Proving that bigger is rarely better,The Mummy Returns
serves up so much action and so many computer-generated effects that it quickly grows exhausting. In his zeal to establish a lucrative franchise, writer-director Stephen Sommers dispenses with such trivial matters as character development and plot logic, and charges headlong into an almost random buffet of minimum story and maximum mayhem, beginning with a prologue establishing the ominous fate of the Scorpion King (played by World Wrestling Federation star the Rock, in a cameo teaser for his later starring role in--you guessed it--The Scorpion King
). Dormant for 5,000 years, under control of the Egyptian god Anubis, the Scorpion King will rise again in 1933, which is where we findThe Mummy
's returning heroes Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, now married and scouring Egyptian ruins with their 8-year-old son, Alex (Freddie Boath).
John Hannah (as Weisz's brother) and Oded Fehr (as mystical warrior Ardeth Bay) also return from The Mummy, and trouble begins when Alex dons the Scorpion King's ancient bracelet, coveted by the evil mummy Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), who's been revived by... oh, but does any of this matter? With a plot so disposable that it's impossible to care about anything that happens, The Mummy Returns is best enjoyed as an intermittently amusing and physically impressive monument of Hollywood machinery, with gorgeous sets that scream for a better showcase, and digital trickery that tops its predecessor in ambition, if not in payoff. By the time our heroes encounter a hoard of ravenous pygmy mummies, you'll probably enjoy this movie in spite of itself. --Jeff Shannon