The Mummy Returns (2001)

Written & Directed by Stephen Sommers
Starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, Oded Fehr, Arnold Vosloo, John Hannah

My Advice: Wait for MST3K.

The gang's all here, with additions. Rick O'Connell (Fraser) and his now bride Evie (Weisz) are galavanting around with their son, Alex (Freddie Boath), still up to the same old shenanigans. A few new shenanigans involve Evie thinking that's she back in Egypt, knowing things that she couldn't possibly know about the past. While they're up to this, a bunch of hooligans are intent on raising Im-Ho-Tep (Vosloo) from the dead to put him up against another ancient baddie, The Scorpion King (The Rock). Much hilarity and CGI ensues, along with a bunch of ass-kicking, video game induced action. Yawn.

My initial thoughts on the film where that it would be more of the same--in other words, if you liked the first film, you'd probably dig the hell out of the second one. Even for those who didn't like the first film, the second would be just as laughably bad, if not more so. Unfortunately, even these meager hopes were too high. There's no point in talking about any of the acting, because it's all completely overshadowed by surprisingly dull action sequences, badly blended CGI effects, and ideas in the film that stretch the bounds of ludicrous.

First, let's cover the action. All of the editing and quick flashes in the world can't disguise the fact that the fight choreography is boring. And this is just when it's real humans fighting other real humans. When it's CGI fighting humans, at least you're distracted by the fact the effects are so poorly blended with the "real" stuff. The warriors of Anubis are so startingly fake you can feel Harryhausen crying out for vengeance. When you have mummies chasing our heroes through the streets of London (which was designed with a video game in mind, I'm sure), it smacked of the hellhounds leaping through the Big Apple in Ghostbusters--and made me wonder if we had made any advances in FX since then. Couple all of this with mummified hungry pygmies (?!), tattoos and reincarnation out the nethereye, and a wrestler who is in the film for a minute and a half--and you get a huge freaking mess.

Now let's but blame where blame is due: it's not at the feet of poor Brendan Fraser, who has found himself in well-paid franchise hell. He's actually not a bad bumbling action hero, it's just the rest of the film that bites around him. It also doesn't help that every single tender "moment" between himself and Weisz brings pain even to those who have turned their brains off.

In short, it's cluttered, overlong, badly executed trash and it kicks off the summer movie season with a whimper. But it'll make a fortune. God help us all.

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