The first image that pops in your head when you hear the title, The Mummy, is likely that of a slow walking corpse, thoroughly wrapped in gauze. This remake attempts to revitalize the stiff horror classic, not only replacing Ol’ Gauzy with a creepy corpse in various stages of decomposition, but retyping the entire film as a comic adventure. The film doesn’t succeed on all levels, but it is entertaining enough to compensate for its faults.
Way, way back in Egyptian times, the Egyptian priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) made the mistake of getting involved with the pharoah’s wife. As punishment, the pharoah assigns Imhotep the most fearsome curse imaginable: an undeath of being buried alive with a host of flesh-eating beetles. And, oh yes, the curse also has a small little side effect that could make Imhotep an all-powerful immortal being…but that could never happen, could it?
Flash forward three thousand years. Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser), a mercenary who was serving in the French Foreign Legion, has discovered the lost city of Hamunaptra. A librarian, Evelyn (Rachel Weisz), and her playboy brother, Jonathan (John Hannah), hire Rick to guide them to the lost city, in hopes of finding buried treasure.
Of course, what they find is the mummified corpse of Imhotep…and a mysterious tome called The Book of the Dead. Of course, you can’t just leave a Book of the Dead unread, can you? So, before long, the mummy has awakened, and begins the search for the flesh which will regenerate him, and the soul which will reawaken his long dead love.
Whereas the original 1932 chiller, The Mummy, was quiet, subtle and, well, slow, this new Mummy is entirely a child of the event film craze of the 90s. Full of bombast, bluster and special effects galore, many of the sequences in the film seem to be purely for effects sake. From the digitally gorified monster to a personified wall of sand, The Mummy seeks to impress. But these days, it takes more that a few good effects to make a movie.
Yes, the film doesn’t make much sense when you stop and think about it. The film assigns this Egyptian priest the powers of the 10 Biblical plagues because, well, they happened in Egypt. Besides, he only gets around to using roughly half of them anyway (including the newfangled “mindless zombie” plague). Then again, once you accept the ol’ undead curse, you’ve got to take pretty much everything in stride. Realism isn’t of utmost importance here.
But, though The Mummy is not a film to be taken seriously, at least the film itself recognizes that fact. The action is all delivered with tongue firmly in cheek. At times, the film feels more like a spoof than a horror/adventure film…and that is its saving grace.
Brendan Fraser takes a well advised step away from the naive, goofy characters he’s usually typecast as, and delivers a solid performance as Rick O’Connell, adventure hero. It’s too bad he doesn’t have a leading lady to match. Rachel Weisz simply blunders through her role as the bookish, but beautiful librarian.
Kevin J. O’Connor, memorable as the comic relief sidekick in director Stephen Sommer’s previous effort, Deep Rising, is cast here in the role of the…comic relief sidekick. But this time, he’s on the bad guy’s side…and oftentimes overshadows the film’s main villain, Arnold Vosloo.
The Mummy owes more to Abbott and Costello than to Boris Karloff. It’s humorous and makes for a good time… what more can you ask of a 3000 year old corpse?