Just like Hammer Horrors 4 movie series, Stephen Sommers created The Mummy series (1999-2008 ) which is loosely based on the original Mummy movies from Universal Studios. Sommers recreated the series as more Indiana Jones meets Ancient Egypt and in the 3rd movie, Ancient China, focusing more on the action/adventure style with horror elements thrown in. After approaching a host of actors for the lead role, Brendan Fraser was cast as the leading man for the series.
1999 saw the release of The Mummy starring Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Oded Fehr & Arnold Vosloo as Imoteph the Mummy. The plot is loosely based on 1931’s The Mummy starring Boris Karloff. In 1209 BC high priest Imoteph has an affair with the Pharaoh Seti I’s mistress Anck-su-Namun, which leads to them being caught by the paraoh and they both kill him. Making the priest leave, Anck-su-Namun kills herself before the royal guards can catch her. After Anck-su-Namun’s burial, Imhotep and his priests steal her corpse and travel to Hamunaptra, the city of the dead, where they begin the resurrection ceremony but are stopped by the royal guards. Imhotep’s priests are mummified alive; Imhotep is cursed to immortal agony as he is buried alive with flesh-eating scarabs. He is buried under high security, sealed away in a sarcophagus below a statue of the Egyptian god Anubis, and kept under strict surveillance by warriors known as the Medjai. In 1926 two groups; one of American treasure hunters and the other much smaller is led by English Egyptolgist Evelyn, her brother Johnathan & former French Foriegn legion member Rick O’Connel, who was in a jail in Egypt – are in search of Hamunaptra and the treasures she holds in the pyramid. Rick leads Evelyn & Johnathan to Hamunaptra where they are warned by the Medjai, led by Aderth Bay, not to proceed.
Ignoring the warnings both groups continue to excavate in separate portions of the city. As the find some treasure, Evelyn discovers the Book of Amun-Ra, a solid gold book reportedly capable of taking life away, but comes across the remains of Imhotep instead. The team of Americans, meanwhile, discover a box containing the black Book of the Dead. Reading from it, Evelyn awakens Imoteph who then proceeds to kill the American explorers to regain his form. The survivors flee to Cairo but Imhotep follows them with the help of Beni, an unscrupulous guide, who bargains with Imhotep in exchange for his life. Imoteph kills again and takes Evelyn as his prisoner to resurrect his lover Anck-su-Namun. Rick, Johnathan & Bey follow them back to Hamunatra and after an intense battle with Imhotep’s mummified priests, and Evelyn reads from the Book of Amun-Ra. Imhotep becomes mortal, and Rick stabs him, forcing him into the River of Death. Beni is killed after setting off an ancient booby trap and Hamunaptra sinks into the sand. With some treasure the heroes leave the desert and settle in Cairo.
In 2001’s The Mummy Returns set in 1933 Rick and Evelyn O’Connell explore a ruined mortuary structure in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes with their son, Alex. Alex inadvertently puts on the bracelet, which shows him a vision with directions to the Oasis of Ahm Shere. Alex has seven days to reach the oasis, or the bracelet will kill him the moment the sun’s rays shine on the Scorpion King’s pyramid; at that point, the Scorpion King and his army will reawaken. The Scorpion King is from 5000 years before Imoteph’s time and will unleash the army of Anubis to conquer the world again. An Egyptian cult kidnaps Alex and also resurrects Imoteph; they wish to use Imhotep’s power to defeat the Scorpion King, which would give him command of Anubis’ army. The cult also includes Meela Nais, the reincarnation of Imhotep’s love Anck-su-namun. The bracelet gives Alex visions and directions to Ahm Shere, where the pyramid of the Scorpion King is located. Rick, Evelyn, Johnathan & Bey follow behind them, guided by clues left behind by the precocious Alex. As Imoteph does a ceremony to unlock Meela’s memories of being Anck-su-Namun, it also unlocks Evelyn’s memories of being the former’s rival Neferti and daughter of Pharoah Seti I. In the jungle of Ahm Shere the cult & our heroes are attacked by pygmy mummies killing off almost all of the members.
