The Mummy (1999) Review

The Mummy (1999) movie posterSynopsis
Evy (Rachel Weisz) is a librarian who is interested in Egypt’s history. When her brother Jonathan (John Hannah) introduces her to Rick O’Connell (Brendan Frasier), who has been to the hidden city of Hamunaptra, the three of them set off for the city. While in Hamunaptra, they inadvertently release Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), an ancient evil who had been sealed away for more than three thousand years.

Review
If you’ve read my list of my five favorite films from my childhood, then you will know that The Mummy was a go-to film for me in my younger years. If you didn’t know that, well then now you do. Sometimes watching a film as an adult that you loved as a child can skew your viewpoint as to whether or not the film is actually good or you just like it now because you liked it then. Could this be the case for me with The Mummy? Do nostalgia goggles make me like this movie more than I should? No, not at all.

Even after nearly 20 years later, I still find myself continually enjoying this film. A lot of that comes from the three main protagonists. Brendan Frasier, Rachel Weisz, and John Hannah are simply marvelous together. It’s hard to pick a favorite our of the three. Frasier as Rick O’Connell has the action side of things down. O’Connell is the leader of the three, showing them how to get to Hamunaptra, always ready for any fight, whether that is with his fists or with one of the many guns in his arsenal. Evy, played by Weisz, hasn’t been out in the field much but is very knowledgeable in Egyptian history, easily filling a role neither of the boys could do. Even though Frasier gets many of the film’s comedic moments, most of them belong to Hannah’s Jonathan, Evy’s kleptomaniac and somewhat self-centered brother.

Besides perfect casting, the three leads have great synergy. The three of them together result in several of the best scenes of the film. It is clear that they were having a good time and were having fun making the movie, which makes it more enjoyable for the audience in turn. Each character had their own voice and personality, allowing for each one to have a unique part so they didn’t all feel like similar characters, which it feels like some comedies do. It wasn’t just the heroes who stand out but the main villain as well. Arnold Vosloo was great as Imhotep, the titular mummy. Vosloo has noble malice about him that fits Imhotep perfectly.

One of The Mummy’s strongest aspects is that it has a clear sense of identity. Yes, the film is based of the 1930s horror classic, and it payed homage to that by trying to add a few scares every here and there, but it is primarily an action/adventure/comedy film and it understood that. There was a good balance between the action and the comedy. It’s also a little cheesy but it embraced it. I think a lot of this came down to the actors. As I said before, they were clearly having fun and it prevented the moving from taking itself too seriously, embracing itself for what it is.

This sense of identity and balance between action and comedy gave the movie a good pace. It moved quick but not too quick. There was plenty of action but it never became too much. The story was understandable but not too complicated or too simplistic. It kept moving forward without being bogged down by unnecessary side plots or characters. Writer/director Stephen Sommers did a great job finding the perfect balance.

I thought The Mummy was GREAT πŸ˜€ It is hard to pick what I like best about this film. Brendan Frasier, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, and Arnold Vosloo all did fantastic with their parts and meshed well together. The story is simple yet fun, and the film feels much shorter than it is. I find myself watching this movie on a regular basis and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Also read my reviews of The Mummy Returns and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

Favorite Quote
Evelyn: You lied to me.
Jonathan: I lie to everybody. What makes you so special?
Evelyn: I am your sister.
Jonathan: Yes, well that just makes you more gullible.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Stephen Sommers – Director / Screenplay / Story
Lloyd Fonvielle – Story
Kevin Jarre – Story
Jerry Goldsmith – Composer

Brendan Fraser – Rick O’Connell
Rachel Weisz – Evelyn Carnahan
John Hannah – Jonathan Carnahan
Arnold Vosloo – Imhotep
Kevin J. O’Connor – Beni Gabor
Jonathan Hyde – Dr. Allen Chamberlan
Oded Fehr – Ardeth Bay
Erick Avari – Dr. Terrence Bey
Stephen Dunham – Mr. Henderson
Corey Johnson – Mr. Daniels
Tuc Watkins – Mr. Burns
Omid Djalili – Warden Gad Hassan
Bernard Fox – Captain Winston Havlock
Patricia Velasquez – Anck Su Namun
Aharon Ipale – Pharoh Seti I

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Wild Wild West Review

This review was originally posted for the Ultimate 90s Blogathon, hosted by Tranquil Dreams and me.

