Tuesday, October 22, 2013

#1,163. Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs (2007)

Directed By: Mickey Rose

Starring: Kristen Riter, Matthew Goldsby, Jerry Belson, Joe Flood

Tag line: "A Mystery 3,000 Years in the Making"

Trivia: This was released in IMAX 3-D

Over the past year, I’ve enjoyed a number of films originally presented in the IMAX format, movies that explored the world we live in, whether on land (Born to be Wild) or in the sea (Aliens of the Deep). Some (Chronos, Baraka) traveled to every corner of the globe, while Hubble reached far out into space, giving us a breathtaking view of the universe. In 2007’s Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs, we visit Egypt, a place of ancient mystery. But more than this, the movie is a trip through time, a guided tour of a once-great civilization that only recently revealed one of its best-kept secrets.

Narrated by Christopher Lee, Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs provides stunning images of some of Egypt’s most famous structures (the pyramids at Giza, the temples at Abu Simbel), as well as the mummified remains of its greatest rulers (those of Rameses and his father, Set I, are particularly well-preserved). The film also presents a number of well-staged reenactments, like Rameses (Boris Terral) and his queen Nefertari (Elana Drago) touring Abu Simbel, or ancient priests engaged in the mummification process. There’s a visit to the 19th century, when American Charles Wlbour (William Hope) coerced a couple of grave-robbing brothers into revealing the whereabouts of the tomb in the Valley of the Kings that housed dozens of royal mummies, and a brief layover at a modern research facility, where scientists are attempting to extract DNA from 3,000-year-old mummies. In short, Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs covers a lot of ground.

A little too much ground, unfortunately. Like many IMAX films, Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs runs for under an hour (43 minutes, to be exact), not nearly enough time to fully explore any one of the topics mentioned above, let alone all of them. As someone who loves ancient history, it would have been nice to see (for example) a feature-length documentary dealing with the investigation that uncovered the tomb in the Valley of the Kings. It looks like a fascinating story, with plenty of intrigue to keep an audience’s interest, and to dedicate only 10 minutes or so to it is almost laughable.

The movie is certainly beautiful, and offers a spellbinding glimpse into life in ancient times, but ultimately, Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs scratches far too many surfaces, never delving deeply into any one of them.

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