Mummy's return feels stale

LOUIS B. HOBSON

, Last Updated: 1:45 PM ET

There's a good reason that, in fiction, the mummy, like the vampire, is a member of the undead.

No matter what happens, you can't keep a good one interred.

Two years ago, writer/director Stephen Sommers' The Mummy was a gigantic box-office hit and justifiably so.

Despite all its dazzling state-of-the-art special effects, The Mummy was an old-fashioned, matinee-style adventure.

In the love-stricken, centuries-old Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), The Mummy had a great, scary villain.

His nemeses were Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser), a dashing, cavalier adventurer and Evelyn (Rachel Weisz), a spunky Egyptologist.

In The Mummy Returns, Imhotep, Rick and Evelyn are back but they've morphed even more than the special effects.

Imhotep is not nearly as nasty or evil, just a little more lovesick and a lot more power-hungry.

Rick has an even greater Indiana Jones complex and Evelyn has acquired the combat skills of those lethal ladies from The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

It doesn't help that Sommers is not sure what kind of film he wants The Mummy Returns to be.

He continues his homages to Indiana Jones, even having Fraser wear Indiana's hat and jacket as well as aping several famous scenes from each of the Indiana movies.

At other times, The Mummy Returns seems like a Tarzan or Sinbad adventure and there's even a Jurassic Park moment as the forces of good and evil wade through the jungle oasis that is the evil Scorpion King's resting place. The Mummy Returns offers more chase sequences, battles, computer-generated creatures and slapstick humour than its predecessor, but bigger doesn't translate into better.

More instant gratification, maybe because there's always so much happening, and so many dazzling special effects that the film carries the viewer along on its tidal wave of action. It's wise of Universal Pictures to make the next Mummy flick a prequel because Fraser, Weisz and Hannah have too obviously exhausted everything they can or want to do with their characters.

The Mummy Returns is a true popcorn movie. It fills the screen with fun and action for two hours, never promising to do anything more than entertain and enthrall.

It's a movie for kids and the kid in every fantasy-hungry moviegoer. (More on: The Mummy Returns).

(This film is rated PG)


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