The Mummy (2008)



Notes: .
Rick O’Connell: Brendan Fraser
Evy: Maria Bello
Emperor Han: Jet Li
Jonathan: John Hannah

Written: Alfred Gough & Miles Millar
Directed: Rob Cohen

Summary: We get a backstory ostensibly concerning a “mythic battle between good and evil” in ancient China. Oy. Something about the Great Wall and the five elements: fire, water, earth, wood, metal (?!). Emperor Han wanted to defeat his last enemy: death itself. He kills an enemy, and the man’s lover he stabs. But she has cursed him with a kind of turning-into-mud-and-fire thing. And his army.

Oxfordshire, 1946, shows us Rick’s fishing frustrations and his wife Evy’s London book reading of The Mummy Returns. They wistfully reflect on how relatively boring their lives are now after the War. While their son Alex is excavating in China, making discoveries and being attacked, the parents are commissioned to bring the “Eye of Shangri-La,” smuggled out of China in 1940 and now to be returned. Brother-in-law Jonathan has a nightclub in China, and there are reunions. A general and the professor working with Alex take the jewel to wake the army. A drop of blood from one pure of heart will do something. It’s Evy’s, unwillingly. “Here we go again,” remarks Rick. The emperor awakens and breathes fire and can reconstruct his clay-chunk-shedding face quickly. Professor Wilson is decapitated, and the emperor steers his chariot into the streets. A chase brings on fireworks while the horses look like fire covered in cracking clay.

The mention of a “concept of personal space” is anachronistic. Next we all have to get to the gateway of Shangri-La, which happens with a plane-ride piloted by old friend Mad Dog Maguire, so harrowing a yak yacks. In a shoot-out, Lin calls on the yetis, who fight the soldiers, but the emperor snows out the dynamite intended to prevent his jewel-on-tower intention. Rick takes a sword through his torso for his son. During an avalanche, the yetis body-shield the humans. Afterwards, Rick, still alive (?!), must be taken to a Shangri-La cave where Lin’s mother, the woman from ancient China who defied the emperor, heals Rick. She had been saved by the yeti millenia ago and notes that the emperor must next be kept from reaching the pool. So Lin is also ancient and immortal, but Alex says he has “no problem dating older women.” Still, she’ll live forever and doesn’t want to see him grow old and die. But mom calls on her to sacrifice her immortality. The emperor makes it to the pool and turns into a hydra, capturing Lin and flying off. Next he’ll raise his army. He’ll be indestructable if he makes it past the wall. (Is there any end to the list of futile imperative preventions?) Mom makes a gateway out of texts and sacrifices immortality, raising an army of dead slaves from underneath the wall. “Welcome to the 20th century,” remarks Rick during the war, between the emperor’s mummy army and the wall-slave mummy army. In a fight between the emperor and mom, mom falls off the wall, but clutching the emperor’s dagger. The general and his girlfriend get ground in a wheel. Rick calls on the emperor’s honor in demanding he “fight like a man.” Father and son cooperate in stabbing the emperor’s heart with the dagger: “Now you can rule — in hell.” Firy eye vomit signals the end of this mummy.

The pilot Maguire now owns Jonathan’s club. Rick and Evy agree it’s romantic vanquishing the undead. Jonathan has the jewel, gets in a cab, and wants desperately to go somewhere without mummies: Peru. A final bit of text tells us that mummies will be discovered in Peru within two years.

One of the final credit songs, “My Sweet Eternal Love,” is a good creation for the mummy idea.

Commentary: We’re weird now about our relationship with China, so that makes sense of this transposition, yet I want still to insist that real mummies have to be Egyptian. Call me a rigid traditionalist.

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