Guest review by Michael Flores
The last year has been an economic bloodbath for Hollywood. Serious dramas and adult topic movies have been critically applauded, and have died at the box office. The year before, psychotronic films brought in megabucks, and The Mummy Returns may be the film to bring Hollywood back to its senses. And what a feast for the senses The Mummy Returns is.
The film has nothing much to do with Karl Freund’s slow-moving, soap-operatic Mummy of 1932. It owes far more to Harryhausen, Lucas and the old Republic movie serials (such as the classic cliffhanger Nyoka) and is more of a throwback to the films Hollywood made for young boys for Saturday afternoon matinees. Writer and director Stephan Sommers finds the perfect balance of action and story to make this the thrill ride of summer 2001.
The Mummy Returns has more of everything that dazzled us away from the fact that its 1999 predecessor had virtually no plot, and then goes beyond that. We have bugs, corpses, mummies that can run at high speeds along the wall, skeletal pygmies that feast on flesh, not just one sexy catfight but two sexy catfights, jackal warriors and the Scorpion King. The Mummy Returns takes place eight years after we first met Rick O’Connell (the ads may look like The Rock is the star, but this film is clearly Brendan Fraser’s) and he and Evelyn, played by Rachel Weisz, now have a child. Now I don’t like kid actors as a general rule, but nine-year-old Freddie Booth as Alex manages to steal whole sections of the film by being a foulmouthed, “anti-cute” son. The three are joined by Evelyn’s brother Jonathan, played by John Hannah. The plot, thin as it once again is, concerns a battle over a gauntlet that will control the army of Anubis. It is hard to say why we as Christians have such a fascination with the religions of ancient Egypt, with gods that no one believes in anymore somehow rousing deeper feelings in our subconscious. The Mummy Returns plays this to the hilt, hurling ancient religious symbols at us along with the scantily clad battling women, tons of bugs and mummies running amok.
The only disappointment is the cameo of The Rock as the Scorpion King. He is hardly in the film, although he is clearly a force to be reckoned with in the awesome opening battle scene. His return at the end is not convincing, but by that point you already feel like you have been on one epic odyssey. The Mummy Returns demonstrates once again the power of Hollywood to do what theatre and novels cannot do — present spectacle beyond what we can imagine. As I walked out of the theater, I could hear kids begging their parents to let them stay and see the movie again. It is as close to what kids experienced in the 1950s and 1960s films of Ray Harryhausen that they will get, and will no doubt inspire just as many future special effects wizards. The Mummy Returns doesn’t just kick open the door for the return of psychotronic movies, it knocks down the entire wall.