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Many centuries ago, upon the hot Egyptian sands,
Imhotep betrayed his pharaoh, who was murdered at his hands.
He and love Anck-su-Namun suffered death for what they did,
And the priest was mummified and cursed and vigilantly hid.
1926 or so is when a brave librarian,
Evelyn, with Jonathan, her brother, come to carry in
A map of sorts to Rick O’Connell, who discovered it and knows
Where the fabled treasure city Hamunaptra once arose.
Leading them, the dashing rogue encounters Beni, once a friend,
Who is leading treasure seekers to the city and their end.
Medjai warriors attempt to stop the bold adventurers,
Who discover Imhotep and resurrect this worst of curs.
As the mummy desiccates the bodies of a chosen few,
He then kidnaps Evelyn, his former lover to renew.
Rick and Jonathan, as well as Medjai leader Ardeth Bay,
Follow back to Hamunaptra, where a book can save the day.
Evelyn is very nearly sacrificed by Imhotep,
Till Rick fights while Jonathan is reading symbols step by step.
When the mummy is defeated and the just desserts are served,
Evelyn and Rick O’Connell leave in triumph well-deserved.
Evelyn and Rick O’Connell, married now and with a son,
Take along the spunky Alex to dark crypts for family fun.
They unearth a golden bracelet, and when Alex tries it on,
He sees visions meant to guide him ere a coming lethal dawn.
He must head for an oasis, where the Scorpion King now lies,
Who will waken for destruction if not handed his demise.
Imhotep is resurrected by a cult with dark intentions,
Which includes his reincarnate lover and her interventions.
When the cult starts kidnapping, it’s clear that Imhotep intends
To defeat the Scorpion King and take his army for his ends.
Alex is abducted soon and guides them all to the oasis,
The O’Connells following upon a blimp to distant places.
Pygmies cause them further trouble as the deadly dawn arrives,
And as Imhotep approaches, not quite everyone survives.
When the Scorpion King awakens, he is mighty (like a Rock),
And his wicked jackal army causes Ardeth Bay a shock.
Rick and Imhotep face off against the evil hybrid king,
And at last when he is vanquished, everything starts crumbling.
Danger proves the truer romance, and as the O’Connells flee,
Wealth and global preservation lend them happy victory.

Critical reception for The Mummy and its sequel may not have been universally positive, but I consider both films quintessential actioners, with dashing characters and awesome set pieces recalling the excitement of Indiana Jones. I’m not much for horror comedies, mainly because the horror often manifests as gore, but the genre can be quite entertaining when the focus is on the comedy (Ghostbusters) or on the action, as in The Mummy.

My VC and I have always loved Brendan Fraser; he has the perfect adventure hero charisma for these movies, including that making-things-up-as-he-goes element that made Harrison Ford so likable. Pair him with Rachel Weisz as Evelyn, looking as beautiful as any actress ever has, and a modern classic romance is born. John Hannah is excellent comic relief as Evie’s con man brother Jonathan, and even if he’s CGI much of the time, Arnold Vosloo is effectively frightening as the reanimated mummy Imhotep. Ardeth Bay (which was the name taken by Imhotep in the original 1932 The Mummy) is played by Oded Fehr, whom my VC has always found dark, handsome, and hunky, even with the face tattoos.

As for the second film, despite changing directors, all the same actors returned, supplemented by Freddie Boath as Alex, who is not the most annoying of child actors and serves as a plucky addition to the O’Connell family. Oh, yeah, the Rock (a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson) had his big film debut as the Scorpion King, but considering he never speaks anything in English and is basically just a CGI tough guy most of the time, there’s not much I can say for his “performance.” Also, (Lost alert) Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who played Mr. Eko on my favorite show, plays a much less sympathetic killer as the villain Lock-Nah.

I was not impressed by Boris Karloff’s original The Mummy, hailed as a classic horror film yet exceptionally boring, at least to me. Retooling the basic plot points into a shoot-‘em-up pulp adventure was an inspired idea, complete with booby traps, ancient curses, killer beetles, and some then-advanced CGI. The first film is more foreboding in its build-up to the mummy’s resurrection, while the second veers into occasionally cartoonish territory, like racing sunrises and Alex’s childish high jinks. Even so, I think I like the second a little better, thanks to some outstanding action scenes, especially an awesome chase scene with a double-decker bus and the pyramid finale. I also liked how, aside from a few gruesome scenes, objectionable content was kept to a minimum, making both films the kind of Saturday night fare a family can enjoy, provided the kids’ eyes are covered every now and then. There’s some talk of reincarnation, and I don’t know how or why a mummy can recreate the plagues of Egypt, which came from God, but none of the spiritual mumbo jumbo is to be taken seriously anyway.

Neither film is Oscar material, but both are so spectacularly entertaining that Imhotep’s stereotypical romance and some unrealistic moments are easily forgiven. Such is not always the case: The third film The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, thanks mainly to the loss of chemistry from the recasting of Rachel Weisz, just didn’t have the same magic, nor did director Stephen Sommers’ other monster movie rehash Van Helsing. With these films, it’s the full package that makes them something special: the thrilling score by Jerry Goldsmith (The Mummy) and Alan Silvestri (The Mummy Returns), funny and dynamic performances from most of the cast, and the perfect blend of humor, horror, and action.

Best line from The Mummy: (Evelyn) “You were actually at Hamunaptra?”
(Rick) “Yeah, I was there.”
(Evelyn) “You swear?”
(Rick) “Every damn day.”
Best line from The Mummy Returns: (Ardeth Bay, concerning Alex’s putting on the Bracelet of Anubis) “By putting this on, you have started a chain reaction that could bring about the next apocalypse.”
[Alex gasps]
(Rick, to Ardeth) “You, lighten up.” (to Alex) “You, big trouble.” (to Jonathan) “You, get in the car.”
Rank: 58 out of 60

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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