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Stephen Sommers
Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Kevin J. O'Connor, Oded Fehr, Dwayne Johnson
Writing Credits:
Stephen Sommers

Adventure Is Reborn.

The mummified body of Imhotep is shipped to a museum in London, where he once again wakes and begins his campaign of rage and terror.

Box Office:
$98 million.
Opening Weekend
$68,139,035 on 3,401 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 130 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 7/22/2008

• Audio Commentary with Director/Writer/Producer Stephen Sommers and Producer/Editor Bob Ducsay
• U-Control Interactive Feature
• Outtakes
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Sneak Peek
• “An Army to Rule the World – Part 2” Featurette
• “Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy” Featurette
• “Visual and Special Effects Formation” Featurette
• “An Exclusive Conversation with The Rock” Featurette
• “Spotlight on Location” Featurette
• Storyboard to Final Film Comparison
• Music Video


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Mummy Returns [Blu-Ray] (2001)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 8, 2015)

After the unexpected box office success of 1999’s The Mummy, it became inevitable that a sequel would appear. However, few foresaw how popular the new flick would be. The $201 million take of Returns didn’t obliterate Mummy’s earnings, but that number still marked a nice increase over the first film’s $155 million.

Why did the sequel capture such a strong audience? That’s a good question. I suppose brand identification may have been part of it; folks had two years to live with the original and rewatch it on video, so foreknowledge of the sequel was strong.

While Mummy got a decent advertising push, it didn’t compare to the blitz that accompanied the sequel. The success of Mummy caught the studio by surprise, but that wouldn’t occur for the second flick.

While most of the Mummy cast returned for Returns, one addition also padded the box office. Dwayne Johnson – then better known as pro wrestler “The Rock” - proved to be a strong draw for audiences, and the studio had so much faith in him that they green-lit a prequel called The Scorpion King, one that focused mainly on his character.

All of those factors likely contributed to the success of Returns, but perhaps the strongest one related to the film itself. Returns attempted to reinvent no wheels, as it uniformly gave the audience what they wanted. I wouldn’t call it a remake of the first movie, but it bore many similarities to the original.

That didn’t mean that it was an unenjoyable experience, as I actually thought it was a fairly fun piece. Returns takes place in 1933, 10 years after the events of Mummy. Protagonists Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) got married and now have an eight-year-old son named Alex (Freddie Boath). They live in England where they continue to deal with antiquities, and Evie’s brother Jonathan (John Hannah) still plays the part of the ne’er-do-well aspiring playboy.

Before we rejoin them, however, we spend a few minutes in ancient Egypt where we learn the legend of the Scorpion King (Johnson). After the film sets up his tale, we jump to “current” events and the action starts. Basically, it’s the “Year of the Scorpion”, which means that he and his armies can be resurrected. Fans of the first film’s baddie Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) - including his reincarnated lover Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia Velasquez) - want to bring him back so he can quickly off Scorpy and take over his warriors so they can rule the world.

Not surprisingly, Rick, Evie and crew get involved in the enterprise when they discover an important doodad. While Alex examines it, the bracelet attaches itself to his arm. It also reveals the path to Scorpy’s hideout, so he becomes crucial to the action. Essentially Imhotep comes back to life and his flunkies kidnap Alex so they can get to the Scorpion King. The O’Connells chase after him so they can save their son and the world itself!

Although the quest for Alex brings some twists to the plot, for the most part the story of Returns comes across as little more than an alternate version of the original. That’s not unusual for sequels; many of them essentially just repeat their predecessors with some small differences.

While this does mean a lack of creativity, I don’t necessarily regard it as a horrible thing. After all, the original Mummy wasn’t exactly a bastion of inventiveness either; it mixed aspects of prior Mummy films with an Indiana Jones feel.

Returns continues along those lines; it really is a “more of the same” movie, but it succeeds pretty well nonetheless. Both flicks epitomize the “popcorn flick” genre. They seem fairly brainless but they offer enough thrills and excitement to be worthwhile.

