The Mummy (Hollywood 1999)

the-mummy-1999-the-mummy-movies-4379715-960-536                                                 (What a hair do for an alpha male – NOT!)
During the 1990’s a stream of remakes came out using the old Universal horror films with the monsters: Dracula (Bram Stoker’s Dracula), Frankenstein (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein), The Wolf Man (Wolf) and this Raiders Of The Lost Ark version of our favourite Egyptian monster. This Stephen Sommers – directed effort has librarian and aspiring archaeologist Evelyn (Rachel Wiesz), accompanied by her brother Jonathan (John Hannah), enlisting the help of French Foreign Legion soldier Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) to find a lost Egyptian city. In other words, “kill the bad guy, rescue damsel in distress (not that dress) and save the world.” Has anyone ever asked the world if it wants to be saved? Thought not…

The real monster in this is perhaps Brendan Fraser. Sorry, but I think he comes across as a character actor trying desperately to pull off a leading man role and failing rather epically. His attempts to deepen his voice throughout the first half or so of the movie are ridiculous. (Which is a major problem with Western actors nowadays, they look too young and lack real manliness – where’s Lee Marvin when you need him?) Listen to his real/natural voice as he cries out: “You’re gonna get yours!” while being driven away from the hotel – the guy sounds like he should be on a sitcom. And is it just me, or does it become painfully apparent that Fraser, as an actor, has no chemistry going with Rachel Weisz? (She’s miscast – too ugly)

I also noticed practically all of the Egyptian parts are played by white Americans (Kevin J. O’Connor), white South Africans (Arnold Vosloo), white Israelis (Oded Fehr, Aharon Ipalé), Indians (Eric Avari), Venezuelans (Patricia Velasquez) or Persians (Omid Djalili). If there are any Arabs in the movie at all, they’re all relegated to background parts. I wonder if a film about ancient Israel would ever dare to fill every character role with Gentile performers.

They (Arabs) need a paycheck too. Whilst I’m on this rant, I also felt most of the glib one-liners failed completely, not just because I was watching the movie dubbed in Spanish (I understood about 95% of it), though I doubt the original ‘Murican dialogue was much more scintillating. I’m afraid it’s grade-school stuff, as usual. But the original sin cursing this whole debacle is simply Rachel and Brendan don’t have what it takes to carry a film like this.

rachel-and-brendan  (Cross-eyed? Who? Me? Oy Vey!…Mr Hair Do watches on)

On the effects (which of course is what the movie is all about), there’s very little to say. They’re effective (sorry), but not surprising. Unspecial f/x. The same effects, such as the scarab beetle swarms and skin bulging, are very overused. I wonder how much money that saved? After seeing an effect once, it has much diminished impact the second time. Which perhaps explains why I was noticing boom mikes, cameras (yes!) and other anomalous background things instead of being totally gripped by the action.

I liked the opening panoramic scene of ancient Egypt more than the mostly mundane f/x thereafter. This is a weightless, instantly forgettable picture. A gaudy comic video game splashed onto the screen. This really is a failure that future historians would have to devote an entire volume of work to. This sligthly high reviewer (see? thank you Jack Daniels for getting me thru this) has better things to devote himself to. Like how the hell can I think of anything to say about The Mummy Returns? I made a promise (to write about every installment of this series) and now I’m regretting it. Will I be able to stand the pain? This is the first time I’ve apologized twice in a post and now I’m about to do it a 3rd time…Sorry.  🙂

rachel-wiesz             (No you’re not. But you are related to all the casting directors.)


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