Wild Wild West movie posterSynopsis
Army Captain James West (Will Smith) is tasked by President Grant (Kevin Kline) to work together with US Marshal Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) to find the ex-Confederate scientist Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) before he can take over the United States government.

Review
Wild Wild West was a go-to movie for my friend and I back when we were growing up. Between the two of us, we could (and still can!) quote the movie in its entirety. Having watched this many times over the years, I acknowledge that the nostalgia factor might affect my enjoyment of the film, as I have found several flaws since watching it as a young lad. However, that doesn’t mean it still can’t be enjoyed on its own merits.

Right out the gate, this movie is goofy. Not funny, although it is that too, but goofy. Artemis Gordon’s inventions feel a little too perfect for the situations they get Gordon and Jim West out of. Arliss Loveless’ beard rivals Crane’s beard from The Hunger Games for most intricate movie beard, acting as the proverbial β€œI’m the bad guy” sign. Loveless’ invention to bring the β€œUS government to its knees” is a giant, steam-punk tarantula. Everything about this movie screams β€œSaturday morning cartoon.” Nevertheless, it has a sense of fun that many film miss, which is why it still works for even as I’ve grown older. Wild Wild West never takes itself seriously, making it fun for both the actors and the audience.

The humor can be seen as a little juvenile, like the scene below, but that kind of humor is what I like. Will Smith and John Kline are enjoyable to watch together. This film came out relatively early in Smith’s film career. It is fun to see how he has brought the same energy and personality to his characters throughout all of his movies, whether they were in the 90s, when he started film acting, or today. I’ll admit I haven’t seen many of Kline’s films to compare Artemis Gordon to his other roles but his comedy here is more subtle than Smith’s which works because having two boisterous comedians would be too much.

Besides the two leads, the other two big supporting actors, Salma Hayek and Kenneth Branagh are clearly having a good time too. The often scantily clad Hayek is obviously there for the eye candy and to give West and Gordon someone to compete for, but it doesn’t appear to bother her and she gives a memorable performance. Branagh gets fully into the maniacal villain role. It’s cartoonish and over the top but he steals his every scene he’s in.

I thought Wild Wild West was GOOD πŸ™‚ It isn’t afraid to be silly and have fun with itself, which might turn off other viewers but I really enjoyed that. Everyone, from Will Smith and Kevin Kline to Salma Hayek and Kennith Branagh, feel like they are enjoying themselves. I grew up watching this film regularly and although its imperfections have become more apparent over the years, it still is every bit the fun, adventurous romp I remember it to be.

Favorite Scene

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Barry Sonnenfeld – Director
Jim Thomas – Story
John Thomas – Story
SS Wilson – Screenplay
Brent Maddock – Screenplay
Jefferey Price – Screenplay
Peter S Seaman – Screenplay
Elmer Bernstein – Composer

Will Smith – James West
Kevin Kline – Artemis Gordon / President Ulysses S Grant
Kenneth Branagh – Dr. Arliss Loveless
Salma Hayek – Rita Escobar
M. Emmet Walsh – Coleman
Ted Levine – General β€œBloodbath” McGrath
Frederique van der Wal – Amazonia
Musetta Vander – Munitia
Sofia Eng – Miss Lippenrieder
Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon – Belle
Bai Ling – Miss East

Galaxy Quest Review

Galaxy Quest movie posterSynopsis
The cast of the hit 80s show Galaxy Quest don’t have much of a career anymore. Going to conventions and doing promotions in character is the only way they can make money. When an alien race called the Thermians mistake the show as β€œhistorical documents” and seeks the crew’s help to save their people, the cast of Galaxy Quest must pretend to be the heroes the aliens believe them to be.

Review
Whenever I think about my favorite parodies, one of the first ones that come to mind is Galaxy Quest. This is one of those comedies were everything just seems to pull together perfectly. All the jokes are funny without being forced, every character gets their chance to have their laugh, even the serious ones you don’t expect, and the cast just works.

It is very obvious that the cast of Galaxy Quest was having a good time. Even with such a large, eclectic group of actors, the chemistry between them is great. I don’t know how they did it but Dreamworks managed to assemble one of the best casts in any film ever. Each character has their own unique personality. They all resemble the different types of actors that are no longer in their prime. From the attention seeker to the drama queen, they are all here.