On the positive side, Returns packs in a lot of good action. If anything, it pours on more of these sequences than seen in the original film. From almost literally start to finish, Returns pounds the viewer with these pieces, and many of them are quite good. The double-decker bus chase through London is a lot of fun, and though it clearly steals stylistic ideas from the raptor attack in The Lost World, the pygmy mummies are also a delightful touch that offers something unusual.

The introduction of young Alex also creates a new dynamic, even though he spends much of the movie away from his parents. Often I dislike kids placed in this sort of situation. Actually, most film children are fairly annoying as a whole, and I can’t say that Boath does a lot for me. That said, he could - and probably should - have been much more grating than he was. I think he seems acceptable in the part, and Alex is a tolerable character. Under the circumstances, that’s about the best I can ask.

The two female leads get expanded screen time in Returns. Weisz leaves behind the mousy librarian of the original. In a leap of growth apparently patterned on the development of Sarah Connor between Terminator and Terminator 2, she becomes a tough archaeolo-chick here. Weisz makes the change seem natural and believable, and it’s nice to see an action movie female who can usually take care of herself, though the movie inevitably forces her to be saved at some point. Nonetheless, she does some rescuing of her own, so the story strikes a nice balance.

Velasquez’s Anck-Su-Namun receives an enormous boost in screen time. She was barely a factor in the original, as she was evoked in spirit much more than she was seen in the flesh, rotting or otherwise. However, she plays a major role in Returns, and I like this added breadth. Not only does it allow Anck-Su-Namun to become a real personality, but it also means that we see not one but two sexy catfights between Velasquez and Weisz! Can’t beat that!

As for the other returning actors, they show a minor diminution in their parts. Actually, I can’t honestly state that Fraser and Vosloo spend less time on-screen during Returns; technically they may get more face time here. However, I felt as though they’re less substantial here.

Perhaps because of the presence of Anck-Su-Namun, Imhotep seem less like he’s in charge, whereas he clearly was the prime baddie in Mummy. The same goes for Fraser; since his wife can hold up her end of the bargain - and plays a stronger role in the plot - he appears as though he doesn’t have quite as much to do.

In addition, Fraser seems somewhat tired in the role. I’ve always liked him as an actor, and he isn’t bad as Rick, but he lacks the same spark and flair I expect from him. Rick appears less powerful and slick, and he offers a mildly lackluster personality.

On the other hand, Weisz answers the new challenge well, as she presents a lively and active character. Perhaps this is because she got to do something new while Fraser repeats the same old thing from the first movie.

While Johnson’s participation received a great deal of publicity, he barely registers in the actual flick. The Rock only appears in person during the first few minutes of the movie. While the Scorpion King makes a return at the end of the flick, he does so in a computer animated manner, with no human involvement.

Speaking of which, the CGI in The Mummy looked excessively artificial, and the sequel offers no improvements. Smaller elements tend to work acceptably well, but large CG characters appear very cartoony. Whether Imhotep, the Anubis warriors, or the Scorpion King, all of these pieces feel like they come from computer game cutscenes.

The Scorpion King suffers the most because his head has to resemble a real person; at least the others use totally unreal elements. The weak CGI isn’t a terrible distraction, but it does take away from the experience at times.

Still, in the end, The Mummy Returns offers a generally enjoyable action/fantasy experience, though not one without flaws. The movie seems fun but not anything special. It’s the kind of flick that entertains you for a couple of hours and that’s it; you don’t remember much about it when it finishes.

To be sure, Returns provides an above-average adventure, as it’s a good summer flick. It simply isn’t anything particularly memorable or exceptional.

Odd footnote: different sources seem confused about the chronology between Mummy and Returns. This shouldn’t be tough. Clearly the first one noted that it was 1923, while the sequel firmly stated it was 1933. Correct me if my math’s bad, but that looks like 10 years to me. However, various sources found on this disc state that Returns takes place eight or nine years after the events of Mummy. Weird!

Second footnote: am I the only one who thinks Patricia Velasquez looks and sounds a lot like Sandra Bullock? At one point, she even comments to Alex about something that would happen “while you were sleeping”. Sly nod to her Bullock resemblance, or pathetic stretch made by yours truly? You be the judge!

