MUMMY RETURNS, THE
Reviewed October 15th, 2001 by James Thomas
There are serious movies, and there are fun movies; The Mummy Returns definitely falls into the latter category. It isn’t a bad thing, being a fun movie; think James Bond. With a James Bond film, you are not expecting realism constantly; you know it is going to be goofy some of the time, and that is OK; that is FUN. The Mummy Returns is fun. I always looked at the first Mummy movie as being “Indiana Jones Lite”, and this one is “Indiana Jones, More Lite”. It definitely tries to follow in Indy’s footsteps, but has a way to go. I enjoyed the first movie, although at the time I thought the story was weak. The story is much weaker in the second movie, but still I enjoyed it (it is fun, remember?). The Mummy Returns is heavy on action and effects, which make up for any weaknesses in the story line.
This installment in the series finds our hero Rick O’Connell (played by Brendan Fraser), and heroine Evelyn O’Connell (played by Rachel Weisz), doing battle once again with Imotep, the Mummy. They are joined in the cast by newcomer Freddie Boath as Alex, the O’Connell’s son, as well as most of the cast of the first movie. We find the movie is set eight years after the first, and this time Imotep is really bent on becoming immortal, but first he has to defeat the Scorpion King (played by The Rock) in battle, and control his other-worldly army. Alex is the key to the whole thing; through his own mischief, he has involuntarily become the possessor of the key to awaken The Scorpion King. This key (actually a bracelet) is sought after by Imotep and Co., resulting in the kidnapping of Alex, his parents attempt to recover him throughout most of the movie, and eventually requiring Rick to do battle with the supernatural foes. Not too serious on the material here, just a lot of fun. The action throughout the movie was spectacular, and the fighting scenes were very well choreographed, seeming almost Matrix-like at times. The initial hand to hand battle in the O’Connell home is great, as is the bus/mummy chase scene; you’ll have to watch it for yourselves to see what I mean.
While most of the cast does a pretty bang-up job, Freddie Boath as Alex, is the standout performer in this movie; excellent acting and quite funny. Brendan Fraser on the other hand, just seems hokey; hokier than a hokey movie requires, which I thought was the case in the first movie as well. Indiana Jones and James Bond are hokey in their movies too, but well acted. Brendan Fraser just doesn’t pull it off, and is very unconvincing. That aside, I enjoyed the movie anyway.
The DVD is a great DVD to own. I found the 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer to be great; I noted a bit of a red tint on the darker, indoor scenes, but otherwise it was excellent. I am a huge proponent of DTS, but the Dolby Digital 5.1-EX mix was incredible. I definitely don’t feel I missed much by not having DTS as an option on this one; the sound was crisp and clear, sound effects awesome (the impact of explosions were phenomenal), great use of surrounds. It doesn’t get much better than this, sound-wise. My system is only 5.1 capable right now, so I didn’t get a chance to take advantage of the EX option, but as is the mix was incredible; I can only imagine what it would sound like with a center rear speaker.
Effects-wise, the movie was awesome, except for one; The Scorpion King at the end. I don’t know what the problem was with the effects guys on the movie; after doing such a fantastic job on the rest of the movie, they really dropped the ball with The Scorpion King. It looked so fake that it was almost comical, rather than sinister; I felt like I was watching a scene out of an old Sinbad movie or something. Beyond that, the effects and cinematography were totally choice.
Extras were abundant, and included: an interview with The Rock, a trailer for the upcoming “The Scorpion King” movie, outtakes, commentary, a “making of”, “The Mummy Returns” trailer, music videos, and so on; too much to list. I actually haven’t even had time to go through all of the extras, as it’d probably take the better part of a day.
As I have said before, there are renters, and there are keepers. This one is a keeper. If you like the action of the Indiana Jones flicks, or if you are a fan of the first Mummy movie, go out and add this to your collection; you’ll be pleased that you did.
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