The Mummy

USA 1999

Reviewed by Kim Newman


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Egypt, 1290 BC. The high priest Imhotep conspires with royal mistress Anck-su-Namun to murder Pharaoh Seti. Anck-su-Namun kills herself to escape Pharaoh's guards, trusting Imhotep to raise her from the dead with sorcery. But Imhotep is buried alive in Hamunaptra, the City of the Dead.

In 1923, American Rick O'Connell discovers the now-lost Hamunaptra but he is driven off by tribesmen. Three years later, English wastrel Jonathan brings his librarian sister Evelyn an artefact from Hamunaptra he filched from O'Connell, who is imprisoned in Egypt awaiting execution. Evelyn persuades the warden to free O'Connell in exchange for a share of Hamunaptra's treasures. O'Connell's treacherous former comrade Beni guides a rival expedition to the lost city. Both sets of adventurers are attacked by warriors under the command of Ardeth Bay.

At Hamunaptra, Beni's associates open a casket thus invoking a curse, while Evelyn reads aloud from a book which revives the beetle-eaten, mummified Imhotep. Using supernatural powers, Imhotep pursues the adventurers to Cairo, overcoming his skeletal state by killing and absorbing assorted adventurers. Imhotep makes Beni his servant and captures Evelyn, intending to sacrifice her to revive Anck-su-Namun. O'Connell and Jonathan join forces with Bay, whose people have been guarding against Imhotep's return for millennia. At Hamunaptra, Jonathan reads from a book of counter-spells and the sacrifice is interrupted. Imhotep is destroyed and Beni trapped inside the sinking city. O'Connell and Evelyn pledge their love.


Made shortly after Universal Pictures had transformed Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931) into franchises, Karl Freund's The Mummy (1933) combined Frankenstein's star (Boris Karloff) with a rewrite of Dracula's plot, all dressed up with cursed Egyptologists and reincarnated lost loves informed by newspaper legends of 'the curse of Tutankhamun'. In The Mummy Karloff is briefly glimpsed as the bandaged relic Imhotep but he spends most of his time as a parchment-faced sorcerer named Ardeth Bey. The Mummy's Hand (1940), and three lookalike sequels, stirred footage from the original into the brew, but split the Karloff roles between the bandaged, stumbling killer Kharis (Tom Tyler, later Lon Chaney Jr) and a succession of be-fezed evil high priests. When Universal licensed remake rights to Hammer, Terence Fisher's The Mummy (1959) mixed together elements from all five Universal films. Hammer made unrelated but imitative follow-ups, and The Mummy's homages consist of such unofficial remakes as La momia azteca (1957), the porno film Mummy Dearest (1990) and The Mummy Lives (1993).

Universal has been developing a new Mummy for over a decade, with Clive Barker and John Sayles among others attempting scripts. This action-picture retread juggles all the elements, while copping bits of business from almost all previous bandagers. A prologue tongue-cutting is cribbed exactly from Fisher and a sequence with a short-sighted victim menaced by a blurry monster comes from the most despised of all mummy movies, Hammer's negligible The Mummy's Shroud (1966).

Director Stephen Sommers (Deep Rising) doesn't skimp on ingredients, but over-eggs the pudding. The high concept was to do The Mummy as a Raiders of the Lost Ark-style period adventure. So we have a grinning Brendan Fraser and a fetchingly distressed Rachel Weisz facing a non-stop series of perils: marauding tribesmen, creepy crawlies, living sandstorms, rivers of blood, brainwashed Cairo hordes, a cadre of zombie warriors who take us briefly into Ray Harryhausen territory, and a self-burying city lifted from Howard Hawks' Land of the Pharaohs (1955). A side effect of this business is that the plot darts all over North Africa rather casually (making Hamunaptra one of the more accessible lost cities), deploying vast disasters - the plagues of Egypt are tossed in with an amazing disregard for logic, history, and the discrete myth bodies of Egypt and the Israelites - that threaten the end of the world.

