Looking Back At The Mummy (1999) And The Mummy Returns (2001)

The Mummy Returns

Which is the better Mummy movie? The first one or Returns? It’s a tough call. The original is definitely the purer piece, but the second has a lot going for it. If you are anything like me, The Mummy Returns is the one you remember more from your childhood, as it embellishes the mythology beyond the fairly simple story of ‘argh! a mummy’s escaped – kill it!’ from the first film.

Let’s get the poor stuff out the way, first. The decision to move the timeline forward and to give Rick and Evie a precocious son sounds like a good idea on paper but, good God, is that boy annoying. Apologies to actor Freddie Boath but he is given far too much screen-time. On the flip side, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Scorpion King is given far little to do – even when he returns at the end he takes the form of a hilariously bad CGI scorpion monster. Still, at least the actor and character later got their own spin-off film in The Scorpion King (it wasn’t great, but that’s a review for another time).

Now onto the positives. In terms of spectacle, Returns is even better and bolder than the first movie; the action is split between London and Egypt, with road chases and flights in dirigibles and other fun set pieces. This emphasis does eat into the characters, though – for instance, Evie’s climactic death and resurrection doesn’t pack the emotional wallop it deserves. Speaking of Evie, she’s even cooler and more bad-ass in this movie, with her and Rick having developed into a married couple of fearless adventurers. She even gets her own nemesis, in Imhotep’s reincarnated love Anck-Su-Namun. The pair’s fights are probably the best in the movie.

Overall, The Mummy Returns has its fair share of flaws but the stuff that you really come to these movies for – the spectacle, action, the chemistry between the leads – is even better than the first. Whichever one you prefer, save yourself a trip to the cinema and make sure to watch these instead of the current reboot. Sometimes, you just need to let sleeping mummies lie.

 

N.B: Yes, there was a third Brendan Fraser movie, The Mummy: Tomb of The Dragon Emperor, but it’s best to avoid that one. Mainly, because it replaces Rachel Weisz with Maria Bello. The movie really suffers from losing the winning pairing Fraser and Weisz.

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