The Mummy Returns
September 20, 2003
Finally the Rock has come back to DVD!
Well, this film may have been sold on the appearance of the Rock, but in fact his involvement with the whole thing is pretty fleeting.
The Mummy Returns is the sequel to the summer ’99 blockbuster: The Mummy. This sees the original surviving cast members meet up once again for another one of those ‘Once every 5,000 year end of the world struggles’, a mere eight years after the last one.
The chemistry between leads Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz is very well played; better possibly than the first film. That unfortunately, is where this movie’s superiority over its predecessor ends. The first Mummy was an effects filled adventure ride based on a cracking piece of direction and solid pacing. The Mummy Returns has big effects.
This said, the film does start well. We’re relayed the ancient story of the Scorpion King and his quest to rid the Old World of all life. He is played adequately, with larger than life greatness, by The Rock, who is badly underused in this film.
We will of course get to see ‘The People’s Eyebrow’ in all its smacking-down greatness in the upcoming ‘Scorpion King’ movie, which is pushed to the hilt on this DVD. In fact it’s pushing is so hard that the special features on The Mummy Returns could just as easily have been labelled Scorpion Kind Advert.
After The Rock’s exit, very early on, the film spirals into an effects laden mess that promises much and delivers very little. The first movie was tightly structured and built to a suitable climax. Even if it was nothing more that a poor man’s Indiana Jones, The Mummy Returns seems to move along at a fast pace without actually going anywhere.
The introduction of a cute Hollywood child remains the film’s biggest mistake. This is one dynamic, or weight around its neck, that the movie didn’t need. Freddie Boath does his best as Brendan’s son, but his ‘smarter than all adults’ character just serves to annoy everyone. Why do Hollywood keep throwing in these cute child characters? They piss us off!
We’re promised that the Scorpion King will be unleashed, and no force on the planet can stop his armies from destroying the world. The original mummy Imhotep is raised once more by his followers in the hope that he can face the Scorpion King, defeat him and steal his army. This all sounds great in theory: An unholy battle between an ultra powerful mummy and The Rock with the power of the Scorpion King.
Unfortunately this is not what we are given. Imhotep, for some unexplained reason is stripped of his powers for the battle. The throwaway line of dialogue used to explain this plot development is ‘He wants me to fight as a mortal.’
We are at least going to see the return of The Rock aren’t we? No. He is replaced by a big pointless CGI monster, with which Imhotep and Brendan Fraser must battle.
Throw in some reincarnation dream sequences and a few more CGI monsters and you’ve pretty much got the whole movie summed up.
Don’t get me wrong though, if you like your movies big, loud and simple then this is for you. But I just feel that the first Mummy was the poor man’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, whereas The Mummy Returns is the poor man’s Temple of Doom.
The DVD features are a hoot as well, every single one seems to talk up the Mummy Returns as though it were trying to sell the movie. The American voiceover ‘this will be the greatest action adventure of the year’ etc. If you’re watching that, you’ve bought it. They don’t need to sell it to you.
The most interesting feature is an interview with The Rock, regarding the movie ‘The Scorpion King’. I have to admit that this does look good. Hollywood has been without an action star since Schwarzenegger fell into comedy – perhaps The Rock can fit the bill?
We’ll have to wait and see, but the Mummy Returns isn’t a patch on the original.