Blast from the past

Throwback Thursday pick: The Mummy (1999)


Tom Cruise is back this week with another film project. The theater audience will have yet another opportunity to see him jump, fight and run but this time in Alex Kurtzman’s directed reboot of The Mummy franchise. The Mummy opens this week, but I’d like to bring you back 18 years ago. More precisely in the summer of 1999, when Stephen Sommers’s loose remake of the 1932 film The Mummy was released in theaters across the world.

The Mummy starred Brendan Frazer in the role of Rick O’Connel. A low rent Indiana Jones that happened to be mercenary who served in the French Foreign Legion. Rachel Weisz was Evelyn “Evie” Carnahan, the clumsy yet intelligent Egyptologist/librarian turned Rick’s love interest and Arnold Vosloo embodied the role of Imhotep / The Mummy.

Image via Universal Pictures

And while The Mummy got mixed reviews from the film critics at the time, some of the greatest critics (Roger Ebert for instance) noted the film structure as devoid of significance, but fun to watch as an cinematic experience.

I can say that I was not bored and sometimes I was unreasonably pleased, Ebert mentioned in his review,

and concluded:

Look, art this isn’t. Great trash, it isn’t. Good trash, it is. It’s not quite up there with “Anaconda,” but it’s as much fun as “Congo” and “The Relic,” and it’s better than “Species.” If those four titles are not intimately familiar to you, “The Mummy” might not be the place to start, said Ebert.

Image via Universal Pictures

But back in 1999 I was a film hungry teenager. There were just a few movie theaters where i lived, and they weren’t going to show the movie for an audience, so a bootleg VHS copy was my only option. Desperate, I reached out to my film „dealer“aka my cousin. He and his parents owned a store in the center of the city, and right across the store there was a video store, that rented one of the most low quality VHS tapes imaginable. Trust me it would take me years (and quality copy of the film) to be able to see the face of Patricia Velásquez (who played Anck-Su-Namun). But from what I managed to see, I was mesmerized.

The set pieces, the costumes from the 1920’s and ancient Egypt were awesome, the visual effects were awesome for the tame, and although the pacing and the story were suffering at times, Brandon Fraser’s boyish charm, natural charisma and comedic talent saved the movie. The release was at the peak of his Hollywood stardom (that stared in the early 90’s with Encino Man), and in the process The Mummy also made his then relatively unknown co-star Rachel Weisz a bona fide star.

Image via Universal Pictures

But what truly saved the movie were actually the characters. Not the story, or the special effects (although it earned an Academy Award nomination for best sound mixing) or the grandiose and elaborate set pieces. Every one of the main characters were flawed by likable. Every single one of them contributed to the quality of the final product, a probably that was main reason for the return of the most actors in the 2001 sequel The Mummy Returns.

Now the sequel was more or less a bit of a letdown compared to the original, but like the first instalment, The Mummy Returns managed to gross more than 400 million dollars at the box office.
So, Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy is the latest reboot of The Mummy franchise, and like the predecessor also has a charismatic star in the male lead. Actors Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance will be joining Tom Cruise in the movie, while Sofia Boutella and Academy Award winner Russel Crowe complete the stellar cast. What will be the verdict? Remains to be seen.

Image via Universal Pictures

You can expect the film review for The Mummy soon on Filmsane, but until then… why not check out Brendan Frazier’s The Mummy again? It’s so worth it and fun.


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