thatcow

The meaning of immortality

I've not seen the first Mummy movie, but outside of perhaps a greater affinity for the characters, I'm not sure it actually matters for this movie is about action, plenty of it, and special effects in what seems like nearly every shot.

The storyline has something to do with some old Egyptian folk coming back by being resurrected in 1936. They are after this scorpion bracelet in the possession of the heroes of the last movie, Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. At some point, their kid snaps the bracelet on, so the baddies have to take him with them, and it becomes a kidnap/chase flick.

The movie does not offer us anything to do with ancient Egypt save some random names, a talented art department, and a make-believe war culture that probably has more in common with Hong Kong than anything on the continent of Africa. This film is not about subtlety, content, or character. Indulgence is the whole point, of action and effects heaped upon itself like a dessert only imaginable in a child's dreams.

Well, it's an approach. Hollywood often finds itself wavering between artistry and entertainment, botching good films by trying to strike an impossible balance. I'll encourage any film that has a sense of what it is, and the Mummy Returns is one of those.

On those terms, the movie has a good setup, doesn't waste time on needless character, just the immediate setup for why people want to fight each other. Some of the effects are good, but too often I keep thinking they seem unreal. Technology keeps improving, and while I don't have much to complain about when stitching live action and generated elements, those generated bits look a bit too regular. The textures are realistic for any particular section of screen, but larger structures appear unfortunately bland.

But still, I don't quite care. Throwing out artistic ideas does not mean a film can get away with being this predictable. Do you have any doubts about the boy being saved? When his mother is killed, how unlikely is it that she stays dead? Before the film is ten minutes old, most of our main characters should have been dead. Gunshots surround people, but they barely duck, as if they know they are immune. At one point, one onrushing wall of water catches up our heroes' feet several times before overtaking them - if only there were a few more camera angles, they might have outraced the threat entirely. When the stakes don't seem to have any meaning, we start to lose interest.

It's funny that there is this theme of immortality in the film, which mirrors the fact we've seen these characters in film after film - and I'm not just talking about the first Mummy film here. Heck, the soundtrack comes about as close as you can get to ripping off Raiders of the Lost Ark without paying residuals to Harrison Ford. The problem of seeing characters with no mortality is that their actions become almost irrelevant. We expect our heroes to go that extra step, but it becomes meaningless if there are no consequences. The film's unintended statement here is that achieving immortality is equivalent with achieving irrelevancy.

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Full profile for The Mummy Returns
Review: yet again. :-) star7/10 SillyconJester

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