Brendan Fraser on 'Live With Regis and Kelly': We brought back everyone who survived the first one...
What he failed to tell us that anyone who was killed in the first film, is replaced with exactly the same character and eventually dispatched in exactly the same way.
In the ten years that have passed since their first adventure, Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) and Evie Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) have married and have a small son, Alex (Freddie Boath). Marriage hasn't stopped their adventures in archaeology. Evie has been having strange dreams, which lead them in search of The Scorpion King's tomb. They uncover the Scorpion King's bracelet and travel back to London. The evil curator of the British Museum (we know he is evil because his name is Lock Nah), finds the mummified remains of Im-Ho-Tep (Arnold Vosloo) and brings them back to London. He resurrects his master and plans to help him defeat the Scorpion King, and rule all of the forces of darkness. One problem. They need that bracelet.
Writer and director Stephen Sommers falls into the same tempting trap that most filmmakers succumb to when creating a sequel to a highly successful film. They are like little kids in a candy shop. The studio has thrown open the flood gates. The director gets to tinker with all sorts of special effects. The director gets to tinker with the special effects he used in the first film, but he gets to use them more often. The studio thinks we want more. The filmmaker thinks we want more. The director gives the audience more. Really, what we want is a little more, but more different.
"The Mummy Returns" is a loud, bloated mess with some good action scenes. Unfortunately, 'some good action scenes' isn't good enough when the film runs 2 hours and 5 minutes long.
From the very beginning, action happens at a frantic pace. Two archaeological digs are happening near each other, from there, we zoom to London. In London, a huge battle, a mummy is resurrected, an abduction, back to Cairo. The pace is fast, but I still found myself a little bored at times. Why? Because the characters are secondary in this film. Only two characters are allowed to develop. The first is the O'Connel's little boy, Alex, and that seems to be more because he is simply the new character. The second is Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia Velazquez), the reincarnated love of Im-Ho-Tep. Everyone else is so busy screaming for help, yelling at each other over the din of destruction, or running away from collapsing architecture that we never get a chance to know them very well. Rick and Evie are in love? We know that from the first film. Jonathan (John Hannah) is a petty thief? We know that from the first film.
In the first 'Mummy', some great special effects were used which added immeasurably to the story. The plague of beetles was neat, scary and horrifying. In 'Returns', the beetles reappear twice for longer periods of time. Sommers also adds a batch of scorpions. In the first film, a great sand storm threatens O'Connell and his fellow adventurers. The sand storm takes the face of Im-Ho-Tep, the creature who created it. In 'Returns', Im-Ho-Tep creates a giant wave of water with his face in it. Yawn.
Sommers seems to have received a free pass to the candy store for this sequel. In addition to the overuse of special effects, he also uses CGI to recreate huge cities. Unfortunately, many of them have the unmistakable look of computer generation. They look like cartoons. Further complicating this is that one of these city scapes is overrun by a large army of darkness. All of these creatures are computer generated. Basically, everything in this shot is the product of CGI, giving us nothing real to look at. When this happens, we look for the unnatural and the screen is just filled with it.
Publicity for 'Returns' features a lot of pictures of The Rock. The Rock was recruited to play The Scorpion King and Universal Pictures apparently thought this was suck a great idea that next summer we will see "The Scorpion King", a prequel, at a multiplex in our neighborhood. Apart from a few minutes at the very beginning of the film, the Rock is not in the film. The big climax featuring the Scorpion King is obviously computer generated, so, in all, The Rock actually appears on screen for about five minutes.
Some of the action scenes are actually fun. My favorite is the fight in the O'Connell's mansion. Each of the O'Connell's is very adept at fighting, but doesn't realize that their loved one is in danger. Many bad guys appear, threatening each of them. Somehow, they make it out of the house. Soon, the chase continues on a double decker bus, also fun.
In no way am I comparing 'The Mummy" to "Raiders of the Lost Ark", but "The Mummy Returns" is very similar to "Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom". Both filmmakers created a very likable film, that was hugely successful. The result? The sequel features a lot more of the same, little of the charm of the original, and much more action. Thankfully, Spielberg was able to achieve the right balance for "Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade". Hopefully, Sommers will spend a little more time on the characters for "The Mummy Returns Yet Again".