It's no Raiders of the Lost Ark, but The Mummy Returns will do until Harrison Ford decides to don Indiana Jones' trademark hat again.
This sequel to 1999's hit The Mummy is long on special effects and even longer on fun, as the former Legionnaire Rick O'Connell again battles the resurrected forces of ancient evil, including Imhotep, the high priest and assassin of Pharaoh Seti I.
Director/screenwriter Stephen Sommers, who gave us The Mummy, obviously loves his creation and balances the even-more-lavish special effects and action with a great deal of visual and verbal humor and the same appealing cast from the original film: Brendan Fraser as Rick; Rachel Weisz as the Egyptologist Evie; John Hannah as Evie's reprobate brother, Jonathan; Oded Fehr as the mysterious man of the desert, Ardeth Bay; Arnold Vosloo as Imhotep, and Patricia Velasquez in a beefed-up role as Imhotep's beloved, Anck-Su-Namun.
Make no mistake: The only food for thought in The Mummy Returns is the popcorn being munched in the audience. Sommers presents a traditional summer action-adventure, but he cares enough about his cast and audience, and yes, even a future sequel, to present a high-quality product. And if he borrows ideas from sources as diverse as Indiana Jones and Elizabeth Peters' Egyptian detective stories, at least he's borrowing from the best.
The gleeful fun all begins in 1933, about a decade after Rick, Evie, and Jonathan managed to send Imhotep back to the world of the dead. Rick and Evie are married and have an 8-year-old son, Alex (Freddie Boath). On a dig in Egypt, they discover the bracelet of Anubis and return home to London.
There, some very bad men kidnap Alex and the bracelet, taking both to the bowels of the British Museum, where they are going to resurrect Imhotep. They need him, you see, to fight the Scorpion King, another Egyptian bad guy, who, according to legend, walks the earth every 5,000 years, carrying destruction in his wake. Not that Imhotep is a sensitive New Age guy; he's every bit as nasty as the Scorpion King. Apparently the bad guys are reasoning that as long as evil is going to walk the earth, they may as well be on the winning side. If they wake up Imhotep and give him the bracelet, he'll be so grateful, he'll protect them.
With their son in jeopardy, Rick and Evie have no choice but to save the world. And though Jonathan is far less concerned about the future, his nephew is another matter.
One of the great pleasures of The Mummy Returns is the interaction of Rick, Evie, and Alex as a family. These three love each other, no question, which is a nice touch. Alex, who initially seemed to be overly precocious, becomes an appealing kid: bright and plucky, but a long way from a superhero.
While family values may be one of the foundations of The Mummy Returns, there's no lack of action, including a great chase scene in London involving a double-decker bus, some old cars, and a bunch of mummies.
For the rest of the two-hour screen time, Sommers and crew throw in hissing serpents, clicking scarabs, pygmy skeleton hordes, and the resurrected dog-faced troops of Anubis. Oh yes, and the Scorpion King, played by the World Wrestling Federation's The Rock.
The best that can be said about him?
Don't quit your day job, fella.
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