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IN SHORT: Buy the really popcorn. [Rated PG-13 for Sensuality, Some Language. 124 minutes]
Two things first: We've got major coverage on the first legit summer release -- yeah we know it's only the first week of May. Summer starts early in movieland -- with StarTalk interviews with Brendan Fraser and Oded Fehr, the good guys, and Arnold Vosloo and Patricia Velasquez, the Mummy and his wench. Oh am I gonna pay for that crack. Thank Paul Fischer for the work -- you won't find interviews with Fraser anywhere but here ('cuz he didn't do the press junket). As well as chat, we've got a full dozen Wallpapers from both movies, available for your desktops.
We remind y'all that this site has a stated policy that says you shouldn't have to know the Source Material to enjoy a movie, which is why we don't make comparisons to books or whatnot. When a movie is a sequel to another, we allow some leeway. We'd have to allow a lot of leeway for The Mummy Returns because, if you haven't looked at the "original" lately, this flick leaves you hanging out to dry for at least its first hour. Once you hit the second hour, even if you don't give a damn about the good guys or the dangerous situations they face, the action and effects are overwhelming. Buy the super-sized popcorn combo and take a deep breath before the film starts. Stephen Sommers won't let you catch another one for a good long time.
If you don't recall The Mummy and don't want to wait that first hour we'll catch you up in two sentences. First Location: Thebes, 3067 BC where The Scorpion King (Dwayne Johnson aka WWF wrestler The Rock) sells his soul to the god Anubis in return for power and the defeat of his enemies. More on this when The Scorpion King movie hits the bigscreen in 2002. Second Location: Thebes, 1719 BC A forbidden love between the evil high priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) and the incredibly lovely Anck-Su-Namum ( Patricia Velasquez) is uncovered and condemned by Pharaoh, who is murdered by the pair. Anck-Su-Namum suicides and Imhotep is wrapped and buried alive. Thus, the Mummy. Full speed ahead.
Egypt, 1933. Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser), American adventurer, his wife Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) and eight year old son Alex (Freddie Boath) still excavate and find danger in the ruins of dynasties long dead. What they've discovered, we think, is the untouched burial site of the aforementioned Scorpion King which includes all the King's implements of power. The "Bracelet of Anubis," which Alex accidentally locks around his wrist will guide he boy to the location from which the Scorpion King will rise and lead the Armies of Anubis in their conquest of the world. According to the script, he does this once every 5,000 years (you do the math to figure out why this doesn't quite make sense continuity wise. Now slap yourself for doing the math and wasting time better spend watching extraordinary CGI battle scenes unfold on the big screen). The Scepter of Osiris, being lugged around London by Evelyn's ne'er do well brother Jonathan (Jon Hannah), is the one weapon which can kill the Scorpion King.
Li'l Alex is fair game for the allies of Imhotep, who have restored The Mummy to life with the help of the reincarnated Meela (Velasquez as Anck-Su-Namum in modern clothes) and a turncoat curator of the British Museum. If The Mummy can defeat the Scorpion King, then the Armies of Anubis are his to command (and the Earth, therefore, is doomed). With Alex kidnapped, it is all that Rick and Evelyn and Jonathan can do to track the evildoers down and rescue the boy before he is destroyed by a curse laid on by the bracelet on his wrist. Their only aid is provided by an Army of Magii led by Ardeth Bay (Oded Fehr), also returning from the first movie. They must battle legions of dog-headed soldiers, all a new generation of CGI effects. If Imhotep kills the Scorpion King, we're doomed. If Rick can get there first and do the dirty deed, we're saved, except for one small catch -- there's always a small catch.
Yep, sure sounds confusing as hell. Simply, the good guy Rick must save his wife, his kid, and the world. Not necessarily in that order but all in good time. And in the spirit of fairness, his wife takes on more than her share of fighting responsibilities, facing off against the evil reincarnated Princess in a grudge match close to 3,000 years old. Reincarnation as a story element? You bet, and it's one of the clearest subplots of the bunch. The big selling point is that, even if you don't care, by the time everything reaches the story climax, the effects and hand to hand battles attain a level of coolness that even the most blasé (that would be us) cannot ignore. Thousands of dog faced soldiers sweeping across the desert. Huge battle axes gleaming in torchlight. One hell of a cat fight grudge match...
Ah heck, buy the big popcorn and sit as close to the big screen as possible.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Mummy Returns, he would have paid . . .
We've suffered through the last four months with only two better movies to recommend. There is nothing here that won't make it suitable to lug the ten year olds -- Mummy Returns is a bit more violent than the first one but when the bad guys fall apart into piles of sand, fantasy is fantastic. Effects this good need to be seen on the big screen and there's enough action to keep it all fun, even if you're not drawn in.
Sometimes we feel our age . . .
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