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The Mummy (1999)



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This 1999 version of The Mummy approaches its campy adventure and goofiness with such energy and enthusiasm, it's an utter joy for those with a youthful heart. Many have compared the film to Indiana Jones. I will, too. It derives its spirit from the same source: those pulp adventure dime novels of yesteryear, where the grim-faced, lightly bearded hero was always wrestling some terrible beastie on the front cover. He never quite looked like he believed the predicament he was in, and you knew that once he got out of it, he'd forget all about it -- when any normal person would be pyschologically scarred for life thereafter.

The star of The Mummy, Brendan Fraser, plays the epitome of this pulp adventure hero with the perfect balance of macho and humor. He can be gruffly heroic in tight situations, and his exaggerated reaction to the sudden appearance of scary creatures is still good for a laugh. At one point in the movie, the mummy roars at him, and he roars back. At another, it happens again, in the reverse order. It's perfectly ridiculous, of course, but that's the point.

And I loved the settings. I adore movies with a strong sense of place. The Mummy, with its sweeping desert vistas, crowded streets with vendors and wooden carts, labyrinthine passageways with secrets and treasures, is a wonderful example. I liked the special effects, too. Between the sets and the effects, the movie is a stunning visual spectacle. See it on the big screen if you can; see it widescreen otherwise.

I close with a quotation from Roger Ebert's review of the film. He, I was delighted to learn, feels the same way as I do about great silly adventure flicks:

"There is within me an unslaked hunger for preposterous adventure movies. I resist the bad ones, but when a Congo or an Anaconda comes along, my heart leaps up, and I cave in. The Mummy is a movie like that. There is hardly a thing I can say in its favor, except that I was cheered by nearly every minute of it. . . . There is a little immaturity stuck away in the crannies of even the most judicious of us, and we should treasure it."

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