Directed by Stephen Sommers, starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, and Arnold Vosloo
For those of us who never fully recovered from seeing 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' as children, 1999's 'The Mummy' was the perfect homage to long lost Saturdays. It also proved to be a far superior slice of entertainment than the "we're-just-here-to-sell-toys" vacuity of 'Episode One: The Phantom Menace' and now writer-director Stephen Sommers has reunited with the original cast for the second installment in what promises to be a rather lengthy franchise.
Rick and Evie (Fraser and Weisz) have returned to England following the Egyptian adventure which saw them consign the mummy Imhotep (Vosloo) to the underworld. While on the surface their lives are the picture of wedded bliss (they even have a derring-do eight-year-old son), Evie is haunted by visions of The Scorpion King, a warrior whose legend warns will return from the dead to destroy the earth. But not if Imohtep has anything to say about it. His cronies have shaken his bones and brought him back to life, and with Rick and Evie stuck in the middle, the stage is set for a Middle East showdown.
Sommers' first film was perfectly pitched between knockabout action and belly laughs but while 'The Mummy Returns' finds Fraser and Weiss with less to say and more to shoot at, the set pieces – in particular a bus chase with the undead through the streets of London and a dust-up in the desert involving an army of sphinxes – make up for the shortcomings. Granted the under-explained plot makes Oliver Stone's 'JFK' look like a rejected script for 'The Hardy Boys' but 20-minutes in, with a mouthful of popcorn and an earful of gun shots, you've given up trying to follow it and are happy to let the CGI-fix kick in. And it does in some style: with a few extra zeros on the budget this time around, Sommers runs riot, giving us ancient cities, a horde of skeletal pygmies, a balloon-come-helicopter and a cameo from WWF star The Rock as The Scorpion King.
It may lack the intelligence of last year's 'X-Men' or the epic feel of the upcoming 'Lord Of The Rings' but you won't find a better slice of matinee action this summer.