“The Mummy Returns” wants to be an “Indiana Jones” movie so bad you can almost taste it, but the many aspects of the film that fall short doom it to mediocrity. Like “The Mummy,” this sequel borrows heavily from Spielberg”s holy trilogy, and although it is entertaining, it is a far cry from the great action-adventure films of the past.
It is 1933, and it has been roughly a decade since the close of the last film. Reluctant adventurer Rick O”Connell (Brendan Fraser) and librarian Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) have married and have an 8-year-old son Alex (Freddie Boath). While excavating an ancient tomb in Egypt, they discover an ancient bracelet that belonged to The Scorpion King (Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. The Rock), a warrior who gave his soul to the dark god Anubis in exchange for The Scorpion King”s victory on Earth. The bracelet is the key to power over the army of Anubis (which is comprised of sword wielding dog demons) and will also unleash The Scorpion King, who will most likely be in a bad mood after spending a few thousand years in the underworld.
Meanwhile, a plot to reawaken Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), the evil creature from “The Mummy,” is afoot, for only he is powerful enough to defeat The Scorpion King and take control of his army. Since neither character would be a desirable leader for a powerful army of the underworld, the O”Connells are swept into a race against time that brings them back to Egypt.
The movie is chock full of action sequences that are enthralling and visually stunning, but is so focused on the visuals effects and the action itself that there is not much in the way of character development.
The dialogue is also a weak point, as it is not only cheesy and unbelievable, but is somehow too modern. It”s missing the subtlety that can make or break an action movie, and although there are a few solid lines, most of the dialogue seems only to fill space between explosions, tidal waves and mummy attacks.
Writer/director Stephen Sommers made several other critical errors when making this film. First of all, the plot relies too heavily on the first film, and very little of the sequel feels fresh and new.
One of the most egregious flaws in the film is that the protagonist has a family. The whole point of action-adventure films is that the hero has no ties. Think of James Bond, or our favorite whip-toting archaeologist.