Rick grabs Alex and rushes to the pyramid just before the sunrise hits it, causing the bracelet to detach from the boy’s hand. Anck-su-namun stabs Evelyn and kills her. As Imoteph walks in the pyramid, Anubis takes away his powers making him fight the resurrected Scorpion King as a mortal. Imhotep tells the Scorpion King that he is the Scorpion King’s slave, but Rick was sent to kill him. Meanwhile Jonathan and Alex collaborate to steal the Book of the Dead from Anck-su-namun. Alex uses the book to resurrect Evelyn, who duels with Anck-su-namun. In the end Rick kills the Scorpion King with a sceptre meant to destroy the ancient king and the pyramid starts to crumble and Anubis’ Army, which had awoken and was fighting the Medjai soldiers, disappear. The Scorpion King’s death breaks his oath with Anubis, causing the oasis to turn back into a desert, and the oasis to be sucked into the pyramid. Rick and Imhotep are hanging from the edge of a pit that leads into the underworld. Evelyn risks her life to save Rick, but Anck-su-namun refuses to do the same for Imhotep, and abandons him. Heartbroken about her desertion, he lets go of the ledge, falling into the underworld, to his death. Anck-su-namun, running away from the pyramid, falls into a pit of black scorpions, where she is suffocated and stung to death. The O’Connells are able to escape in a dirigible that a friend had brought them in with Johnathan stealing a large diamond on the at the top of the pyramid, just before it sinks into the ground.
The third movie 2008’s The Mummy : Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor has some changes; gone is ancient Egypt and instead we have the Ancient China and Qin Shi Huang – a brutal warlord who destroyed his enemies and became the Dragon Emperor. He later built the great wall and ordered the sorceresses Zi Yuan to perform a ritual that will give him immortality. However Zi falls in love with the emperor’s General Ming Gou and they have an affair. After she seemingly chants a spell, the Emperor has Ming executed and tries to kill Zi. She however casts another spell immolating him and transforming him & his army into terracotta figures. In 1946, a grown up archelogist Alex, finds the Emperor’s tomb and although is attacked by a mysterious woman named Lin, brings the the Emperor’s coffin to Shanghai. Rick & Evelyn (here portrayed by Maria Bello as Weisz did not like the script) join Johnathan, now a nightclub owner in Shanghai, as they are asked to bring the Eye of Shangri-la to the Chinese government. A rougue faction of the Chinese army led by a General, wants to revive the Emperor and they use Wilson, an associate of the O’Connell’s to get them in. The Emperor is awoken when accidentally the magical fluid within the Eye lands on his body. With the rogue general’s men, the Emperor heads off to find Shangri-la, where the Eye can grant him immortality and grant him special powers.
Lin, who reveals herself to be the 2000 year old daughter of Zi & Ming,joins the O’Connells towards Shangri-la. With the help of Yetis summoned by Lin, the group hold off Yang’s soldiers but the Emperor discovers Shangri-La’s location. Rick is mortally injured and Lin takes them to her mother who heals him. The Emperor eventually arrives and attacks them in Shangri-La, taking the dagger and shattering his terracotta form before bathing in the mystical waters. It restores his human form and youth, replenishes his powers, and gives him the ability to shapeshift. He transforms into a gigantic three-headed dragon, kidnaps Lin, and flies to his tomb where he raises the Terracotta Army, now aided by General Yang’s soldiers. The O’Connell’s & Zi attack the army and fight them off. Zi Yuan sacrifices her and Lin’s immortality to revive the workers killed and buried beneath The Great Wall, creating her own undead army, led by a vengeful, revived General Ming. Rick & Alex fight the Emperor killing him with the special dagger that is the sole weapon that can kill him. The Teracotta army crumbles to dust and the victorious army of Ming also disappears. Zi dies of her wounds, leaving Lin in Alex’s hands as the two are in love. The O’Connells return to Shanghai and celebrate their victory but Johnathan leaves for Peru with the eye, intending to be where no mummies are! Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh & Isabella Leong also star in this film.
The first two movies are fun & exciting and are well done. The last one pales in comparison with a rushed feel, too many characters and Mario Bello’s fake British accent distracts you and makes you yearn for Rachel Weisz. Having a 40 year old & 39 year old play parents to a 26 year old actor – totally believable right? Makes for awkward scenes of parenting. I’d give an 8 outta 10, 7.5 outta 10 & a 6 outta 10 for the movies respectively!