Mummy, The (1999)

The Mummy (1999), written and directed by Stephen Sommers.

This designed-to-be-a-PG13-summer-blockbuster is impressive in many ways. It has what seems a lavish budget, rich production values, a likable cast, both comedy and thrills, skilled editing and often impressive computer graphics spectacle. Jerry Goldsmith's exciting adventure/fantasy/mystery score is deeply rooted in film mythology.

As with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) the story is set entirely within the Hollywood fantasy subcreation. Like all action films it's "let's pretend" without a moment of real peril or fright.

I can't think of a story that more exhaustively mines the screenwriters' treasure-chest. The traditional outline of the ancient cursed priest revivified to find his lost love is just the beginning. Not only do we have a quick prelude in exotic Egypt but a Foreign Legion massacre, the romantic meet cute with the leads at his hanging, a gun battle on a burning steamship on the Nile, camel treks into the deep desert, ten plagues over Egypt, a biplane crash, an underground golden hoard as far as the eye can see, swords, dynamite, guns, heavy machine guns and more guns (you can't have too many weapons when dealing with a mummy apocalypse) and finally a heroine in heavy bondage.

It did great business at the box office and continues to sell well on home video and I find it quite rewatchable. It's supposed to be "fun" and it is.

On the down side: it is intended for a mass audience and there isn't much subtlety to the plot. The humor is broad and Brendan Fraser's wit is little more than schoolyard taunting. Because it is "fun" it has to be bloodless. The score sometimes descends into comical mickey-mousing, as for the soldier mummies (which ruins them for me). I hope Goldsmith didn't do those bits.

Available on Blu-ray with three commentary tracks: