Is it just me, or does this seem like a quick way to make money; any time the third film in a trilogy gets released, you see the first two thrown onto DVD together. Considering the third in the Mummy series just hit the cinemas a few weeks ago, this set floated into shops to garner some extra wallet for the filmmakers. But who can complain when you get to watch The Mummy again for ‘reviewing’?
In The Mummy, Brendan Fraser stars as Rick O’Connell, an American serving in the French Legion, when he is captured by local forces and sentenced to death for, well, ‘having fun’ apparently. Maybe it’s better we don’t know his crime, as the film is allowed to continue regardless. When on the search for the lost city of Hamunaptra, English librarian Evelyn and her brother Jonathan save O’Connell from his death sentence at the last minute, in order to lead them to the lost city. When another American tour group accidentally release an undead Mummy on the world, it’s up to the gang to send him back.
The film is brilliant fun. It’s an action adventure of the highest calibre and is as fun as you can get. Not only does it have some incredible looking CGI, it can also turn its hand to humour, while still keeping the pace and thrill extremely high. It’s one of those films that you had high hopes for in your head, and it meets them, and keeps meeting them through until the end. In the same way as the Indiana Jones films, there are traps, beasties and baddies to foil our characters at every turn, and there are a number of ‘red shirts’ (read: target practice for baddies) tagging along for good measure ensuring thrills and spills all along the two hour running time.The Mummy:
But, just like Indiana Jones, the series easily lost its way. The Mummy Returns starts by showing us ‘The Scorpion King’ played in an intensely dull manner by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Already on a low, the filmmakers introduce us with the plotline that the O’Connell’s have a son who, by the way, is the worst child actor I’ve seen in a big budget film. Anyway, the plot revolves around the re-resurrection of the same undead Mummy from the last film, who in turn does something that the first film was about preventing. Of course, the O’Connells get roped in and try to stop it all.
Damn. This is such a shame. Like I said previously, The Mummy is a great action adventure film, so to see this much of a downfall in the second film is almost heartbreaking. Where do I start? The Rock. What is the point of him turning up for the first three minutes of screen time, just to become a CGI head on a scorpion? On that note, the CGI is of such a terribly poor standard, especially when compared to the excellent work of The Mummy, that at some points I was literally shouting at my TV screen. Now, how about their son (who unfortunately was not CGI, because it would have helped)? What idiot thought that the Mummy series would be better with an annoying 10 year old taking screen time away from the rest of the cast?
And yes, there’s more! The bad guy is Imhotep, again! And he has the same tricks up his sleeve (except this time they don’t look as good). Not only that, but the fact that they’ve beaten him once means that all the suspense is gone! It’s just another terrible move in a series of blunders by the filmmakers. But the final feather in the cap of flaws? It’s the storyline that puts Evelyn O’Connell back in the time of Imhotep as the reason that he and his love were killed. Two things: where the hell did that come from, and why wasn’t it revealed in the first film?
Would you believe it, after all that, there are some saving graces? Of course, they are the really obvious ones. The fight scenes, apart from the final one, are pretty impressive, and the comedy to action adventure ratio is again very high. Put those together with the fact that Brendan Fraser and John Hannah have the same great back and forth that they had in the first and you have a few solid reasons to watch it. Owning it on the other hand…
The Mummy Returns:
Unfortunate that The Mummy disk has fewer extras than The Mummy Returns, but it is an explanation on how the film visually works better than its sequel. In some cases, using real people instead of overblown and under worked CGI works a hell of a lot better. As well as this, they use scale models in some instances where CGI would be used in Returns, just like in Red Dwarf, which also looks truer to real life. As for the Extras on The Mummy Returns, maybe it says something about the film that the first two extras are an advert for the third instalment and a behind the scenes of a theme park ride. However a Gag Reel gives a good feeling, before that is trumped by two extras on the ‘special’ effects. It’s short, and everything they look at is explained in ways that we can understand. What we can also understand is that they needed to work very quickly to do something grand, and while they don’t exactly say it, we get the feeling they know it isn’t great work. The final extra is a 5-minute bit of fluff on how they get from the 1930s universal horror to the current day Mummy films. It’s not bad, but of course, how much better it would have been if it had lasted a little longer.
There are not a lot of extras here though, which means that if this were a maths exam, this would fail. It may be awarded extra points however, for the amount of commentaries on the films. Some are your standard filmmakers telling you how they set up this scene or that scene, which can get very tedious. Luckily, one on The Mummy has just Brendan Fraser talking for the duration, meaning big comedy! Unluckily for The Mummy Returns, its one track pales in comparison to The Mummy’s three.
So there it is, The Mummy is an incredibly good film and The Mummy Returns is alright for Sunday afternoon on Channel Five, even with all its faults. Luckily, I’ve seen the third in the series, and I’m glad to say that it’s back and kicking ass in a better way, even if it’s never going to match the brilliance of The Mummy.
Verdict: Don’t buy it, at least, not yet. Give it a few months and there’ll be a trilogy box set that’ll be much more worth your money.