8 May 2001 | jhclues
A Special Effects Extravaganza
If you've seen the trailer for this movie, you're probably expecting fast paced adventure, non-stop action and a special effects extravaganza with just enough story to keep it all interesting. And if that's what you're hoping for, you certainly won't be disappointed; because that's exactly what you get in `The Mummy Returns,' written and directed by Stephen Sommers. The story begins in Egypt, where Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) and his wife, Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) discover an ancient bracelet that had once belonged to a warrior known as `The Scorpion King (The Rock),' who, back in the day, had sold his soul to the god, Anubis, for control of his armies and domination of the world. Now, it seems, The Scorpion King's resurrection is imminent, and if he succeeds and once again raises the armies of Anubis, he could very well take over or destroy the world. Followers of Im-Ho-Tep (Arnold Vosloo), however, who are privy to this information as well, decide to resurrect their dark leader so that he can face The Scorpion King, defeat him, take control of Anubis' armies and conquer the world himself, putting them in control. But the key to the whole plan lies with who has control of the bracelet at the time of The Scorpion King's resurrection. And the O'Connells have taken it back home with them to London.
So the adventure begins in earnest, moving from Egypt to London, then back again to Egypt. Along the way, there's plenty of mummies, fighting, and bugs, but very few surprises, except for one scene near the end when something quite unexpected happens. The story itself gets somewhat lost in the muddle, but it doesn't really matter; plot is fairly insignificant in a movie like this, as long as it maintains at least a thread of credibility and can give the action some context. And that it does, so all is well and it allows you to get on with what this movie is really all about, which-- simply put-- is having a good time.
With shades of `Indiana Jones' and `Star Wars' abounding, the real success of this movie lies in the fact that it never pretends to be anything other than what it is or what it was meant to be, and that is an entertaining, fun movie. It's visually explosive, from the sweeping, desert vistas of the converging, battling armies, to the mummies and assorted demons and creatures generously sprinkled throughout. And the hand-to-hand combat scenes between Evelyn and Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia Velazquez) are especially thrilling. The one element of the film that doesn't seem to work too well has to do with a particular mode of transportation to which the O'Connells must resort upon their return to Egypt, and which ultimately plays a significant part in the outcome of the whole adventure. It's something that seemingly would have been more appropriate in `The Adventures of Baron Munchausen' or `Peter Pan.'
As far as the performances, suffice to say that the actors involved all do their jobs well; after all, in a movie like this you're not going to find anyone struggling with `The Method.' Fraser strikes a handsome, heroic pose-- call him a poor man's Indiana Jones-- and Weisz is becoming as Evelyn. Most importantly, they all walk the walk and talk the talk, and Sommers keeps them on track and wisely avoids allowing any lapses into `camp' or tongue-in-cheek character interpretations, which makes this a solid, fun-filled, action-adventure movie that is what it is.
The supporting cast includes John Hannah (providing some comic relief as Jonathan Carnahan), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lock Nah), Freddie Boath (Alex O'Connell) and Obed Fehr (Ardeth Bay). As with most sequels, you'll get more out of `The Mummy Returns' if you've seen the original, which had more of a story and, of course, would give you the background of the characters. But even on it's own and taken at face value, this movie is a feast for the senses, and just a lot of good fun. Just don't go in expecting anything more than what the trailer promises; if you can do that, chances are you're going to enjoy the movie and have a good time. I rate this one 7/10.