Zeta-Jones, Fraser Swap Talent Agencies
By Chris Gardner
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Rival talent firms Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and William Morris Agency (WMA) played a bit of client switcheroo this week, with Catherine Zeta-Jones exiting WMA for CAA and Brendan Fraser departing CAA for WMA.
Zeta-Jones, who had spent nearly a decade at WMA, most recently starred on the big screen opposite George Clooney in the Coen brothers' "Intolerable Cruelty." A year ago, she won the Oscar for her supporting turn in "Chicago."
Fraser had been represented by WMA until fall 1999, when he followed his agent to CAA. The star of "Gods and Monsters" was most recently onscreen in "Looney Tunes: Back in Action."
May 09, 2002 Brendan Fraser, touring the Holocaust exhibit. The Museum of Tolerance. Hell-Ay. The suit-sporting B.F. joined a guided group but kept mostly to himself and concentrated on the subject at hand. Despite his low-key demeanor, the salivating tourists couldn't help but notice his handsome mug and lack of look-at-me-itis. So refreshing when stars get out and mingle with us regular folk.
Wednesday April 3, 2002
ONE OF my favorite things - the baby announcement! This time it's the marvelous Brendan Fraser and his wife, Afton, wed four years, who expect their first child in late October. He's the "George of the Jungle," "Gods and Monsters," "The Mummy" star.
Fraser "Scrubs" in for NBC comedy
Mon Feb 11,12:32 AM ET
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Brendan Fraser has wrapped up a deal to guest star in two episodes of NBC's "Scrubs," playing the ex-brother-in-law of John C. McGinley's crabby Dr. Cox.
He'll appear opposite another guest star -- "Drew Carey" regular Christa Miller -- in a pair of episodes set to air during the May sweeps. Storyline details are still being kept under wraps.
Miller has appeared in "Scrubs" before, but this will mark a rare small-screen appearance for Fraser.
In addition to "The Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns," Fraser's feature credits include "George of the Jungle," "Gods and Monsters" and "Monkeybone." On TV, Fraser had a part in the Showtime picture "Twilight of the Golds."
Relive the Mummy on TNT
The Scorpion King is coming, but diehard fans who just can't wait for the spring 2002 release can cure their New Year hangovers in time to excavate the power of The Mummy when it airs exclusively on TNT this January 4 at 8pm et/pt.
Remember our heroes? A former Foreign Legionnaire (Brendan Fraser), a spunky librarian (Rachel Weisz) and her shiftless brother (John Hannah) in 1920s Egypt accidentally release a naughty high priest (Arnold Vosloo) from his mummified curse of 3000 years earlier in this retelling of the classic bandaged chiller. This thoroughly modern Mummy updates the tale of the entombed with Industrial Light and Magic affects, while bowing to the cliffhangers of matinee days gone by. Written and directed by Steven Sommers, the film combines flesh-eating scarabs, hair-raising rescue and smart aleck romance for equal parts gross-outs and guffaws, a prescription for box-office success. Not surprisingly, The Mummy and its sequel, The Mummy Returns, were two of the highest worldwide grossing films in box-office history, ranking 36th and 33rd on the all-time list, respectively. Now MCA/Universal Pictures is strategically betting on The Scorpion King to rake in top dollar. Evidently, as the popular Hollywood motto goes: "If it ain't broke, why fix it?" As reinforced by the recent strong performances of Rush Hour 2 and Jurassic Park 3, moviegoers continue to flock to the theaters in support of big budget sequels. Whether The Scorpion King sinks or swims at the box office remains to be seen, but the eternal staying power of The Mummy is certain. So before you catch the third installment (a prequel to the first two films) this spring, pay homage to Lord Imhotep and watch the original, The Mummy, only on TNT. For more information, visit The Mummy on TNT.
Poll: What would you take to your tomb? >>
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Cast Confirmed For Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
The full cast for the new production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, starring American actor Brendan Fraser, has now been confirmed. The venue, the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, has also been announced with an opening date set for September 18.
Fraser, whose most recent block-buster film, The Mummy Returns, arrived in UK cinemas earlier this year, will play opposite British born Frances O'Connor whose latest screen role can be seen in Spielberg's new film A I: Artificial Intelligence, due for release in this country in the Autumn.
