(In theaters, May 2001) Wheee! I’ve always been a fan of roller-coaster movies, and that certainly accounts for my irrational praise of the 1999 “original” The Mummy film, a great unpretentious blend of comedy, action and adventure. The sequel is, believe it or not, nearly as good. While not as comic as the first film, The Mummy Returns is a wonderful action/adventure thrill-ride, a good-natured spectacle that might not be in any way smart, but is certainly so well-done that you’ll ask for more. Sure, the film rips-off almost every previous films of the genre (including stealing the most memorable “domino comedy” and the “face in particle storm” images from the prequel), but as long as we’re having fun -and we are!-, it’s hard to be left unmoved. Oodles of action -so much that it might numb you, but not as repetitive as, say, the last hour of Armageddon-, a sympathetic kid, a gorgeous (and butt-kicking) Rachel Weisz, square-jawed action hero Brendan Fraser… c’mon, grab your pop-corn, already! The story is surprisingly well-tied with the first film. The special effects are nearly omnipresent, but the level of quality differs wildly, going from amateurish to flawless. A great self-knowing grand-scale B-film. A perfect summer blockbuster.
(Second viewing, On DVD, April 2002) There is both good and bad in this sequel, but it maintains most of the charm of the original film. Rachel Weisz and Brendan Fraser are once again wonderful as the lead couple, and their matrimonial relationship is one of the film’s highlight. I was once again impressed by the film’s integration with the events of the first segment, even despite the clunky appearance of past-lives mumbo-jumbo. Some special effects are good; some other effects are surprisingly bad. The DVD features quite a few extra bonus goodies, the best of which is a fun commentary track that spends a long time pointing out flaws—though maybe not as much as the film’s detractors might like. But don’t worry; it’s still good entertainment for the whole family.