Volume 93, Issue 1
Friday, May 14, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
New Mummy movie is a tightly wrapped package
Photo by Keith Hamshere
YOU KNOW, A LITTLE NOXEMA WILL CLEAR THAT RIGHT UP. Brendan Fraser faces a crusty villain in his new action adventure, The Mummy.
By Luke Rundle
It's almost guaranteed to happen to someone. Turned away by the snotty 15 year-old ticket agent for The Phantom Menace, audiences will need to have their thirst for action, adventure and a little bit of special effects wizardry sated. The Mummy will definitely hit the spot and hit it well.
Brendan Fraser stars as Rick O'Connell, a swashbuckling Legionnaire who leads an expedition to the sacred city of Hamunaptra, rumoured to contain all the wealth of the Egyptian pharaohs. Under its sands, however, Hamunaptra also contains the mummy of an Egyptian high priest, forever accursed to a burial worse than death and capable of ultimate evil power if ever awakened.
Of course, the foreseeable awakening occurs and Fraser must rescue the heroine and thwart the villain, making sardonic quips all the while. Thankfully, Fraser is an accomplished and talented actor who can make these multiple duties seem natural and unforced. Modeled after Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones, Fraser's character manages to remain heroic without bringing along the usual caboose of sappiness action stars rarely drop by the wayside. Fraser is no match for Ford, the action/comedy master, but does a fine job nonetheless.
The rest of the movie's cast, however, garners only mixed reviews. Rachel Weisz plays Evelyn, the continually rescued heroine. She does a passable job with a part which calls for her to decipher hieroglyphics as well as look Revlon-tastic in 1920s Egypt. Unfortunately, her bubbly, half-witted demeanour seems better suited to a high school comedy. As well, Jonathan Hyde as an Egyptologist does little on screen, save for clutching a sacred book of incantations and seems to exist only for victim status. On the other end of the casting scale, Sliding Doors' John Hannah is tremendous as Evelyn's brother Jonathan, bringing new energy to the overdone character of a drunk
As with any adventure/horror type movie, the best performances are turned in by the villains. Aided by the incredible Industrial Light and Magic special effects team, Arnold Vosloo takes on the task of the first movie mummy without bandages quite well. Together with his cowardly human toady, Beni (played by consummate lackey Kevin O'Connor), the two manage to impart the 10 plagues of the Bible on Egypt in full force.
The real stars of this movie, however, are the ILM special effects team, many of whom pulled double duty across the hall on the Star Wars project. Besides gradually morphing the resurrected mummy from a walking skeleton to a fully fleshed out monster, the ILM team accomplished more effects than popsicle stick-wielding adults at a sand castle building contest.
In the end, The Mummy works for a simple reason. Audiences nowadays have hit a trend where they want a compelling story along with visual gratification. Hating special effects extravaganzas which are devoid of plot and character, like last summer's bust Godzilla, is as much a part of maturation as learning to appreciate the vegetables which accompany one's dinner. So if you get denied for The Phantom Menace at the box office, check out The Mummy.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999