The pair, who appeared together in the remake of Bedazzled, will be joined on stage by Ned Beatty, Gemma Jones, Abigail McKern and Clive Carter. Anthony Page directs the Tennessee Williams classic.
Wrapping up world profits
By LOUIS B. HOBSON
For a 3,000-year-old corpse, Imhotep is very much alive.
Imhotep is the monster in Universal Pictures latest Mummy franchise that began with 1999's The Mummy and continues with this year's sequel, The Mummy Returns.
A prequel, The Scorpion King, starring wrestling superstar The Rock is scheduled for next summer.
The Mummy Returns has already passed the $200-million US mark in North America, making it the year's second-most successful film behind Shrek.
The Mummy Returns has set its own record by grossing an additional $200 million in international markets.
Nikki Rocco, president of Universal Pictures distribution, says The Mummy Returns "achieved top opening grosses of all time in Korea, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Russia, Taiwan and Venezuela and was the top foreign film opening of all time in Egypt, India and Turkey."
Rocco says the film also set records for Universal Pictures in Chile, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Spain, Thailand, Israel, Norway and Brazil.
"The Mummy Returns is one of those rare sequels that improved upon the original and outgrossed it."
For The Mummy Returns, Universal paid Brendan Fraser, 33, a reported $11 million US to reprise his role of adventurer Rick O'Connell.
Fraser admitted he "had the option not to do the sequel. There were ways they could have worked around Rick's absence from a sequel but after the great experience I had making The Mummy, I knew I wanted to be part of this second one."
Besides the paycheque, a major draw for Fraser was that Stephen Sommers, who conceived, wrote and directed the original, was at the helm for the sequel.
Once Fraser was on board, Rachel Weisz and John Hannah agreed to return, as well.
Where Fraser has been mum about the prospect of his involvement in a possible second sequel, Weisz is adamant that "if there is a Mummy 3, I won't be in it.
"These Mummy movies belong to the special effects crew and the technical people. They are the ones who create the magic that makes them so much fun for the audience.
"I enjoyed my participation in the first two but it's not an experience I'm eager to repeat."
Arnold Vosloo, who plays Imhotep, is game for anything "provided Sommers is involved.
"Stephen is the creative genius and the moving force behind these films much the same way Steven Spielberg is for the Indiana Jones movies and George Lucas is for Star Wars.
"Anything without Steven would be a pale imitation." (More on: The Mummy Returns).
The Mummy Returns DVD Press Release:
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOME VIDEO UNLEASHES
The Mummy Returns
The Year's Biggest Action Adventure Title Invades
Retail Outlets Nationwide on October 2, 2001
Universal City, California, June 18, 2001 —The year's first record-breaking theatrical blockbuster smash, The Mummy Returns, explodes into the marketplace on VHS and DVD on October 2, 2001. Featuring spectacular visual effects and edge-of-your-seat thrills, The Mummy Returns reunites original cast members Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, Arnold Vosloo, and John Hannah, and introduces World Wrestling Federation sensation The Rock in his feature film debut. The Mummy Returns VHS will be priced at $22.98 suggested retail and the DVD, in both widescreen and full frame versions, at $26.98 SRP. Pre-order close dates for VHS and DVD is August 14, 2001.
Setting a new non-holiday opening weekend benchmark of $68.1 million and generating over $300 million worldwide at the boxoffice to date, The Mummy Returns has already surpassed the impressive boxoffice records set by its acclaimed predecessor, The Mummy. Fueled by an extraordinary multi-million dollar marketing campaign, a national cross promotion with one of the world's most recognized brands, an instant savings offer, swashbuckling online support, and ideal public awareness during the heightened Halloween season, The Mummy Returns is poised to surpass the phenomenal home video success set by the original release of The Mummy.
Massive Media Campaign Begins Nationwide Assault
Universal's massive media campaign for The Mummy Returns includes national television advertising scheduled on such popular prime time shows as "Friends," "Survivor III: Africa," "ER," "Temption Island II," "WWF Smackdown," and "Everybody Loves Raymond," among others.
National cable advertising includes a sponsorship on Fox Family Channel's hit show, "Scariest Places on Earth" and a week long promotion on American Movie Channel's "Monster Movie Madness Marathon." Additional cable advertising will air on MTV, Discovery, TBS, USA, ESPN, E! Entertainment, TNT and other networks as well as in the top 25 markets.
