"We do not want to wake the gods " warns one unscrupulous henchman while raiding the tomb of the Scorpion King (The Rock) an ancient Egyptian warrior frozen in time after promising his soul to the god Anubis. Too late. The henchman's employees led by the reincarnation of Imhotep's beloved Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia Velasquez) bring Imhotep back to life eight years after adventurer Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) vanquished him. The plan: use Imhotep to overthrow an awakened Scorpion King for the right to rule the world. O'Connell and now-wife Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) step in to save the day and things get personal when Imhotep kidnaps their son Alex (Freddie Boath) who possesses a bracelet that serves as a map to the Scorpion King's lair. A contrived distracting and redundant connection between our heroes and their adversaries that dates back 3 000 years further complicates matters.
Fraser once again struts through dark and musty pyramids with all the confidence of a younger though less dashing Indiana Jones. Weisz grappling with an Evelyn now inexplicably redefined as Cleopatra on steroids throws a mean punch. John Hannah returning as Evelyn's ne'er-do-well brother merely bickers with Boath. Throwing Boath into the mix is a bad idea: he's a precocious and irritating brat the kind you'd expect to have a catapult in his back pocket. Vosloo isn't particularly menacing. Maybe it's because Imhotep seems to be under the thumb of the exotic and hardly mysterious Anck-Su-Namun. As for The Rock it's too early to tell whether he'll be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger; the WWF bad boy spends his meager three minutes on screen glowering while slicing and dicing hordes of enemy soldiers which is much better than what he does now under Vince McMahon's watchful eye.
Everything about The Mummy Returns seems as old and musty as a pile of 3 000-year-old bandages. Writer-director Stephen Sommers introduces the Scorpion King via several hurried battle scenes. He shamelessly plunders the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark when reacquainting us with O'Connell's heroics and revives key scenes from The Mummy to establish Alex as his mother's son and to demonstrate Imhotep's powers. Even the visual effects look horribly rushed and phony. Still Sommers manages to mine great thrills out of an attack by the blowpipe-wielding pygmies who guard the Scorpion King and a dynamic chase through the streets of London with O'Connell and crew fleeing Imhotep's mummified minions on a No. 12 double-decker bus. Too bad Sommers botches the climax all but eliminating Imhotep from the final showdown with an atrociously computer-generated Scorpion King.