With all this going on, there's sadly little time for the atmosphere, mystery and romance that make the Freund movie such an enduring gem. Karloff's Imhotep is a tragic but frightening figure yearning for his lost love; but Arnold Vosloo's smirking sorcerer here is first seen in an ancient version of a Double Indemnity-style triangle, and spends his post-resurrection time striding about and ripping body parts off his victims while indulging in CGI mouth-opening and plague-unleashing stunts. Even Anck-su-Namun is a nasty piece of work, coming back to life for a one-on-one slugfest with Evelyn in the amazingly crowded finish.

The Mummy is a mostly entertaining series of theme-park rides, but sorely misses out on magic, with its cardboard villains, fundamentally unlikable heroes, and endless irritating comic bits. It also offers offensive Egyptian stereotypes - the locals are all smelly, venal, lecherous, cowardly, boil-ridden, murderous or ugly here - which were unacceptable in the dignified 1933 movie. At least it manages to be an equal-opportunitities offender by characterising all Brits as stuffy, pompous and bumbling and all Yanks as violent, avaricious and philistine.


James Jacks
Sean Daniel
Stephen Sommers
Screen Story
Stephen Sommers
Lloyd Fonvielle
Kevin Jarre
Director of Photography
Adrian Biddle
Bob Ducsay
Kelly Matsumoto
Production Designer
Allan Cameron
Jerry Goldsmith
©Universal Studios
Production Companies
Universal Pictures presents an Alphaville production
Executive Producer
Kevin Jarre
Patricia Carr
Associate Producer
Megan Moran
Production Supervisor
Morocco Crew:
Abdelkrim Abouobayd
Production Co-ordinators
Patsy De Lord
Morocco Crew:
Hind Hanif
Production Managers
Neil Ravan
Morocco Crew:
Abdelhafed Balafrej
Unit Production Manager
Jo Burn
UK Unit Manager
Peter Heslop
2nd Unit Manager
Morocco Crew:
Rachid Bouzida
Location Co-ordinator
Siobhan Lyons
Location Managers
Terry Blyther
Gilles Castera
Gilles Charvin
Gilly Case
Morocco Crew:
Driss Gaidi
Post-production Supervisor
Doreen A. Dixon
2nd Unit Director
Greg Michael
Assistant Directors
Cliff Lanning
Adam Somner
Jamie Christopher
Jim Threapleton
2nd Unit:
Peter Bennett
Richard Styles
Sophie Sorensen
Gary Talbot
Morocco Crew:
Ahmed Hatimi
Script Supervisors
Sylvie Chesneau
2nd Unit:
Anna Worley
Natasha Coombs
John Hubbard
Ros Hubbard
Amy Taksen Somers
2nd Unit Director of Photography
Harvey Harrison
Camera Operators
David Worley
Robin Vidgeon
2nd Unit:
Peter Taylor
David Budd
Visual Effects
John Andrew Berton Jr
Jennifer Bell
Visual FX
Production Co-ordinator:
Lucy Killick
Post-production Co-ordinator:
Gabrielle Friekin
Vista Vision Camera Operators:
Steven Hall
Andy Newall
Alex Head
Simon Dunsdon
Visual Effects
Industrial Light &Magic
Character Design Supervisor:
Jeff Mann
Animation Supervisor:
Daniel Jeannette
Visual Effects Producer:
Tom Kennedy
Computer Graphics Supervisors:
Ben Snow
Michael Bauer
Scott Frankel
CG Animation Supervisor:
Dennis Turner
Digital Model Supervisor:
James Doherty
Digital Colour Timing Supervisor:
Kenneth Smith
Visual Effects Art Director:
Alex Laurant
Associate Visual Effects Producer:
Sandra Scott
Lead Sequence Animator:
Jenn Emberly
Rudi Bloss
Alain Costa
Lesley Headrick
Greg Kyle
David Latour
