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'Mummy Returns': Something Vile on The Nile

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 4, 2001


    'The Mummy Returns' Brendan Fraser and Arnold Vosloo face off in "The Mummy Returns." (Keith Hamshere/Universal)
The curse of the sequels befalls "The Mummy Returns," the first silly, special-effects-laden adventure of the summer season. Even though it's only early May, the time has come to take off those thinking caps and get ready for the overblown, the crass and the inane.

About a decade has passed since we first laid eyes on theswashbuckling lunk Rick (affable Brendan Fraser) and the brainy Egyptologist Evelyn (feisty Rachel Weisz), who are now married and living in London with their 9-year-old son, Alex (Freddie Boath). One day the erstwhile mummy-busters are just about to break out the scones when they are called back to the relentless action. The evil priest Imhotep (sneering Arnold Vosloo) is no longer under wraps. He's been resurrected and stalks the Earth once more.

It seems the curator of the British Museum and his evil minions have roused the 3,000-year-old menace from his sarcophagus. And as before, the miffed and moldering corpse sets out to regain immortality and, of course, conquer the world (why would anybody want to?). But first he must retrieve the Bracelet of Anubis and find his lover, Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia Velasquez), who has been reincarnated as a modern-day grave-robber.

After fighting off a bunch of special effects, Evelyn and Rick head for Egypt to keep the bad guys (evil Shriners, judging by their red fezzes) from summoning the Scorpion King (played by the Rock, that cable TV wrestler), a fearsome warrior whose soul belongs to the god Anubis and should be left the hell alone. But noooo.

If Imhotep and Anck-Su-Namun can whip the Scorpion King, they will inherit Anubis's army, and if Evelyn and Rick can locate the Oasis of Ahm Shere . . . Still with me? I thought not!

Writer-director Stephen Sommers's impenetrable, flashback-hampered plot is as twisted as Cleopatra's asp. And it lacks the old-fashioned charms of the original movie -- the characters are as bloodless as King Tut. And no wonder, the actors spend most of their time looking awestruck and running away from miniature bug armies that chase them around the pyramids.

Yes, many of the visual effects are stunning, but others are downright cheesy -- especially an attempt to fuse the Rock's head onto a scorpion's body. It looks as if it was pasted on by a first-grader. The action sequences are just as uneven and repetitious. Stevie Sommers has been a bad, bad boy. Somebody sic "Mummy Dearest" on him.

The Mummy Returns (129 minutes, at area theaters) is rated PG-13 for sensuality and some language.


Copyright 2001 The Washington Post Company

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