The Mummy Returns (2001)


I think the most significant thing about The Mummy Returns is it was The Rock’s feature film debut. I say feature film, because he had been wrestling for some time before that, and anyone who has seen the WWE can probably attest to the fact that there is certainly some acting involved. It is hard to believe that this bit part (which amounts to not much more than a few shots of Dwayne Johnson shirtless and sword fighting) would lead to him becoming one of the biggest names in Hollywood and ‘franchise Viagra’ for an old series that needs a jolt (I’m looking at you Fast and the Furious). This small role ended up getting a spin off called The Scorpion King, which is very underrated and set Johnson on the path he finds himself today.

The rest of this film is somewhat ordinary. Brendan Fraser is back as the dashing Rick O’Connell, now married to Evie (Rachel Weisz), with a young son, Alex (Freddie Boath). When a cult resurrects Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) again with the intention of using the power of the mythical Scorpion King (Johnson) to vanquish their enemies, Rick and Evie get caught up in the adventure. Their son inadvertently stumbles onto a map that leads to the tomb of the Scorpion King. The cult kidnap the boy and force him to show them the way. Rick and Evie are in pursuit as Alex manages to leave breadcrumbs for his parents to follow. Rick and Evie, along with returning characters, Jonathan (John Hannah) and Ardeth (Oded Fehr), race across the desert to stop Imhotep from unleashing the power of the Scorpion King and rescue their son.

Outside of this being The Rock’s screen debut, there is not much else to write. Fraser is charming as usual, and while this film made money, it certainly wasn’t the hit he deserved. I mentioned in my review for The Mummy that it is a shame he has not been able to be the leading man he should be. Whether that is poor film choice or just not being able to separate himself from other actors enough, I feel he deserved better than what his career ended up being. Outside of the Mummy films, Fraser is perhaps best known as George of the Jungle or Pauly Shore’s unfrozen caveman friend. Not something one would feel good about putting on a resume.

The action here is fun enough. Little Alex does get quite annoying at time, and you wonder why his parents weren’t watching him a little closer knowing the kind of mischief he would be getting up to (Or what he was even doing in Egypt with them in the first place. Shouldn’t he have been at school?). I feel like this film’s events could have easily been avoided had Alex had some boundaries and better parenting.

There are some nice action set pieces in The Mummy Returns, though, particularly a chase through the city of London on a double decker bus. This film is entertaining enough, but it doesn’t tell us anything the first movie hadn’t already spelled out for us. Rick is roguish and charming, Evie is a clumsy bookworm, and her brother is a womanising thief. All of those character traits are on show in the sequel, except now they seem stale.

The Mummy Returns doesn’t hit the highs of its predecessor. Outside of some fun action sequences, the most redeeming feature of this sequel is that it gave Dwayne Johnson the start he needed in films.

Rating: C-

I wanted so badly to like The Mummy Returns. It’s predecessor is far from perfect, but it is a lot of fun to watch. This is such a bland retread of the original story that it’s hardly worth watching. Which is funny, because Ben actually owned this movie before owning The Mummy.

There’s a lot wrong with this sequel. For starters, it begins with the unoriginal and uninspired set up that Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz’s characters (Rick and Evie, respectively) are now married and have a kid. This is my least favorite couple follow up, just edging out the “this couple is now divorced/separated” plot. It’s so overdone by this point and makes the plot of this movie incredibly predictable. Of course their son is going to wind up in mortal danger due to his curiosity and his parents’ lack of supervision. I would have preferred that the table’s be turned in this film, with Rick being put in danger and needing Evie to save him. Yes, this plot’s been done to death as well, but at least it doesn’t require the introduction of a precocious know-it-all.

The real problem with The Mummy Returns is that there is zero character development. The Mummy wasn’t a hugely character driven piece, but you did get a sense of who everyone was and their motivations. Returns is just action, action, action with no heart. Everybody involved seems bored or tired, with the exception of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Of course, this was his acting debut, so he probably should be the most excited.

As hard as I try, I can’t ever enjoy The Mummy Returns the way I do its predecessor. Everything is there– action, adventure, special effects. It just doesn’t feel as fun this time around.

Rating: D

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