The Mummy meets the Indiana Joneses
The Mummy Returns
Review by Ross Anthony

A comicbook tale that tracks like a theme park ride focusing on special effects and swashbuckling action/adventure. I suspect few adults will be impressed, but younger kids ought to love it.

Let's start this review with the film's forte - special effects. They just aren't as The Mummy Returnsspecial as the first "Mummy," nor as effective. Audiences are like those flesh-eating beetles when it comes to new technology in visual imaging ... we eat it up in seconds. We love anything new, devour it in an instant, then the next, our appetite expects a higher level prey. While the action seldom stops, "The Mummy Returns" offers less impressive originality in its visual smorgasbord. Several old effects get recycled (face in a cloud of smoke, etc.), and what should have been an awesome army of Egyptian dog soldiers looks suspiciously "Phantom Menacing." For my money, computer-generated armies just aren't scary, worthy foes. In fact, save for a clan of dusty guards that attack our double-decker bus-riding heroes in the film's most exciting sequence, little in this picture is creepy, scary, or "menacing" -- rather all in a day's work.

Jumping straight way into the plot, character backstory is intentionally neglected till midway when we discover some interesting history. Interesting, though unfortunately, less than endearing. These cartoony characters are so far from real that adults won't make any sympathetic connections. Kids, however, might get caught up in the fantasy. Speaking of kids, this go-round includes a 10-year old child (the son of the now married pyramid-storming couple). His involvement in the escapades gives yet another reason your kids might well enjoy this picture.

While under capture, he fearlessly rebuts the powerful mummy, "My dad's gonna kick your *ss!" (Perhaps the production's only cuss word). The filmmakers ought to have The Mummy Returnsheeded this prediction. Further, while every adult in the picture seems to be running around with superpowers, the boy has only two modest tastes of the action and those conclude early. The rest of the film he's chained up, seemingly at the will of powerful rivals; even though he is the sole wearer of a bracelet that supposedly has the power to destroy life on the planet. For goodness sake, let the boy kick some butt too!

Done well:
The first female dagger fight scene (the second is less spectacular). A subtle character contrast: Weisz tiptoes through a basement full of scorpions, while Fraser just trudges right on top of them as if they were ants. The double-decker bus sequence creates good tension. A boy and sling-shot project a few zingers. A fumbling bad guy corrects his partner's drawn gun away from fellow thug's head - very funny, The Mummy Returnswell timed. Weisz's visions are compelling. A full on mummy kiss momentarily grosses. And lastly, though characterizing a foolish old man, Alun Armstrong, in a small part, gives the film its most believable actor.

Needing Improvement:
Fraser, on foot, chases the bad guys over an ascending drawbridge. What a great variation to the car chase cliche! My eyes widen, anticipation escalates ... Will Brendan jump the gap? Or miss? But instead of dropping Fraser in the river below, they drop the ball. Our heroes balloon a Terry Gilliam-esque craft through some African canyons (no doubt filmed in the SW USA), the Mummy raises the river below into a wall of water complete with an ogling impression of his face. Suffice to say that first impressions mean everything, and second impressions fall flat on their faces like any excitement generated by that scene. Lastly, why did our heroes believe the Mummy regarding the 'death at sunset' bracelet rule?

The film opens powerfully, wielding its best action and humor; but the slate of obstacles that follow becomes a bit tiresome. Of course, for the pre-puberty crowd, the plot swings from twist to twist with enough action to cover up the shady logic; ticket-buying parents, however, will just have to find their satisfaction in having shown their kids a good time.

See Also: Ross' Review of the Universal Studio Ride, The Mummy Returns: Chamber of Doom

  • The Mummy Returns. Copyright © 2001. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Oded Fehr, Patricia Velasquez, Freddie Boath, Alun Armstron, and THE ROCK as the Scorpion King.
  • Written and Directed by Stephen Sommers.
  • Produced by James Jacks and Sean Daniel at Universal/Alphaville.

Adult's Grade .............................. B-
Kid's Grade ................................ A

Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:03:54 PDT