But that’s not to say the 1999 blockbuster The Mummy isn’t fun in its own way. For two hours, the swift-moving action-adventure jerks us around with special effects (CG mummies et al) and cornball dialogue (some, I’m convinced, Brendan Fraser ad-libbed).
Director/co-writer Stephen Sommers’ re-imagining of the 1932 Universal horror show pits two rival expedition groups against each other on the hunt for treasures and ancient books in Hamunaptra, the City of the Dead. In the blue corner we have French Foreign Legion adventurer Rick O’Connell (Fraser, always confident in his goofiness), proud/determined Egyptologist and librarian Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz), and her bumbling brother, Jonathan (John Hannah). In the red corner…a bunch of stiff Americans.
Here’s where the Karl Freund/Boris Karloff classic scuffs in. Thanks to a seven-minute prologue, we learn that 3000 years ago the high priest Imhotep had an affair with Pharaoh Seti’s (Aharon Ipalé) mistress, Princess Anck Su Namun (Patricia Velasquez), subsequently leaving Imhotep mummified alive. Once the rival groups reach Hamunaptra, Evelyn resurrects Imhotep, who in turn plots to mummify Evelyn and thus resurrect his lost love—tit for tat, right?
The main fault of The Mummy (’99) is the love story, which was focused on Imhotep and Princess Anck-es-en-Amon in the 1932 version, now thrown upon the photogenic leads, Rick and Evelyn, who have enough problems with the plagues and organ-chomping scarabs on their plate. Fraser and Weisz bounce off each other really well when they jab and bicker (ala Harrison Ford and Kate Capshaw), but when they embrace, I’m rooting for Imhotep to unleash his wrath. Eh, maybe a sequel or two will fix that up…
There are three commentaries: 1) with Director Stephen Sommers & Editor Bob Ducsay, 2) with Actor Brendan Fraser, and 3) with Actors Oded Fehr, Kevin J. O’Connor & Arnold Vosloo. All have their moments, but with three tracks for one movie, there’s bound to be overlapping. It’s best to skip around on all three.
Deleted Scenes (2:20): We get three here featuring more with Fraser and company, the Americans, and mummy fighting.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Sneak Peek (3:00): This brief preview for the upcoming Mummy sequel is the sort of featurette that plays before the trailers at the theater, complete with on-set footage and interviews.
An Army to Rule the World – Part 1 (4:03): This piece takes a look at the creation of the priest and soldier mummies (both CG and costumed) featured in the last act.
Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy (8:07) is also available on the new 2-Disc Special Edition of The Mummy (1932) and uses clips and interviews to touch upon both the original film and its remake.
Visual and Special Effects Formation (9:26): Divided into five scenes (‘City of Thebes,’ ‘Scarab Burial,’ ‘Serious Trouble,’ ‘Imhotep Eats Scarab,’ and ‘Rick Rescues Evelyn’), this section offers an interesting look at the creation of the effects.
Building a Better Mummy (49:53): Wait a second, didn’t we already have two features on the visual effects? SFX buffs will get the biggest kick out of this detailed addition, but the less technical fans are better off with the previous featurettes.
Storyboard to Final Film Comparison: Seven scenes (‘Anubis Chamber,’ ‘Desert Sandstorm,’ ‘The Sahara,’ ‘Final Fight,’ ‘Hangman’s Noose,’ ‘Scarab Run,’ and ‘Trouble in Cairo’) are examined here. A good addition for the pre-production nuts.
Egyptology 101 hosts a series of articles in five rooms: Artifacts (‘How to Make a Mummy’), The Immortals (‘Imhotep’), Map (‘Cairo’), Plagues (all ten), and The Gods (‘Thoth’).
Pharoah Lineage, a Photograph Montage (4:19) and the Theatrical Trailer are also included.