1999 / 2001
With "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" now in theaters, there's no better way to reacquaint yourself with the adventurous O'Connell family than the films that kick-started the franchise: "The Mummy" and its sequel, "The Mummy Returns."
Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz make a cute couple (if an improbable pairing) in both, alternately pursuing and fleeing the resurrected Egyptian high priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), who has vengeance on the brain for the death of his long-ago sweetheart. Said vengeance comes in the form of sandstorms, scarabs and various plagues.
"Returns" isn't much different than its daddy, except that it's bigger, yet not better, and adds a kid (Freddie Boath) and a Scorpion King (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) into the mix of beasties and baddies. Both films sport terrific special effects and an utterly engaging (if purposely mindless) mix of humor, action and fantasy.
It's easy to forget how influential "Mummy" was, inspiring a spate of imitators. I have a soft spot for it, due in part to it being among the first big flicks to benefit by the then-new DVD format. Over time, it's been issued and reissued in a number of packages and collections, including these new separate two-discs to piggyback the threequel's presence.
If you don't already own the films, snap these editions up (or await the inevitable box set). They include the same slew of commentaries and documentaries as before, but with a few added-value bits promoting "Tomb" and Universal's "Mummy" franchise in general.