The Mummy Returns (2001)

The Mummy Returns (2001)

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"I am a scary tiger! Rarrr!"
“I am a scary tiger! Rarrr!”

Twitter Plot Summary: Everybody returns for more action mayhem involving the resurrected Imhotep and a bad CGI Scorpion King.

The reboot of The Mummy in 1999 proved to be a successful endeavour, mixing up an old-school adventure film with modern effects and, in particular, computer generated imagery.

The Mummy Returns proves to be another example of a sequel providing more of the same, but with a bigger effects budget and a far greater use of slightly dodgy CGI. The pinnacle of this is the badly animated face of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the Scorpion King, although he clearly did enough to impress the studio given that he was awarded his own spin-off prequel film. Amazing when considering how little he was given to do here.

The principle cast from the first film return, including Brendan Fraser as Indiana Jones-esque adventurer Rick O’Connell, Rachel Weisz as Egyptian expert Evy, John Hannah as her dippy brother Jonathan, and even Arnold Vosloo’s Imhotep, the titular Mummy, manages to sneak his way out of the afterlife and into the plot. Relations have developed between Rick and Evy to the point where they now have a young son who proves to be an enjoyable character and not in the least bit annoying. Well done to Freddie Boath as their son Alex for not being the least bit annoying.

It’s often the case that a sequel goes bigger and louder in order to look more impressive than the original, and while that is partially the case here (namely the bigger and louder part) it is a much less competent production because other than the new family dynamic it all but copies the structure of the first film and tacks on a rather silly new element where Evy is the reincarnation of a rival to Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia Velasquez), the main squeeze of Imhotep back in the day and since reincarnated in a lady called Meela. That’s as far as the plot really extends, because otherwise it’s just a string of action sequences linked by Egyptian imagery.

They were all aghast at the Scorpion King's bad CGI face.
They were all aghast at the Scorpion King’s bad CGI face.

At least the action never lets up, because otherwise the logical and logistical gaps would cause a huge number of problems. As it is, you’re too busy looking at the effects and enjoying the almost laughably bad jokes to worry much about consistent plotting. There are fun sequences which include a chase on a red London bus, but then these are tempered by homages to set pieces from the first film, such as Imhotep calling up a giant tidal wave instead of a dust storm, and a bunch of zombie pygmy creatures in a sequence that combines the raptor attack in The Lost World: Jurassic Park and the scarab beetle assault in The Mummy.

In the end, The Mummy Returns provides entertainment for its 2 hour running time and can therefore be deemed to have achieved its goal. The action’s good and the character interactions are always fun, frequently carried by the knowing tone and air of whimsy. John Hannah steals the show by hamming it up and throwing himself into the madness, but for once the rest of the cast aren’t much further behind.

Score: 3/5

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