The Mummy (1999) [retro review]

“Death is only the beginning”

The Scoop: PG13 1999, directed by Stephen Sommers and starring Rachel Weisz, Brendan Fraser and Arnold Vosloo.

Tagline: The sands will rise, the heavens will part, the power will be unleashed.

Summary Capsule: Treasure hunters release a centuries-old mummy hellbent on hugging puppies.  Or revenge. One of those two.

Justin’s Rating: He may be back, but one thing’s for certain: he ain’t smelling too good.

Justin’s Review: Unbeknownst to many, The Mummy contains a very important moral message, and this message is: Kids, if you’re going to grow up to commit adultery, murder and harness the forces of the black undead, then you’re going to get eaten alive by beetles. I think this is a message that bears repeating.

Do not get that confused with repeating bears, which I think we can all agree are silly, redundant animals.

For those of you who rent Universal’s update of The Mummy under the impression that this is in any way a horror film, you may now exit the theater in a calm, orderly fashion, and regret only the minutes it took you to complete this transaction. The filmmakers probably realized that mummies no longer have straight-up horror value in these Texas Chainsaw halcyon days, and wisely mixed up the tale of a guy in linen strips with the spirit of Indiana Jones. Jones Lite, if you will, and I will, for it is most pleasing to the palette.

Harrison Ford in this movie will be played by George of the Jungle, aka “Brendan Fraser”. Brendan’s stepped up a few rungs of the ladder of my respect by finding his niche – he does comedy well and action adequately – and refusing to overstep it. He also doesn’t see kid movies as anything to be ashamed of, and that’s kinda cool. In The Mummy, Fraser gets to recklessly fire 100+ shots from twin six-shooters without reloading, and quip many-a quotable quip for your audio pleasure.

The story goes something like this: Mr. Mummy was once Bald Second-In-Command To Pharoah, but he blew his job security by sleeping with the boss’ wife, killing the boss and then finding himself trapped in a coffin with a few hundred flesh-eating scarab beetles. Naturally, instead of resulting in death and a rather unpleasant mess, he stored up his life force essence until 1923, when some foolish adventurer (Fraser) and various tagalongs (British sexpot, doltish brother, greedy John Rhys-Davies knock-off) accidentally unleash the awesome power of removed organs and set him loose to carry out a bizarre scheme to resurrect his girlfriend.

Guys, you can sell this movie to your female counterparts with the whole “He’s doing it for her out of love!” line. Just don’t mention organ removal.

While a trifle long and unfocused in parts, it’s not a bad effort to keep us entertained and informed about the dangers of traveling to Egypt during the off-season. Invite your favorite camel over, dine on a feast of dates (unless, of course, Nazis have poisoned them), and bathe in sand while you watch the antics of the fashion-challenged undead. It’s a hootenanny!

That he was a mummy, she could handle. That he had finished all the coffee without buying more, now that was a screaming matter.

Intermission:

  • During the scene where the people are chanting, the supporting artists began to change what they were chanting from the correct Egyptian phrase, to “Ohwhatanarseyouare” during rehearsals. Before long, they were all chanting it, and did so on the final take. Nobody on the crew noticed during filming, and it therefore remains in the film.
  • Wow… Ancient Egyptian girls are knock-outs… and they sure don’t wear much. With the exception of a loin cloth and a few pieces of jewelry, Patricia Velasquez’s costume consists entirely of body paint which took 14 hours to apply.
  • Museum storage areas often are lit with torches. Fact. But mirrors are a cool way to light up a room as well.
  • Hehe… kitty cats as the ultimate weapon
  • Brendan Fraser passed out while filming because the noose around his neck was too tight.
  • When Beni is translating Imhotep’s words, he mistranslates one word as “forever” and is corrected by Evelyn, who says, “For all eternity, idiot!” A similar mistranslation is made on the hieroglyphs in Stargate, where Dr. Daniel Jackson crosses out “forever and ever” on the blackboard and corrects it to read “for all time”.
  • Mummies like to roar a lot
  • The Earth in the opening Universal logo flashes and dissolves into the sun.
  • The white pajamas Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) wore when the ship was attacked became transparent when they got wet and had to be digitally painted white during post production.

Groovy Dialogue:

Rick: I only gamble with my life, never my money.

Evy: I may not be a gunfighter, or an explorer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr O’Connell, but I am proud of what I am.
Rick: And what is that?
Evy: I… am a librarian.

Evy: You were actually at Hamunaptra?
Rick: Yeah, I was there.
Evy: You swear?
Rick: Every damn day.

Evy: You’re wondering, ‘What’s a place like me doing in a girl like this?’

Beni: Think of my children.
Rick: You don’t have any children.
Beni: Someday I might.

Evy [opening an ancient tomb]: I’ve dreamt about this since I was a little girl.
Rick: You dream about dead guys?

If you enjoyed this movie, try:

  • The Mummy Returns
  • The Mummy (1932)
  • Bubba Ho-Tep
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6 Comments

  1. This film is a guilty pleasure of mine, and I always end up stuck on it when flipping through the channels. The first sequel’s not too shabby either, although even more ridiculous.

    This film begs the question, “Would you rather have your vital fluids supernaturally removed by a wrathful Egyption, or have a beetle crawl under your skin and eat out your brain?” I’d have to go with the wrathful Egyption here, the bug scene genuinely scares me, plus I’d leave a cool looking corpse.

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