A review of  The Mummy Returns” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *

Rating: PG-13 for violence, intensity, but should be R.

Run Time: 2 hours, 1 minute

 

Just because it’s critic-proof doesn’t mean it works.  The latest installment of the Wrath-of-the-Wrapped, and first official summer blockbuster, is sure to rake in beaucoup millions, but isn’t worth even a dime of your measly eight bucks.

Parlez vous rip-off?  No action adventure is spared a repeat performance in this CG-saturated nightmare. Want “Raiders of the Lost Ark”?  You got it, Indiana Jones style, in the form of a reluctant, leather-whipping hero.  Pissed-off dinos a la “Jurassic Park”?  Will pissed-off mummies suffice?  And how about those razor-toothed tribble-ettes known as the “Gremlins”?  Step right up, folks.

Brendan Fraser returns as the dashing but bumbling French Foreign Legion soldier Rick O’Connell, who has finally married love interest Evie Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) and sired a 9-year old wise-cracker named Alex (newcomer Freddie Boath).  While exploring the latest in a seemingly  endless supply of archeological caverns, Evie, Rick, and Alex (surprise!) mistakenly unleash the fury of Imhotep (yeah, that guy) , who has been lying in wait (and not very efficiently embalmed) to renew his campaign of rage and terror.  But, horror of horrors, Imhotep (still Arnold Vosloo) has competition: the Scorpion King (WWF’s The Rock) and the freakish Anubus, both of whom are battling for control of something bigger than all of them.  I’m still not sure what it is, but it’s big.  Add to the confusion (often referred to as a plot) Anubus’ gold bracelet, which when worn properly can cause a chain reaction that could ignite the next apocalypse.  Do I care?

Someone has CairoDisney on the brain. From Thebe, 3067 B.C. to 1933 Egypt (and back again), a plethora of bewigged and bejeweled characters and their magical scepters/amulets/bangles engage in a unrelenting series of mind-numbing battles, each louder and more distasteful than the one before.  The violence is unfortunately vicious, and unpleasantly gratuitous.  Bad middle-Eastern stereotypes vie with cheap blue-screen tactics for adolescent arcade mentality attention.  Evie and Pharaoh mistress Anck-Su-Namus (Patricia Velazquez) get down Crouching Tiger style, a brief,  intriguing respite from the deafening onslaught of combat. 

This is a relentless assault of such magnificent proportion that it required a ten minute, post-screening, breather in the peaceful silence of my dark car,  just to clear my head.  You won’t have to do that, because you’re not going to bother in the first place.