The Mummy (1999)


Stephen Sommers’ ridiculously successful reboot of “The Mummy” is a film that almost gets the formula correct. It’s like a cocktail of action, comedy, romance, horror, and adventure that almost becomes the perfect marriage of sub-genres, but never quite hits the mark; even when it’s at its best. “The Mummy” is incredibly uneven and tough to really respond to, because Sommers seems to want to opt for action, while Universal seems anxious to embrace the horror. Thus it’s all so unbalanced and drags down an action horror comedy hybrid with potential to be a classic.

Director Sommers cribs a lot from Steven Spielberg, attempting to build his own franchise superhero Rick O’Connell from the threads of the remake formed here. Brendan Fraser is tolerable from time to time as the spastic but heroic O’Connell who mostly charges head first in to combat while love interest Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) cleans up the mess and thinks for him. There’s plenty of room for O’Conell to become a wonderful and layered horror hero, but there’s just not enough of a character. Fraser plays Fraser in the early 1900’s as an adventurer who is the catalyst for the entire narrative. Fraser plays O’Connell well, but eventually wears the gimmick thin by the time the sequel rolls around.

Three thousand years after Egyptian high priest Imhotep and Anck-su-Namun, the mistress of the pharaoh engaged in an affair, they decide to murder him. After being captured the Pharaohs guards, Anck-su-Namun committed suicide and was taken to the city of the dead by Imhotep, who attempted to resurrect her. Once again caught by the guards, Imhotep was buried alive and eaten by scarab beetles, and guarded by the ancient Medjai to prevent his resurface and domination of the world. Of course that all comes crashing down when Rick agrees to take Evelyn and her brother Jonathan to the site of Imhotep, where Evelyn accidentally re-awakens him. There, Imhotep gradually begins re-forming his plans to resurrect his lover, all the while roaming around and sucking the life out of his victims.

“The Mummy” makes good on its promise, by offering a pretty wicked and creepy mummy, as Arnold Vosloo (Darkman 2, 3) plays the decrepit monster and eventually fully formed human. For the most part, his rampages, along with other plot elements really turn “The Mummy” in to a dark horror film with an uneasy tension. This includes the Mummy’s life absorbing powers, and the infamous flesh eating Scarab Beetles. Director Sommers definitely channels a lot of energy and excitement with “The Mummy,” but can never decide what kind of film he’s making. Much like the catastrophe that was “Van Helsing.” Despite its flaws, though, “The Mummy” is a raucous and entertaining action horror entry with great performances, and a vicious villain.