Hmmmm, I wonder why I had the urge to revisit this movie series after recently watching Jungle Cruise. Yes, the fact that Jungle Cruise reworked that formula so well put me in mood for some more entertainment in the same vein.
Brendan Fraser stars as Rick O'Connell (feeling for all the world like Rick Dangerous, a late '80s videogame creation based on a very well-known adventure icon). Rick is the daring, reluctant hero in Stephen Sommers' entertaining blockbuster centred around the titular creature of horror infamy and, for those not averse to bombastic fun, it ain't half bad.
The plot sees Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Omid Djalili and others on their way to the legendary city of the dead, Hamunaptra, to find a significant treasure before anyone else (with the main competition being a party led by the sly Beni, played by Kevin J. O'Connor). And then someone accidentally wakes up Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) and everyone realises that there's more to fear in the desert than just sunstroke.
There's nothing surprising here, nothing subtle and nothing all that believable but there is a fun action adventure with supernatural elements that should please many movie fans. Will it please fans of the old Universal classics (or even the Hammer versions)? Probably not, though it must be said that there ARE a lot of respectful little nods to past versions of the tale. Sommers directs with a focus on the sheer entertainment side of things, also emphasised in the script that he wrote, from the story worked on with Kevin Jarre and Lloyd Fonvielle.
Fraser and Weisz are two leads who fit perfectly in their roles, both very capable in different ways, and they are thrown from one set-piece to the next, with time spent here and there showing Vosloo's character growing in strength and powers. Nobody has to emote too strongly but everyone does a good enough job of acting beside the various practical and computer effects. We also get the likes of Oded Fehr, Jonathan Hyde and Erick Avari in the cast so there are at least some people on screen to do more than just run and fight stuff.
But never mind the acting anyway, there are booby traps, deadly scarab beetles and, of course, plagues - all rendered nicely enough, even if the pixel count gets uncomfortably high at times. This is a blockbuster, and it delivers on that score. Maybe not quite the "Indiana Jones" for a new generation, it certainly tries hard with it's mix of thrills, humour and energetic action set-pieces. And the cherry on top is a typically appropriate score from Jerry Goldsmith.
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