The Mummy movie full length review - Actual quote - "Rescue the damsel in distress, kill the bad guy, save the world."
This version of The Mummy (one of the several titles within film lore that seems to have been made and remade for decades) is pretty much exactly what you would expect from a modern adaptation of an old horror classic, especially given the types of films that are released these days.
The action and special effects of the 1932 classic have been massively increased, and the new film turns more to shocking special effects, often cheesy comic relief, and sparkling scenery, away from the slow, creeping tension of the original. As a result, we get a fast moving feature that places a lot of emphasis on its special effects and it's good-looking stars. Thankfully, the movie knows when to laugh at itself, but it trips because it doesn't know when to stop.
The film starts roughly 3000 years in the past, with the Egyptian priest Imhotep being put to a rather vicious death for getting a little too friendly with the Pharaoh's mistress. Naturally, he is mummified alive, sealed in a coffin with a lot of flesh-eating beetles (the sounds of which make up some of the creepiest stuff in the whole movie), only to be accidentally resurrected by a lot of bounty hunters a few millennia later. This is where the cast comes in, Rick (Brendan Fraser), Evelyn (Rachel Weisz), and her brother Jonathan (John Hannah).
Rick is the hero of the movie, the guy who has been there and done it all and just wants to get his money and get out. He's kind of like a cross between the single-mindedness of Han Solo, the bad one-liners of James Bond, and the adventure experience of Indiana Jones, except that he comes across more as a muddy conglomeration of characters like those rather than an original character of his own. He goes through his part upset by the fact that other people seem to be constantly be holding him back from some faraway goal, the importance of which they can probably never be expected to understand.
Evelyn is there mainly with scientific interest (until she meets the hottie hero and romance is added to her To Do list) and her brother Jonathan is there for pure financial gain, as is the movie's director and crew and production team. There is also a tagalong character named Beni who I can only satisfactorily describe as a greedy rat, someone you would expect to meet on the wet streets of New York in the 1940s or something. He is a constant double-crosser who never has anyone's but his own best interest in mind, and so naturally ends up working for the resurrected Imhotep. His weird eye-makeup and pathetically whiny little voice make him a perfect candidate for the throwaway antagonist, who Rick tries vainly to save in a climactic scene near the end of the film.
The interesting thing about the plot comes up when you consider when exactly Imhotep became the bad guy. Really, all he did was fall in love with the wrong girl, and then when he was brought back to life, obviously he wanted to bring her back, too. One of the first things that I learned in film studies is that the audience should know as soon as possible whether they are meant to like or dislike a character, because first impressions are difficult to overcome. With that in mind then, when exactly was it that he went from the poor love-struck protagonist from the first act of the film to the monstrous antagonist during the rest of the movie?
My best theory is that first and foremost, he's killing people to bring himself and his love back to life. Granted, more killing would not justify the death of himself or of his loved one, Anck Su Namun, but considering the fact that all he did was fall in love and also considering the way that he was put to death, his reaction upon achieving life once more becomes a little more understandable. Second, what exactly does a resurrected protagonist look like? I must admit that there is something a little too daunting about trying to come up with a likable mummy, but Imhotep is certainly a man who has seen more than his share of suffering.
The special effects are hugely impressive despite the fact that they are obviously special effects (the art of invisibility was not achieved very well here). When Imhotep is slowly regenerating, there are scenes showing his body and face that are impressive in their spectacle, but not impressive in not looking animated. As a whole, The Mummy is exactly what you might expect it to be, except that it was released amidst so much excitement and hype that it really should have taken itself more seriously and been more of a thinking film. It would have, under those circumstances, been immensely more respectable and might have joined its predecessor as a movie classic. It is a successful update of the Mummy theme (which has become almost a genre in itself), but there is a lot of fluff in the film that simply doesn't belong.