If this effects laden movie's a hit, Brendan Fraser may not be needed for the next sequel, says Kristen Baldwin

By Kristen Baldwin
Updated May 08, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
The Mummy Returns
Credit: The Mummy Returns: ILM

Why the ”Mummy” sequel’s F/X make human stars unnecessary

I have bad news for the Screen Actors Guild: You all may as well go on strike when your contract expires on June 30, because after seeing ”The Mummy Returns,” it’s clear Hollywood is closer than ever to making human thespians irrelevant to the movie business.

Sure, Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz are nominally the stars of this sequel to the 1999 hit — reprising their roles as tomb raiders Rick and Evelyn — but the two actors have so little to do they may as well never have come out of their trailers. The pair has only a handful of complete sentences for dialogue — Rick spouts the periodic, ”Not THESE guys again!” and ”I hate mummies!” — and the plot they’re ostensibly there to propel can pretty much be summed up as ”Mummy very angry.”

In fact, Fraser and Weisz’s only job throughout the 2 hour plus (!) popcorn thriller is to fill the brief, hazy interludes between the kinetic computer generated action sequences. If the film’s distributor, Universal Pictures, had decided to save money by adding the two leads to the screen via CGI effects rather than actually hiring flesh and blood actors, I don’t think anybody in the audience would’ve noticed.

It doesn’t help that the ”script” for ”The Mummy Returns” offers characters who are, for the most part, completely devoid of humanity. The F/X created army of Anubis’ dog men exhibited more of an emotional center than Rick and Evelyn combined. The hero and heroine, who in this sequel are saddled with a child, are perhaps the least interested and invested parents in film history: They leave their son Alex (Freddie Boath) alone in an abandoned Egyptian ruin where he is nearly killed by treasure seeking pirates; they fail to notice when he gets an ancient bracelet stuck on his arm, thereby putting his life in danger; and after every violent clash with bad guys, their first reaction is to tongue kiss like horny teenagers rather than make sure their son is okay.

Not even the movie’s alleged breakout star, WWF wrestler the Rock, gets much onscreen action. His big scene is as a (badly) computer generated scorpion. When the time comes for Universal and writer director Stephen Sommers to start planning the third ”Mummy” movie, don’t be surprised if they cut Fraser and Weisz completely and give above the title credits to the franchise’s real stars: Industrial Light & Magic.

The Mummy Returns

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 125 minutes
  • Stephen Sommers