Julija Learie
Aubry Mintz
Mark Powers
Dave Sidley
Sharonne Solk
Glenn Sylvester
Si Tran
CG Sequence Supervisors:
Ed Kramer
David Horsley
Michael Dean Ludlam
Lead Compositor:
Marshall Krasser
Computer Graphic Artists:
Joakim Arnesson
Todd Boyce
Patrick Brennan
Don Butler
Amelia Chenoweth
Kathleen Davidson
David Deuber
Gonzalo Escudero
Raúl Essig
Indira Guerrieri
Jim Hagedorn
Jongwoo Heo
David Hisanaga
Greg Juby
Samson Kao
Louis Katz
Greg Killmaster
Erik Krumrey
Toan-Vinh Le
Janice Lew
Keith McCabe
Bob Powell
Bruce Powell
Marc J. Scott
Matthew Wallin
R.D. Wegener
Matte Painters:
Ivo Horvat
Richard Rische
Mark Sullivan
Visual Effects Co-ordinators:
Margaret B. Lynch
Peter Nicolai
Concept Artists:
Kirk Henderson
Michael Jantze
Erik Rigling
Creature Sculptors:
Richard Miller
Daniel Wagner
Digital Modellers:
Edward Taylor IV
Omz Velasco
Lead Viewpaint Artist:
Catherine Craig
Viewpaint Artists:
Donna Beard
Derek Gillingham
Terry Molatore
Lead Creature Developer:
Richard Grandy
3D Camera Matchmove Supervisors:
Terry Chostner
Selwyn Eddy III
Location Matchmove Artist:
Marla Selhorn
3D Matchmove Artists:
Wendy Hendrickson-Ellis
Randy Jonsson
Jodie Maier
Jeff Saltzman
Lead Digital Paint Artist:
Joanne Hafner
Digital Paint/Roto Artists:
Regan McGee
Sandy Ritts
Amy Shepard
Motion Capture Supervisors:
Jeff Light
Seth Rosenthal
Motion Capture Engineers:
Doug Griffin
Mike Sanders
Visual Effects Editor:
Tim Eaton
Film Scanning Supervisor:
Joshua Pines
Film Scanning Operators:
Randy Bean
George Gambetta
Digital Plate Restoration:
Michele Spina
Maria Goodale
Software Research/Development:
John Anderson
Cary Phillips
Nicolas Popravka
Steve Sullivan
Thebes/Hamunaptra Collapse Sequences
Industrial Light & Magic
Visual Effects Supervisor:
Scott Farrar
Visual Effects Director of Photography:
Pat Sweeney
Pyro Technician:
Geoff Heron
Model Supervisor:
Barbara Affonso
Carol Bauman
Tom Proost
Kim Smith
Wendy Morton
Plate Co-ordinator:
Diane Franey
The Mummy Designers
The ILM Character Design Group
Mark Moore
Alex Laurant
Derek Thompson
Benton Jew
Brian O'Connell
Miles Teves
Carlos Huante
Additional Visual Effects
Visual Effects Supervisor:
Kevin Lingenfelser
Visual Effects Producer:
Ariana Lingenfelser
Art Director:
Lubo Hristov
CG Supervisor:
Richard Kidd
CG Animators:
John Hewitt
John B. Wallace III
James Peterson
Scott Ballard
CG Motion Tracker:
Vicky Kwan
Digital Compositors:
Patrick Tubach
Ted Andre
David Lingenfelser
Rotoscope Artist:
Serena Naramore
Digital Artist:
Joe Dubs
Visual Effects Editor:
Kevin C. Clark
Avid Editor:
Jonathan Alvord
Digital Data Supervisor:
Tony Sgueglia
3D T.A. Supervisor:
Vincent Lavares
Digital Imaging Operator:
Kristopher Gregg
Vision Crew
Special Effects Supervisor
Chris Corbould
Live Action Creature Effects Supervisor
Nick Dudman
Special Effects
Stephen Hamilton
Andy Williams
Senior Technicians:
David Eltham
Nick Finlayson
David Knowles
Paul Knowles
Peter Notley
Roy Quinn
Andy Smith
Brian Warner
Richard Brown
Paul Clancy
Michael Fox
Darrell Guyon
Steve Knowles
Shaun Rutter
Animatronic Designers:
David Keen
Ian Lowe
Ian Mitchell
Tom Murtagh
Wire Supervisor:
David Williams
Technician/Wind Operator:
Graham Brooker
Lynne Corbould
Wire Effects Supervisor
Robert Schofield
Matthew Neave
