STRANGE SIGHTINGS IN THE NETFLIX BASEMENT
In my search for weird movies on Netflix, I stumbled upon this goofy Mummy adventure movie starring John Rhys-Davies, directed by the dude who made Battlefield Earth, and produced by Uwe Boll. This should be a doozy. Let’s check it out.
Prisoners of the Sun (2013)
So, immediately the movie is up its own butt with back story. There’s a quote from an ancient Egyptian pyramid, some animated hieroglyphics, and ponderous narration talking about alien visitors from the sky called Osiris. Then into CGI scenes from ancient Egypt.
Okay, aliens trying to take over earth, a reincarnated princess, and a mummy locked in the basement. Got it. Then there are fireballs, and ancient Egypt is engulfed in flames. This all sounds good. So when does the movie actually start?
Well, it starts with a doofus wearing a scarf at an archeological dig in the Egyptian desert. He’s played by David Charvet, from Baywatch fame. Not the cool new movie that came out this year, the Hasselhoff one. Charvet kind of looks like Brad Pitt but sadly acts like David Charvet.
And hey, it’s John Rhys-Davies from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and also a million junky movies nobody’s ever seen. So Sallah is back in Egypt, digging up artifacts. This could be good. I would say it was old Sallah having one last adventure, but Rhys-Davies looks about the same as he did in 1981. Then we meet notable character actor Joss Ackland, playing a kindly, old archeologist. Sadly, Joss and Sallah only share one brief scene together.
Then there’s a guy in a Big Lebowski sweater smoking a hookah. Some rich jackass in a Black Tie wants to buy a golden idol. This is the Key of Heaven, the doohicky used for summoning the aliens, and I’m glad it’s just laying around in some drawer. Makes it feel really big and important. Black Tie brings a suitcase full of cash, but Lebowski tries to haggle with him, so he gets a cane sword to the neck for his troubles. You should know that rich assholes never pay for ancient stolen artifacts, dude.
Sallah goes to see a blonde fortune teller and we see the end of the movie. That’s the problem with fortune tellers, they tell you what’s going to happen so now we’re just waiting for the movie to catch up with the visions of the future.
Then Black Tie blackmails Sallah into going into the pyramid. But this is pointless as Sallah has a boner for pyramid exploring, and would’ve done it for a hot dog and a wordless cameo in the next Indiana Jones movie.
There’s more intrigue as Charvet calls the reincarnated princess to tell her Joss Ackland can’t make the meeting. In the next scene, they have a conversation about how Joss Ackland can’t make it to the meeting. David Charvet doubts his Indiana Jones skills in navigating through the pyramid. He says he’s not qualified. The Princess says he’s not qualified. Let’s just agree that David Charvet isn’t qualified to carry Harrison Ford’s jock strap, let alone playing his part in a pyramid-exploring movie.
So literally half the movie was leading up to the exploration of a pyramid. Now, finally, we get some proper pyramid exploring with traps, sarcophagi, and a room full of killer bees.
Black Tie grabs a golden idol off a pedestal, which gets a generic henchman crushed by a rock door. Damn it, man, haven’t you seen Raiders of the Lost Ark? Sallah was in it. Clearly Roger Christian watched Raiders more than a few times, as he borrows Spielberg’s fascination with flashlight beams in dark places and the entire plot from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
The best part of this film is watching Rhys-Davies ham it up, and it’s enjoyable hearing him deliver lines like “The answer to that is the treasure we seek!” and “Look at you, like a bunch of scared schoolboys in the graveyard.”
Then he holds up the golden idol, “The Key of Heaven… Hitler searched for this.” I know, because I was in that movie, he adds, in the director’s cut of the scene.
So now we’re an hour in and, after some stumbling around dark caverns, we finally get our first mummy attack. One of the guys shoots it, shouting, “What is it? What the hell is it?” Seriously dude, you’re in a pyramid in Egypt. It’s a shambling monster in bandages. All Sallah has been babbling about the entire time is ancient guardians and other Egyptian mumbo-jumbo. What the hell do you think it is?
This is a Boris Karloff style mummy, too, where he’s really bad at killing people. He strangles the reincarnated princess for about an hour giving the heroes enough time to rescue her, and he tosses several random henchmen around, but then he piledrives a dude on his head, killing him instantly. Maybe he’s just bad at killing the important characters. I gave him the benefit of the doubt until he started choking another red shirt, but gets distracted and drops that guy without killing him when Black Tie runs away.
Then comes the funniest scene of the movie, unintentionally of course. Princess calls Sallah out on his ranting and ravings and how he got a dude killed. And Rhys-Davies gives her one of the weakest, gentlest slaps I’ve ever seen. Charvet shouts, “You bastard,” as people have to hold him back. Seriously dude, even at 73 years old, Sallah would take you down, and that’s with his wussy slaps.
After that terrible scene, the movie drives right off the damn tracks. They set up a wrathful mummy, an alien invasion, and an army of glowing eyed statues and they pay off NONE OF IT. You could ignore the 8 minute prologue because NONE OF IT effects the plot. In quick order: Rhys-Davies goes bonkers, there is a brief, crappy Charvet fist fight, then the Princess shoots Rhys-Davies, in an exact replay of the fortune teller vision. The pyramid collapses and somehow Charvet and the two girls wander out unscathed. And they have the temerity to tease a sequel by showing a single killer bee escape. Are you kidding me, Roger Christian? Is that all? Oh right, Uwe Boll produced it, it was always going to be terrible. It’s like Roger ran out of money and said, “Screw it, let’s just slap The End on it and go get cocktails.” And then Rhys-Davies said, “Are you buying?” And they wandered off arm in arm.
BOTTOM LINE: If you’re a fan of Rhys-Davies going full ham, Prisoners of the Sun is quite enjoyable. He goes way over the top with gusto to contrast with Charvet’s no energy line readings. I enjoyed the 20 minutes of pyramid traps and secret passages, and the two minutes of on-screen mummy mayhem, but that’s about it. I would say it’s on Netflix so you could check it out, but I’m pretty sure one of the Brendan Fraser Mummy films is playing, and any of those would blow this one out of the water, and I’m including The Scorpion King IV starring nobody you’ve ever heard of.