Movie Reviews: The Mummy Returns




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     Universal (2 hrs. 20 min.)
     The mummy Imhotep walks the earth once more, determined to become immortal.
     Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, The Rock, Arnold Vosloo
Bottom Line:


     Suffering from an acute case of sequelitis, the high-octane The Mummy Returns officially kicks off the summer 2001 movie season with bigger and louder special effects than its predecessor, The Mummy.
But pop culture, smoke and mirrors, laser-effects and a sound track to rival any monster rock concert doesn’t mean, "That’s entertainment."
   Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz reprise their roles as dashing legionnaire Rick O'Connell and his girlfriend Egyptologist Evelyn, the clumsy Indiana Jones-ish adventurers who had awakened the sleeping pharaoh Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) by desecrating his grave in the first film.
   You would think the couple, who are now married and a have a precious 8-year-old son Alex (Freddie Boath), would know better than to open up any more ancient grave sites. But then again, if they didn't, they would just be a couple of heroes with a lot of time on their hands.
   This time they disturb the gravesite of the Scorpion King, played by WWF superstar The Rock, and take his gold bracelet. Never mind what the bracelet does, it’s just an excuse to advance the plot.
   The crux of the plot is that the O'Connells have to return the Scorpion King’s bracelet to its resting place within seven days, or the Scorpion King’s army will rise from the desert sand and conquer the world.
   Meanwhile, with no explanation whatsoever, Imhotep’s lover, Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia Velasquez), is reincarnated and brings Imhotep – the Scorpion King’s nemesis – back from the dead to obtain the powerful bracelet. Once in his possession, Imhotep can control the Scorpion King’s army and fulfill his quest for immortality.
   The Mummy Returns – which, like the first installment, has little to do with earlier Karloff-type bandaged-wrapped mummy movies – introduces a fanfare of massive dog armies, towering pyramids, scorpions galore and mummies – lots of mummies. But in the final analysis, The Mummy Returns is a poor man’s Indiana Jones and a shoddy excuse to use the wizardry of special effects.
   Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones pictures were full of awe and wonder, whereas The Mummy Returns is just a faster rollercoaster ride minus the thrills. Spielberg’s films were also character-driven, which enabled audiences to easily suspend disbelief and buy into the concept of a larger-than-life action hero.
   The audience doesn’t believe for one minute that Fraser’s Rick O'Connell is an action hero, and that the character is actually in any trouble even when he’s being pursued by flesh-eating insects and pigmy corpses.
   The Indiana Jones pictures also worked because audiences at the time hadn’t seen a motion picture with such a high energy level. Now that we have become accustomed to such, Spielberg had wisely quit the Indy series. All today’s filmmakers can improve on now is bigger, louder and computer-generated special effects.
   Admittedly, The Mummy Returns is a popcorn munching thrill ride for some summer moviegoers, but enough already on the computer-generated effects.



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