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Cast List

Arnold Vosloo was Imhotep, high priest of Osiris

Brendan Fraser was Rick O'Connell

Rachel Weisz was Evelyn Carnarvon

John Hannah was Jonathan Carnarvon

Kevin J. O'Connor was Beni (Mummy's Human Helper)

Jonathan Hyde was The Egyptologist

Stephen Dunham was Henderson

Tuc Watkins was Burns (eyeglasses)

Oded Fehr was Ardeth Bey (Pharaoh's guard; tattooed cheeks)

Omid Djalili was The Warden

Erick Avari was The Curator

Corey Johnson was Daniels

Patricia Velasquez was Anck-su-Namun

 
The Mummy (1999) Review

 

I was worried before I saw the movie on its opening day (May 7, 1999); I had read some early reviews which weren't kind to the movie.  And although there are some problems with the movie, I will quickly tell you that this is a must-see movie for anyone who likes a good mummy movie. 

The movie begins with a flashback to Ancient Egypt, where Imhotep, a high priest, and Anck-su-Namun, the Pharaoh's girlfriend, are in love. They kill the Pharaoh, Anck-su-Namun kills herself (so that she can be "reawakened" by Imhotep), and Imhotep runs off to avoid death.  Imhotep then steals Anck-su-Namun's body and takes it to Hamunaptra, the (fictional) City of the Dead where he begins to awaken her from the dead.  He is caught by the Pharaoh's bodyguards, who mummify him and his priests--alive! This all happens very quickly; the action is non-stop.

The movie comes to the present (well, 1925) with Brendan Fraser as Rick O'Connell, who is fighting (pretty unsuccessfully) for the French Foreign Legion. He is one of the few to survive a massacre which happens to take place at the site of Hamunaptra, the now-deserted City of the Dead, where Anck-su-Namun and Imhotep are buried. Fraser realizes something is afoot (a-finger and a-head?) because of strange movements in the sand (not to mention those odd noises). Then he's off to Cairo, where he's imprisoned for a crime and is rescued mid-execution by librarian Evelyn Carnarvon (Rachel Weisz), who wants him to show her the way to Hamunaptra. All of this gets the plot rolling--and it does take awhile. Everything that happens after this, though, makes up for the somewhat slow beginning.

Another group of American adventurers/plunderers is on its way to Hamunaptra--and the Pharaoh's bodyguards attempt to prevent both groups from finding the City of Dead.  Needless to say, the adventurers/plunderers succeed--with one group (Fraser and Weisz) discovering the mummy of Imhotep  and the other (the greedy Americans) finding the Canopic chest (with a deadly curse inscribed on it) and a book of magical spells  (The Book of the Dead) which will raise the mummy from the dead. But not all of the lucky discoverers will make it alive to the end of the movie (want to guess which ones meet a fate worse than death?).

It's at this point (30-45 minutes into the movie) that the movie introduces the mummy (in the tombs, in Cairo, back in the tombs) and (a little later) his army of other mummies brought back to life. Of course, Imhotep and the other mummies get their due--as does Imhotep's human helper, Beni (Kevin J. O'Connor in a great role). I won't ruin it by giving the details--you'll have fun watching!

The best parts of the movie are set in and around Hamunaptra: the search for Imhotep, his "awakening," the sand storm that swallows an airplane, the fight between Evelyn Carnarvon and Anck-su-Namun's mummy, and the final battle between Brendan Fraser and a number of mummified priests. It is beautifully photographed, the sandy scenery is excellent. The special effects are great--only the mummy of Imhotep is lacking (he's too much a mixture of Alien, Terminator, Jim Carrey in The Mask, and plastic goo). Where are the bandages? Did the scarabs eat them all? Maybe the moviemakers thought that Imhotep wouldn't look scary enough if he was bandaged-- though it worked for Karloff. They've also added an animal growl and roar to his voice--too many frills. Fortunately, he regenerates into human form after a relatively short period of time. On the other hand, the mummy of Anck-su-Namun is wrapped in bandages and effectively scary. Future mummy-movie-makers please note.

What's not to like?  Nothing, except that a few "facts" are not very factual (I know, I know: it's just a movie but since so many people, including many children, will see this movie worldwide, they may start to accept certain quite misleading information about Egyptian mummification). Here's what to look out for:

(1) Incorrect number of canopic jars. Anck-su-Namun is buried with five Canopic jars. The Egyptians used no more than four. Was another vital organ removed (the movie does not make this clear; the novelization of the movie does, however: the heart was placed in a fifth canopic container--effectively rewriting the history of ancient Egypt: the heart almost always was left in the body, even when other organs were removed). It looks as if the extra Canopic jar was the broken one which appeared to have the head of a lion. 

(2) Confusion about making "live" mummies. On first viewing, I thought that Imhotep and his priests were mummified alive (apparently by the Pharaoh's bodyguards--who must have been moonlighting?). However, on subsequent viewings, I realized that the priests were most likely dead when they were wrapped ...though this isn't made clear. What was clear, however, is that Imhotep's internal organs seem to have been removed--and yet he was supposedly buried alive (remember the scratched inside lid of his coffin?). How could he be buried alive if his lungs, intestines, kidneys, and stomach were removed? No matter how illogical (and impossible), the movie glosses over this so fast it's hard to notice.

(3) False mummy-making techniques. Rachel Weisz's character gives Brendan Fraser a lesson in how the Egyptians made mummies. She says: they removed the heart (they did? The Egyptians believed that the body and the heart were not supposed to be separated--it was the organ of Intelligence and Wisdom--if it was removed accidentally, it was replaced in the body). She also says: they took "a sharp red-hot poker" (does she mean a brain hook?) and used it to remove the brain. 

(4) The mummy needed glasses! There's one other logical problem: if Imhotep takes the eyes of Burns (the visually-impaired guy in the glasses), wouldn't he have the same visual impairment himself? He does to begin with...then what? Is he able to regenerate his eyesight?  Something to wonder about. And it could have added a humorous note to see the mummy making a few mistakes or being fitted for a pair of Ray-Bans.

(5) And on a personal note, no matter how much fun the movie is, I was left thinking about all of the destruction to mummies (yes, they were the bad guys) in the movie. If only those American adventurers/ plunderers hadn't opened the Canopic chest...and if Evelyn Carnarvon hadn't read the magic spell from The Book of the Dead....  Well, there wouldn't have been a movie! 

Worth noting: The curse inscribed on the Book of the Dead/ Canopic chest is "Death will come on swift wings to whomsoever opens this chest....There is one of the Undead who if brought back from the Dead will regenerate and will bring the plague on this Earth...." The first part of this curse was taken from the supposed curse of King Tut's tomb.  Want to read the real story? Check out the true story of the curse of King Tut's tomb.

 

MUMMY TOMBS RATING:

 The movie is rated PG-13.

Ages 9 and up. Definitely a great mummy movie! Buy the DVD and start memorizing the lines!

Although most of the violence takes place in silhouette and shadows and is "campy," a few scenes are gratuitously gross (scarab beetles under one's skin, for example) and disturbing (the computer-generated Mummy could be hard for some young moviegoers to take until he steals enough body parts and skin to mend his appearance). In other words, sensitive kids could be bothered. But there isn't any bloodshed in the entire movie--despite many opportunities to show it.

 

 

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