tek's rating:

The Mummy (PG-13)
Dread Central (Blu-ray); IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Universal; UMD; Wikia; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu; YouTube

Caution: spoilers.

This came out in 1999, and I feel like I must have seen it that year, though I can't recall whether I saw it in a theater or on VHS. Anyway, it's a very loose remake of the 1932 film of the same name (which I'm fairly sure I've never seen, but I want to). Of course, this version was more of a special effects-heavy action movie than the original. It spawned a couple of sequels, and a prequel ("The Scorpion King," which spawned direct-to-video sequels of its own), and an animated TV series. In 2017, I got a set of the three Mummy movies and the prequel, because Universal put out a new Mummy movie (not part of this franchise), as the first film in their planned "Dark Universe" franchise. So I figured that the theatrical premiere of the new movie (which I don't expect to see for quite awhile) would be a good time for me to re-watch the 1999 film, and finally write a review.

It begins in 1290 B.C., when high priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) is having an affair with Anck-su-namun, the mistress of Pharaoh Seti I. When he's discovered, he and his lover kill Seti. But the pharaoh's bodyguards soon arrive, and Imhotep's priests force him to flee, so that he could later resurrect Anck (I'm gonna just call her that, for short, though I have no idea if it's appropriate to do so). She kills herself before the bodyguards can do anything to her, and later, Imhotep and his priests steal her corpse and take it to Hamunaptra (the city of the dead), to perform a ritual that would bring her back to life. However, the bodyguards once again show up, and interrupt the ritual. The priests are all mummified alive, and Imhotep is subjected to the worst possible curse, which mainly involves putting a bunch of scarabs in the sarcophagus with him, to eat him alive. But this particular curse has a side effect, that if he's ever brought back to life, he'd be basically an invincible plague upon the Earth.

Flash forward to 1923, and a battle between the French Foreign Legion and I guess some Egyptians, who are fighting over Hamunaptra. The leader of the former group is Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser). He's soon deserted by his right-hand man, Beni (Kevin J. O'Connor), because their regiment is vastly outnumbered. At the end of the battle, Rick is the last one of his regiment standing, and the enemy nearly kills him, but they're frightened away by... something. Flash forward to 1926, and we see a British librarian working at a museum in Cairo, Evie Carnahan (Rachel Weisz), trying to organize some books, and accidentally making a major mess of things. She's chastised by her boss, Dr. Terrence Bey (Erick Avari, whom I've surely seen in various things). Then her brother, Jonathan (John Hannah), shows up. He's obtained a sort of puzzle box, which Evie manages to open, in which she discovers a map to Hamunaptra. She hopes to find the Book of Amun-Ra there, while Jonathan hopes to find treasure. But when they show the map to Dr. Bey, he "accidentally" burns the part that showed the location of the legendary city.

Jonathan takes Evie to a prison, to speak with a prisoner who turns out to be Rick, from whom I guess he had stolen the puzzle box. Rick agrees to take them to Hamunaptra, if they can get him out of prison. Which is tricky, because he's going to be hanged. But Evie tells the warden that Rick knows where the city is, and he agrees to release him in exchange for a cut of the treasure they might find there. However, soon after they start their journey, they find that a group of Americans is being led to the city by Beni. (One of them looked familiar to me, but I couldn't recall where I knew him from until after I'd finished watching the movie. He was played by Tuc Watkins, whom I knew from One Life to Live and Desperate Housewives.) So, a wager is struck about which group will get there first. But their ship is soon attacked by a group of Medjai (the descendants of Seti's bodyguards), led by Ardeth Bay (presumably no relation to Terrence Bey). Of course, this doesn't stop either group of treasure-hunters, but the Medjai will continue to try to stop them... because they don't want anyone to awaken Imhotep.

Eventually, the Americans find the Book of the Dead, while Evie's group find Imhotep's sarcophagus. It turns out that the puzzle box was the key to unlock the sarcophagus, among other things. Later, Evie "borrows" the book from the other group, and uses the key to unlock it. She reads a bit, which awakens Imhotep, who then begins killing people in order to regenerate his decomposed body. But he also wants to complete the ritual to resurrect Anck, and intends to use Evie as a sacrifice to that end. In order to stop him, the Book of Amun-Ra must be found. Meanwhile, Beni becomes Imhotep's servant, mainly just to avoid being killed, but also in the hopes of being paid with some treasure. Beyond that, I don't want to spoil what happens.

So... it really is more an action movie than a horror movie, though I can certainly believe the characters were quite justifiably scared. But it's also a fairly funny movie. And I thought all the special effects were pretty cool. And I liked the characters. And I don't know what else to say.

Followed by The Mummy Returns

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