What’s the real secret of making a sequel to what could be a successful movie franchise? Simple, just do everything you did right in the original film, just do it a helluva lot more. So in “The Mummy Returns” we get twice the mummies, twice the explosions, twice the monsters, twice the scares, twice the twists, twice the action, and just for fun, a really cool catfight between two ancient Egyptian women.
The opening scene drops us in on ancient Egypt and introduces us to an army of creepy soldiers with dogheads who prepare to battle the Scorpion King, played by WWF’s the Rock. Thousands of demon warriors on one side square off against the buff Rock and his loyal minions. When the two bloodthirsty swarms collide, the violent clash is a blast to watch. The digital effects employed to produce the two armies of warriors are spectacular. As the events of this incredible war takes place, a narrator explains the legend of the Scorpion King and the tragic fate of his army. Quick aside: don’t get your hopes up about the Rock. He’s in less than five minutes of the beginning of the film and meets an untimely fate. He doesn’t even utter one line, he just yells, “Aaaaaahhhhhhhhh!” C’mon, give the Rock something to say, why don’t you? (Don’t worry though, you can’t kill the Rock.)
Fast forward to modern times, okay, 1935, we meet our heroes from The Mummy 10 years after the events of the first film. Now Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) is married to Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) and they’re in the midst of another dig of precious Egyptian artifacts. The couple now have a precocious, yet surprisingly likable son named Alex (newcomer Freddie Boath). After narrowly escaping this tomb, they uncover a powerful bracelet once worn by the Scorpion King. Meanwhile, Evelyn is having strange waking dreams. She may just be a reincarnated Egyptian princess who may have been at this tomb once before.
At their London home, Alex tries the bracelet on for size and it clamps shut and cannot be taken off. Through a hologram, it reveals the path to even greater treasures. When Im Ho Tep (Arnold Vosloo, same bad guy from the last film) is resurrected in a British museum, he plots to bring back the soul of his ancient forbidden love Anck-Su-Namun in the body of a woman who looks just like the original. Of course, Alex is kidnapped by Im Ho Tep and his band of mummy zombies and gun-toting madmen so that they can use the boy and the bracelet to follow the path. The rest of the film becomes one chase scene after another with Fraser and company out to reclaim his son. Now, what I don’t understand is why they don’t just chop off the kid’s arm and grab the bracelet. I’m sure there was some quick line of dialog about how they have to keep him alive or something, but I must have missed it.
Anyway, the cat and mouse plot is just an excuse to show off one amazing action sequence after another – from leaping mummies to pygmy zombies to a killer wall of water in the form of a face to a high speed chase with a hot air zeppelin to a horrifying army of doghead baddies. I know this is going to sound like a really lame complaint, but I’m going to say it anyway – this film has too much action. There, I said it. Each action setpiece leads to the next action scene which leads directly into the next incredible action scene and it just gets tiresome. Since there’s no time to process the previous events or to get to know the characters or to really begin to care about what’s going on, each action scene just seems flat. “The Mummy Returns” is truly the perfect theme park ride, but after getting off the ride, can you say you were moved? Emotionally, that is. “The Mummy Returns” has certainly raised the bar for potential resurrections of other classic movie monsters, I just want to care more about the characters when I’m strapped in for the journey.