starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo and Bernard Fox
written and directed by Stephen Sommers
I thought this was a terribly fun movie, sort of as mix of Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones and Antonio Banderas Desperado. I mean, The Mummy combines lots of ancient history, superstition, the fun of an old-fashioned treasure hunt and protective curses with fast pace, clean-cut American shoot ‘em up action. There was a lot more gun fighting than Indiana Jones ever did, and a better story than Desperado.
The Mummy should not be confused with another movie that came out on video last Autumn, the low-quality made for TV move, Bram Stoker’s Legend of the Mummy, written and directed by Jeffrey Obrow and starring Louis Gosset, Jr. That was a poor vehicle for a man of Gossett’s talent. At first I made the mistake of confusing them and accidentally rented the Obrow movie when what I really wanted by the Sommers’ movie. Be careful you don’t make the same mistake.
Brendan Fraser does a lot of comedy (Airheads, George of the Jungle), but he has also done more serious stuff (School Ties). In this movie he combines a definite streak of comedy to the role of expatriate American adventurer, soldier of fortune, explorer, and cynical hedonist Rick O’Connell, and the good looks of the younger Harrison Ford.
In fact, I think O’Connell wraps up the whole story in one sentence with a typical young person’s brashness when he says, “Save the damsel in distress, kill he bad guy, save the world.” That ‘s the whole story. It is an old story formula.
The Mummy - set n relatively modern times, in the 1920s - is also a horror move, featuring the mummified body of Imhotep, the cursed High Priest of Pharaoh Set I, come back to life (or, more correctly, brought back from the dead) from the year 1290 B.C. in the ruins of Hamunaptra, the City of the Dead. It’s the ancient burial place of Egypt’s rulers and their wealth.
Imhotep is on a mission of love and revenge as he continues his work - interrupted by his own execution three thousand years ago - of resurrecting his lover (the Pharaoh’s mistress) Anck-su-namun. What a great story!
But the resurrected Imhotep is a curse on the world, and he will now grow steadily in supernatural power and destroy the world unless the band of adventurers who disturbed his eternal sleep can discover the proper incantation at Hamunaptra to send his soul back to the grave. Of course they do this, but just in the nick of time, giving director Stephen Sommers lots of scope for exciting cinema.
Jim Hensen’s Creature Shop designed the horribly decomposed mummies, proving that it can do better than annoying and nauseatingly cute Muppets.
What is a “mummy” anyway? In Japanese it is called “miira.” In English the word “mummy” comes from the Persian word “mumiai,” meaning “pitch.” It refers to one possible embalming technique.
I got a kick out of British actor Bernard Fox, who became famous on the old American TV sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, as the idiosyncratic RAF Colonel Crittendon. After that, he was Dr. Bombay on the Bewitched TV show. This time Fox plays a Royal Air Corp pilot pining for his days of glory in the Great War (1914-18) (The RAF hadn’t been inaugurated yet.) It is his wish to die spectacularly and rejoin his old comrades in a fitting manner. He gets his wish.