The Mummy Returns (PG-13)
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, Freddie Boath, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, The Rock, Oded Fehr
Running Time: 121 minutes
Playing in Bratislava at: Kino Istropolis, Kino Hviezda
Written and directed by: Stephen Sommers
Rating: 1 out of 10
After somehow making over $400 million world-wide on its first go-round, The Mummy is back. Apparently, asinine one-liners, predictable plots, horrendous acting and special effects no better than a hand-held Atari are a big draw among movie-goers.
The film begins in the year 3067 BC with the Scorpion King (played by American pro-wrestler The Rock) leading his fearsome troops into bloody battle in the Egyptian desert. He is defeated and driven deep into the desert where on the verge of death he strikes a deal with Anubis, god of the dead, who lends Scorpion King his army of lightning-quick dogs. These giant dogs possess the uncanny ability to walk on their hind legs, thus freeing up their forelegs to bludgeon opponents with swords and axes.
From that point on (just five minutes into the film), the plot is a mess. Scorpion King is put in a pyramid where "nobody who has seen it has ever returned alive". If that's true, how do they know of it?
The scene switches to the 1930's where we discover that Egyptologist Rick (Fraser) and Evelyn (Weisz) have been married for the nine years since the first Mummy movie left off. They now have an eight year-old son named Alex (Boath), whom they bring along on dangerous trips to Africa as they search for mummies and treasure.
Unwittingly, the couple awaken the mummy Imhotep (Vosloo) while stealing the Scorpion King's bracelet from the bowels of a pyramid. All hell breaks loose as Alex avoids pyramid pirates upstairs. The family is reunited when an underground tidal wave breaks through the walls and drops the parents off in the main chamber, which is by now a wreck. "Mom... Dad... I can explain everything," Alex quips, in the first betrayal of screenwriter Stephen Sommers' complete lack of comic talent.
The rest of the movie is a combination of unbelievable chases (including a hot-air balloon which magically outruns a tidal wave conjured up by Imhotep, and another scene in which mummies run perpendicular to the ground high up on city walls in a cheap rip-off of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon); poor special effects (at times you wonder if the makers intended for the unearthly creatures to look so cartoonish); heavy doses of action-movie character clichés (the reluctant hero, the smart-ass yet spunky kid, the dim-witted twit turned champion, the silent and wise sidekick, the strong villain who is undone by his lack of humanity); and not a single funny line despite many floundering attempts.
What's more, The Mummy Returns fails to even deliver what all action movies must: the spine-tingling, engrossing, oohh and aahh-inspiring last scene. Instead, we get a confusing mishmash of several different battles. The upright dog army - invincible in 3000 BC - is defeated by a heavily outnumbered battalion of desert tribes armed with swords, horses and unbelievably good luck; indeed, after slaying the poor mutts and turning them back into desert sand, it is revealed that the human army suffered zero casualties. Amazing.
All the while, in the hidden pyramid nobody's ever lived to tell about, Rick fights Imhotep in what becomes a grudge match after the mummy's girlfriend kills Evelyn. But then the Scorpion King comes back to life as a 10-foot tall scorpion that looks more like a crayfish, and no one knows who's fighting whom. And wait a minute - Evelyn's back, raised from the dead by Alex and his ability to read Egyptian texts out of magic spell books.
"I thought I'd lost you back there," Rick says to his reborn wife after they're safe back on the hot air balloon. "You did for a moment," she responds. "Would you like to know what heaven looks like?" Oh, the drama... and to think that the makers have promised a third instalment.
17. Jun 2001 at 0:00 | Chris Togneri