Why can’t people in Mummy movies learn from their mistakes? In the 1999 original, Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) hooked up with Evelyn the Egyptologist (Rachel Weisz) and the two unwittingly unearthed the dead. In The Mummy Returns, the desecrating duo—now married with child—keep poking their noses in tombs where they don’t belong. Old nemeses, plus a new one played by The Rock (misleadingly billed as a lead despite precious few on-screen minutes), are unleashed.

O’Connell himself sums up the ensuing nonsense with four words: ”Mummies, pygmies, big bugs.” Too bad director Stephen Sommers once again assumes that this digitally enhanced gobbledygook is the real draw of his movies. The overwhelming whirl of effects only detracts from his best asset, Fraser’s easy rakish charm. And when the movie cops scene after scene from far superior films (E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, even Titanic), its own flaws become not just self-evident, but embarrassing. The Mummy ought to hide its head in shame and return to the crypt, only to be heard from again when it promises to behave like a good grown-up action thriller should. C-

WHAT WE SAID THEN: ”…doesn’t so much scuttle as rev loudly going nowhere, a souped-up engine of action, noise, and more-ness.” C+ (#595, May 11, 2001)

The Mummy Returns
  • Movie
  • 125 minutes