National FSI's are also scheduled to drive awareness, expanding the reach to millions of homes.
The extensive media campaign for The Mummy Returns will reach 97% of households in the U.S. more than 15 times, generating a staggering five billion consumer impressions.
Cross Promotion with Top-Selling Tootsie Roll and IRC Offer
Universal Studios Home Video will partner with Tootsie Roll, one of the top selling candy brands and the largest lollipop producer in the world, in a national cross promotion. Consumers will receive a FREE bag of Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, or Charm Blow Pops candy with the purchase of The Mummy Returns DVD or VHS or any of the following titles: An American Werewolf in London, Tremors 3, Cape Fear (1991), What Lies Beneath, The Mummy (1999), Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Casper, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolf Man, Blood Simple and Play Misty for Me.
The Mummy Returns will also feature an on-pack IRC (instant redeemable coupon) offer for both the VHS and DVD versions. Consumers can receive an instant $3 savings off the purchase of The Mummy Returns DVD or VHS plus one of the following DVD or VHS titles: An American Werewolf in London, End of Days, Cape Fear (1991), What Lies Beneath, U-571 and The Mummy (1999). The offer expires January 15, 2002.
Monster-Sized Online Support
A huge online marketing campaign is also scheduled with the world's leading Internet portal, MSN.com. Universal Studios Home Video and MSN will develop a co-branded web site, themummy.msn.com which will feature links to a scarab game on MSN's Zone.com, a sweepstakes to win a trip to the "famous Museo de las Momias (the museum of the mummies) in Quanajato Mexico and other exclusive streaming media promotions with Windowsmedia.com. In addition, Universal Studios Home Video will partner with such powerful online sites as Discovery.com, E!online, WWF.com, MTV.com and Yahoo for special promotions and sweepstakes.
Dazzling DVD Bonus Features Includes Sneak Peak at The Scorpion King
The Mummy Returns DVD contains special added features including exclusive advanced footage from the Universal Pictures Spring 2002 release, The Scorpion King starring The Rock, animated menus, spotlight on location, behind-the-scenes featurette, interactive visual and special effects formation, feature commentaries with the director and editor, deleted scenes, a historical background segment called Egyptology 201, outtakes, theatrical trailers, production notes, cast and filmmakers bio and DVD-ROM features including The Mummy game, screen savers and browser.
The Mummy Returns builds on the phenomenal success of The Mummy, which opened theatrically in May, 1999 and went on to earn $155 million domestically and $415 million worldwide. The Mummy home video release, which debuted in September 1999, was that year's best selling live-action title and one of the first DVDs to ship over 1 million units. In April 2001, a two-disc version of The Mummy Ultimate Edition DVD was released, containing over six hours of entertainment including never-before-available bonus features and an exclusive free movie cash certificate for the theatrical release of The Mummy Returns.
DVD-ROM Features (Mummy Game Demo, Screen Savers, Browser)
- Layers: Dual
- Language: English 5.1 Surround, Captioned, French 5.1 Surround
- Aspect Ratio: Widescreen - 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen,
- Full Frame - Full Frame 1.33:1
- B&W/Color: Color
Universal Studios Home Video is a unit of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com), a part of CANAL+, the TV and Film division of Vivendi Universal, a new global leader in media and communications.
The Mummy Returns DVD Details
The Mummy Returns is set in 1935, ten years after the events depicted in the first film. Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) is now married to Evelyn (Rachel Weisz), and the couple has settled in London, where they are raising their 9-year-old son Alex (played by screen newcomer Freddie Boath). When a chain of events finds the corpse of Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) resurrected in the British Museum, the mummy Imhotep walks the earth once more, determined to fulfill his quest for immortality. But another force has also been set loose in the world…one born of the darkest rituals of ancient Egyptian mysticism, and even more powerful than Imhotep. When these two forces clash, the fate of the world will hang in the balance, sending the O'Connells on a desperate race to save the world from unspeakable evil, and rescue their son before it is too late.
- Street Date for VHS and DVD: October 2, 2001
- Pre-Order Date VHS: August 14, 2001
- Pre-Order Date DVD: August 14, 2001
- Selection Number: Widescreen 21100, Full Frame 21379
- Copyright: 2001 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.
