Retro Rewind Vol. 12

“The Mummy” was written & directed by Stephen Sommers and is a remake of the 1932 original film of the same name. The film stars Brendon Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Kevin J. O’Connor, Oded Fehr, Johnathon Hyde,  Patricia Velasquez & Arnold Vosloo. In the early 90s, this film went several different directors including Joe Dante, Wes Carven, George A. Ramero & Mick Garris who all this film going the horror movie route. After Universal went with Sommers and his action adventure story, the film went after several leading men such as Tom Cruise, Daniel Day Lewis, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon & Ben Affleck but either turned it down or were committed to other projects.

In Thebes, Egypt, 1290 BC, the high priest known as Imhotep (Vosloo) has a secret affair with Pharaoh Seti I’s mistress, Anck-Su-Namun (Velasquez). Together, they both murder the Pharaoh & attempt to flee but are caught by the Pharaoh’s bodyguards. Anck-Su-Namun kills herself to allow Imhotep to escape and believe that he could resurrect her. Imhotep and his men steal her body & the Book of The Dead and take them to Hamunaptra, the City of Dead to perform the ritual. However, the Medjai, Pharaoh Seti’s armed forces, stop him from completing the ritual and condemn him by burying him alive with flesh eating insects. His body is buried deep underground are guarded by the Medjai. In 1926, Johnathon Carnahan (Hannah) and his sister, Evie (Weisz) discover a mysterious puzzle box containing a map to the City of the Dead. They later meet, American adventurer & French Foreign Legion member, Rick O’Connell (Fraser) who originally found the box. O’Connell agrees to join Johnathon & Evie to return to the City of the Dead. They are met by O’Connell’s former Legion member, Beni (O’Connor) who is also leading a group of American treasure hunters to the City. O’Connell, Evie & Johnathon discovers the coffin of Imhotep while Beni & the American hunters find the ancient and cursed Book of the Dead. When Evie, reads the ancient inscription from the Book, she accidently awakens Imhotep. With The Mummy now awoken, the 2 groups must join together and figure out to send Imhotep back to the underworld before he unleashes the 10 plagues of Ancient Egypt.

This film has the feel of an adventure film like “Indiana Jones” but also the cheesiness of a 90s action film. Sommers did a great job of blending the 2 tones together while also adding some horror film aspects. Brendon Fraser is great as the reluctant hero, Weisz as the damsel and Vosloo as the main villain, a very simple set up for an action movie. The CGI was great for the time but now it does appear dated. For example, the CGI for the look of the reborn Mummy is great but its when they used elsewhere that it appears dated.

Overall, this was a fun and entertaining film for the late 90s. It had elements of an adventure, action, horror and mystery all woven together. The film was so successful that it spawned a sequel in 2001. “The Mummy Returns” sees the main cast return and then in 2008, “The Mummy: Curse of the Dragon Tomb” was also released with only Fraser & Hannah returning from the original cast & Rob Cohen directing. The series also saw a spinoff series in with 2002’s “The Scorpion King” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and formed its own film series. Stephen Sommers would go on to direct the 2001 sequel as well as 2004’s “Van Helsing” & 2009’s “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”.

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