Mummy, I want to be Indiana Jones
It seems to me that "The Mummy" wanted to be one thing, an adventure movie in a similar style to the "Indiana Jones" movies but for a new generation. As such "The Mummy" does have many elements of those 80s "Indiana Jones" movies, it has treasure hunters, danger, adventure, a damsel in distress all done with a certain amount of tongue in cheek humour. But for me, someone who grew up on the "Indiana Jones" movies, it doesn't quite deliver the same magic. The action and adventure seems almost cliche lacking imagination as it tries to deliver excitement and the amount of comedy is far greater making it closer to a comedy than those "Indiana Jones" movies. That doesn't mean I dislike "The Mummy", in fact I enjoy it and the various special effects driven action sequences but it for me feels inferior in comparison.
After her brother shows up with an Egyptian artefact English librarian Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz - The Land Girls) heads off an archaeological dig in the ancient city of Hamunaptra. With her brother by her side and adventurer Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser - Bedazzled) they hope to discover hidden artefacts beneath the city. But at the same time a group of American treasure hunters are also making their way to Hamunaptra. With both of them searching for what is buried beneath the city they manage to release not only an old Egyptian curse but also wake up Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) a High Priest who was buried alive thousands of years ago. Now they no longer need to worry about who will find the treasure but a seriously pissed Mummy who not only wants revenge but to also bring back his dead girlfriend as well.
Technically you could say that "The Mummy" was a remake, it is influenced in more than just name by the 1932 Boris Karloff movie. But to be fair so much of the story has been rewritten, changed and new characters introduced that to say it was just a remake would be unfair, especially to Stephen Sommers who both directed and wrote the movie. Although saying that the storyline to "The Mummy" doesn't really feel any different to countless other adventure/treasure hunting movie. After a brief history lesson and then a series of amusing scenes which introduce us to the main characters it all becomes too familiar. So what we get is hidden treasure and two teams of people trying to get to it, the good guys and the bad guys who to be frank aren't really bad guys. What follows is very formulaic as we get danger, old curses, traps and a damsel in distress until after 2 and a bit hours a few people have died, the hero saves the day and also the damsel.
But the thing is about "The Mummy" is that it has a feeling that it didn't worry too much about finding a new storyline but instead focussed of finding amusement from these adventure movie cliches. It's by no means a parody, but scene after scene throws up a moment of humour often poking fun at itself and the whole genre such as when our hero Rick O'Connell declares "Rescue the damsel in distress, kill the bad guy, save the world". It makes "The Mummy" an adventure movie more about the humour rather than exciting action sequences and whilst it's amusing for the first half of the movie, the constant joking ends up grating by the time the credits roll.
Because of this focus on being funny the actual adventure and action side of "The Mummy" seems quite ordinary. There are plenty of action sequences all embellished by some good CGI but they're really not that exciting or imaginative. The whole running through dark underground corridors as the roof lowers has been seen before and so watching it again in "The Mummy" makes it feel like it's lacking in imagination. Maybe that was the point, just to deliver cliche scenes and try and poke fun at them but the knock on effect is that they end up all rather ordinary. Even scenes which see people getting killed by Scarabs doesn't really wow you like it probably should.
Part of the trouble with "The Mummy" is that at just over 2 hours it is too long. It ends up feeling padded out by repetitive action scenes and comedy so by the time the credits roll you are kind of glad as you struggle to stay focussed on what is going on.
As for the acting well Brendan Fraser is no Harrison Ford but then he's not trying to be. The character of Rick O'Connell is the swashbuckling hero but also a funny one and Fraser delivers this side of the movie perfectly and in fact if he had just tried to be serious rather than comical it wouldn't have worked. It's something you can say about all the characters and performances such as those from Rachel Weisz and John Hannah, they are entertaining because the characters all border on caricatures of those we have witnessed before in other adventure movies.
What this all boils down to is that "The Mummy" is an entertaining movie as it tries to make fun of the whole treasure hunting/ adventure movie genre and happily pokes fun at itself without ever feeling like a parody. But beyond the humour there is nothing really special about it, except for the special effects, and it's a case of it feeling unnecessarily drawn out as it comes in at just over 2 hours. But in many ways it's trying to be an "Indiana Jones" movie for a new generation and for those who were introduced to adventure movies via this will probably enjoy it more than those who grew up on the likes of the "Indiana Jones" movies.