73 – The Mummy Returns

Set 10 years after the first film, this Mummy finds our Hero Rick (Brendan Fraser) and our Heroine Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) back to their old adventuring, excavating ways. And with them as always is Evelyn’s brother Jonathan (John Hanna), who acts as the film’s Comic Relief. But there’s a newcomer: the 8-year-old son of Rick and Evelyn, Alex (Freddie Boath). The gang’s brought back into more hair-raising experiences when a dig unearths a rather cool-looking chest that contains a sacred bracelet. Naturally, once the family gets back home to London, the first thing the little imp Alex wants to do is open it. And put the bracelet on.

Turns out that whoever wears the bracelet is shown a series of famous pyramids, and only by going to each one in succession can he or she know what the next destination is. What’s the point, you ask? Well, at the end of this whole thing our old buddy Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) is gonna defeat the Scorpion King (Dwayne Johnson) and take the king’s army and conquer the world. I know, it sounds like Steven Somers (who wrote and directed) has been reading too many comic books. But this is the kind of movie that you don’t examine too closely, at least not the plot. The point is simply that there’s an adventure afoot, and it’s up to Our Hero to save the day.

Rick, Evelyn, Jonathan, and Alex, joined by Ardeth Bay, the protectorate from the first film, encounter a series of mind-boggling special effects, all wonderfully done on someone’s computer. Hey, don’t get me wrong, they look real neat, like that giant waterfall and those freaky pygmy skeletons. The problem is that they’re all stolen from other movies! The waterfall is a simple ripoff of the last Mummy movie, and the skeletons look a lot like the little demons in Gremlins.

One fatal mistake the movie makes is in introducing the typical Annoying Little Kid. This is what singlehandedly sunk another wonderful movie, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989) had a then-very-young Sarah Polley, and this one has the aforementioned Freddie Boath. Both actors speak with a thick Cockney accent and both have a tendency to get into mishief. But you know that all credibility is tossed kicking and screaming out the window when, in the very first scene, Rick and Evelyn bring little Alex to a spooky temple in their search for this chest, and wouldn’t ya know it, they leave HIM out by the entrance. “Stay here,” they tell him. What kind of a parent brings their kid to a place like that? Ok, ok, I know it’s a movie, but there was simply no reason to have this kid in the movie. He may be a good actor, but the character was unnecessary, unwieldy, and unlikable. He was also a bit like young Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars, only not as cool. Now Alex had a few good lines and generally acquitted himself nicely, but he was more of a liability than an asset. If anyone should have played the role of buffoon and put the bracelet on (thus incurring all sorts of supernatural wrath), it should have been Jonathan, who was a wonderful surprise from the first. But alas, as is sometimes the case with casting people, they fall in love with cute little kids. Bah!

Don’t make the mistake I made and overexamine the movie. I saw some really dumb things, but most of them are inconsequential. There’s one I’d like to point out, however: Rick, Jonathan, Ardeth, and Alex are running from the front of the outside of their house around to the side, where their car is. They RUN around the corner, and then the next shot shows them slowing down to a slow walk. Why? So they can discuss what’s happened, what they’re going to do, and so forth. Never mind that Evelyn’s been kidnapped. Never mind that they were all frantic not 1 second ago, and suddenly when they go around the corner, they have time to chat? Sheesh! Such stupidity! Such bad editing!

This very poor man’s Indiana Jones isn’t terribly inventive, even in its special effects, but it still is roundly entertaining. You could do far worse for two and a half hours.

The Mummy Returns: 7.5

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