The Mummy Returns
Written and directed by Stephen Sommers

Starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz


The Mummy Returns

Don't take this the wrong way, but I want you to know that in this film archeologist Rachel Weisz, wife of adventurer Brendan Fraser and mummy to young son Freddie Boath, does in fact return from the dead. And you thought titles didn't mean anything anymore. You see, she was Nefertiti in a past life, which allows her to come back if the right spell is spoken. Hate me if you want to; I've given you half the plot of the film. The other half - well, as a matter of fact there isn't another half. There's action, God knows there's action, but action is not the same as plot. Plot requires thought, organization and reasoning on the part of the creators, whereas "The Mummy Returns" simply sets its people down in a long list of different places and has them fight each other. Each time they pick themselves up and march off to the next set and do it all over again.

That doesn't mean "The Mummy Returns" isn't enjoyable. It's actually a little bit better than "The Mummy," which preceded it in 1999, but both are good examples of thoroughly undernourished film writing. In trying to make another version of an Indiana Jones film, writer-director Stephen Sommers forgot to put in enough wit -- jokes, one-liners, asides and physical gags -- something that Steven Spielberg and his writers knew how to do.

Brendan Fraser is a pro, and gives every line his best shot, but they are too few and far between to save the film. Rachel Weisz handles her lines well, as do young son Freddie and returning cowardly brother John Hannah. But Sommers has latched on to a structure that minimizes every human impulse and focuses on the endless battles among the various titans he's put into his story of - well, let's see: There's the magic bracelet, which finds its way to Freddie's wrist. There's the love between Imhotep and Anck-Su-Namun, also known as Meela (Patricia Velasquez). And there's Imhotep (the underused Arnold Vosloo) who must now turn Darth Vader to his own boss the Scorpion King (played, if that's the word, by The Rock, about whom no doubt you know more than I. There are temples crashing galore, races to beat the sun to a pyramid, great walls of water, and ten million dog-soldiers all generated by computer, fighting a handful of faithful heroes, all generated by humans, and (in 1933) a jet-powered hot-air dirigible (don't ask).

Have I mentioned the music? Triple fortissimo for two solid hours, not underlining anything on screen but rather crushing it underfoot. Between the horns, the drums, and the sound effects as temple after temple is destroyed, we in the audience are likely to lose ten decibels of hearing before the film ends. If only it were in a better cause.