Ossus Library Index Fantasy Movie Index


Directed by Stephen Sommers (1999, Universal Pictures)
Starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, and Arnold Vosloo

Treasure hunters awaken a cursed man from the depths of Egypt, and search for a way to defeat him.

View count: Twice



3 stars

June 22nd, 2003 on TV

    I didn't quite enjoy this movie as much as I did the first time, but it was still a lot of fun, given that it was also a comedy. Still, the special effects really make this movie into something better than it really is.

The best thing about the movie is that it is a comedy, and it doesn't take itself seriously. There is a lot of strange and silly stuff that goes on, and is necessary to the plot, but most of it doesn't really matter. These people are in way over their heads, but they don't even know it. Even Evie starts to believe in ancient curses when Imhotep comes to life, though, which shows at least some development of the characters.

I think I figured out the way Imhotep's curse was devised, which doesn't make sense at first glance, as I mentioned below. The Pharaohs believed that they were immortal, or at least that their dynasty would last forever. They didn't understand human history the way that we do, not realizing that their empires would barely touch history before they fell, leaving their treasures and curses forgotten to future people. They believed that Imhotep would never be returned from the dead because they would always be guarding his cursed body.

Of course, in real life, people became more advanced, and the Pharaohs fell, their cities were buried. People became so ignorant of the Egyptian curses and its magic, that inepts like Evie and O'Connell could easily resurrect him inadvertently. His incredible power was an unfortunate side-effect of the terrible curse put upon him, one that was never supposed to come to pass because the people of the time knew better. The Pharaohs thought themselves to be all-powerful.

The acting was about what one would expect from a silly comedy. The actors played their parts well, but there wasn't really much to challenge them, I think.

The special effects are what really steal the show, however. As mentioned below, they were just terrific. Imhotep as a mummy was amazingly done, as were every other effect, including the sandstorm, the scarabs, and the stone soldiers.

As fun as this movie was, though, I can't see myself watching it yet another time.


3 stars

July 17th, 2001 on Video

    I enjoyed this movie more than I should have, I think. It was silly, with moronic characters and sappy dialog, but the adventure was terrific, the effects were spectacular in most places, and it was difficult not to like the characters!

Like Charlie's Angels, this movie knew enough not to take itself too seriously. It just let the fun come, and keep coming, until the characters were steamrolled. And then they got back up again, and charged back into the battle. 

Strangely enough, I don't have many nits about this movie. The continuity was terrific, and everything they did made sense, or was logical from a certain point of view (although I do wonder where the plagues went once the initial shock value was finished with...). The only exception I have is the desire to punish a man by making him immortal and capable of bringing back the plagues. But that's part of the crazy ancient Egyptian curses, and I'm willing to accept that they (the Pharaohs) just didn't quite think this one through.

Most of the characters were moronic. Evie was clumsy. O'Connell was just crazy... or was he drawn to the lost city as he was drawn to Evie? Together, they were pretty funny. Although I question the sanity of anyone who designs a library like a circle of dominos, I liked the display of Evie's clumsiness, which is one of the funniest moments in the whole movie. Time and time again, her brother shows how stupid he really is, though he does manage to grab for the Egyptian key before it goes up in flames on the boat. 

For O'Connell has found an ancient Egyptian city, one that harbors the dead, as well as the books on how to resurrect people and kill them again once they seem to be immortal (well, why not...). He is fought off by a secret society, the decedents of the Pharaoh's guards, who know that one man took on the worst wrath of any Pharaoh, and was sentenced to be buried alive in a sarcophagus filled with scarabs, insects who burrow through flesh, and eat you slowly (or quickly, as they desire, as shown as some of the people get eaten). If he is brought back to life again, using the Book of the Dead, he will bring plagues, be immortal, and destroy the Earth. Now why they would want to even create a curse like this is beyond me. But it makes sense that the decedents would be willing to fight to the death to preserve the secret. 

O'Connell barely escapes, but wanders the desert until he is put in prison, but Evie's brother steals the key that was on his possession. When he shows it to his sister, she becomes obsessed with finding the hidden city, much to the chagrin of her employer, who "accidentally" burns the map that was inside the key. It turns out that Evie's boss is a member of the Pharaoh's bodyguard's decedents.

They save O'Connell from hanging (not really in time, as he hangs there for half a minute while she bargains with the prison keeper), and they take off for the hidden city. 

This is where the special effects come in. The boat they take is boarded by the protectors, and ends up being burned to a crisp. But on board, they meet an American group who has hired a man who was part of O'Connell's team the last time he was in the hidden city. The two groups are suddenly in competition. Never mind that the American team ends up on the wrong side of the river -they seem to get across in time, as they all end up at the hidden city at the same time. It appears only at sunrise, only from a certain angle. Pretty cool stuff.

The two teams compete in everything, and the American team find the Book of the Dead. Evie steals it while the scholar is sleeping, and reads a few passages, which brings Imhotep to life. And this is where the special effects come into full gear. 

Imhotep's decomposed body looks even better than the invisible-man-made-visible in Hollow Man, and wherever he moves, it looks like a real walking skeleton. With him, of course, come the plagues. Eventually, every member of the American team succumbs to Imhotep, as he needs their fluids and body parts to become human again. He takes on O'Connell's competitor when the man speaks Hebrew ("language of the slaves"), after a funny scene where the man tries to invoke all the gods he knows of to save himself (wearing a cross, star of David, and other religious symbols around his neck). 

But what Imhotep really wants is to resurrect his true love, and he wants Evie's body to help him. After she is taken away, O'Connell recruits an old Royal Air Force Colonel to fly him and the others of his team to the hidden city (which seems to be visible at any hour of the day now). Imhotep, however, just turns himself into a dust storm and travels fast as the wind to get there. When the plane approaches, Imhotep becomes the wind, in a terrific effect that brings his face into the dusty air, and his every move is reproduced by the sandstorm. Evie distracts Imhotep with a kiss to save her friends, and they all meet up again in the hidden city. 

O'Connell and the others fight Imhotep's partly resurrected priests, soldiers from the past, and insects galore as they try to win their way back to Evie. They find the book made of gold, which will render Imhotep mortal again, if Evie's idiot brother can remember his ancient Egyptian symbols! Of course, he does, just at the right time, and O'Connell kills the priest. But there is room for a sequel with Imhotep's last words, "Death is only the beginning". Of course, we all know that there is already a sequel...  The city is eventually buried under the sand for all time.  Or maybe not...

Not saying much about individual sequences in the movie, I can't really do justice to the effects. But they were spectacular, for the most part (the opening scene was so obviously a matte painting -digital, of course- that I unnecessarily wondered about the rest of the movie). 

Considering that most of the characters were idiots, there simply for laugh's sake, and that most of the dialog was trite and silly (especially the last lines, that they didn't come away with nothing, as O'Connell and Evie kiss, to appropriately-rolled eyes on her brother's part), I truly enjoyed the movie. It was definitely not great, but it was a lot of fun. Thinking back on it, there were a lot of things that didn't make sense, but they didn't detract from the movie one bit. I look forward to The Mummy Returns!

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