Roguish adventurer Rick O'Connell (Fraser) and his intrepid wife (Weisz) must stop the forces of evil from gaining possession of an artifact of extraordinary power. The sequel to the 1999 blockbuster The Mummy.
wall-to-wall, virtually non-stop action
impressive special effects
a "bigger is better" approach to action filmmaking
the addition of an annoying little kid
drawn out story that runs slightly too long
needlessly complicated at times
Everyone seeing the sequel to the 1999 hit The Mummy should know exactly what they are getting: a big, dumb action film. With that in mind, why on earth would anyone walk out of it complaining about the lack of story, characterization, or coherency? The Mummy Returns is one of those critic-proof formulas that doesn't need to justify its blatant attempt to cash in on its own popularity, thus resulting in a giant action-fest that is simply a lot of fun.
Said plainly, The Mummy Returns rocks. It's packed with wall-to-wall action that almost never lets up, and is loaded with eye-popping special effects. Taking a "bigger is better" approach to filming the action genre, this movie boasts some impressive visuals, kicking things off with a giant battle between two armies. Here, the stage is set as the Scorpion King (played by WWF star the Rock) leads about a zillion soldiers in a fast and furious mother-of-all-battles. The villainous warlord is even cooler later in the movie when he lives up to his name.
Jump forward a few thousand years, where we rejoin our heroes, Rick and Evie. They're married now, and have a little boy. But being parents doesn't mean they have to settle down to a normal life. When the infamous mummy Imhotep re-returns from the dead with yet another plan for world domination, the couple is more than up to the task of fighting him and his minions. The basic story is that the Scorpion King was once in possession of a magical wristband of enormous power, and now everyone and their sister wants to gain control of it, including Imhotep. Rick and Evie are (naturally, by law of sequels) reunited with old allies to battle this threat.
Brendan Fraser is just as much the action star as he was in the original installment, but Rachel Weisz has made a remarkable transformation from bookish librarian to kickass martial arts vixen. In scenes such as her duel with Patricia Velasquez, she really cuts things up--if you didn't know any better, you could swear this was a different character than the Evie we met in The Mummy.
The movie has its share of flaws, of course, but many of them--such as a lengthy runtime slightly over two hours--can be overlooked by those willing to completely immerse themselves in the raw action. Some of the plotlines get cumbersome, what with an unnecessarily complicated web of villains, but that, too, can be ignored by action aficionados who don't worry about the details. If you're perturbed by new movies that imitate the tried and true, though, be warned that The Mummy Returns mimics everything from the obvious Indiana Jones to its own predecessor (note the tidal wave scene that rehashes the sandstorm from the original). If you'd like to see what other movie fans disliked about this movie, you can jump on over to our related movie poll--but beware of spoilers!
There's one element that stands out like a sore thumb, and that's the addition of the annoying kid. I don't know whose bright idea this was, but giving Rick and Evie a son was a total wash. Kids in action flicks--that's an awful combination that gums up the works. Either the kids get in the way of the action, or they invariably save the day in a way that is even more ridiculous than how the adults save the day. Witness Mercury Rising or Desperate Measures. Hell, even the scene in The Phantom Menace where Anakin steals a ship and unleashes his piloting skills stands out as stupid in a movie that was full of Jar Jar Binks.
Graciously, the kid doesn't waste as much screentime as he could have, but he doesn't take long to grate on your nerves. To top things off, he's just so pip-pip-proper in his demeanor. He's an obnoxious mix of a Charles Dickens street urchin, the Lipnicki brat from Jerry Maguire, and the dorky kid who always used to save the day on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Although The Mummy Returns doesn't have that same attitude of campy fun from the first one, it does introduce a greater sense of danger. This might be a case of a sequel taking itself too seriously, but it still fits well. And in an attempt to top the original, they've cranked up the special effects to the max. Computer generated undead villains are pouring out of the woodwork, making for some very cool visuals. It's as if the computer geeks looked at a shot of a thousand mummies and said, "You know what would make this better? A million mummies!" From the outrageous legions of soldiers to the re-animated, lumbering corpses, the movie takes full advantage of all things rendered by the microchip.
If you're looking for simple out-and-out action, then The Mummy Returns is one of your best bets for the year. If, on the other hand, you want depth of character and story, then look elsewhere. This is a bloated summer blockbuster and proud of it--and saying it has too much action is like complaining that Fight Club has too much violence. So sit back, turn off your brain, and have some fun!
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)