- Program Length: 2 Hours 10 Min
- Rating: PG-13 for adventure action and violence
Interview with the Rock Spotlight on Location
Interactive visual and special effects formation from conceptual stage animations tests, plate photography, visual effects elements through final feature sequence: Imhotep Returns, Pigmy Mummies Attack, Anubis Warriors Rising, Scorpion King revealed
Feature commentary with director and editor
Chamber of Doom Virtual Tour
Unlock the secrets of The Scorpion King
Live music video
Mummy Returns Game Trailer
Cast and filmmakers
The Quiet American
(Miramax) Rated NYR
Release Date - February, 2003
Starring: Michael Caine, Brendan Fraser,
Hai Yen Do, Rade Serbedzija
Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Produced by: Sydney Pollack, Staffan Ahrenberg, Bill Horberg
Written by: Christopher Hampton, Robert Schenkkan
Who is Hollywood’s most underrated big-movie director when he’s not working with Bob Evans? Well, if it’s not Phillip Noyce, he’s pretty high on that list. (He made Sliver and The Saint with Evans… yeah…)
Noyce broke out in America with Dead Calm, which also broke Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane. Patriot Games, Clear & Present Danger and The Bone Collector were all deserving hits that didn’t get the acclaim of other films as successful.
So what’s a successful commercial director to do when his next big film – The Sum of All Fears – loses its star (Harrison Ford) and he loses interest? Well, in this case, the director makes two smaller, most personal films. I haven’t seen Rabbit Proof Fence, but I hear really nice things about this true Aussie tale of the young aboriginal girls trying to find their way home.
But I have seen The Quiet American. And I can assure you that it is a true delight.
I love Neil Jordan’s melodramatic adaptation of The End of the Affair, but before that, you have to go back to 1959’s Our Man in Havana and before that, you have to go to 1949’s The Third Man to find a great adaptation of a Graham Greene novel. In fact, I was reading a British site the other day that noted that Greene himself despised the 1958 version of The Quiet American. I think he would be quite proud of what Noyce and a top-of-their-game band of collaborators delivered in this film.
This is another wonderful throwback to the early 70s era of filmmaking, much like Gus Van Sant’s Finding Forrester, Soderbergh’s Erin Brockovich, the Weitz Bros.’ About A Boy and Doug Liman’s The Bourne Identity.
When Noyce conceptualized his movie, he took the title of The Quiet American to heart. This is a beautifully quiet movie, until the moments where loudness is demanded. But a simple reading of the film might be too simple. There are wonderful brush strokes by Noyce and his D.P., Christopher Doyle, who team up to blend their strokes the way the best do… by making them so seamless that they don’t call attention to themselves.
It’s not just the easy clever stuff, like dressing Michael Caine’s Thomas Fowler in muted browns and shades of blue and having his home made up of muted blues, while the “quiet” American, played by Brendan Fraser, wears loud, eye-catching outfits. It’s not just the magnificent use of color throughout the film. And it’s not just the care with which Doyle shoots Caine, allowing the character to age before our eyes in this story of around a month or two.
People have raved about violent sequences in Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down. And the “bullet-time” shoot out in Swordfish drew almost as much positive attention as Halle Berry’s topless scene. (“I’m leading the way… (sniff, sniff)… for other black women who want to show their boobs but have been… (sniff!)… kept in their bikini tops for too long!”)
A bombing sequence in The Quiet American is as good as any scene of its kind that I have ever seen on screen. As with much of Noyce and Doyle’s work here, it is deceptively simple. But it is quite brilliant. It reflects another sequence in a smart, surprising way. The editing, by John Scott, an Aussie who also did Sexy Beast, which makes him pretty competitive on degree-of-skill with the hottest editor working in Australia today, Jill Babock, is inspired. This is the kind of cutting that takes my breath away. And the images, in which Doyle is changing speeds and kinds of camera movement and using digital effects are real and raw and scary and beautiful. And watching over all of this is Noyce, who brings all of his action movie skills to the table without ever pushing too far.
There is more to this film… and less. In so many ways, this film embodies the glorious simplicity of the past. And yet, those little stokes...
Noyce does what Graham Greene adapters rarely do… he captures Greene’s sense of fate and coincidence. It never feels forced. It never feels like a movie. It feels like a story that happens like life happens. Yet, the weighty metaphor involved with a movie in a pre-American invasion Vietnam is profound. But the touch is light as a feather.