Joel Rodgers
Julien Short
Emma Hanson
Live Action Mummy Design
Gary Pollard
Mummy Fabrication Supervisor
Shirley Cooper
Animatronic Model Design
Chris Barton
Key Animatronics Model Designers
Mark Coulier
Michelle Taylor
Animatronic Model Designers
Jonathan Abbas-Klahr
Astrig Akseralian
Maria Boggi
John Coppinger
Naomi Critcher
Malcolm Evans
Louise Elsey
Tamzine Hanks
Shaune Harrison
Kate Hill
Terry Jones
Paul Spateri
Howard Swindell
Steve Wright
Foam Supervisor
Andy Lee
Foam Technician
Keith Wilson
Supervising Mold Maker
Raymond Tricker
Stuart Bray
Kenneth Clarke
Brian Best
Art Directors
Tony Reading
Giles Masters
Clifford Robinson
Peter Russell
Morocco Crew:
Ahmed Abounouom
Set Decorator
Peter Howitt
Andy Nicholson
Alex Cameron
Scenic Artist
James Gemmill
Storyboard Artist
Stephen Forrest-Smith
Supervising Sculptor
Roy Rodgers
Tessa Harrison
Toby Short
Richard Smith
Costume Designer
John Bloomfield
David Murphy
Key Artist:
Aileen Seaton
Jane Buxton
Jane Walker
Body Painter
Sarah J. Berry
2nd Unit Hair & Make-up
Sallie-Anne Evans
Mummy Make-up Artists
Sarita Allison
Joanne Manning
Mummy Movement Co-ordinator
Michael McGinn
Key Hairdresser
Tricia Cameron
Main and End Titles Design
Imaginary Forces
Pacific Title/Mirage
The Ambrosian Singers
Alexander Courage
Supervising Music Editor
Ken Hall
Music Editors
Darrell Hall
John Finklea
Music Recording
Mike Ross Trevor
Music Programming
Nick Vidar
Music Engineers
Steve Orchard
Peter Mills
Music Mixer
Bruce Botnick
"'Al Nahla Al 'Ali (The Tall Palm Tree)" by Metqal Qenawi Metqal, Yunis Al Hilali, performed by The Musicians of the Nile; "'Al Bahr Al Gharam Wasah (Love Is As Vast As a River)" by Mohamed Murad, Yunis Al Hilali, performed by The Musicians of the Nile; "Revive La Ilusión" by German Pedro Ibañez, performed by Septeto Habañero
Sound Design
Leslie Shatz
Sound Mixers
Chris Munro
2nd Unit:
Ian Munro
David Crozier
Re-recording Mixers
Leslie Shatz
Chris Carpenter
Rick Kline
Dubbing Recordists
Tim Webb
Bill Meadows
Dialogue Editor
Michael Magill
Sound Effects Editor
Richard Burton
Mark Lassbery
Terry Isted
Scott Schmidt
John Bateman
Ted Swanscott
David Horner
Supervising Editor:
Patrick Dodd
John B. Roesch
Hilda Hodges
David Fein
Michael Broomberg
Carolyn Tapp
Mary Jo Lang
Jonathan Klein
Egyptology Consultant
Dr Stuart Smith
Bi-Plane Technical Adviser
Tony Bianchi
Stunt Co-ordinator
Simon Crane
Nicholas Powell
Simon Atherton
Derek Atherton
Greg Powell
Horse Trainers
Pedro García García
Luis Gutiérez Santos
Eugenio Alonso Yenes
Lex Ruddiman
Bi-Plane Pilot
Jonathan Whaley
Brendan Fraser
Rick O'Connell
Rachel Weisz
John Hannah
Arnold Vosloo
Kevin J. O'Connor
Jonathan Hyde
the Egyptologist
Oded Fehr
Ardeth Bay
Omid Djalili
Erick Avari
the curator
Aharon Ipalé
Pharaoh Seti
Patricia Velasquez
Carl Chase
Stephen Dunham
Corey Johnson
Tuc Watkins
Bernard Fox
Winston Havelock
Mohammed Afifi
Abderrahim El Aadili
camel trader
Blixa Bargeld
Spirit Voices
Jake Arnott
Mason Ball
Isabel Brook
Peter Chequer
Porl Smith
James Traheme Burton
Ian Warner
Tom Struthers
Mummy performers
United International Pictures (UK) Ltd
tbc feet
tbc minutes
Digital DTS sound/SDDS/Dolby digital
Colour by
Anamorphic [Panavision]
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011