Reviewed by Jason Coffman
Rating: 5 Beans
omewhere along the line, I guess it seemed like a good idea to someone to make this movie. And, truth be told, it's not absolutely terrible. "The Mummy" is entertaining and fun, but it is also incredibly stupid. This is not the kind of film you will want to actually pay full price to see. However, on video (at someone else's place, when you don't have to pay for it), "The Mummy" will be worth a look.
Before the "modern-day" action begins (the film, like "Raiders of the Lost Ark," takes place in the 1920s), the audience is treated to a detailed origin story of where the mummy came from. Pharoah's high priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) is having a secret love affair with Pharoah's woman Anck-Su-Namum (Patricia Velasquez). They kill Pharoah and Anck-Su-Namum kills herself when approached by the Pharoah's guards. During a ceremony meant to bring her back to life, Imhotep is captured by Pharoah's men. He is then punished by being bound in mummy rags and put into a sarcophagus with flesh-eating beetles, a punishment which apparently lasts forever.
Brendan Fraser plays Rick O'Connell, an American (I guess) in the Foreign Legion who discovers the ancient city of Hamunaptra where Imhotep is buried. Eventually, he comes into contact with clumsy librarian Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) and her drunken brother Jonathan (John Hannah). They then set out to find Hamunaptra before Beni (Kevin J. O'Connor), another guy from the foreign legion with whom O'Connell has an adversarial relationship, and a group of other Americans.
Yawn. Up until everyone in the 20's finds Hamunaptra, the movie is made up of bizarre and awkward slapstick humor with the occassional fight scene. Once the action moves to Hamunaptra, the mummy is unleashed and hijinks ensue, including some fairly impressive CGI special effects. In other words, the film is structured similarly to recent special-effects based films like "Twister."
What sets "The Mummy" apart, though, is its sheer goofiness. Hardly a moment passes without a throwaway gag of some sort, and some of the characters and situations are likely to make more discriminating filmgoers uncomfortable. The biggest problem here is Beni, who by the end of the film is completely unbearable. Suffice it to say that his character's ultimate fate comes far, far too late.
On the other hand, it is refreshing to see Brendan Fraser in a film about a character from the past unleashed upon the present and not playing said character (see also "Encino Man," "Blast from the Past"). Also, Rachel Weisz gives an admirable performance in what is basically a stock role (romantic interest). And, weak as any other part of the film is, the special effects are sometimes very impressive.
Finally, though, "The Mummy" is just another in a long line of Hollywood action blockbusters that spend too much time trying to impress the audience with effects and cheap laughs. After seeing "The Matrix," which is a Hollywood action blockbuster that actually has redeeming qualities (interesting ideas and direction, Laurence Fishburne), though, "The Mummy" is positively pedestrian.
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