Tim Allen has no problem portraying the self-centered β€œleader” of the group who feeds off of the audience’s fondness for him. He brings his signature wit and comedic timing. I’m a big fan of Allen and although this may not be my favorite role of his, he is still very enjoyable to watch.

Sigourney Weaver could not be any more perfect for her role. In the film’s TV show, she is a stereotypical science-fiction female character, not really providing much value except for eye-candy and but dammit will she do her best. This is perfect for her given one of her earliest and best roles was one of the most badass females in science-fiction, or even cinema for that matter.

Alan Rickman plays a British actor who longs to be back on the stage but instead is stuck in this role repeating a catch phrase he is getting tired of repeating. He plays the down-on-his-luck Shakespearean actor part so believably. Some of my favorite moments are in the beginning when he is at conventions and this fans say his catch phrase to him. I laugh every time he begrudgingly signs his autograph. However, this moment is probably my favorite for the character (it’s a little hard to set up with words so you’ll just have to watch it yourself).

Tony Shalhoub is the most deadpan of everyone in the group. He doesn’t seem phased when the crew first gets teleported to the Thermian ship, he’s in no rush when delivering vital news about damaged systems and he doesn’t think twice about opening the hatch when landing on an alien planet. Shalhoub delivers every line with the perfect tone and attitude.

Sam Rockwell is the biggest surprise of the bunch. He plays an extra who appeared for a few minutes on one episode before being killed off and is starstruck being around the show’s other actors. It’s hard to say he is the comedic relief with every character offering so many comedic moments but he made me laugh the hardest.

There are so many more excellent characters but I don’t want to get into everybody because then we would be here for a while. I have talked a lot about the cast because they are really why this film works so well. However, what helped them is the fantastic script. Even with a cast so large, no one feels like they are getting shafted on time. They each have their shining moments. It is very difficult to pick a favorite moment for each character because they all have so many. Best of all, every character has a completed arc by the end of the film. That’s quite a feat given a) it’s an ensemble and b) that doesn’t happen in comedies very often.

This film is often viewed as a parody about science-fiction shows, such as Star Trek, but it parodies more than that: it parodies the fandom. Conventions are a huge part of the film, it is where we meet the characters after all. There is this subtle show of affection towards fans. People who, like myself, get completely engrossed in a show or movie, whether they are called Trekkies, Brown Coats, Potterheads or what have you. It’s not poking fun at them as much as it is celebrating the idea of being part of a fandom.

I thought Galaxy Quest was GREAT :-D. It is often an overlooked gem of a movie. The casting is spot on and the script is brilliantly written. This film both pokes fun and pays homage to the classic science-fiction shows and, more than that, their fans. Few parodies can deliver such reverence and humor at the same time that Galaxy Quest manages to.

Favorite Quote
Guy: I changed my mind. I want to go back.
Alexander: After the fuss you made about getting left behind?
Guy: Yeah, but that’s when I thought I was the crewman that stays on the ship and something is up there and it kills me. But now I’m thinking I’m the guy who gets killed by some monster five minutes after we land on the planet.
Jason: You’re not gonna die on the planet, Guy.
Guy: I’m not? Then what’s my last name?
Jason: It’s, uh, um, uh… I don’t know.
Guy: Nobody knows. You know why? Because my character isn’t important enough for a last name because I’m gonna die five minutes in!
Gwen: Guy, you have a last name.
Guy: Do I!? Do I!? For all you know I’m just Crewman #6!

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Dean Parisot – Director
David Howard – Story / Screenplay
Robert Gordon – Screenplay
David Newman – Composer
Tim Allen – Jason Nesmith
Sigourney Weaver – Gwen DeMarco
Alan Rickman – Alexander Dane
Tony Shalhoub – Fred Kwan
Sam Rockwell – Guy Fleegman
Daryl Mitchell – Tommy Webber
Enrico Colantoni – Mathesar
Robin Sachs – Sarris
Patrick Breen – Quellek
Missi Pyle – Laliari
Jed Rees – Teb
Justin Long – Brandon
Jeremy Howard – Kyle
Johnathan Feyer – Hollister