This flick is on a list of movies that I will always change the channel to watch, regardless of how little of the film is left. I just love it.
I love the kind of old fashioned vibe of it all- ancient curses, shifty locals, booby traps and secret societies. Along the way there are shootouts, brawls and grizzly deaths galore, it’s all rather good fun and great popcorn entertainment. It’s the kind of movie you can really get into and perfect for lazy evenings curled up on the sofa- good vs evil, magic and derring-do, what else do you need?
The plot revolves around Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), who was a high priest in the days of Ancient Egypt, but after getting caught shagging the Pharaoh’s girl he ends up being buried alive and cursed. He’s buried in a mythical city called Hamunaptra, and is guarded by a band of warriors sworn to stop him returning.
The location of the city is lost, but a map falls into the hands of English librarian and Egyptian scholar Evelyn “Evie” Carnahan (Rachel Weisz), who longs to be taken seriously but lacks field experience. Her wastrel of a brother, Jonathan (John Hannah), brought her a box which contained the map, but the map is damaged. Evie is keen to go for the knowledge the discovery will provide, while her brother is lured by the promise of gold and treasures.
Evie and Jonathan track down the man who Jonathan stole it from, Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser), who had actually been to the city when he and his Foreign Legion unit went there to find the treasure. He agrees to help so long as they get him out of his trouble with local authorities. The group then set off, discovering on the way that there is a rival American expedition which is being aided by a former comrade of O’Connell’s, the cowardly and untrustworthy Beni (Kevin J. O’Connor).
The sworn warriors, the Medjai attempt to waylay them but their attempts fail, but their leader Ardeth (Oded Fehr) continues trying to stop their mission.
When they get there they find Imhotep’s mummified remains and also the Book of Anubis, and by reading it they unwittingly resurrect Imhotep, and everyone flees to Ciaro. Imhotep, who recruits Beni as his servant, gives chase and works his way through the Americans as he retrieves the jars containing his remains that they stole, and regenerates by stealing their organs.
Fixated with Evie Imhotep kidnaps her and plans to resurrect his former love and rule the world. O’Connell, Jonathan and Ardeth head for Hamunaptra to rescue Evie and try to stop Imhotep and his undead cronies from taking over.
It’s all rollicking good fun and Sommers does a good job of mixing thrills, humour and romance as he builds the movie up. The major strengths he has to call upon are his leads, Fraser and Weisz.
Fraser is great as the roguish but basically noble O’Connell, an adventurer who’s quite handy in a scrap but who tends to blunder into danger. He’s quite resourceful and smart at times though, and he’s got a cool, tough charm. Fraser gets a lot of comedy from the role as the gun toting adventurer who’s quickly out of his depth in the world of the supernatural, but always keeps going, and he cuts quite a dashing figure as the hero.
Rachel Weisz is also on fine form as Evie, capturing the character’s sophisticated intelligence but at the same time doing a great job of conveying Evie’s giddy excitement at getting into some adventures, which makes the character extremely charming. Weisz is gorgeous, but also rather sweet in the role, and she and Fraser share great chemistry as they slowly and inevitably start to fall for each other.
I’d say that Evie is one of the movie characters I fancy the most, she’s simply delightful.
The two leads work well and John Hannah does good work as the cowardly and avaricious comedy sidekick, and Vosloo gives off an aura of power and menace as the villain.
The effects may have dated a little bit in places, but it’s still very fun and I like it’s sort of Indiana Jones vibe (it doesn’t match Raiders of course, but I’d rank it above Temple of Doom and Skulls). It revels in it’s pulpy roots and there are some rather dark moments along the way- the scarabs in particular as creepy as all hell.
The action movies along at a good pace and there’s a goofy charm throughout. An extremely well made blockbuster and tons of fun.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.