The Mummy Returns (12)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner14/05/2001

1 star out of 5
Running time: 130 mins

The first of the summer’s blockbusters is a huge disappointment – an effects-driven, misjudged, badly-directed, appallingly written and embarassingly-acted mess of biblical proportions.

If you’ve seen the admittedly fantastic trailer for The Mummy Returns, you could be forgiven for expecting great things. Unfortunately, however, it swiftly becomes clear that the trailer contains the only exciting moments in the entire movie.

What remains is a mess of overblown CGI-effects, bad acting and painfully-unfunny ‘comedy’ moments, coupled with a disastrous script that veers from incoherence to ridiculousness. Worse, the film is actually boring - The Mummy Returns shouldn’t just be avoided, it should be put out of its misery…

The film is set eight years after the events of the first film, and Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn are now married and have a young son, Alex (the, to be fair, only marginally-annoying Freddy Boath). While doing what appears to be a spot of pyramid-restoration, they come across a special bracelet and take it back to London with them, only to discover that the bracelet holds the key to the resurrection of The Scorpion King (wrestling star The Rock, who is apparently already signed up for a ‘prequel’ movie) – the leader of the hellhound armies Anubis in 3000 B.C.

When the bracelet attaches itself to Alex’s arm, it isn’t long before theO’Connells find themselves pursued by The Scorpion King’s devotees (including, apparently, an army of rabid pygmies), and Alex is snatched and whisked off to Egypt with his parents in hot pursuit.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Imhotep, the Mummy from the original film has also managed to get both himself (Arnold Vosloo) and his lover Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia Velasquez) resurrected again and is similarly in pursuit of the bracelet! The seemingly-simple plot is seriously hampered by focussing on too many central characters, many of whom we simply don’t care about.

Thus, as well as the Mummy and the O’Connells, we also follow Alun Armstrong’s greedy curator, a separate group of inept criminals and Oded Fehr’s desert warrior (also reprising his role from the first film) – the film drags interminably when these characters are onscreen for any length of time, and it’s difficult to tell exactly who wants what from whom.

As well as the script’s incoherence, it also has completely ridiculous moments that will have you choking in disbelief – for instance, at one point, Rick, carrying his son, has to reach a pyramid before the light of the rising sun. All very well, except the pyramid appears to be a good few kilometres away when he starts running and yet there he is, sunlight hot on his heels as he races towards his goal.

Admittedly, a certain amount of suspension of disbelief in a film about Mummies is a given necessity, but this is just ridiculous. It doesn’t stop there. The acting is appalling, even from the normally-reliable Fraser. Hannah shamelessly mugs his way through the entire thing and Armstrong is no better – in fact only Weisz emerges with credibility more or less intact.

There’s also a supremely misjudged ‘comedy’ turn from Shaun Parkes as balloon-pilot Izzy – in fact all the supposedly funny lines in the film seem forced and awkward and fall embarrassingly flat.

Naturally, a large part of the film is dependent on the special-effects, and while it’s true that they are both undeniably impressive and a vast improvement on the effects of the previous film, you may find yourself suffering from an SFX-overdose by the end.

All the creatures and set-pieces from the first film are re-used and made ‘bigger’, and yet there’s nothing that equals the fun and excitement of the skeleton army fights in the first film. Also, the final incarnation of The Scorpion King is poorly-handled and not remotely scary. In fact, the film itself resembles nothing more than a protracted video game, with the Big Scary Monster to kill at the end.

Perhaps the most-anticipated scene from the trailer is the elaborate metal-bikini-clad knife-duel between Weisz and Velasquez, and, admittedly, this is the best part of the film. The only problem is that the main duel scene is between characters in 3000 BC, and when the modern-day characters finally meet to duel for ‘real’, the scene is, for some unknown reason, unexpectedly cut short, ruining one of the film’s most-anticipated moments.

All in all, then, The Mummy Returns is an unmitigated disaster, though its success in the States will no doubt be repeated here in spite of damning reviews.

Do yourself a favour, though, and avoid this film if at all humanly possible – we deserve more from our blockbusters than this. If you want to see digital effects and monsters combined to winning effect, then save your money, wait a few weeks and then go and see Shrek a few times instead.

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Content updated: 23/10/2017 01:32

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