Michael Caine is excellent as a man who relaxes in the face of tension… until the heat gets turned up in ways he never sees coming. Brendan Fraser gives his quietest – and perhaps best – performance as the too-dumb-and-earnest-to-be-ugly American. And the supporting cast is spot on.
I’m going to stop now… I don’t want to oversell. I really like The Quiet American the way I liked The Bourne Identity… quality filmmaking, a good solid story and terrific performances. What more could you ask? Well, a good release date for the film, which is in Miramax scheduling limbo right now, would be an excellent start.
by Jeffrey Wells
A Quiet Rumble
Phillip Noyce's The Quiet American, a metaphorical, politically charged drama about a romantic triangle in early 1950s Vietnam, is easily one of the best films I've seen this year, and unquestionably one of the finest adaptations of a Graham Greene novel ever brought to the screen — right up there with The Third Man and Our Man in Havana. But Miramax Films honcho Harvey Weinstein is hedging about releasing it in '02, perhaps, according to Noyce, over concerns that the film's purported anti-American tone might strike an adverse chord with audiences still smarting from the shock waves of September 11.
That's the situation in a nutshell, according to Noyce, and that's regrettable. Actually, it's kinda lame.
I discussed The Quiet American for an hour or so with a colleague on Wednesday evening after seeing it at Miramax headquarters, and September 11 reverberations never even occurred to us. When Noyce told me about the September 11 factor Thursday morning, it was like ... what? This is not a strident political drum-beater, although politics are certainly part of it. And yet a staunchly apolitical viewer could watch it and say it's about sex, jealousy, and sugar daddies by way of The Scent of Green Papaya.
It's about Vietnam, yes, and the destruction that Americans like Brendan Fraser's Alden Pyle, guided by dogged anti-Communism and a belief that ends justify ruthless means, visited upon it. But the core story is about an older man — Michael Caine's Thomas Fowler, a London Times reporter based in Saigon — who's in love with a young Vietnamese girl (Hai Yen Do) and is trying to keep Pyle, his romantic rival, from taking her from him, which Fowler believes would be "the beginning of death."
What does this have to do with the national nightmare that rocked our psyches nearly a year ago, except for the fact that American policy has inspired hate in third-world countries? Is there anyone out there who still has his or her head in the sand about this?
The Quiet American's obvious political metaphors — Fraser is arrogant America, Caine is old-world colonialism, Hai Yen Do is Vietnam itself — work hand-in-hand with the romantic current, and never, in my view, overwhelm the import, which is a mix of many things. The film is about texture as much as "meaning." There are residues of sadness, regret, Asian sensuousity — you can feel the Vietnamese aromas and tropical humidity in every scene. The painterly photography by Chris Doyle (In the Mood for Love) is to die for. Christopher Hampton's screenplay (fortified by voice-over narration written by producer Anthony Minghella) is concise and, at times, near-poetic.
This movie is not a commercial slam-dunk — it's a haunting, adult, carefully measured piece — but the caliber of the work that went into it deserves a commercial run and a run at Oscar nominations (certainly for Doyle and especially for Caine, whose performance as the aging, love-struck Fowler is not only one of his best ever, but pays off in much richer and more flavorful ways than his Oscar-winning turn in The Cider House Rules) before the year is out.
A Miramax spokesperson denied that September 11 echoes were a factor in determining the release plans. "Our plan is to release [The Quiet American] in the U.K. in November, and have it play various festivals this fall, before determining an optimal release schedule for the U.S.," he said. "We haven't made the determination yet."
Ironically, says Noyce, The Quiet American was test-screened in Clifton, New Jersey on the evening of September 10. The numbers, he says, were good for a first cut. The next morning he and co-producer Kathleen McLaughlin were standing outside Miramax headquarters, located only a few blocks from the World Trade Center, at roughly 8:40 A.M., and wondering how to kill time before their scheduled 9:00 A.M. meeting with Harvey Weinstein and other Miramax staffers. A couple of minutes later, the first jet plowed into the North Tower, and the meeting was forgotten about.
Noyce and his team, including Quiet American producers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella, met with Weinstein and his executives at the offices of Talk magazine a couple of days later. Several weeks later a semblance of normality began to return and The Quiet American was eventually test-screened again. Reactions, however, were now different.
