Friday, June 9, 2017

Ancient Ailurophobic Egyptians, or Thoughts on The Mummy

Technically a remake of Boris Karloff’s 1932 The Mummy, 1999's The Mummy jettisoned most of the horror elements in favor of a fast-paced, Indiana Jones-y action comedy that benefited from natural chemistry between Brendan Fraser as Rick O’Connell and Rachel Weisz as archeologist/sexy librarian Evie Carnahan.  The first half of the movie is almost a screwball comedy in 1920’s Cairo, before the introduction of South African actor Arnold Vosloo in the titular role.  There’s no comparison between him and Boris Karloff, but then again how could there be?  Boris Karloff is part of the popular culture now, this mummy was mostly CGI and afraid of cats (a plot element that the movie regrettably did not take more advantage of).  Instead, the movie focused more on Imhotep’s obsession with Evie, which ironically, echoed Karloff’s Imhotep’s obsession Helen Grosvenor in the 1932 original.
Watch out for John Hannah, or Quintus Lentulus Batiatus from Spartacus (2010) to you and me, as Jonathan, Evie’s ne’er-do-well big brother, and Kevin J. O’Connor from Lord of Illusions (1995) as Beni.  Stephen Sommers, who would go on to direct Van Helsing (2003) all of the Mummy sequels (and producing the Scorpion King spin-offs) and GI Joe: Rise of Cobra (2009)
It’s hard to imagine 1999 being a more innocent time, but this nostalgic, pre 9/11, old Hollywood portrayal of Egypt and the Middle East is without even a hint of the coming storm contemporary audiences find them in.  The politics, or lack thereof in the film, seem naïve and along with the 90’s era CGI mummies reminiscent of Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion skeletons somehow, from a modern perspective, make the movie more charming and less offensive.








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