The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001) are two of the most purely enjoyable modern adventure films. Cribbing liberally from Indiana Jones, Stephen Sommers et co. created two great films for the whole family. Here are seven reasons why.
1. Ideal Star Vehicle for Brendan Fraser
Brendan Fraser could
probably definitely never be an elite level star like Harrison Ford or Tom Cruise, but he should have had a bigger career given his ability to do it all very well. His speciality was combining action and comedy which made this film series absolutely perfect for him.
2. Chemistry Between Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz
An undeniable essential component to what made these movies work (and the primary reason the third film without Weisz failed artistically). They were both smart, hot, and gutsy. Thus, they had natural reasons to be into each other, and the way they interacted from the start made it clear they had the hots for each other. There should be some sort of reunion between two on screen regardless of whether or not it has anything to do with The Mummy.
3. Supporting Turns by Oded Fehr & John Hannah
Adventure films work best when our main heroes have lovable sidekicks. For these films, they have Oded Fehr playing a warrior (eventual) friend who is there is give exposition and kick ass. John Hannah plays Weisz’s brother-in-law who is there is to be endearing despite not helping too much in any tangible manner. This is cinema.
4. Tragic Villain Love Story Between Hmotep & Anuck Sunaman
Thousands of years ago, the high priest of the kick and the wife of the king fell in love. Fast forward to the present, they are desperately trying to reunite through the act of reincarnation (or whatever). In the second film, they are finally back together in mind and body! If they were not trying to simultaneously conquer the world, it would be rather sweet! Anyway, by the end of the second film, their story comes to an end rather tragically. With the high priest dying for good, he begs out for help from his great love. Fearing for her own life, she runs away and abandons him. Arnold Vosloo sells the heartbreak so perfectly. It’s stuff like that helps to make these films work.
5. Fantastic Committed Henchman: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
One of the great archetypes for these big action/adventure films is the fully committed evil sidekick. These characters are at the end of the journey. Their arcs are complete. They are here to kick ass and support their leads. In lesser hands, these roles are nothing. But just like Ken Leung in Rush Hour, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje sells the role perfectly in The Mummy Returns and helps to make for a more enriching viewing experience.
6. Fantastic Stooge: Kevin J. O’Connor
The opposite of the fully devoted henchman is the backstabbing stooge. You don’t see it as much anymore but they make for fun punching bags in films. The key is to really want to see them punched in the face. Kevin J. O’Connor is someone who just really looks like they need to be punched in the face.
7. You’re With Them on an Adventure
To be slightly more serious, the key dynamic that makes these two films so much fun is that they were made in a manner to make it seem like you are on the adventure with them. You are there in the pan, only to escape right into the fire every step of the way with Rick, Evie, and Jonathan. It just makes the films a blast.
And One Bad Thing: Gateway Film Series for Bringing The Rock to Hollywood
Honestly, if it meant to prevent the rise of The Rock in Hollywood, would we be willing to give up the existence of The Mummy films? It is a question I ask myself every day. The Rock is very bad. A fake movie star in fake star vehicle movies. It’s not to say he’s never been good in a movie or in good movies. It is just that seems like an undeniable fact that he is a completely manufactured movie star in the most cynical way possible and that the world would be better off if even he never made it in Hollywood!