Set in the Sahara Desert in 1925, this updated version of the 1932 Boris Karloff classic, The Mummy, thrills the senses with dazzling special effects, but doesn’t really give the audience any genuine scares like the original did. One of the first films to take advantage of the new wave in special effects from Industrial Light & Magic, which notably boosts the entertainment level.
Treasure hunters encounter some scary sights at the ancient Pyramids. This film’s hero Rick O’Connell, played by Brendan Fraser, encounters a librarian/archaeology expert Evelyn Carnarvon, played by Rachel Weisz. Their logical alliance reflects the hodge podge of characters enveloped in the events who all have varying motives and reasons behind their pursuits.
Rick and Evelyn encounter many dangers with Evelyn’s brother, Jonathan, played by John Hannah (Four Weddings and a Funeral), Rick’s conniving friend and former soldier Beni, played by Kevin J. O’Connor (TV’s Chicago P.D.), and a helpful man-in-black, played by Oded Fehr (TV’s 24:Legacy) in the desert. Bernard Fox (Titanic) is a welcome addition as Captain Winston Havlock who was a pilot in the Royal Air Force during World War I.
This character core provides some logic, but mostly mildly amusing quips and spirited actions as the Mummy, Imhotep, a high priest from the reign of the pharaoh Seti I played by Arnold Vosloo, slowly elevates the action as he prepares for his personal redemption, which leads to the inevitable final conflict with the heroes. Patricia Velasquez also plays Anck-Su-Namum e mistress of Pharaoh Seti I while Jerry Goldsmith’s musical score definitely enhances the story.
The Mummy comes recommended with a few reservations (**1/2 out of four stars) for the groundbreaking special effects and entertaining action sequences, but the fast-paced, 125-minute story cannot erase badly written characters, especially discrepancies in Evelyn’s character. This action-adventure is rated PG-13 for pervasive adventure violence and some partial nudity and was followed by two sequels The Mummy Returns (which spawned a prequel/spin-off The Scorpion King starring Dwayne Johnson) and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.