Jonathon to save the world.
The Mummy is not a serious film by any means. The previews do it injustice by portraying it as some serious take on Indiana Jones it’s not. The Mummy is a comedy action-adventure film that does everything with its tongue planted firmly in cheek. There are numerous scenes where I burst out laughing from either the sight jokes or from one-liners. There are quite a few tense, thrilling, and frightening moments in the film, but for the most part to enjoy this film you need to walk into the theatre knowing and expecting that it is a comedy action-adventure film that has a large dose of special effects.
Fraser is brilliantly cast as O’Connell who is a tough guy with a sly mouth. Fraser has that rugged look, but also has the comic timing that is needed to pull off the part of O’Connell. In the action scenes Fraser is fun to watch as he pretends he’s in a John Woo film double fisted pistols and all. Weisz, whom I last saw in the horrible Chain Reaction, does well with her part also. She does very well with the material she is given. And John Hannah, who I enjoyed immensely in Sliding Doors, also does well in The Mummy. The person with the least spoken lines is Arnold Vosloo, but he does very well as the creepy Imhotep. Vosloo is absolutely horrifying as Imhotep and during the scenes where he is in the stages between the living and dead, he is terrifying.
The director, Stephen Sommers (Deep Rising) writes the script. Sommers needs to be paired up with another writer because his characterizations are absolutely non-existence. The script moves like a hyperactive child from one toy to the next. This script never stops to take a breath, sometimes leaving the audience behind in its rampage to get to the next action scene. This film runs over two hours long and could have easily been cut to a much better length at 90-minutes. As a director Sommers shows that he knows how to do action. The action sequences in The Mummy are stand out and are mixed with a sly sense of humor. I enjoyed the action in The Mummy.
As for the special effects, they were laid on a bit too thickly. Even as the film opens there is a heavy dose of special effects that instantly took my attention away from the story that’s being told. The special effects in some places are used wisely, but more often then not the special effects are used to wow the audience some of which works, like the sand storm, but most of it just does nothing but make the audience wonder how it was done. I liked the special effects in the film, but wished that Sommers could have shown some restraint in its usage. The effect that I liked most was that of the mummies. They had this quality of being up-to-date yet old and nostalgic. You’ll have to see the film to know what I mean by that. The mummies just look cool but move with that Jason and the Argonauts type movement.
Overall, I enjoyed The Mummy, it doesn’t quite make it up to the point of being a Don’t Miss film, but I do highly recommend it. This is a great popcorn fluff film that will scare you, make you laugh, and move you to the edge of your seat. The Mummy is one of those films that I like to stick in the category of Stupid-But-Fun. Catch The Mummy during a matinee showing for its inventive action, special effects, and the comedy of Brenden Fraser.