Mummy Returns, The
Reviewed by Scott Murdock
Rating: 6.5 Beans
ow, I must have been one of the lucky millions of people who got to see a sneak preview of this film a couple of years ago back when it was just called "The Mummy".
Seriously. This was the exact same film, with a different "skin" on it. It's like when a Pizza Hut goes out of business and then a Chinese restaurant moves into the empty building. They might change the curtains and the decor and the menu, but when you drive down the road you still notice that it's a Pizza Hut building.
Sure, there are a couple of new twists, such as more villains, family life, and a kid. Likewise at the former Pizza Hut building you get a fortune cookie when you leave and egg drop soup instead of breadsticks. But it's still the same building.
Virtually every scene in this film is analogous to a scene in the original. The items, settings, and characters may be a little different, but the action taking place is identical.
The movie is a special effects extravaganza. It's too bad the effects are so TERRIBLE. I mean, they are downright clumsy and amateurish. There are VERY FEW films that have been able to employ CGI well. In most films the CGI effects looks like hokey cartoon characters. In this film Tex Avery could have drawn more realistic effects. The characters on "South Park" move in a more lifelike way than the creatures in this film do.
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The movie attempts to set up suspensful, shocking, and emotional situations, but every single one fails. There's no reason for concern that the world might end in a film that is set neary 70 years ago. There's no reason to feel sad about a tragic personal loss when we are all aware of a nearby source of magical spells that can make everything right. And there's no shock value when the situations are so far fetched and ridiculous that the storyline even has to resort to several expositions about fate, divine intervention, and reincarnation in order to try to offer some sort of explanation for why so many outlandish coincidences have to occur in order to make this story work.
But sometimes it take more than bizarre coincidence to progress this tale, it takes complete distortions of the laws of space and time.
First off we have the overworked cliche of recent years in which people can outrun a wall of water crashing in behind them. But as if this is not enough, we later get to see a rocket-powered dirigible (yes, you read that correctly) outrun a giant wave. (This of course is thanks to the rocket engines, somehow available to a dirt-poor pilot living in the desert several years before similar technology was available to any major military powers.) The dirigible is not so lucky when a second wave approaches, but thankfully after running out of fuel and instantly coming to a dead stop (violating certain laws of motion) the airship is merely lightly batted by the gigantic wave.
It's not just water that people can outrun, they can also outrun sunrise. That's right, somehow our hero and his little boy are able to push their little legs to propel themselves to speeds greater than 900 miles per hour in order to reach their destination faster than the speed of the Earth's rotation.
There seem to be other astronomical odditiess taking place as well. All the action takes place over a period of about 10 days... yet the moon is full every night.
On another topic, how about ripoffs? Apart from the obvious copying from the first film as well as all the obvious ripoffs of the Indiana Jones trilogy, there seems to be material taken from all over the place here. We have a climax involving three separate simultaneous battles that is virtually identical to the climax of "The Phantom Menace". We have a little boy survive a fall from a great height and then acccidently rescue his parents by using a means identical to how Indy and Marian escaped from the Well of Souls in "Raiders of the Lost Ark". We have a blimp (that looks like a cross between the flying ship in "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" and a baked potato) that moves like the Millennium Falcon and makes a rescue akin to Luke's rescue at Cloud City. Then there's the dirigible pilot, who is probably one of the most blatant racial stereotypes since Jar Jar Binks. But wait, there's more. "Gremlins" gets ripped off (either that or these are pissed off Ewoks) in a sequence that also brings back memories of "Jurassic Park".
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The film's title is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, Imhotep (the mummy) does indeed return. But, he's in mummy form for only about 5 minutes of screen time and in fact is in the film for about 15, maybe 20 minutes tops. He doesn't really have any powers to speak of for very long and is never really truly all that threatening. There is even a ploy at the end of the film to try to make us even feel a little sympathy for the guy, but you have to still be awake by then to see it.
In fact, this film is very lacking in actual mummies. I don't recall seeing any mummies at all in any of the Egypt sequences, which make up the majority of the film. There were a handful of throwaway cheap-scare mummies at the museum in London and four mummy "henchmen" in London who manage to create an almost passable action sequence on a double-decker bus, but this is all in the first third of the film. After that, I don't think there was a single mummy. (Resurrected Ewoks and jackal-men don't count as mummies in my book.)
The real bad guy in this film is The Scorpion King, who is not a mummy in the traditional sense. Though vast armies have fallen to this dude, Brendan Frasier makes short work of him. This is thanks largely to the fact that IN THE SCORPION KING'S PALACE is a handy "How To Kill Me In Three Easy Steps" wall chart in giant-type heiroglyphics that a stoned baboon could interpret. This is an important safety reminder... instructions on how you can be killed should be displayed in more discreet locations.
Honestly, tonight was the first time in my life I ever caught myself dozing off while watching an action/adventure film at the theater on opening night.
"The Mummy Returns" is rated PG-13 for brief resurrected-Ewok-creature nudity and violent killings of animated GIFs.
Other reviews for this movie:
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