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The Mummy Returns

I saw The Mummy Returns when it premiered in theaters (on request), and the movie was actually better than I expected. Don't get me wrong – it's eye candy, and there's really nothing there for the folks in the audience other than to be dazzled by the wall-to-wall special effects. The movie charges along at a nonstop pace from the first second to the last, with barely a breather throughout the entire show. And the plot? Well, it's more of a coherent plot (to comic book and pulp fans like us) than most other movies of this ilk, fortunately, and there's nothing that makes us wince and say to ourselves, "Oh, COME ON! Gimme a frackin' break!" Hell, this is the story of a 4,000 year old sorceror resurrected from the dead (for the SECOND time, no less) to do battle with a 4,000 year old army general who sold his soul for power, and who leads an army of 500,000 anthropomorphic dog creatures, and fight the good guys at the same time. (Yes, I know those beasties are supposed to be images of Anubis.) We're not talking Schindler's List or even Lawrence of Arabia here. We're just watching this movie for the special effects and cliffhangers, and while the cliffhangers are predictable, the special effects are good.

Sometimes I wonder about how people today are so accustomed to eye-popping special effects that we've become blase to them. The effects in The Mummy Returns are remarkable, yet there's nothing we haven't seen before. (The movie even uses the bit about a "wall of energy and death rushing towards you with an image of a howling face in it" twice!) And yet, back in the heyday of the cheap 1950s and 1960s sci-fi movies, directors and producers would have sold their souls to Anubis many times over for "everyday" multi-million dollar special effects of this sort! Lots of people are blase to special effects extravaganzas like this, so that even folks our age can just shrug and go "Eh, special effects are so-so." But there are kids who are raised on this stuff, who are so used to stunningly lifelike special effects that they sneer at the great classics of old like The War of the Worlds or The Day The Earth Stood Still or even the original Mummy starring Boris Karloff. Sigh…

(And by the way, the original Mummy is good, but it suffers from the same problem of many Hollywood movies of the early 1930s – it can get stiff and wooden (like Imhotep himself) because Hollywood was still learning the tricks of filming with sound in those days.)