Directed by: Stephen Sommers
Written by:Stephen Sommers
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Freddie Boath
Released: May 10, 2001
Grade: C+

This time last year, I wrote about the tradition of the first week in May providing the first big “blockbuster” of the year.  In the past five years we’ve had Twister, The Lost World, Deep Impact, The Mummy and Gladiator.   The later went on to win the Academy Award (after a lacklustre year I might add) but I guarantee The Mummy Returns won’t be following in the same footsteps.

Our triumphant pair, Rick (Fraser) and Evie (Weisz), are back and this time they’re with their 8-year-old son, Alex (Boath).  When young Alex puts on a valuable Egyptian gold bracelet, he unleashes a force that threatens to destroy the planet (again).  The bracelet will guide him to a hidden pyramid where a legend known as the Scorpion King will return from the underworld and obliterate all standing in his way.  Also wanting to unlock powers of his own is Rick’s previous arch-rival, Im-Ho-Tep (Vosloo), who kidnaps Alex to ensure he gets to the temple first.

I loathed the original and this isn’t much better but do concede this film is improved by relaxing and increasing the craziness of the scenario.  There is an unrelenting and ridiculous amount of action offering little room for much else.  Dialogue is minimal and it’s only a bold music score combined with really, really, really loud sound effects that’ll keep you watching (and stop you falling asleep).  Again, this works in the film’s favour because the cast’s intended humour rarely impresses.  Fraser is too sarcastic and John Hannah’s jokes are obvious and tiring.  The only cast member with spark is Boath who’s innocence will rub off on audiences.

Special effects are becoming a feature of every film and I believe that whilst we can create effects never possible before, directors are becoming too reliant on them in thinking that great effects make a great movie.  Think of famous trilogies like Star Wars (currently screening on Showtime) and Indiana Jones.  The visual effects look primitive today but it’s the heart of the story that made those films as successful and memorable as they are today.  In ten years time, is anyone going to even remember that The Mummy Returns was made let alone what it was about?

It’s a disturbing trend.  The Mummy Returns just set a box-office record in America for the biggest 3-day opening in history.  Big studios are spending big dollars to advertise their big films to recoup the big bucks they’ve spent on big special effects.  As a mathematician, I could say that the amount of money a film will make is correlated to the cost of its visual effects.  Tell me if I’m wrong but isn’t a film supposed to be about the story?