While The Mummy is far from a critical darling, it did achieve well at the box office, and it remains a firm favourite over two decades on for a number of reasons.
Before we look at why, let’s address the elephant in the sarcophagus. Yes, The Mummy’s CGI is hideously dated (especially when you consider it was released the same year as The Phantom Menace and just two years before The Fellowship of the Ring), and it’s hardly a groundbreaking or thought-provoking watch.
When you watch The Mummy for what it is, though, it’ll delight you exactly as much now as it did twenty years ago. It’s a treasure-hunting adventure with fantastical/supernatural elements that doesn’t try for a second to justify its existence. The Mummy simply is; it’s not concerned with the why or the how, it just wants to entertain.
And entertain it certainly does. The characters are memorable and brought to life through the story, and with a handful of small comedic moments scattered throughout, The Mummy secures itself a place in history for absolutely nailing the natural progression of Universal’s original monster movies.
In fact, in that respect, The Mummy was ahead of its own 2017 reboot, which tried (and failed spectacularly) to inject a few scares back into the reanimated corpse of the Universal monster. What this 1999 masterpiece seemed to know was that its audience is no longer afraid of curses and the supernatural, but instead is fascinated by it. Using that as the hook and then shifting the tone to one of action-adventure was a masterful stroke that ensured this gem would remain forever watchable.
And, even though we’ve already touched on the CGI, The Mummy is a beautiful movie. Filmed in Morocco and the Sahara, there’s plenty of beautiful scenery on display, and the 1920’s era set and costume design subtly evokes the original Mummy movies without peppering in too many references. Watching it through, you can see how lovingly crafted the entire movie was, and it stands as a testament to the art of film-making.
Summary: Its CGI might not have aged well, but that isn’t to say that The Mummy isn’t every bit as good today as it was 22 years ago. It’s a near-perfect action-adventure that still inspires a sense of awe and delight.