The Mummy Returns (2001) – reviewed by George

Thebes – 3067 BC:
After 7 long years of fighting, the Scorpion King (The Rock) and his army were defeated and driven into the sacred desert of Ahm Shere. One by one they died, until only the Scorpion King was left. When he was finally near death, he offered a pact to the dark god Anubis: that if Anubis would spare him and let him conquer his enemies, he would give Anubis his soul. Anubis accepted the offer and turned the desert into a lush land – the Oasis of Ahm Shere. Anubis then gave the Scorpion King command of the Army of Anubis, and like an evil flood this army washed away all before them.Then Anubis made the Scorpion King his slave and turned his army back into sand. So they wait to be awakened once again. (This description is taken from narration read by Ardeth Bay, played by Oded Fehr.)
Egypt – 1933:
Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) is now Mrs. O’Connell, and she and Rick (Brendan Fraser) have a son, Alex (Freddie Boath). Rick and Evy are working in a tomb, with Alex banished to a large room (courtyard? forecourt?) so that he won’t be under-foot. He has climbed pretty high up a scaffolding. Evy is looking at a wall when she has a vision: the wall becomes an opening door. The handmaiden who has pushed it open appears and for a moment she leaves it ajar. Evy looks inside and sees two burly guards and a relic that seems to be a golden chest. Then the handmaiden uses a built-in star-shaped key to lock the door and walks away. As she leaves, Rick comes in and walks into her and she disappears. Evy comes out of the vision, and moves toward Rick as he prepares to use a pry-bar on the door. Evy reaches out, removes the cobwebs of centuries (you can’t even tell the star thing is there) and she unlocks the door, which opens. She steps inside and Rick follows her. They find a chest, which she opens. Inside is the Golden Bracelet of Anubis and a message: He who disturbs this bracelet shall drink from the Nile. Says Evy, “That doesn’t sound too bad.” But we’re way ahead of her and are definitely expecting it when a supporting wall collapses and a flood is loosed inside the tomb. In the meantime Alex has been delaying tomb robbers with his slingshot, but they have discovered his hiding place and one with a knife in his teeth (as in “Treasure Island”) is climbing the scaffolding to kill him, when the water comes pounding through. The robbers have to run, but the killer with the knife kicks at the scaffolding before he runs. As the scaffolding falls it hits a tall carved column, which falls into another column, which falls into another, until all the columns are down, repeating the unfunny bit with the bookcases from the first film. Of course all three family members survive.
Hamunaptra, City of the Dead – 1933:
A large dig is underway. The leader is Hafez (Alun Armstrong) and his seconds are Lock-Nah (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Meela (Patricia Velasquez). A messenger comes to tell them that the agents did not get the bracelet, which is now on its way to London. Hafez says that now they will go to London. And as he strides past the camera, Ardeth Bay (Oded Fehr) of the Magi (pronounced Muh-guy) steps into view, glaring after Hafez. Incidentally, in this film the Magi are called the Med-jai (pronounced Med-ji).
This film is purposely bigger than the first, but it is not better. In this film Bigger works against Coherence – I think I have described the opening of the film fairly, but I may have lost something in the frenetic goings-on. I still don’t know if Meela is a descendant of Anck-su-namun or what. They are both played by Patricia Velasquez. Although, I swear – there’s no way anyone can disparage the finale. It’s wonderful. A series of fights all going on at the same time, with cuts back and forth to let you see the progress, and everything perfectly clear.
Of course Arnold Vosloo returns as the mummy of Imhotep, and Aharon Ipale is back as Pharaoh Seti. New to the cast is Shaun Parkes as Izzy, whose airship, an advanced zeppelin, is super-important in the big sequence leading up to (and in) the finale.
The film was written and directed by Stephen Sommers, and Allan Cameron and Jennifer C. Bell returned as Production Designer and Visual Effects Producer, respectively. Many of the same folks from ILM were involved this time also, and one, John Andrew Berton, Jr. is interviewed again in the special features section of the DVD. He is billed this time as John Berton, and this quote about motion capture performances is from him: “One of the things that I think is really great about the way the creatures work in ‘The Mummy Returns’ is the attention that we paid to performance as an element of the film that crosses over the boundaries between live action and synthetic action, if you will. Particularly with Imhotep, where on the last film we took a fairly bold step, which was to take our principal actor, Arnold Vosloo, and put him in a motion capture suit, so he could do the motion capture for Imhotep the synthetic creature. In the first movie he’s a bit more of a creature. He does have a personality and he is a performer, but his main role throughout the movie is chasing people. In this movie he has many more things to do and much more intimate reactions with the other characters. He had to pick up Patricia Velasquez’s hair and caress it and walk around her and draw her eye in the way that only Arnold could do, because it’s his relationship with Patricia Velasquez in the movie as lovers. They could create a performance that could not be created any other way.”

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