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The Mummy Returns (May 3/01)

So concerned is The Mummy Returns with getting right to the action, it doesn't even bother with opening credits.

Starring Brendan Fraser, The Mummy Returns is (of course) a sequel to the hugely popular 1999 hit. Fraser returns as archeologist Rick O'Connell, while Rachel Weisz reprises her role as his love interest (and now wife), Evelyn. The intrepid couple now has a seven-year-old son named Alex, who apparently serves no purpose other than to spout witty one-liners and further the plot by being kidnapped. Alex, you see, was fooling around with an artifact his parents brought home after a particularly arduous expedition, when said artifact (a golden bracelet) locked itself around his wrist. Now, a rogue band of evil Egyptologists must kidnap Alex in order to prevent the resurrection of the even more evil Scorpion King (played by, with not one line spoken in English, The Rock). If the Scorpion King were to return from his Hellish slumber, returning mummy Imhotep and his reincarnated bride Anck-Su-Namun would quickly find themselves at the whim of this powerful half-man/half-insect. Rick and Evelyn quickly get to work retrieving their son, while accompanied by Evie's wacky brother Jonathon (John Hannah, reprising his role from the first one).

The Mummy Returns isn't concerned with character development or plot; it exists simply to please the audience with massive amounts of eye-candy. Since all the characters were established in the first film, writer/director Stephen Sommers doesn't feel obligated to provide any further explanation of the motivations of these people. His thinking seems to be something along the lines of, "heck, everyone knows these guys! Let's just blow some stuff up REAL GOOD!"

Sommers apparently spent most of his time watching movies after the release of the first Mummy movie (this is his first movie since), because the sequel is rife with "homages" to other, better movies. The most obvious being the climax, which is incredibly similar to the final act of The Phantom Menace (both films feature one gigantic battle, while cutting to smaller battles). The miniature mummy skeletons that pop up mid-way through the film echo the raptors from Jurassic Park, and even attack unsuspecting victims in tall grass, as seen in The Lost World. Finally, Sommers rips himself off by having Imhotep attack O'Connell and crew via a gigantic tidal wave, except instead of the crew flying around in an airplane, this time they're in a dirigible (wow, no similarities there).

The actors are all good, though it's near impossible to gauge their performances since they spend much of their screen time running or screaming. As O'Connell, Fraser plays him as though he were Indiana Jones' protege, except without the fear of snakes (the movie actually acknowledges this at one point, with O'Connell handling a deadly snake with ease). Arnold Vosloo, as Imhotep, brings a surprising amount of depth and characterization to a character that could have been a one-dimensional villain (indeed, there's a nice moment towards the end where we actually feel some sympathy for the guy). Hannah is wasted in a role that requires no more from him than sheer buffoonery and comic relief, while The Rock is actually underused (and his dramatic entrance as the Scorpion King is hindered by shoddy special effects). Add to that a deus ex machina resolution that's certain to have most audience members rolling their eyes, and you've got a sequel aimed at the lowest common denominator.

Honestly, the best part about The Mummy Returns is the Jurassic Park III trailer that precedes it.

out of

© David Nusair