- Written and Directed by Stephen Sommers
- May 4, 2001
In an attempt to seize control of Anubis’s army from the legendary Scorpion King, Imhotep is resurrected to take control of them and unleash his terror upon the world.
When I first saw The Mummy Returns many years ago, I only found it okay. I wasn’t disappointed but I didn’t think it was that great either. However on subsequent viewings it has improved in my estimation. It’s not as good as its predecessor mind you but it holds up much better today than it did in 2001.
This is a fun adventure film with a dash of horror for good measure. The Mummy Returns also does a good job of embodying old school movie serials with not only its execution but it’s general feel. There are feats of daring do with heavy amounts of swashbuckling and skin of their teeth escapes for our characters.
Our heroes must save the world from not only Imhotep but from the threat put forth by the power of the Scorpion King’s (Dwayne Johnson) army. Maybe someday I’ll get into the ball fumbling that was the Scorpion King film but not today. That there was a really missed opportunity.
Brendan Fraser returns as Rick O’Connell. Talk about perfect casting. He just looked the part of an old film action hero. Fraser is once again a charming and cocky hero. He is the guy you want to go out on adventure with because you’d be having a fun old time with a good friend AND save the world.
Rachel Weisz comes back as Evelyn O’Connell along with the great John Hannah as her brother Jonathan. Evelyn is not so much a damsel in distress here but an active participant in the story. Sure she does get saved by Rick from time to time but she is capable of doing things herself. It kind of helps that she is the reincarnated daughter of Pharaoh Seti I (Aharon Ipalé) Nefertiri and events jog memories of her past life.
As said before Jonathan is back and in pretty much the same fashion as he was in the last film. He’s become a bit more of a womanizer but not necessarily a bad guy. He knows what he wants and that’s to do as little as possible. Hannah makes him a bit endearing. Not just in a comedic sense but as a character.
Arnold Vosloo as Imhotep could’ve been a two-dimensional monster in lesser hands but turned him into something well-rounded in the last one. Here by the end of the film you actually feel real sorry for Imhotep. Even the people he is trying to kill look is if they feel a little bad as he gets his final disposition. Imhotep sees a chance to get everything back completely this time around and is perhaps a bit blinded by that. The character projects what he felt about his love onto this woman looks like his love. And it is heartbreaking.
Imhotep is joined by the reincarnation of his dead lover Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia Velásquez) in the form of Meela Nais. It’s just her physical form as her spirit is still trapped in the afterlife. Velásquez makes her mortal character as great a danger as Imhotep. You feel like she would knife you over the last of the bacon at the breakfast buffet.
My major problem with this movie is the addition of Rick’s son Alex (Freddie Boath). This was probably why I disliked The Mummy Returns initially. Scratch that. It WAS why I disliked this initially. And it is still the weakest point in the whole movie. You can have a cute kid, but they can’t be just a cute kid. They need to do something to move the story along and not be a source of comic relief or just cuteness.
While weaker than its processor The Mummy Returns does have the best scene of The Mummy films in it. When the villains are trying to track down the Bracelet of Anubis and come to London there are some mummies that chase Rick and everyone who have escaped on a bus. It’s just a really cool balls out action scene with these mummies leaping around and knocking down pedestrians on the street and getting blown up. It is one of those things you rewind and watch again.
Oded Fehr just had to come back as Ardeth Bay. You really could not have done a sequel without him. Izzy Buttons (Shaun Parkes) was a nice introduction to the mix and worked well with not only Rick but Jonathan as well. I just think he needed some more screen time.
The inclusion of the Rock as the Scorpion King was not necessary. He was not a big deal in movies at this point, but they were certainly trying to make him one (which he eventually did become). I think any old musclebound actor could’ve played the part as demonstrated by the sequels to the Scorpion King film.
The Mummy Returns is just fun and bouncy. It takes itself just seriously enough without becoming a complete goof. It is action packed and a thrill ride. Steven Sommers could make good junk. He will never win an Academy Award, but he will entertain you.
The moments with those Anubis dog soldiers are just balls out awesome. The first time they are shown it’s a “Holy fuck!” moment. The second time they come in in the film’s present day it feels so serious and you know the stakes are high. And they look awesome!
This took the concepts introduced in the original original Mummy film and some of the sequels and created something that was entertaining all on its own. It didn’t try to get by on nostalgia. It offered up something unique. It was its own thing. It had the same spirit, and you could see it taking place in the same world even if that was never spelled out.
The Mummy Returns is a sequel that has aged rather well. It’s fun and exciting and rather witty. I currently highly recommend this one.