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A/ Bonus B

The Mummy Returns appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Only minor concerns appeared here.

Sharpness was pretty crisp and detailed through the entire movie. A few shots looked slightly soft, but it was well-defined and accurate the vast majority of the time. I witnessed no examples of moiré effects or jagged edges, and I also saw no edge enhancement. In regard to print flaws, the movie appeared to be totally free of grain, grit, speckles, nicks, blotches or other defects; it was a clean and fresh presentation.

As was the case with the first movie, Returns mainly featured a golden palette, and the disc replicated these warm tones nicely. Colors seemed to be vivid and accurate, and other hues also came across well. The reds of various costumes looked vibrant and solid, and the entire flick showed clean and distinct colors.

Black levels were deep and rich, but shadows detail was just a smidgen heavy. Many scenes came with firelight, and I thought those could’ve been a wee bit better defined. Nonetheless, these are nit-picks, as Returns presented a consistently fine visual experience.

Also terrific was the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The Mummy Returns. The soundfield presented a broad and consistently engaging affair. All five channels received a strong workout, as they offered a variety of elements throughout the movie.

Music showed good stereo separation and breadth, and effects seemed to be well placed and accurately localized. These aspects came from logical places and they moved neatly between speakers.

The surrounds played an active role in the film, but the many action pieces provided the best examples of the engulfing audio. Probably my favorite scene occurred when Imhotep unleashed the giant wave. All of the speakers came vividly to life and the sound melded together well to create a clear and vibrant impression. While that sequence worked best, much of the movie included very engrossing sound.

Audio quality also appeared to be top-notch. Despite the fact that much of the speech must have been looped, I thought dialogue always sounded warm and natural. The lines blended well with the action, and I heard no concerns related to intelligibility or edginess.

Music sounded bright and showed good fidelity with fine dynamic range. Effects were the most prominent aspect of the mix, as they presented accurate and bold elements that really created a fine mix. Bass response was loud and tight, and the low-end really shook the house at times - literally. Ultimately, The Mummy Returns offered a fine audio track that really added to the movie.

How did the picture and sound of this Blu-Ray compare with those of the 2008 “Deluxe Edition” DVD? Audio was smoother and more dynamic, while visuals seemed tighter, clearer and more film-like. The Blu-ray provided a nice upgrade.

We get most of the old DVD’s extras and some fresh components. We open with an audio commentary from writer/producer/director Stephen Sommers and executive producer/editor Bob Ducsay. Both men were recorded together for this running, screen-specific affair. Their Mummy commentary offered an entertaining experience, and their material for Returns repeated the successful track from 1999.

As with their commentary for Mummy, Sommers and Ducsay kept the tone light and lively as they went over a variety of production elements. They covered technical concepts, alterations made to the script, various anecdotes plus a lot of smaller bits, especially in regard to goofs and gaffes. They were totally willing to poke affectionate fun at the flick as they told us of their errors and also acknowledged some of the movie’s stretches.

One wonderfully catty aspect came from their periodic razzing of Roger Ebert; apparently they felt he took the movie too seriously, so they got back at him for his appraisal of the flick. (Hopefully this won’t seem tastleless now that Ebert has passed, but since the critic was very much alive when Sommers and Ducsay recorded the track in 2001, it shouldn’t be a distraction.) This was a fun and informative commentary that I definitely enjoyed.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray, we get an interactive feature called U-Control. While this usually includes a few different elements, The Mummy just goes with picture-in-picture tidbits. These provide shots from the set, storyboards and remarks from Sommers, producer Jim Jacks, VFX supervisor John Berton, costume designer John Bloomfield, technical director Mark Hamilton, production designer Allan Cameron, and actors Brendan Fraser, The Rock, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Oded Fehr, Freddie Boath, and Arnold Vosloo. We learn about the development of the sequel, new characters and cast members, story issues, visual effects and sets, and costumes.

While I thought the U-Control for The Mummy was lackluster and inefficient, it looks brilliant compared to this dud. For the film’s first half, most of the soundbites relate character/story basics. Do the disc’s producers not understand that we own the movie and have already watched it? Why throw those kinds of promotional bits into a running movie feature?

