Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Mummy

Truly Great Films #12

The ultimate popcorn-muncher 
that still has no equal...

First things first. I have a friend that hates The Mummy. He describes the movie as 'big, dumb, loud and full of bad CGI'.

Which is exactly why I liked it.

Plus, I'm a sucker for period costumes

I firmly believe we need movies that are big, dumb and's called popcorn escapism, and why a lot of movie-goers fork over 10 bucks in exchange for two hours of silly fun.

The Mummy, released in 1999, is by no means perfect. 

But it is unbelievably good entertainment, with great dialogue, fantastic pacing, awesome action - and the film is just plain laugh-out-loud funny, as well.

You handsome man, you

Brendan Fraser is at the top of his game in The Mummy - and really marks the beginning of a long downward spiral. 

He's incredibly charming in this flick, however, and proves that Fraser had what it took to be an action hero. And we all know, unfortunately, how that worked out.

Rachel Weisz is making her second appearance here in Truly Great Films, the other being Constantine

She's a very versatile actress, yet I would say The Mummy is a better fit for her, as I didn't completely buy her as a friggin' police detective.

This film was also the breakout role for Arnold Vosloo as Imhotep. Vosloo was hamming it up in South African theaters until landing his role in The Mummy

I would also like to mention the performance by Omid Djalili. He's an Iranian-born British comedienne that you will find in countless films, and Djalili adds a lot to whatever role he's in.

On to the movie....

The year is 1290 B.C., deep in the Egyptian empire. 

Smug douche

Enter Imhotep, the very first douchebag. As a head priest and confidant to Pharaoh Seti, what is the one thing that will get into deep shit? 

Yep, that's right...bone the king's girlfriend.

Warning: Do not bone...oops, too late

So Imhotep, obviously governed by his penis, does just that, and is sent to a gruesome death. 

Skip ahead to 1926. 

Evelyn Carnahan, probably the clumsiest Egyptologist in the history of the world, makes an amazing discovery with the help of her rather slimy conman brother Jonathan. (John Hannah) 

A map to the fabled city Hamunaptra.

Together they rescue the one man that can help them with their quest to find Hamunaptra - Rick O'Connell, a French Foreign Legion mercenary-type on death row.

Blink and you'll miss it: The aircraft serial number is inverted

After a few misadventures - some of which are very funny - they find Hamunaptra...and Imhotep in his scary grave. 

Evelyn accidentally awakes Imhotep by reading from the Book of the Dead.

I am going to stop here. 

Everyone has seen this film, probably more than once. If you haven't, or haven't seen The Mummy in a decade or so, then get a copy in your grubby hands and watch it tonight.

The CGI is, indeed, a little wonky - but overall has held up quite well if you are willing to put aside the idiotic sandstorm.

Industrial Light and Magic worked very hard to turn Arnold Vosloo into the mummy, and this represents nearly a quarter of the film's 80 million dollar budget. 

Nowadays, an actor working around the set while wearing a green-screen suit with tracking markers glued to it are perfectly normal. Back then, however, it was cutting edge.

Another interesting tidbit is that The Mummy isn't anything originally envisioned by the first concept team back in 1992. 

Producer James Jacks wanted to make a 10 million dollar horror film with Clive Barker as the director. If you aren't aware of Barker's credentials, just know he writes some seriously dark shit.

Joe Dante was up next with a contemporary love story with Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead. 

Fat chance. 

The Mummy then went on to Wes Craven and George Romero (these would have been an interesting flicks) but they both passed...then Stephen Sommers stepped up to the plate as director in '97.

Sommers, I must admit, has some made some really terrible big-budget films. 

Personally, I don't think The Mummy is one of them, but that's just me. Van Helsing, yes. The Mummy Returns and G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra...hell, yes, these are bad movies.

But I enjoyed both The Mummy and Scorpion King very much. So Sommers does knock it out of the park occasionally.

The Mummy, for me, meets several criteria. It's light-hearted fun, it's well-paced, and downright funny. And there isn't a single moment when The Mummy takes it self seriously.

The actors practically wink at the camera, and the story is told tongue-in-cheek in a cunning way. 

Another nice factor is the excellent chemistry between Fraser and Weisz. 

Plus, you got veteran actors like Kevin J. O'Conner (slimy toad Beni) putting on great performances.

Cookie-cutter plot? Perhaps.

But the movie-makers had a tightrope to walk. They had to tell a well-known genre story, and gets butts in theater seats.

I think that this type of storytelling probably isn't as easy as it sounds.

You've got a neat back-story that unfolds into a really good action comedy/ love story...and quite frankly, there are worse ways to spend an evening.

Don't forget the popcorn.

1 comment:

Brittany C. J. said...

My favorite movie ever. And yes I said ever.