The Mummy Returns

| May 5, 2001

When a major motion picture is put out with the amount of hype we’ve seen for The Mummy Returns the general feeling the studio wants you to have is that this is THE movie people will be buzzing about and you better go see it straight away. You wouldn’t want to be the only one not able to talk about it, would you?
I think I may be the little kid who cries that the Emperor is wearing no clothes but I just don’t get it. For all the special effects and running around the characters do and the jillions of dollars that Universal is spending to promote it, The Mummy Returns left me feeling… Somewhat bored.
It could be that it was TOO much. Instead of breathless, I was yawning. Ho hum, another animated mummy. More digital doghead warriors to be dispatched. The problem isn’t that we know that it is all animated; the problem is that too much of it was thrown at us. The story relies too many effects and not enough on plot. A good reminder is that the best special effects are the ones that don’t overwhelm you. The Mummy Returns is a Swiss cheese movie with so many holes in the plot that it detracts from the enjoyment of the film. And a solid storyline would help, too.
If you have any desire at all to see this movie, you’ve probably heard or read about the story. It takes place somewhere between 8 and 10 years after The Mummy (kind of depends on what you read or hear). Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) is now married to Evelyn (Rachel Weisz), the librarian he met in the first film and they have spawned a youngin’ named Alex (Freddie Boath). They seem to be bringing him up on the go as they jump from one archeological adventure to another. They seem to be searching for the same artifacts as some bad guys who, follow me here: Want To Rule The World. Gosh, what are you going to do AFTER lunch? Anyway, the plot makes this movie a race to see who can awaken the Scorpion King and then defeat him in order to gain control of his Anubis warriors.
A couple of the miserable and endless plot complications have to be addressed.
First, Fraser running towards a pyramid while carrying his son. He has to get to the pyramid before the sun hits it because his son is wearing a magic bracelet that will, it is written, suck the life out of the boy if he isn’t inside. They show Fraser racing the line of light across the sand to the pyramid. Work with me here: If the sun were coming up behind you, wouldn’t the light of the sun, as it comes up over the arc of the earth, hit the higher points of the horizon first? The sunlight should have already hit the TOP of the pyramid and worked its way down.
Second, those Dogheaded Warriors I mentioned earlier? They make up an army that stretches as far as the eye can see, kind of like your favorite freeway at 7:30 am on a Monday. They engage a human army and are defeated. After the battle, while human army stands around wondering when writer-director Stephen Sommers is going to say cut and it occurred to me that none of the humans were killed or wounded. NONE. ZERO. NADA. How is this army going to take over the earth if it has no ability to win a battle where it has the odds in its favor?
Third, one of the main characters dies. As soon as it happened, I knew that it wasn’t going to be a permanent death. The only question was how they were going to explain it away.
While I’m at it, I’d like to complain to the producers for all of the World Wrestling Federation fans who go to see their hero The Rock in a movie. In all the marketing for the movie, it seems that we’re going to definitely smell what the Rock is cooking for the whole movie. In terms of part size, The Rock is actually more of a pebble with no lines and 5minutes of screen time. I guess that would be a cameo, but not much of one. He didn’t even have time to raise an eyebrow at his enemies.
The acting is pretty good. I enjoy Fraser and Weisz’s relationship. It’s so hot that even in the midst of trouble, they seem to want to call a time out while they knock out a quickie. And Boath turns in probably the funnies scenes in the movie. He has been kidnapped and while being watched by a captor and taunts him by using the “Are We There Yet?” Chant.
On the whole, I’m not going to give The Mummy Returns a good recommendation. It’s ok. Average. A too long diversion of a movie. As the first “blockbuster” summer flick of 2001, I expected so much more but wound up feeling like I had desert sand in my swim trunks from sitting in the theater too long…

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