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The Mummy Returns (**)
Written and Directed by Stephen Sommers
The Mummy Returns
Principal Cast
Brendan Fraser -- Rick O'Connell
Rachel Weisz -- Evelyn Carnahan O'Connell
John Hannah -- Jonathan Carnahan
Arnold Vosloo -- Imhotep
Oded Fehr -- Ardeth Bay
Patricia Velazquez -- Meela/Anck-Su-Namun
Freddie Boath -- Alex O'Connell
Alun Armstrong -- British Museum Curator
Dwayne Johnson -- The Scorpion King
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje -- Lock-Nah
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

I don't know how many of you want to be professional writers. If that is your ambition, you will be glad to know that the job of writer is a very easy one -- even a film director can do it. All you have to do is borrow bits from other writers. Start with the water rushing through tunnels from Indiana Jones, cut to the creatures crawling under the skin from The X-Files, then move on to Lara Croft's London mansion, and so on. Along the way, toss in the airship from Master of the World, the face in the water from The Abyss, and the creatures moving through tall grass from Jurassic Park II. Make the music as close to John Williams as you can and still stay out of jail. Pretty soon, you've got a movie: The Mummy Returns. Every chapter stolen from somewhere else. Index copied from old Vladivostok telephone directory.

The Mummy Returns was on two screens, both sold out -- it's the perfect summer movie: fun house horrors, cotton candy for the eyes and ears, and every theatre Air Conditioned! You'll enjoy it, though by tomorrow it will have melted away. During the dull spots, I amused myself by trying to figure out just what it is that makes the difference between good writing and bad, so I can apply what I learn to my own attempts at fiction.

One important lesson: make it clear what your hero wants. Indy wants the Lost Ark. Luke wants to become a man. The hero of The Mummy Returns -- I forget his name -- is adrift, rescuing whoever needs rescuing at the moment, fighting whatever villain picks a fight.

Another lesson: once you establish a monster's powers, you are stuck with those powers. The minute a monster starts pulling his punches, the audience looses interest. It is OK for the Storm Troopers to always miss because it was established from scene one that Storm Troopers are lousy shots. It would not be ok for Darth Vader to always miss. So, if your omnibus is overrun with monsters who can punch holes through steel, it is not OK for your entirely mortal hero to trade punches with them and not feel the blows.

But what really makes good writing is not the absence of defects but the presence of something new, something original, something that asks the next question, does the unexpected, puts a new twist on an old idea, tells the truth.

All in all, The Mummy Returns is a pleasant enough way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but has nothing new to say, nor any fresh way of saying it.

Copyright © 2001 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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