The Mummy Returns (big surprise here) suffers from the usual "More,
Better, Faster" sequel pitfalls. There is more in the film to like, but
there be also more to dislike.
We'll start with the good stuff. There are more flashbacks to ancient Egypt.
There are more near misses, great escapes, feats of derringdo, and well-timed
comic relief. There's more screen time for the great supporting characters from
The Mummy, including Evelyn's ne'er-do-well brother, and that Egyptian
secret society guy Ardeth Bay (who is, by the way, twelve times cooler than
Brendan Fraser's character. Forget the Scorpion King prequel. I want
to see The Further Adventures of Ardeth Bey). I was hoping that the excavation
of Hamunaptra would unearth a miraculously still-alive Beni Gabor, but no such
There are also more wicked villains, including the return of Arnold Vosloo
as Imhotep. The movie nicely fleshes out the back-story of Imhotep and Anck
Su Namun, though I found myself wishing that there had been more of that.
And let's not forget about that amazing girl fight. Female moviegoers have
plenty to ogle in the forms of Brendan Fraser, Arnold Vosloo, and Oded Fehr
(a.k.a. Ardeth Bay), but there are also the gorgeous ladies of The Mummy
Returns (G.L.O.M.R.). Okay, so having two honeys (barely) clad in gold fight
it out with ancient weapons in front of audience of Egyptian royalty is a bit
of a cheap trick. But it works, especially for those (like my good friend Sherman
"Adventure" Taylor) who are partial to "women who can kick your
All this good stuff, but what about the not-so-good?
Let's start with (sorry, wrestling fans) The Rock. I was perfectly willing
to give Dwayne Johnson the benefit of the doubt. I was actually looking forward
to seeing him as the Scorpion King, but let's face it, the guy can't act. His
victory smile and his grimace of pain look exactly the same. The upcoming Scorpion
King movie should be interesting, because I have no idea how he's going
to carry a whole film.
Up next: TOO MUCH CGI! TOO MUCH CGI! TOO MUCH CGI!
Okay, so CGI can do some wonderful things (have you kissed your mummy today?).
The Scorpion King's howling hordes were done quite well. But there's got to
be a point at which the director, Stephen Sommers, says, "At least a few
of our heroes' insurmountable obstacles will not be bitmapped." The deluge
of water that Imhotep whips up to try to knock our (once again) airborne adventurers
from the sky is so depressing, because you can almost hear Sommers' saying,
"Okay, we did the huge sandstorm last time. So, what can we do that will
be exactly the same, only different?"
TO INSURE A SPOILER-FREE REVIEW, PLEASE SKIP THE NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS.
Then there are the rabid pigmy creatures, a cross between Ewoks and raptors
(Think of the scene with the tall grass in Jurassic Park: The Lost World.
Yeah, Sommers' pillaging of Spielberg's cinematic language never stops). Okay,
maybe they were good for a few laughs, but they sure lowered the overall quality
of the movie.
More CGI blunders: when you get your first shadowed glimpse of the giant scorpion
creature, it's a moment almost as awesome as when you first see the queen in
ALIENS. But then it comes into the (torch)light, and you realize that it's a
giant scorpion with the torso and face of The Rock. Which wouldn't be so bad
if it wasn't a hellalame CGI face with teeth like Buzz Lightyear and a face
only slightly less rubbery than Woody's. With all their digital technology,
why didn't they at least fuse The Rock's actual torso onto the scorpion monster?
I'm sure that there was some reason why they decided not to do that, but if
Hercules and Xena can make centaurs that look halfway decent,
then the Mummy's special effects people should be able to come up with
a beasty that looks more realistic than the average FMV cut-scene of a Playstation
By the time they got to a very Matrixesque shot of Brendan Fraser being
flipped through the air, I was wishing that I could go back and watch some of
the much more promising sequences from the first half of the film.
To wrap things up: As with many movie sequels, The Mummy Returns is
more spectacular than the original, maybe even more entertaining than the original,
but certainly not better than the original.
Many Happy Returns
Alice Cooper: The Nightmare Returns (1986) (V)
Arsène Lupin Returns (1938)
Batman Returns (1992)
Billy the Kid Returns (1938)
Black Stallion Returns, The (1983)
British Invasion Returns, The (2000) (V)
Cappy Ricks Returns (1935)
Cisco Kid Returns, The (1945)
Dick Tracy Returns (1938)
Don Ricardo Returns (1946)
Hercules Returns (1993)
Hopalong Cassidy Returns (1936)
Hot Tubs II: The Terror Returns (1998)
Invisible Man Returns, The (1940)
Life Returns (1935)
Lightnin' Smith Returns (1931)
Lone Wolf Returns, The (1926)
Lone Wolf Returns, The (1935)
Lord Epping Returns (1951)
Max Dugan Returns (1983)
Mummy Returns, The (2001)
Pancho Villa Returns (1950)
Paul Temple Returns (1952)
Philo Vance Returns (1947)
Prancer Returns (2001)
Psycho Charlie Returns Part 1 (1997)
Psycho Charlie Returns Part 2 (1997)
Psycho Cop Returns (1993)
Robinson Crusoe Returns on Friday (1923)
Shadow Returns, The (1946)
So Love Returns (2000)
Spider Returns, The (1941)
Toby Tortoise Returns (1936)
Topper Returns (1941)
Valentino Returns (1987)