The Mummy Returns Review
Though it seems to be the trend in Hollywood these days, making a sequel is a risky business. Very few “part twos” live up to the hype and expectation of the first movie - indeed, those that were better than the original can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand - The Godfather and Toy Story are two films that spring to mind where the second outing superseded the first - in my opinion anyway. It was inevitable then that with the success of 1999's The Mummy that we were going to see at least one sequel...but can it equal or better the first in the franchise?
The movie opens with a kind of prologue - just like the first - where we are introduced to The Scorpion King (played by Dwayne Johnson in his “The Rock” days...). He loses a major battle and kind of makes a pact with the devil to save his life.
Skip forward some 2000 years and we meet up with the heroes from the original movie - Rick O'Connell and Evelyn (played by the returning Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz respectively). This time around though they've tied the knot and have offspring in the shape of Alex (played by Freddie Boath). During a dig in some Egyptian tombs, Evelyn has a kind of flashback...it seems she's been here before! (as it turns out, she's not the only one...). The find a chest that contains the bracelet of Anubis and take it back to London
Meanwhile, another dig is going on just up the road - but this isn't for ancient Egyptian treasure. The carcass of The Mummy Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo reprising his role from the first movie) has been discovered and it's time for him to wake up. But not yet - first of all they take the body back to the British Museum in London where he will be woken up by the re-incarnation of his love from a previous life Anak-Su-Namun. Of course, the O'Connells are there as well as Evelyn has gone and got herself kidnapped again and Imhotep and Rick cross swords once again...
Meanwhile, young Alex has gone and got the bracelet stuck well and truly on his wrist - and it turns out that this bracelet will lead the wearer to the Oasis Of Amun-Shere - or the Scorpions lair for short. Things are not going according to plan for the revived evil one and the only way he can take on The Scorpion King and take control of the army of Anubis is to kidnap young O'Connell, take him halfway around the world and then use him in his plan to defeat the Scorpion King...but surely his parents are going to have something to say about that...? We set off on a chase around the world on a race to the Oasis - one team to defeat the Scorpion King, the other to rescue an (not so) innocent child who has been embroiled in it all by accident.
Sounds good on paper doesn't it? And at times, this second outing is better than the original film. For starters, it's more atmospheric and resembles the old 1932 Boris Karloff original more than it does Raiders of The Lost Ark...the lavish 1930's sets help it along nicely and things really get going when Rick fights the mummy's on the bus travelling through 1930's London - the deep reds of the cults costumes take me back to the Mummy films from the Hammer studios. But then it starts to tear itself to shreds. First up we have a balloon ride where Evelyn has another one of her flashbacks - most of the ride takes place at night during darkness. During the ride, young Alex leaves clues for his parents to follow - but these are all done during daylight. All aboard the balloon again and suddenly it's night time again...cue continuity people.
The action comes thick and fast though and there's rarely a moments let up - but then it all gets a bit too silly for my liking - and the plot and characters are twisted to suit the moment - completely throwing all previous thoughts of them straight out of the window. Take Evelyns brother Jonathan(comedy side kick John Hannah) for example. One minute he's a bumbling fool, the next he's shooting two-foot high pygmy mummies from 200 yards standing up. And did I mention the pygmy mummies? What, why and how are they even in the film? It's around about the time they appear that the film loses all credibility altogether. From this point on, things go distinctly downhill - particularly in the CGI department...more later.
All of the returning actors have further developed their characters and there's some real chemistry brewing between Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. It's a pity Rachel has moved on since winning her Oscar as it would have been good to see their relationship develop further in the new Mummy movie now in cinemas.
Director Stephen Sommers has his finger well and truly on the pulse here and manages to keep things moving at a frantic pace all the way through to the bitter end...and what an ending we have...it seems to go on for about half the film!
Now, I doubt whether or not there's many people reading this review that haven't seen this film on one format or another - but I'll still not give the actual ending away apart from saying that watch out for when the Scorpion King appears. The effects are - shall we say “a little ropy” to be honest. I have no idea what happened - and of course it's not mentioned anywhere. But it lowers the whole tone of the film and leaves a kind of sour taste in the mouth at the end.
However, it's not going to stop me recommending this Blu-ray disc to everybody really. The film isn't half bad - even if it doesn't match the original - and the disc is good enough to become the new reference home cinema demo disc to show of your system to your mates - please read on.