Take an idea, never mind that it is the remnant of a previous initiative, breed it within a boxful of sound, feed it a barrel of special effects, and you’ve found yourself a flick that overwhelms the senses (well, at least the physical ones). "The Mummy Returns" is director/screenwriter Stephen Sommer’s sequel to the 1999 action/adventure hit "The Mummy", with about the same cast, and, well, a zillion newcomers in the guise of computer animated sidekicks.
Taking off from the the previous narrative, this one is harnessed to a plot taking off ten years after adventurer Rick O Connell (Brendan Fraser) and hieroglyphic-literate Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) put to rest the spirit of Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), the three thousand-year-old criminal Egyptian Vizier. The year is 1933, and the twosome, having married, now usher a nine-year old onto the sets - son Alex (Freddie Boath), who slaps over his wrist a bracelet that seems to be the key to some hideous Egyptian secret.
The movie opens to the introduction of a new villain, The Scorpion King (The Rock), who pledges his soul to the Demon God Anubis, in exchange for an invincible army that will help him capture the world. In the course of time, these spirited insurgents return to desert dust, from which they arose, to resurface only 5 millennia later (in the year 1993), on the revival of the Scorpion King.
On the other side of town - Britain, to be exact - another rite is in the making, one that will resurrect the old opponent, Imhotep. He and his mob are on a quest to revive the Scorpion King, in order to defeat it, and use its army to (here we go again) conquer the world and, in the process, achieve immortality.
Boath, among the star cast of adults, provides a breather with his juvenile charm, while Fraser is back to his rugged, strapping self. Weisz, compounding beauty with martial skills, makes for a fetching character, while Vosloo, less intimidating than in the first round and The Rock, having put on a more fearsome face in the ring, have only a couple of minutes on celluloid - they have to contend with a computer-generated appearance in the latter half of the film.
Canine-faced soldiers, skeletal mummies, dart-wielding pygmies, mystical oases and golden pyramids are only a fraction of this whimsical flick. While the sets have been expertly assembled, from the dark streets of retro London to the starched sands of the Sahara, Egyptian crypts and gold palaces - the colour and structure added by these have boosted the movie’s credibility by hundreds of points!
The elements of an Arabian-styled allegory, spliced with the age-old routine (race-to-save-humanity) are the grounding for this mega-storeyed edifice. The enormity of this film doesn’t come from extraordinary stage performances, or a terrific script, or even the brilliance of these fantasy-wrought sets, but from the magnitude of the animated special effects. While Academy-Award winner John Berton of Industrial Light and Magic has rendered stunningly grafted sequences, what meets the eye is more forceful than that what touches the mind.
Barely halting, the story is a start-to-end gallop from one set to another, one action round to another, the result being, a complete bombardment of the senses (the cerebral ones this time). It seems like Sommers has decided to sedate his audience with overstated visuals, secretly hoping that they discount the lack of ingenuity and craft prominent in the script.This article was first published on 02 Jul 2001.