Action Movie October Edition: The Mummy

Action Movie Friday was postponed by this little category three hurricane called Matthew. I survived. Thank you for your patience.

It is time for Action Movie Friday, where I treat an action movie like an action movie and not like a drama and stuff. All movie reviews are subjective and while I may like something, you might think it’s shit, and vice versa!

Title: The Mummy
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release: 1999
Genre: horror, action, adventure
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Kevin J. O’Connor, Jonathon Hyde, Oded Fehr, Erick Avari
Director: Stephen Sommers
Writer: Stephen Sommers, Lloyd Fonvielle, Kevin Jarre,
Distributor: Universal
Budget: $80 Million
Box Office: $416 Million

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 56%

Gingersnaps Rating: Five Cookies!

Summary:

Seeking an ancient Egyptian artifact, Evelyn Carnahan and her brother Jonathon recruit Rick O’Connell to lead them to the cursed city of the dead, Hamunaptra. They aren’t the only group of adventurers seeking the lost cursed city. Attacks, booby traps and ancient curses won’t stop them from looking for the treasure, the Book of Amun Ra. But what they find first, is a chest, the Book of the Dead and a mummy buried at the base of the statue of Anubis. Disregarding all the warnings, Evelyn reads from the book, awakens the Mummy and starts a chain of events as the Mummy seeks to reunite with his lost love.

Review:

Anyways, Action Movie Friday October edition, this year’s theme… The Mummy!

Yes, Universal has all 99% of all the classic monsters and this year, we shall be doing the Mummy. (as last year was the vampires versus werewolves marathon of Underworld.)

I do remember watching the remake of the Mummy for the first time and feeling that mixture of revulsion and fascination that is what horror as a genre is about. Mummifying people alive, cutting off tongues, draining people of fluids, about the only thing that gives me the heebie jeebies more is flaying people alive. If you want me to put your book or movie down and never read/watch anything you make again, have someone skin someone else. (Shudders.) The scarabs didn’t even draw as much reaction from me as the whole opening bit of mummifying the priests and then later Imhotep taking the fluids from the men. Walking skeleton, I was okay with that. Flesh eating bugs, good. Egyptian burial rights, not so much.

That fascination and the rest of the story had me watch it several times over and I eventually got past it, but I still remember that feeling the first time I watched it, that mental imagination freak out. It is actually one of the reasons why this movie is one of my favorite movies. Now I know that after a certain point, no matter if they say the priests were alive or not, you take out the heart, the lungs and the brain, they’re going to be dead and there is going to be so much blood on the floor that they’re going to be dead. (Not that the Egyptians actually took out the heart during mummification. They left that in.) There is only so much of the mummification process that you can go through before you’re dead, no matter what. So, the whole mummification alive thing, yeah, err, doesn’t make that much sense. But the idea of mummification alive is still horrifying. It’s up there with being buried alive. May I have a Victorian coffin please, complete with bell and someone to listen for it?

The 1999 version of the Mummy was “inspired” supposedly by the original 1932 film. Not having watched the original film, I don’t know how close the story elements are. The 1999 version feels like they sat down and said to each other, “Yeah, let’s make a horror film. But you know what else worked really well that was set near the same time period, Indiana Jones. Let’s add a dash of Indiana Jones to our horror film.” (And reading the trivia notes after writing this, yes, I was right!) Cue Brendan Fraser as a cocky American soldier adventurer type. (Was he French Foreign Legion? They never really said. Once again, Trivia gives us the answer. Yes. He was.) This gave the film a bit of a faster pace. And unless you’re really pedantic about these sort of things, you don’t notice that the Mummy doesn’t show up until an hour in of a two hour movie. Once the Mummy does arrive, the second half of the movie goes much quicker.

The filmmakers made ample use of shadows and insinuation during the kills in order to leave it to the viewers’ imaginations. The imagination can make something much more horrifying than any film maker can show. (The same can be said in book writing and character descriptions, but handsome and pretty apply there, and, maybe horrifying too.) If you like to see things done explicitly, then this isn’t the horror film for you. The characters and actors meshed well together. The dialogue and situations were funny and would be terrifying if you were in them at the same time. There were some genuine heartfelt moments. Liberties with both Egyptian and Biblical lore were taken and unless you’re either a Biblical or Egyptian scholar, then you probably won’t notice or care. (If you are either, then yeah, so sorry.)

The story was entertaining. This is one of the few times that I can say I didn’t mind the romance subplot in an action film. It was actually well done as the filmmakers didn’t really go out of their way to force it in because in a way it was a mirror of the plot between Anuk-Sa-Namun and Imhotep. The filmmakers rightly spent more time focused on the main plot of stopping the mummy rather than stopping the film to spotlight Evie and Rick in inappropriate ways. Usually, in action movies, it’s “Oh, she’s a girl, someone must flirt with her out of context and in a misogynistic manner.” It makes me cringe and it feels shoehorned. So props to the Mummy for avoiding that. Really, the plot is simple, so much so they lampshade it in the movie itself. They fulfill the plot and make it entertaining at the same time. So, they get a cookie.

Explosions. Oh dear, Um, well, they did an interesting take on the plague of hail and Hamunaptra exploded in the end. I guess those count. One Cookie. (I’m very lenient here.) Plot wise they didn’t have to destroy Hamunaptra, but it made for a thrilling escape scene.

The fights were a fun mix of gun fights and outright brawls with a sword fight or two thrown in for good measure. Mummy’s that are already dead and can’t really be killed with bullets do require the heroes to be more inventive. There were a few funny sight gags as well. One cookie.

Evelyn has to be one of my favorite female characters in movies. Without Evelyn, there wouldn’t be a movie. She’s smart. She doesn’t have to be a fighter or an explorer or an adventurer. She uses her brains. In a way, she saves Rick just as much as Rick saves her. Evie is a problem solver and a mediator all the while being extremely competitive against the other group. She is stubborn, she does throw herself into danger, and those aren’t good traits but they do make her a bit more endearing. And though she is a librarian, they didn’t “sex” her up, no purring voices, no chewing on her glasses, her blouses stayed decorously buttoned. She’s still considered beautiful. I’d be interested to know if there was any symbolism in the white nightgown in the beginning and the black nightgown at the end, but that is the art lover in me wondering. For the time the character was written, Evie would have been a very progressive woman. For Hollywood, Evie is a very progressive character as well. One cookie.

Really, as long as you aren’t an Egyptologist, a biblical scholar or a historian…. The point is if the movie works within itself. Does it seem to fit the time period it is set in, right after the Great War? They go up the river by barge. Winston flies them around in his bi-plane. The cars look suitably time period. The repeater Gatling style guns with the round tommy magazine casings were still relatively new at the time. The technology felt right. The clothing looked right. People got dirty! Well, Evie must have been wiping her face down more than the others, but being a woman, I can understand that. I feel positively miserable without a bath or shower after a few days and if I can at least wipe my face and hands I’m much happier. Nothing really threw me out of the movie. One cookie.

The Mummy is a fast paced adventure movie with a great cast of characters and fun dialogue. It tells a great story and gets five whole cookies!

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