THE MUMMY RETURNS
Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 2:08 - Released 5/4/01
It seems as though the film industry never tires of selling its soul for money. At the onset of each summer's blockbuster season, we are reminded how much progress has been made in the field of computer-generated effects and to what extent they are substituted for meaningful screenplays. No wonder there's an impending writer's strike. Don't get me wrong The Mummy Returns, like its 1999 predecessor The Mummy, is no doubt a fun movie to watch, jam-packed full of exciting action sequences and tongue-in-cheek humor. But also like The Mummy, it has about as much intelligence as a video game. Again we see a total dispensation of logic in favor of awesome CGI effects, colorful scenery, and loud, loud, loud sounds. And again we see Brendan Fraser camping it up as a younger, sillier version of Indiana Jones, and failing to create the slightest romantic spark with Rachel Weisz.
Returning to what has obviously become his signature role,
Fraser's hesitant explorer Rick O'Connell is found once again
prowling around in the dank depths of Egyptian property in 1933
with his now wife Evie (Weisz), but this time they are accompanied
by their precocious son Alex (Freddie Boath). Following the hunches
of the seemingly clairvoyant Evie, who claims to have been an
ancient Egyptian in a former life, the pair comes upon a scorpion-shaped
gold bracelet which, when activated, will supposedly re-awaken
the legendary scorpion king (played at first by WWF star "The
Rock" and then later by a group of computer pixels fashioned
in such a way as to resemble the head, shoulders, and torso of
WWF star "The Rock" attached to the body of a large
scorpion) who will then wreak havoc on the known world. If only
I had my RAID. And, of course, the bracelet is activated
by none other than little Alex, who, while surprisingly intelligent
despite his apparent exemption from school, suffers from the common
young boy malady of curiousness compounded by a lust for adventure.
As if the danger inherent in this scenario weren't enough,
Rick and Evie are also once again pursued by their old gauze-clad
foe Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), who has been re-awakened because
"he's the only one tough enough to take on the scorpion king,"
and accompanied by Evie's wimpy but occasionally useful brother
Jonathan (John Hannah). But Imhotep also has an ally in his 3000-year-old
but surprisingly fit for her age girlfriend Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia
Velazquez), who seems to have it in for Evie because of some ancient
jealousy. This not only adds another dimension to the story but
provides ample opportunity for plenty of girl-fight action. Yay.
Writer/director Stephen Sommers stays faithful to the stylistic precepts he established with the '99 movie but makes the necessary forward movements, complementing the returning cast with some shiny new effects technology. It's like a roller-coaster ride: gut-churningly fun and exciting unless it goes on too long, in which case your ass starts to hurt. Designed to be of maximum interest to those fascinated by bright, shiny objects, the film is filled with discrepancies that would make even entry-level Egyptologists gag, like mistaking a common black snake for a deadly Egyptian asp and transplanting the pyramids from Giza to Cairo (imagine passing that "Wide Load" truck on the highway). The humor is clever on about an 8th-grade level and the personal relationships achingly impersonal, especially between the married couple and their child, all three of whom act affectionate only when some specific plot element requires that they do so. But hey, we're not here to see human interaction, are we? Welcome to blockbuster season, folks. ****