I recently talked about the supposed trilogy pattern of “first is fine, second is superb, third is terrible,” so it’s interesting to watch a trilogy that breaks that pattern. 1999’s The Mummy is a great movie that people love, while The Mummy Returns… exists.
We open with a flashback showing Mr. The Rock (Dwayne Johnson? I don’t know her) as the Scorpion King, a warlord that made a deal with Anubis to conquer his foes and ended up trapped for thousands of years. Then we meet the O’Connells roughly 9 years after the last movie. Rick and Evy got married, and they have a son, Alex. They find the Bracelet of Anubis and Alex shows he has his mother’s sense of self-preservation when he puts the cursed relic on his arm. The villains this time are a group of people who want to resurrect Imhotep so that he will kill the Scorpion King and take over Anubis’ army, all so they can… um… yeah, they’re just generically evil. One important member is Meela (Ms. Patricia Velasquez), who is the reincarnation of Anck-Su-Namun, in that she’s played by the same actress. The pseudo-cult resurrects Imhotep and after a frantic bus fight sequence, Alex and the bracelet are captured. Then it’s the O’Connells, brother Jonathan (who we see with ladies, so no homo), and Ardeth Bay on a quest to save the boy and stop Imhotep. After some adventures, everyone ends up at the Golden Pyramid of Ahm Shere, where Meela/Anck kills Evy, who happens to be the reincarnation of Anck’s rival, Nefertiri. While Alex and Jonathan resurrect Evy and fight Meela, Rick and a depowered Imhotep fight until the Scorpion King–now an ugly CG scorpion centaur thing–shows up. Rick kills him and sends his army to the Underworld, but both he and Imhotep are at risk of heading down there as well. Evy risks her life to save Rick while Anck… doesn’t save Imhotep. He flings himself into the pit, and she’s eaten by scarabs, which is this franchise’s punishment for being a coward. The heroes escape, and it’s a happy ending for them all.
I have three main issues with this movie (no, the kid actor isn’t one of them, as he does a passable job). The first is the infamous mess that is the final form of the Scorpion King. Wow, he looks awful! The early 2000’s was apparently this period where filmmakers thought CG was the answer to everything, even if it looked like ass (I’m looking at you, George Lucas). Next is the fact that Anubis and the Underworld absolutely exist. So, uh… what has Anubis been up to for the last 4000 years? But my main issue is Anck-Su-Namun not saving Imhotep. Like… why? Everything up to that point–basically two movies–has told us that their love was strong enough to survive the millennia they spent apart, but at the end she didn’t even try to save him. If it was something on Meela’s side, how would we know? We’re told the head cultist was the head of the British Museum (meaning that’s two movies now where the non-white guy in charge of an Egyptian exhibit has ties to Imhotep), but the rest of the villains have no backstory whatsoever. Meela has Anck’s memories, and that’s literally all we know about her. Supposedly they explain stuff in the novelization, but who who has the attention span to read these days? Not me.
MUMMY FUN FACT! The story continues in The Mummy animated series, retitled The Mummy: Secrets of the Medjai for the second season. It focuses on Alex (it was a kids show, after all) as he gets yet another magic bracelet strapped to his wrist. Ardeth Bay has a larger role as a mentor figure, and the main villains are, again, Imhotep and Anck-Su-Namun, who apparently act as if their breakup at the end of The Mummy Returns never happened. How did Imhotep escape the Underworld this time? Apparently he’s a “separate incarnation,” whatever that means. Don’t hold your breath waiting on me to review the show.
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