|The Mummy Just Brings It|
posted by B on 5/06/01
Regardless of whatever job I end up doing for the rest of my life, the fact that I worked at a Blockbuster Video store for eight months will always stay with me. There, I began my appreciation of film of a higher level - the sweeping epics of Akira Kurosawa, the introspective imagination of William Wyler, anything with Paulie Shore or a talking animal that plays sports in it. No longer does the "summer blockbuster" please my palate. I can't watch "The Lost World" without rolling my eyes and wanting to stab myself in the throat when the girl starts beating up Raptors with gymnastics. I can't watch "Men in Black" without flipping off Will Smith every 2 seconds and dancing around going "MAKE YO NECK WORK." So, with great reserve, I spent my Friday night attending a V.I.P. showing of "The Mummy Returns." Okay, it wasn't V.I.P., but in Tuscaloosa anything that doesn't involve a spitoon takes a special place in my heart.
"The Mummy Returns" is the first "summer" blockbuster of the Spring, something full of bright lights and colorful personalities to hold me over until "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" comes out. If you come into this film as a film critic you'll, from the first moment that the Rock shows up on screen, begin shouting "OH THERE'S NO PLOT" and "WHERE'S THE ORIGINALITY" and "THE SPECIAL EFFECTS HAVE NO DICK ROLF!!!11." This would make you one of two things: 1) way too concerned with the time you spend and 2) a complete idiot.
In fact, most of the negative reviews of this movie say those three things. "OH THERE'S NO PLOT." This comment is grouped in with those people who picked up a copy of "Leprechaun in the Hood" at the video store and asked me what it was about. What do you think it's about, a princess who must choose between the customs of her country and her inner desire to discover love and humanity? It's about a midget in a green costume killing black people. "The Mummy Returns" has exactly the plot that a movie called "The Mummy Returns" should have. If a mummy who used to be around shows up again, boom, there you go.
"WHERE'S THE ORIGINALITY" goes along the same lines as the movie not having a plot. Back in the 1200's, when the first movie about a mummy was made, they were still ripping off somebody who once wrote a book about a mummy. And it turns out that those people were just ripping off Bram Stoker, because he made a movie where Winona Ryder gets naked and has sex with a big wolf. Bram Stoker kicks ass. What're they going to do different in the "Mummy Returns" to make things original? Is it gonna turn out that the Mummy is actually DEAD at the end? Is he gonna swerve us all and join Mr. McMahon's WWF Corporate Team? Come on. He's either gonna have bandages wrapped around him or he isn't.
Lastly, the "SPECIAL EFFECTS" indeed DO have a dick. A very large dick, full of CGI scorpions, which gets whipped out and slapped against your forehead every twenty seconds. The film begins with the Rock doing his famous "If You Smell LALALALAALALALALA OWWW" pose, and then goes straight into the mind-boggling screen-wide action sequences. The special effects are, regardless of what you've read, pretty incredible. The only problem with them is that they're used too frequently. When a raghead gets his hand bitten off in a big Scorpion King statue, he could've drawn back a bloody stump. Instead, he draws back a skeleton hand, complete with ALL the bones intact and in the right place, dripping melting skin. It makes me miss the days of Bruce Campbell punching a skeleton in the face and making his head spin around, but it's not so bad.
Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz return as Rick and Evie OíConnell, now married and the parents of eight-year-old Alex (Freddie Boath), who appears be the ultra cute super-deformed anime Kenneth Branagh. It turns out that Evie has been having "visions" directing her towards the location of a rare artifact. With a surprise that almost made me lose control of my bowels and release stinky turds all over the movie floor, the artifact has been CURSED and will bring about the end of the world in some kinda way somehow kinda. In fact, the sequel is laced with this same kind of cynical sarcasm - all too often characters are caught screaming "not THESE guys again" or "just like LAST TIME!" It's nice to reference that Rocky went the distance with Apollo in the first movie, but you Rocky IS fighting somebody ELSE in the sequel.
THESE GUYS AGAIN!
Brendan Fraser as Rick O'Connell
Occupation: Indiana Jones for the TRL generation, both because of his good looks and charm and because Harrison Ford is busy making lesbian shipwreck comedies.
Past Accomplishments: Playing the '"fish out of water" in every movie not involving a mummy, being dug up by Paulie Shore, having his presence somehow make Elizabeth Hurley seem unattractive.
