The Mummy Returns official web site
Review by Ernest Lilley 2001 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu  

Directed by Stephen Sommers (I)
Writing credits (WGA) Stephen Sommers (I) (written by)

Adventure Is Reborn (more)

Cast: Brendan Fraser .... Rick O'Connell, Rachel Weisz .... Evelyn 'Evie' Carnahan O'Connell, John Hannah .... Jonathan Carnahan, Arnold Vosloo .... Im-Ho-Tep, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson .... The Scorpion King, Patricia Velazquez .... Anck-Su-Namun

Complete cast information from IMDB.

 

Kids! Your parents are former superheroes who can come out of retirement at the drop of a world crisis, and you're not just a chip off the old block, you're the improved model.

Adventure runs in the family, and action movies have a new formula, no longer any secret.. It's the ultimate boomer family fantasy.

We saw this badly done in Spy Kids, which could have been a cool movie, but well done in The Mummy Returns, which could have been as lame as the original sequel, but instead showed improvements in virtually every part of the film.

This is still a special effects movie, although increasingly all movies are, since the cost of CGI keeps coming down and the cost of real construction keeps going up. The one special effect I could have seen less of is the trademark mummy face in the fog, water, clouds, desert sand. Enough already. This is one of the few instances where I think the first movie did a better job than the sequel. 

But all in all, this movie did a good job on its own merits, and Universal's Mummy property has finally come back to life. Gone is much of the original slapstick and character goofiness, and Brendan Fraiser and Rachel Weisz lead characters of the rouge and the librarian have matured nicely over the nine years that have elapsed in the storyline.

The English fop of a brother is still fairly shallow, but at least he's a crack shot, and the movie overall has a better plot, with more drama and less silliness.

Another major oversight from the first movie was to use Patricia Velazquez as The Mummy's love interest so sparingly. This time we get plenty of flashbacks and other scenes. There are a few inconsistencies between the two films, but mostly they result in improvements.

In the past, action adventure heroes got the girl in the final reel, then lost her between movies so he could have a new romance. Spielberg tried to solve this by inventing the prequel, and others have just bypassed the whole romance notion. In The Mummy Returns, the producers are doing what they should have all along, letting the principle characters move on with their life. 

In this case, moving on with their life includes having a nine year old son, played by Freddie Boath, who's natural boyish curiosity winds up getting him in deep trouble right off the start. A precocious lad who's learned at the feet of his Egyptologist mother and daredevil father, he doesn't exactly steal the show as to give it additional dimension.

Interestingly, The Mummy Returns is a rare example of a movie that steals from a movie that hasn't been released yet. This November, family audiences will no doubt flock to the Harry Potter movie, about a precocious boy with a book of spells. They may wonder why it seems so familiar...it was because they saw it here first.

I've heard that the most popular form of entertainment on TV for teen age boys is watching WWF wrestling. The king of WWF is Dwayne Johnson, aka the Rock. In The Mummy Returns, the Rock plays the first Egyptian pharaoh, the scorpion king, who sold his soul for the command of an unearthly army.

The Rock was been resurrected  when his bracelet was put on by young Jonathon, who must reach the burial site of the Scorpion King within seven days or die. Of course, if he does make it, the Scorpion King and his army rise again.

The original mummy is brought out of retirement by a cult who has wind of this revial in process and wants to field an opponent, though he has his own plans for the evil army. The original mummy has a long memory, first for his one true love, which he's still determined to resurrect, and second for the grudge he holds against our heroes for re-de-animating him in the last movie.

Indiana Jones was an "A" movie tribute to "B" Movies. The Mummy Returns is a more genuine tribute...it's a "B" movie of the old school with special effects thrown in. Maybe even a "B+".

Will there be a sequel to the sequel? Does Universal like money? Does the mummy hold a grudge? All they need is the cast and a story, and I think they've got that all wrapped up.

2001 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu