Worth A Look: 25.44%
Pretty Bad: 19.79%
Total Crap: 8.48%
11 reviews, 217 user ratings
|Mummy Returns, The
by Scott Weinberg
Of course I realize that a studio is not gonna monkey with a good thing. When the original MUMMY hit the screens two summers ago, it was quite simply a blockbuster smash. So now that the inevitable sequel shows up, it only seems logical that the formula would seem a bit familiar. To that I simply ask: Does it have to be THIS familiar?More! Get some more mummies in there! A hot-air balloon? Why not? Figure out a way to get it onscreen. I want Pygmy Mummies, giant dog-faced zombie warriors and a cute little kid! We need a matching villain for every invincible hero, a giant scorpion man and a whole lot of brand new (and pointless) character histories! I want one character to be stabbed to death, only to have them reincarnated about 6 minutes later for no reason at all. Where's my CGI graveyard shift? I need more stuff!
"More like 'The Mummy Reruns'"
See where I'm going with this? While the original Mummy was somewhat fresh and exciting (despite its decidedly "Indiana Jones-ish" leanings), this one is merely content with rehashing the exact same material. Heroes mistakenly awaken the same mummy. There's a trio of ill-fated treasure hunters who become Egyptian Mummy Food. Someone gets kidnapped. The heroine gets tied down. There's an airplane scene in which our heroes are pursued by a giant wall of sand. (Oh my fault - This time around...it's water.)
There's certainly nothing wrong with enjoying a movie solely for the action sequences. What drags this movie down is that every single non-action scene is woefully tiresome and butt-shiftingly dull. There are a few clever references to the original film, and the trio of heroes do have a somewhat appealling chemistry. But those assets only serve to underscore how much better this movie could have been. The producers had to know that The Mummy Returns is a dead-solid lock to gross at least $150 million in the U.S. alone. So why did they feel the overwhelming need to literally photocopy the original film?
When trying to encapsulate a movie's plot, it generally helps if there is a cohesive and somewhat sensible story structure with which to work. Unfortunately, The Mummy Returns features none of that, so instead I'll just try to sum up what happens in the "talking parts":
It's eight years after the original Mummy. Rick and Evie have a precocious 8-year old son. That whiny and effeminate Johnathon is still around, and the four all live in this massive estate that one can only assume was financed with the spoils from Part 1.
While searching through an ancient temple, Rick and Evie (once again) accidentally awaken evil spirits. It's about at this point in the movie that things start to go a bit bizarro. Here's what I could glean:
There is a woman who is the reincarnation for Imhotep's dead girlfriend. She's friends with an evil museum curator. This guy has an evil bodyguard who has this obsession with killing the little boy(!).
Alex (that's the kid) puts on a scorpion bracelet. The bracelet runs some Tour of Egypt DVD every two days, and he can't seem to take it off. The bad guys kidnap Alex. If the bracelet isn't removed within seven days, it will kill Alex. Whoa.
Rick and Evie want their son back. Their old friend from Mummy 1 shows up and takes them to Egypt. It is from there that they then go to other places.
Etc., etc. etc.
Most of these scenes consist of one person explaining a certain curse or spell to someone else and how they only have 2 hours before the magic Dung Weenie Blood Beetle Spell is enacted and we all better get outta this tomb before the sea of bugs or dogs or dog-bugs get us.
Also particularly stupid is Sommer's choice to give the main characters all-new mystical backgrounds, as if audiences couldn't spot an outbreak of "The Force" when they see one. It seems that Rick has this tattoo that stayed conveniently hidden on his wrist in the original movie. This tattoo designates Rick as an offical Magi guy, just like the swashbuckling sidekick! Cool! I know I certainly buy Rick as more of a hero now that I know he has "Magi blood".
If Rick's lineage weren't insipid enough, wait tell you get this: Evie turns out to be a direct descendant of the princess Nefertiti! We learn this in one of the 'flashback to Egypt' thingies and it's silly news indeed. I was expecting Johnathon to fall asleep and have some flashbacks about being Jesus Christ on the cross.
To that I can only say: Yawn. Look - If you're going to make an unapologetically mindless Popcorn Flick, FINE! Just don't fill 3/5 of your movie with unnecessary plot devices and ham-handed explanations. The audience for The Mummy Returns doesn't really care exactly why this spell will cancel that curse. Everyone knows it's all nonsense, so why act like its art? Just do it and stop explaining so damn much!
As the returning hero, Brendan Fraser is stuck in neutral as adventurer Rick O'Connell. Fraser's not exactly bad here, but he still comes off pretty bland. Rachel Weisz is as cute as she was in the previous film, and she certainly knows how to brawl a lot better. The rest of the cast is going through the motions. Oded Fehr is given the thankless role of 'sidekick in a black robe' and he's then relegated to slicing and dicing his way through a sea of CGI dog-soldiers. Arnold Vosloo returns as the evil Imhotep, although I noted a distinctly cuddlier Mummy this time around. Vosloo is basically required to stand around half-naked and open up his mouth real wide. That's it. The computers do all the rest.
Oh yeah, that Rock wrestler shows up for the first 7 minutes and then vanishes. (Then WHY is his head like the biggest on the poster? Ask the wrestling fans, I guess.)
What's most obvious about these two films is how much they so desperately want to be Indiana Jones movies. Am I the only one who thinks that the Indy films and the Mummy movies have virtually zero in common, aside from their exotic locales? The charm of Indiana Jones was that he was flawed, gruff and (most importantly) human! Indy got shot and bled, he took a nasty right hook and his knees wobbled, and he could have existed in the real world. Rick O'Connell could not. He's a square-jawed super-hero straight out of the comics. And when the entire cast of an action-adventure movie is basically immortal, it sucks some of the suspense out. All you're left with is a fancy light show. Anyone here still blown away by fancy light shows? Didn't think so.OK, maybe I'm being a bit rough on what is essentially a self-proclaimed Popcorn Movie. While I certainly have no problem with 'switching the smart part of the brain' off once in a while, I don't know how stupid the moviemakers expect me to become for them. Yes, there are a few cool chases and creepy creatures. But if those were my only criterion for a good movie, I doubt I'd have the ability to write a dozen paragraphs on a movie this shallow.
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originally posted: 06/06/01 09:15:08