The Mummy Returns

The summer movie season is back and with it comes a slew of big budgeted films all vying for box office dollars. The Summer movie season is also the time when a barrage of sequels are unleashed on the movie public, while some are good, most fail to live up to the original film in the series. Who can ever forget such classic flops as “Predator 2” and “Jaws 3D” that existed solely to milk money from the success of the previous films.
When the original “Mummy” opened with a $43 Million dollar weekend, a sequel was quickly put into production, as even if the sequel does 1/3 of the previous films revenue, with a built in audience from the first film, and overseas, cable, and video sales, sequels are almost sure bets to make more money for the film studios.
The “Mummy Returns” is the creation of Stephen Sommers who wrote and directed both films in the series. The film centers around Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn O’Connell (Rachael Weisz) who in the eight years since the first film, have gotten married and had a little boy named Alex (Freddie Boath) Evelyn is still always after the ever elusive Egyptian legend to excavate, while Rick is constantly worried about his wife, and watches over his family as a proud and loving father and husband.
Through an incredible opening scene filled with dazzling CGI recreations of Egyptian Kingdoms, the audience learns the story of The Scorpion King, played by WWF legend, The Rock. It seems that the King sold his Soul to Anubis to be spared to defeat his enemies, and as legend has it, can be reborn every 5000 years. It is also fated that whomever shall defeat the Scorpion King shall have control over his armies and shall rule the world.
Before you know it, Rick, Evelyn, Alex, and Evelyn’s greedy brother Jonathan (John Hannah) are caught up in the mix, as young Alex has the key to unlocking the Scorpion King and his Minions, and it must be removed at a certain place, and time, less Alex have his life sucked from him by ancient evil forces.
Almost as an afterthought, the bad guys, who were so obvious that they could have been wearing signs to show their allegiance, resurrect Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) and his long dead lover Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia Velasquez). In an attempt to defeat The Scorpion King and rule the world.
Despite a great opening scene and a great early battle set in a London Museum and a double Decker bus, the film quickly loses momentum and becomes very slow and deliberate. The pacing of the film was annoyingly slow, as we watch the various groups travel to the Golden Pyramid of the Scorpion King, in what is mostly very uneventful travel. There is little witty dialogue or character development during this time, and the majority of the scenes are filled with Rick and Evelyn mentioning how worried they are about Alex, and how they will find him no matter what.
Imhotep on the other hand is such a bland and dull character compared to his last incarnation, I guess being dead for thousands of years, reborn, killed and reborn again years later will do that for a guy. Imhotep actually spends time watching over, Alex and goes so far as to tussle the young boys hair, hardly the menacing figure that is supposed to be the embodiment of evil.
The film also had huge gaps in logic, such as Alex being able to leave elaborate Sand Sculptures in three locations to tip his parents off to his next destination, before being discovered. There is also the great mystery of how in the middle of the desert; a blimp pilot was able to repair his craft without any of the precious gas that he mentions is necessary to fix the craft. It seems that despite the blimp being a wreck all over the desert, the pilot is able to fix the craft and miracle of all miracles, arrive to save the day, just in the nick of time. The film also has a real lack of inspiration as the Mummy recreated the classic sand wall that was in the first film again, only this time; it is a wall of water. Time and again we see ideas repeated from the previous film, such as pillars falling like dominos just as the bookcases did in the original film. We also get to see Rick wear a very Indiana Jones style Fedora hat as he returns home from one his adventures, and fight Imhotep who is wielding a long bladed weapon, much the same way that Darth Maul and Obi Wan Kenobi spared in “The Phantom Menace”.
Perhaps the worst part of the film was the big climatic scene where the Scorpion King is reborn. Seeing the Rock’s visage on top of a giant scorpion body resulted in laughter from the audience rather than the desired concern for the good guys.
Perhaps one might say that I am being to harsh on the film as after all it is a Summer Popcorn movie and plot holes and lack of character development are to be expected in this type of film.
While this may be true, there is no excuse for insulting the viewers by having sequences that are designed only to showcase the fantastic effects of ILM without taking the time to explain the sequences that led to them, and following a logical progression. It baffles the mind, that young Alex executes a spur of the moment escape from a moving train, that just so happens to be in front of a site that his parents are heading towards, while not being able to see where he is when he escapes underneath the train, and has no idea if his parents are even alive, much less in hot pursuit of him.
There was also the badly executed scene where Rick, learns how he must face the Scorpion King, by looking at hieroglyphics that were so obvious one of the flesh eating beetles would have figured it out long before. The final insult for me was watching a character grasp and hold a large gold encrusted diamond while hanging from an airship. Let’s forget the fact that the object had to weigh at least 300 lbs. and that all hell was breaking lose around them,
In short, the film that had so much potential in the first thirty minutes, quickly became bogged down by slow pacing, lack of story, and a reliance on special effects rather than character development and original ideas.

2.5 stars out of 5