The Mummy: a well-preserved adventure

This year is the 25th anniversary of the release of the first Jurassic Park. For most of us at Cinedelphia, it is a film that has defined what we look for in a summer blockbuster. So what better time than now to revisit the last 25 years of summer blockbusters and pick our favorites? View the criteria and full introduction here, and the whole series here.

20. The Mummy (dir. Stephen Sommers, 1999)

Evelyn: I’ve never seen a mummy look like this before…he’s still…still
Rick and Jonathan: Juicy………….

The Mummy is a movie I have a vivid memory of seeing in the theater. It was the opening sequence, where we meet our ill-fated Egyptian priest, destined to become the titular mummy after screwing around with the Pharaoh’s wife. But more than just being executed for his crimes, the poor priest is cursed in death, and buried alive with a bunch of ravenous scarabs. All his underlings are also sentenced to death along with him, but instead of being cursed, they are granted the fun of being mummified alive. I don’t know, the image of a dude about to have his brains scrambled by a hook up his nose just stuck with me all those years.

It’s a pretty grosteque opening to what amounts to a quintessential summer blockbuster classic that’s a hell of a lot of fun. If you love dinosaurs, and were over the moon when Jurassic Park came out, you can understand my love for Egyptology, and, above all else, MUMMIES. I even have a magnet on my fridge that says, “I ♥ Mummies,” it’s pretty intense. So watching Rachel Weisz and Brendan Fraser on the search for an ancient treasure and instead finding themselves fighting off a vengeful, cat-fearing, zombie is all I could want in a movie.

Fraser is an actor that I forgot I missed having around, and with all the awful things now surfacing about his absence from Hollywood, it’s even more frustrating we didn’t get to see more of him. I see him as the beginning point of a long line of actors, including Dwayne Johnson that are able to do the comedy, the action, and the silly, all in equal parts and being incredibly entertaining about it. Rachel Weisz is always awesome, but it’s rare nowadays to see her do straight-up comedy/action film, and she does it so well! Her portrayal of Evelyn “Evie” Carnahan is the perfect blend of charming, smart, and resourceful.

I also thoroughly enjoy this movie as a period piece. One of the reasons I think the new reboot doesn’t work for me is because it’s set in a modern context and takes itself too seriously. The palette for this movie is bright, colorful, and fun, without sacrificing the gross, scary bits. Archaeological digs were grand expeditions, with camels, and horses, and guns, and frivolousness. Grave-robbers and adventurous thrill-seekers exist alongside serious academics, and while the reboot includes a lot of the grey area in dealing with ancient artifacts, it’s not nearly as epic. Not to mention ancient Egypt doesn’t feature that prominently. Or the mummy for that matter.

Yes, I like my mummies epic. I want to be a part of an adventure. And I really want a cross-over mumm/Indiana Jones movie featuring Ardeth Bay and the Magi meeting up with the Brothers of the Cruciform Sword from Last Crusade. Because cool bad-asses who roam the desert, believe in magic, and protect the world from ancient forces deserve a movie of their own.

Author: Jill Malcolm

Jill is happiest attending midnight screenings with other crazy film fans at her local theater. Her other passions include reading, traveling to faraway places, cat videos, pugs, and jalapeño peppers. She is co-founder of the blog Filmhash.

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