Last year, Nitehawk Cinema played 1999’s “The Mummy” for two days. UMU looks back on a few of the reasons the Stephen Sommers film works (and why it doesn’t.)
1 year ago, Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn presented The Mummy as a part of their weekend Spoons, Toons, & Booze series. I had only seen The Mummy 1999 once in theaters, back on opening weekend in May of 1999, and never thought I’d see it again on the big screen. When I learned that the Stephen Sommers big screen relaunch of Universal’s classic monster would be shown in the theater, I knew I couldn’t miss it. While we previously looked at The Mummy during our “March of Mummies” month of themed Mummy coverage, and also took a look at why we still love Rick O’ Connell 17 years later, let’s take a look the top 5 reasons why this film still holds up (and maybe is in need of a reboot)!
I. The Cast
The Mummy 1999 featured a great cast with Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Oded Fehr, Kevin J. O’ Connor, and Arnold Vosloo. Not one single actor was bigger than the movie and each performance was in service to the story. There was solid chemistry and The Mummy is a perfect example of when casting goes right.
II. The Score
The Mummy was scored by the late Jerry Goldsmith and during our “March of Mummies” month, we reviewed the soundtrack. The Mummy was one of the best scores to come out of 1999 and it’s still one of the most beautiful of scores today. Relying on actual instrumentation and orchestra, Goldsmith’s work is an amazing listen and elevates the film to amazing heights.
III. The Story
The Mummy is an interesting movie to look back on as you have certain audiences that didn’t enjoy the film and others that loved it. For me, personally, The Mummy is one of my favorite Universal Monsters so I’m always up for seeing this character get the film treatment. While The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor wasn’t necessarily all that great a film, I enjoyed it because, well, it was a Mummy movie. With 1999’s feature, director/writer Stephen Sommers gave us a Universal Monsters movie by way of Indiana Jones. For those longing to see Harrison Ford don the iconic leather jacket and fedora, The Mummy‘s Rick O’ Connell was the b-shot audiences needed. However, for those that are fans of the 1931 classic and 1959 Hammer version, The Mummy could not have been further from the original vision. In ways that certain fans endlessly fight over how inconsistent and unfaithful super hero movies could be when compared to their comic book source material, this is exactly where Stephen Sommers’ film fits. Primarily, this is why 2017’s The Mummy should please audiences of both nature – those that liked the 1999 movie and those that prefer 1932/1959.
IV. The Franchise
While 1999’s The Mummy did lead to a 2001 and 2008 sequel in The Mummy Returns and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, none of the later films or spin-offs quite compare to the tone and spirit of the original. In many ways Stephen Sommers’ 1999 picture is a modern day classic with every element – cast, direction, story, score… blending together effortlessly. In certain respects, for every reason that The Mummy could have failed, it took off and has left an enduring legacy. However, The Mummy could and should have led to an original and entertaining series of Universal Monsters movies, much like the current plan starting in 2017. The Mummy did pave way for Van Helsing and The Wolf Man, yet it wouldn’t be until several years later that Universal would aggressively develop their classic library of films.
V. The Toys
There were toys from 1999’s The Mummy and it’s quite possible that this is one of the most overlooked in regards to merchandise. While there wasn’t much, there was a series of action figures (something else we spoke about during our “March of Mummies.”) The line consisted mainly of various mummy figures, but we did get a few O’ Connell action figures and three really well done play sets. If you’re a monsters collector or a big fan of The Mummy 1999, these are definitely worth tracking down.
It’s amazing to think that a year ago I saw The Mummy 1999 and that 1 year from today Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy will most likely still be in theaters. Whether or not you enjoyed the 1999 picture, you have to acknowledge that it’s always fun to see a Universal Mummy film in theaters and that The Mummy, out June 2017, will undoubtedly keep the undead foe alive for the next generation, just as much as Stephen Sommers’ version did.
(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)