In the first film: After showing off his George of the Jungle hair, O'Connell shot a lot of computer generated mummy creatures with a dinky little gun. Proof that the power of positive thinking works wonders. He went from a promising career shooting Arabs as a Legionnaire to shooting Arabs as a treasure hunter. I'm not sure if he ever got a Legion flight ring. Also, killed mummies.
In the sequel: In "The Mummy Returns," Fraser's onscreen time is there simply to remind everybody that he was in the first movie and is the best person in the current vicinity at killing mummies. Most guys my age stay away from Fraser projects in the same way they'd stay away from the stumbling crack whore dropping her teeth on the sidewalk. However, in the Mummy films he comes close to being a decent leading man. He does, on the other hand, deliver the worst one-liners since Keanu's infamous "I know kung-fu" exclamation. "I hate mummies!" I expected him to put on a bow tie and start talking about how he "hates meeces to PIECES!!"
Rachel Weisz as Evie O'Connell
Occupation: Childbirth has transformed the former timid and wonderfully foppish "proud-to-be-a" librarian into one of the female characters from Mortal Kombat. She does backflip kicks and pulls some Crouching Limey action with a pair of sai. All the while she spouts out "oh, when did I learn to do that!" Hmm.
Past accomplishments: Making me weak in the knees, getting naked. Not necessarily in that order.
Feel free to click those and get your swerve on. Or whatever. Try not to swerve on your keyboard, though.
In the sequel: Evie's "visions" are one of the big mysteries of the first 3/4ths of the movie, and, be it half-assed and unbelievable or not, drives the last fourth home. The director was smart to make Weisz one of the focus points of the sequel, as she achieves the impossible: she makes onscreen time with Brendan Fraser seem charming. Hell, Rachel Weisz could make picking her nose charming. She could pick her nose and wipe a big honkin' booger on my face. As long as she said something about "bums" and "fish and chips" I'd get those Japanese happy eyes and swoon.
Dwayne Johnson as The Rock as The Scorpion King
Occupation: The Rock is the People's Champion, a guy who defeats every stereotype American rednecks can muster: He is not a white guy (he's half-black and half-samoan), he cheats to win (holding the standing record for "Most Gruesome Thing Done to Mick Foley on Television" with 11 chairshots to the head), and he constantly rambles on about wanting to stick things into people's asses. Not chicks, mind you. Other wrestlers. Fathers of other wrestlers. The list goes on and on, if you can speak, the Rock wants to stick something in your ass. WHAT does he want to stick into your ass? It doesn't matter. A cheating homoerotic black guy. And everybody loves him. Looks like rednecks have it more together than most people.
Past accomplishments: He once made a guy called "Mr. Ass" (a former rodeo enthusiast who is obsessed with his own ass) kiss an overweight woman's butt crack on Pay-per-view. I spent thirty dollars on that Pay-per-view. I hope the Rock never tells everybody to jump off of a bridge. The rivers would be clogged for years.
In the first movie: Rock sat in the crowd during some random showing and told the annoying teenagers in front of him that "THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THIS...ITS THAT THE ROCK (long pause) IS GOING TO COME DOWN THERE AND WHIP THAT CANDY ASS (long pause) ALL OVER GOD'S GREEN EARTH. (long pause, to admire the people around him) (begins sniffing) (looks around) (still pausing) (sniffs some more)..." and then the movie was over. He had to go see it a few times before he didn't feel like sticking something in somebody's ass.
In the sequel: Rock plays the "Scorpion King," but he still manages to get in a big sniff as a nod to the wrestling idiots like myself watching. He's only in the first few minutes of the film but he manages to completely overact and then awkwardly eat a scorpion. It IS kind of a fantasy of mine to see the Rock wandering in the desert about to die, so I was ready to give this movie four stars. When a giant computer generated scorpion shows up at the end of the film to do battle with Fraser and the Mummy, I was pleased to see a half-assed CGI Rock head morphed onto it. Seeing the Rock wander in the desert and then get stabbed to death made me give "The Mummy Returns" about ten-thousand stars.
Billy Zane's Evil Clone as "The Mummy" (yes, he's actually in the movie)
Occupation: SUPER SEXY Arnold Vosloo plays the SUPER SEXY The Mummy when he's not half-decayed. When he's got holes in his head with scorpions crawling through them he's only KINDA SEXY instead of being SUPER SEXY like he is normally. At least, People magazine tells me he's SUPER SEXY, personally I think he looks like Billy Zane and Telly Savalas had a love child.