"On September 10 there was room in the American psyche for questions like the ones the film raises," says Noyce. "But it never got the same response [after September 11] because it always hit a nerve."
Why was the U.S. so savagely attacked nearly a year ago? Noyce believes that the reasons behind it "go back decades and are deeply rooted, and the only long-term solution, really, is to look at the past. If you really think about it, you have to do this. But when a family is attacked, a family pulls together." And in order for audiences "to buy into" his film, Noyce acknowledges, they have to accept that Pyle has earned the fate that awaits him at the end of Greene's story.
On a certain vague level, the thing that happens to Fraser mirrors (and this is really a stretch) the September 11 tragedy. A more jolting parallel in the film, however, is a savage act of terrorism that Fraser's character, unable to see past his anti-Communist ardor, has helped bring about. Nonetheless, one test-screening respondent's reaction, according to Noyce, read along the lines of, "I gave [this movie] a low score because I think it's time for us to pull together."
Yes, it is that. It's time for those of us who care more about good movies than kneejerk political sentiments to pull together and get in Harvey Weinstein's face and goad him into releasing The Quiet American in October, or perhaps November. It'll be showing at the Toronto Film Festival, along with Noyce's also excellent Rabbit-Proof Fence. Let the back-and-forth begin.
The Mummy Returns
Thankfully taking a tangent that results in a Crouching Cleopatra, Hidden Anubis experience rather than morphing into Pharaoh Smackdown! -- the much-publicized presence of pro wrestler the Rock being only one of many gambits tried -- The Mummy Returns is a bully follow-up to the 1999 international smash written and directed by Stephen Sommers.
A spectacular remake of a durable property from monster makers Universal -- and a May 7 opener two years ago that rocked the boxoffice -- The Mummy was a welcome return to Indiana Jones-style adventure, with irreverent comedy, ambitious sequences made possible only through special effects and lots of violent but PG-13-rated action. Returns, broadly entertaining and headed for monumentally huge business worldwide, is no less shy about sacrificing whole armies of good and bad guys in the struggle against ancient evil unleashed by nosy fortune hunters in the Egyptian desert.
Returning with Sommers are producers James Jack and Sean Daniel, cinematographer Adrian Biddle, production designer Allan Cameron, costumer John Bloomfield, editor Bob Ducsay, visual effects supervisor John Berton, creature/makeup wizard Nick Dudman and most of the first film's principal cast, including Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo and Oded Fehr.
Following the script for most Hollywood sequels, Returns revisits quite a few scenes from the first film -- from scarabs crawling under the skins of victims to a river transformed into a mummy-faced tsunami raging through Petra-like canyons -- but Sommers takes a few chances given the risky business of event moviemaking on this scale. Indeed, the plot is complex and loaded with details -- including godly interference by the jackal-headed Egyptian deity Anubis and a bracelet that projects holograms -- and highlighted by CGI-created sequences of massive battle and crowd scenes.
As in Mummy, Sommers gets nourishment from and finds much to lampoon in the old genre conventions. Purists might get ruffled feathers over the tongue-in-cheek flourishes, while it will no doubt be news to Egyptologists that 1933 was the Year of the Scorpion according to the old calendar.
One all-too-fleeting attraction of the original film, Patricia Velasquez as Imhotep's suicidal lover Anck-Su-Namun, is fleshed out as a character by way of a 1930s incarnation called Meela and a midfilm flashback that connects her to Weisz's reincarnated Egyptian character. Would you believe a sexy slave and Pharaoh's daughter dueling with daggers? The opening sequences accompanied by narration are set in 3067 B.C. and show how Pharaoh's rival the Scorpion King (the Rock) wages war and is defeated. Facing death, he makes a pact with Anubis while a golden pyramid and surrounding oasis magically emerge from the sands. The upstart is given a hellish jackal army to command and causes much havoc, but Anubis abruptly breaks up the party, and the royal arachnid is buried for 5,000 years.
