The Mummy Returns
written and directed by Stephen Sommers
starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, Oded Fehr, Patricia Velasquez, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Dwayne Johnson, Freddie Boath, Alun Armstrong, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
World Domination at the behest of a dark Egyptian god inform the wacky antics of this addition to the smashingly popular “Mummy” franchise. Our heroes are once again unwittingly sow the seeds of potential mass death through a casual disregard for the ancient ways and the grave circumstances inherent in all curses.
Imhotep (Vosloo) has once again been cast into the underworld but he’s got friends in the guise of a wonky Egyptian cult who bring him back to life and set the story reeling toward its dramatic, festive conclusion. A saucy woman named Meela Nais (Veasquez) is actually Imhotep’s long lost love Anck Su Namun and together they make an unstoppable force who merely have to defeat the Scorpion King (Johnson) to gain control of the reins and wreak their plan of total destruction. It’s sexy when Meela’s nostrils flair up when she’s contemplating the look and feel of absolute power. She’s a glorious totem of base ambition and drive; her intentions are pure and they resonate throughout the course of the film.
Unfortunately, they jammed a little kid named Alex into the mix and all he does is mug cutely and get his dumb ass kidnapped by the evil cult. Then he spends the rest of the film mugging sheepishly and making a genuine annoyance out of himself. See, Rick O’ Connell (Fraser) has married Evy (Weisz) and they quite unnecessarily spawned Ergo the young boy. Kids always distract from a film no matter how darling and this case is no different. So, Rick and Evy are suddenly forced to track their son while managing to upset the plans of Imhotep and put the Scorpion King back in his place.
Evy and Rick are fiddling around in Egypt looking for something Evy has seen in a dream. She discovers a chest which she naturally opens revealing an ancient bracelet that is both gorgeous and scarily portentous. The kids take the chest back to London and that little rascal opens up the box and puts the damn thing on his wrist. Immediately he sees entire vistas replete with pyramids, temples and various other groovy Egyptian monuments to death and resurrection. He can’t remove it and he hides it from his parents. Then the goons stride in and snatch the scamp away, leading to yet another adventure.
The Scorpion King is introduced straight away. It’s the Rock all hard and mean and he’s apparently the greatest Warrior in all of Thebes. He’s on the attack and wants to take the city but his sorry ass is defeated and his army is thrust into the desert where they all die except him. With no options he prays to Anubis, the god of death, who grants him his army in exchange for his soul. Then Scorpion boy bashes his enemies and his soul is extracted and his army returned to dust. So, the Scorpion King lies awaiting the discovery of the bracelet so he can return to doing what he does best. Imhotep wants to wrest the army away from The Scorpion King so he can know the giddy thrill of absolute control. So, there’s a little conflict here and the race is soon on to make sure that nobody but Exxon and General Electric have more than a smidgen of control over what people think, say, or do.
Rick has taught Evy to be a fierce warrior-like killing machine. She’s ferocious and multi-talented with sticks, spears, knives and guns. She does backflips all of a sudden. Where the hell did that come from? This was a librarian, right? Anyway, there are two fight scenes between Evy and Meela which are certainly as sexy as anything I’ve seen in a while. Actually, one of the fights is in an Egyptian temple for the thrills of a captured audience. Evy has a vision and sees herself as Nefertiri, the Pharaoh’s daughter. She is fighting Anck Su Namun, who at this stage is Imhotep’s clandestine lover even though she is the Pharaoh’s property. Evy sees the intrigue that was spelled out in the first film culminating in the Pharaoh’s death at the hands of Imhotep and Anck Su Namun’s suicide.
So, the kids hitch a ride on an airship in search for their son. Alex proves to be a clever bastard as he leaves a trail in the form of the actual ruins and temples his magic bracelet has revealed to him. They are able to keep abreast with the help of the Medjai who have a magic bird who carries messages between their leader Ardeth Bay (Fehr) , who is searching with the O’ Connell’s, and the rest of his troops. By this time the film slows down considerably and it’s all that damn kids’s fault. If he hadn’t run off with the bracelet (alright, he was forced, but he’s still to blame) then his parents could have put all their attention on catching the baddies which means more grueling fights, more fear, and more crazed mummies. Speaking of which, there are some cool pygmy mummies who make life miserable for that Egyptian cult allowing Rick to rescue the snot nosed punk. They are the most electric CGI feat in the entire film and they actually look quite nasty in their adorable little ways.
The performances in this film are adequate for the material but nothing particularly stands out. Brendan Fraser again has a definitive physical presence although its more subdued in this installment. Rachel Weisz plays it tough and certainly looks fantastic getting all riled up. It’s just a thrill to see her in a film where she gets to play with swords and shoot guns. She could make a career of this despite the fact that it all seems a bit incongruous with what she’s become known for. Still, she manages her Self well in this film and her fight scenes are dynamic and erotically charged. Arnold Vosloo growls and looks menacing in his scenes. He also possesses a strong physicality that allows him to say boo and people start squawking. Oded Fehr again is consumed with integrity and a certain warrior style that serves him well in the film. He’s a force of sublime nature that comes through in scene after scene. Patricia Velasquez is charming and brutal in this film. There’s something that happens to her posture as she gets closer to her goal. She starts to stand more upright, with more authority and it’s a terrifying spectacle to witness.
Overall, this is a fairly insignificant film that is often too silly for its own good. The story lacks cohesion and there are elements that drag the film downward toward a flaming pit. Ultimately, the action sequences dominate the enterprise and the story is not given proper consideration. Still, the action dominates and almost makes up for the lack of story but is not quite up to the task. It becomes tedious to endure the action sequences as the film seems to use its story as filler between the big action blocks. The result is less than satisfactory and the film just isn’t sexy enough to make up for its lack of poignancy.