Past accomplishments: Other than trying to shoot Leonardo DiCaprio, Vosloo's past achievements include picking up the role of Darkman in Darkman 2 and the cleverly named Darkman 3: DIE Darkman DIE. I think the Mummy 3 should be called "Die Mummy Die." In fact, if they ever make another sequel to "If These Walls Could Talk" they should call it "Die Walls That Can't Talk Die." Go ahead and skip to the next paragraph, I keep making this joke for about a hundred more lines.
In the first movie: The Mummy Im-Ho-Tep is brought back to life to place an evil curse on the world. He is stopped by a Legionnaire with a shotgun and a librarian. Now granted, the librarian's brother was there too and he had FUNNY ONE-LINERS, but it should've taken something more fantastic to defeat a mummy. It's like Abbott and Costello wandered in and stepped on the mummy's bandage and caused him to unravel. The first movie should've ended with Brendan Fraser piloting a ninja warship into the pyramid and blowing him up with super nuclear warheads laced with exploding robots with guns. And then we could've had a lesbian shower scene. The first Mummy movie ROCKED, dude.
In the sequel: Im-Ho-Tep is reduced from world destroyer to pussy-whipped bald guy. His most creative kill involves the victim having their skin removed with computer graphics. Long gone are the days of Im-Ho-Tep ripping the guy's eyes out and making him wander around in caves screaming for his life. In Mummy 3 Im-Ho-Tep's just gonna pay some fat guys to take out Fraser's knees with a billy club.
This time, the Mummy and the O'Connells battle to get the right to defeat the Scorpion King. The person who kills Rocky becomes my hero and gets to control his army and take over the world. In order to find and wake him, they need a special Scorpion-King-finding bracelet, which happens to be stuck on Rick and Evie's kid's arm, because he's mischievous. Rick and Evie go on vacation, but accidentally leave Alex behind! It's a race against time for them to get back to London before Christmas. But donít worry about the plot. It really doesn't matter how or why mummies and bad guys are chasing them; all we need to know is that they are, and that Rick and Evie have to find a way to rescue Alex, send the mummies back where they came from, and save the world from being utterly destroyed. There ARE pauses in the action - whenever the main characters want to make out, things stop. Until somebody gets grabbed in the face by a mummy.
As much as I enjoyed things, I wasn't effected by the ending at all. I'd just sat through almost two hours of nonstop Fraser-shoots-skeleton action. If Rachel Weisz had stripped down and taken a nap on a big pile of Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwiches I would've gotten excited...but anything less just wouldn't cut the mustard. "The Mummy Returns" is also only rated PG-13, so the most she could've gotten naked and napped on would be the Grilled Chicken Sandwich, and that sucks.
Overall, I give the Mummy three out of two stars for the actual film, and nine-hundred million out of four stars for the The Rock content. I would've liked to have seen him wandering through the desert gasping for his life, possibly having his eyes roll back in his head or maybe have vultures eat part of him. His head is shaped like a furry pineapple anyway.
Families should know that the movie is very violent, but mostly in comic-book terms. Most of the damage is done to mummies and other non-humans. I think Ashley Judd makes an appearance, but that could've been a three-thousand year old reanimated corpse. There are some scary surprises and ghoulish images, like when Brendan Fraser bends over. There are also very mild sexual references and some revealing costumes, including the Mummy's costume which is nothing more than a thong and leather corset. Families will love his fishnets.
Families who see this movie should visit local museums to see some of their Egyptian treasures and talk about how views on archeological digs have changed since the era in which it is set, and about current controversies over the ownership of antiquities. They may also enjoy imagining being the reincarnation of historical figures. Personally I enjoy pretending that I'm the reincarnation of Freddie Prinze, Sr. I also like to pretend that I stuff my wife in the trunk of my car when she's pregnant and then I pretend to drive off a bridge. My obsessive beliefs end up HELPING humanity. Thanks for helping me use my imagination, "The Mummy Returns!"
But seriously, suck up your inner-snob and waste a day's pay on "The Mummy Returns." I would've enjoyed seeing the Scorpion King get pedigreed through the Egyptian announcers table, but no movie is perfect. Look for my review of the upcoming "The Mummy" prequel, "The Scorpion King," the day after it opens in theaters. When it's already at the video store.