Director: Stephen Sommers
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, Arnold Vosloo
Spoilers Within: No
As an eleven-year-old, seeing The Mummy captured my imagination in the cinema like few others before it: a tenuous successor to the Indiana Jones franchise (brimming with far more fantastical elements than even the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail could throw down) it’s full of joyous, thematically engaging moments of sand tsunami’s, skeletal battalions and the ten plagues of Egypt pitted against handheld weaponry and military tactics of the 1920s.
It takes its sweet time building the world, focusing purely on Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn’s (Rachel Weisz) involvement for a good hour before the titular Mummy and his soldiers appear. Instead of going all-out from the beginning, The Mummy places character development and romance in the forefront: by fixating and mirroring the relationship between Rick and Evie, and Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) and Anck-su-Namun (Patricia Velásquez) the emotional centre becomes more prominent as it reaches its sacrificial conclusion. It’s not all romance, though: each scene is peppered with an appropriate amount of grisly horror and exciting spectacle that makes it all the more entertaining, even for what could superficially be seen as a throwaway extravaganza of special effects and action.
Certainly among the best blockbusters of the 1990s (and without a doubt better than #1 on the domestic gross list of 1999) The Mummy is a charming, adventurous romp with pitch-perfect casting of Fraser and Weisz (in addition to the abundance of well-suited side-characters), a great streak of tongue-in-cheek humour, and some genuinely neat effects that have barely aged a day. It’s persistently light tone in spite of its grisly themes of organ stealing and flesh eating bugs makes it all the more successful as an appealing family caper. It’s still a joy after all these years and one that I don’t seem to ever get bored of.