Jenise Aminoff is a writer who lives in Cambridge, MA. She works
as a web designer, tech writer, and instructor. Her fiction has appeared in Dark Planet
and in genrEZONE, and her poetry has appeared in Terra Incognita.
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The Mummy Returns, the Reviewers Snooze
by Jenise Aminoff
I have friends who read movie reviews and then go see the movies the
reviewers hate because their tastes are so opposite. These friends probably lucked out
and went to see "The Mummy Returns", despite its awful reviews. I say
lucked out because I don't think the reviewers actually watched the
movie. They just watched the trailer a few times, made their judgement,
and wrote up the column. For example, Jay Carr of the Boston Globe
review writes, "More money, more sand, more scorpions, more cavalry,
more crumbling temples, more gold, more computer-generated imagery, more
everything, except urgency and originality. The only suspense is not
whether the intrepid Anglo interlopers will escape alive, but whether
the film will, given the weight of special effects it's asked to carry."
He gives the movie two stars.
Well, gee, that's about what we'd expect, right? That's certainly what
I'd write if I'd only seen a few commercials. Having gone and paid the
money and seen the movie, however, I'd say Carr missed a very important
feature of the movie: it has a plot. In fact, it's even a fairly
intricate and internally consistent plot. It is the Egyptian Year of the
Scorpion, and Evelyn O'Connell (Rachel Weisz), our intrepid librarian,
is led to an ancient temple by a dream. With uncanny prescience, she
leads her husband Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) to the hidden treasure
of the Scorpion King (The Rock), a bracelet which their son Alex
promptly puts on once they return to London. A cult of
egyptologists headed by the curator of the British Museum of History
also wants the bracelet so that they can find the Scorpion King, defeat
him, and take over his legions of Anubis's warriors. And who better to
best the Scorpion King than our old friend, Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), the
original Mummy from the first movie.
Unable to remove the bracelet, Imhotep's cronies kidnap Alex, forcing
the O'Connells to chase Imhotep and the reincarnation of his lover,
Ankh-na-Suman, across Egypt to save their son and the world in general.
Along the way, we learn that Evelyn, too, is a reincarnation of a
historical figure (although her identity will make you groan), and that
Rick's past includes a mysterious tattoo indicating a predestined role
in the upcoming conflict with the Scorpion King. And all of this
actually meshes with the plot of the previous movie, one glaring
continuity error aside.
Now, I'm not saying this is high art. There are numerous historical
inaccuracies, not least of which is a jet-powered dirigible in the
1930s, when Von Braun was still experimenting with backyard rockets,
not to mention that having large flaming objects anywhere near a bag
full of what's probably hydrogen gas is an amazingly bad idea. My
biggest gripe, however, is that the music soundtrack is absolutely
terrible. At times reminiscent of Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark,
the soundtrack is mind-bogglingly unoriginal, and forgettable. Not a
great marketing point.
However, they've planted a number of sequel hooks, some obvious, like
Rick's tattoo (and I do want to watch the prequel again to see if he had
it then), and some very subtle, like the mysterious Book of Life that
shows up for all of two seconds and then is never mentioned again. Where
is it? Who has it? And what can it be used for? Further rumor suggests
that the next installment in the Mummy series will feature the Scorpion King.
Overall, I'd say Jay Carr and most other reviewers slept through a whole
star's worth of rating. It's definitely worth seeing, not just for the
impressive special effects, not just for Brendan Fraser's stunning blue
eyes, not even for the Crouching Tiger moments of full-out female fight
scenes, but also to see that rarest of gems, a decent plot in a
Hollywood action flick.