As the film progresses, it tends to spend most of its time with effects, and those tidbits can be interesting. However, they’re covered elsewhere on the disc, and those featurettes are more efficient. I can’t think of much reason to bother with this U-Control; it’s one of the least interesting I’ve seen.

Next come some Outtakes. We discover six-minutes and five-seconds of the usual goof-ups and clowning. These were mildly entertaining, though the only one that actually made me laugh briefly featured an impression of Scotty from Star Trek by John Hannah. Blink and you’ll miss it, though.

After this we locate a Sneak Peek for 2008’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. In this three-minute clip, we get a few remarks from Ducsay, Sommers, Fraser, director Rob Cohen, and actors Luke Ford, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh and Maria Bello. The piece exists to promote the new movie, so nothing substantial appears here.

Next comes the five-minute and 59-second An Army to Rule the World – Part 2. It features Sommers, Vosloo, Berton, Jacks, and visual effects art director Alex Laurant as they discuss the film’s depiction of the Anubis Warriors and the Pygmy Mummies. You’ll find a few interesting comments, but the featurette’s brevity means it lacks substance. (Oh, and if you want to see Part 1, you’ll have to get the Blu-ray of The Mummy.)

Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy lasts eight minutes, seven seconds and features Sommers, Berton, Jacks, Weisz, Fraser, Hannah, producer Sean Daniel, film historians Steve Haberman and Sir Christopher Frayling, makeup artist Nick Dudman, and author Stephen Jones. The show nods in the direction of the 1930s Mummy but really exists to promote the 1999 Mummy and Mummy Returns. It’s a superficial puff piece that wastes the viewer’s time.

Visual and Special Effects Formation broke down into some subsections. There were four movie scenes examined: “Imhotep Returns”, “Pygmy Mummies Attack”, “Anubis Warriors Rising”, and “Scorpion King Revealed”. Each looked at five different stages, from concept to final, and all except the actual film footage included comments from Berton. The snippets ran for a total of 16 minutes and 10 seconds of material.

Overall, I thought this was good stuff. The pieces showed the elements as they evolved, and they offered some solid insights into the process. One nice change: the addition of a “Play All” option absent from the prior disc. That makes the feature much more user-friendly.

An Exclusive Conversation With the Rock offered a three-minute and 42-second interview clip with the actor. This piece provided little more than a fluffy exercise in which the Rock told us about Scorpion King and his new experiences as an actor. It seemed mildly watchable but inconsequential.

The longest program found here is a Spotlight On Location featurette about The Mummy Returns. This 20-minute show offered the standard mix of movie clips - lots of them, actually - plus shots from the set and interview snippets with principals. Mainly we heard from the actors as well as director Sommers, Jacks, Berton and others. Some of the effects material was moderately interesting, and I also liked some of the “behind the scenes” shots, but as a whole, this was nothing more than a standard promotional piece. For the most part, it provided footage that told us about the story and the characters and how great the movie would be. In other words, it was a thin and superficial show.

Next comes a Storyboard to Final Film Comparison. It breaks into “Blimp Being Chased” (2:32), “Pygmy Chase” (3:15) and “Scorpion King Final Battle” (2:01). These use the standard format with the movie on the top half of the screen and the boards on the bottom. It’s a good presentation.

Finally, we locate a music video for Live’s “Forever May Not Be Long Enough”. This used the standard video-from-a-movie format. The band lip-synched in front of an Egyptian-themed setting; those shots were intercut with many movie segments. It was okay for the genre but it did little for me. The four and a half minute piece also provided an ad for the soundtrack album as a whole.

I was fairly pleased with The Mummy Returns. The movie was a capable extension of the first film. I thought the original seemed fresher and more winning, but the sequel did well in its own right. The Blu-ray offered very good picture, terrific sound, and a smattering of generally positive extras. The Blu-ray delivered a nice rendition of a fun movie.

To rate this film, visit the 2001 DVD review of THE MUMMY RETURNS

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main