Tonight I rewatched/revisited The Mummy from 1999 starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. Like many of you, I’ve watched this movie countless times, and for a while it was on TV regularly. So why watch it again? I asked my girlfriend what movie she wanted to watch out of the hundreds we own, and she picked The Mummy. I was better than the other 2 movies she wanted to watch. While watching it tonight, I was intrigued by the idea of “will this movie hold up 18 years later”. The short answer is, yes it holds up almost 20 years later! Keep reading to see how the CGI and story hold up and compare to current films such as the new The Mummy movie starring Tom Cruise.
The opening scene was amazing. The camera pans across Egypt, and you see the typical structures and workers running through the scene. My first thought was “wow this CGI looks amazing”, but then it dawned on me that it’s most likely a mix of miniature set pieces and the workers being composited into the scene. The workers were probably standing in front of a green screen and then superimposed into the scene.
In the next scene, we get our first look at the High Priest and eventual mummy, Arnold Vosloo, and the green screen effect was pretty bad. The actor was presented very well, but the background looked pixelated, distorted, and blurry. It was jarring seeing this right after seeing the amazing panning shot of the people in the city.
The mummy CGI effects still look great. Sure, it’s not as good as some of the newer movies, but it is amazing what they did with a CGI character almost 20 years ago that still holds up today. Even the sand effects look just as good as the sand/particle effects we see today. There were two CGI elements that I don’t think held up well. The ghost/spirit that is summoned to bring a character back to life. It’s a nondescript blue thing floating in the air. It reminds me of Casper the Friendly Ghost instead of an ominous being coming to life. It is reminiscent of the force ghosts from the Star Wars series, but the force ghosts are a much better use of this style. Finally, CGI liquid always looked bad, but liquids and fire are the toughest things to do in CGI. The “pool of souls” is the best example of this.
What good is the best CGI without a good story? At the core of The Mummy, it’s a classic tale of boy meets girl, girl gets taken, and boy comes to the rescue, and then we have the story of Rick and Evelyn. Bet you didn’t realize there were two love stories going on. Unfortunately for the mummy Imhotep to reunite with Anck Su Namun he kills countless people and goes on a rampage to resurrect her. Of course, the main antagonist is Imhotep. We first see Rick holding a line with other men ready to shoot the incoming militia. Later we find out that where this fight took place is above Imhotep’s tomb. We first see Evelyn (Eve) in a curator’s library right before she knocks down all the bookshelves. It’s a nice comedic moment and sets the stage for her brother Jonathan to show her the key that unlocks ancient books. Long story short, the three protagonists meetup, accidentally release the mummy on the world, and they go to extreme lengths to trap him again.
The action scenes still excite us, and the comedic moments still get a laugh. That is the sign of a well written movie. Audiences agreed, and this movie became the first in a trilogy. It also started the spinoff franchise The Scorpion King that originally starred Dwayne Johnson. There have been 4 Scorpion King movies (as recent as 2015), and 3 actors having played the main character.
All good things must come to an end…unless it’s a movie. The Mummy franchise is the latest to get rebooted this time starring Tom Cruise. It looks like it could be entertaining, but the trailers have me worried that it will be action heavy with very little story. Some of the action scenes in the trailer look like something Michael Bay would do in Transformers. I’ll probably see it in theaters out of curiosity.
When was the first time you watched the ’99 version of The Mummy? Are you excited for the reboot? Leave a comment below and let us know.