The scenes shifts to '33, eight years after adventurer Rick O'Connell (Fraser), librarian Evelyn (Weisz) and her rakish brother Jonathan (John Hannah) survived the plagues and horrible revenge of resurrected mummy Imhotep (Vosloo) as well as the destruction of the long-lost city of Hamunaptra. Returns finds the lovers still taking risks, but they are married and possess a clever, mischievous son, Alex (Freddie Boath). The story has a lot of ground to cover and doesn't waste much time. Meela, the turbaned henchman Lock-Nah (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbajeand) and others seek to resurrect Imhotep, and they do so to the misfortune of several hapless confederates. They also want the bracelet of the Scorpion King, which ends up with potentially disastrous results on the wrist of Alex. At usually inopportune moments, the bracelet shows the way to the legendary Ahm Shere oasis of golden pyramid fame. The idea is to reawaken the Scorpion King, whom the more powerful Imhotep will defeat, thereby gaining control of the jackal army.
Coming to the rescue in early scenes set in London is dashing tomb guardian Ardeth Bay (Fehr). He goes on to gather warriors to oppose the Scorpion King's legions, an epic showdown that is credibly rendered by Sommers and the effects crew. Meanwhile, Evelyn has several visions of the past, including herself as Pharaoh's daughter Nefertiri fighting Anck-Su-Namun. The first film's murder of Pharaoh (Aharon Ipale) is replayed from her point of view, and Weisz's character overall is more rugged. Fraser sticks with his matinee hero moves that worked like a charm the first go-around.
All the motivation our heroic couple needs to travel into certain danger is the kidnapping of Alex. In the process of all parties converging on Ahm Shere, Rick, Evelyn, Ardeth and Jonathan employ complaining balloonist Izzy (Shaun Parkes). The final bouts involving the many-legged Scorpion King are somewhat anticlimactic and undercut by other amazing events that go down simultaneously. From swarms of pygmy mummies to several of the skeletal variety attacking the heroes on a double-decker bus, Returns has outstanding visual effects supplied by Industrial Light & Magic. Filmed on location in Jordan and Morocco and at Shepperton Studios in London, this production is in all regards the equal of the first.
The Hollywood Reporter
Copyright VNU eMedia, Inc. Used with permission from BPI Entertainment News Wire.
The Toledo Blade ReviewPlenty of Action in 'The Mummy Returns'By: Nanciann Cherry, Blade Staff WriterIt's no Raiders of the Lost Ark, but The Mummy Returns will do until Harrison Ford decides to don Indiana Jones' trademark hat again.This sequel to 1999's hit The Mummy is long on special effects and even longer on fun, as the former Legionnaire Rick O'Connell again battles the resurrected forces of ancient evil, including Imhotep, the high priest and assassin of Pharaoh Seti I.Director/screenwriter Stephen Sommers, who gave us The Mummy, obviously loves his creation and balances the even-more-lavish special effects and action with a great deal of visual and verbal humor and the same appealing cast from the original film: Brendan Fraser as Rick; Rachel Weisz as the Egyptologist Evie; John Hannah as Evie's reprobate brother, Jonathan; Oded Fehr as the mysterious man of the desert, Ardeth Bey; Arnold Vosloo as Imhotep, and Patricia Velasquez in a beefed-up role as Imhotep's beloved, Anck-Su-Namun.Make no mistake: The only food for thought in The Mummy Returns is the popcorn being munched in the audience. Sommers presents a traditional summer action-adventure, but he cares enough about his cast and audience, and yes, even a future sequel, to present a high-quality product. And if he borrows ideas from sources as diverse as Indiana Jones and Elizabeth Peters' Egyptian detective stories, at least he's borrowing from the best.The gleeful fun all begins in 1933, about a decade after Rick, Evie, and Jonathan managed to send Imhotep back to the world of the dead. Rick and Evie are married and have an 8-year-old son, Alex (Freddie Boath). On a dig in Egypt, they discover the bracelet of Anubis and return home to London.There, some very bad men kidnap Alex and the bracelet, taking both to the bowels of the British Museum, where they are going to resurrect Imhotep. They need him, you see, to fight the Scorpion King, another Egyptian bad guy, who, according to legend, walks the earth every 5,000 years, carrying destruction in his wake. Not that Imhotep is a sensitive New Age guy; he's every bit as nasty as the Scorpion King. Apparently the bad guys are reasoning that as long as evil is going to walk the earth, they may as well be on the winning side. If they wake up Imhotep, and give him the bracelet, he'll be so grateful, he'll protect them.With their son in jeopardy, Rick and Evie have no choice but to save the world. And though Jonathan is far less concerned about the future, his nephew is another matter.One of the great pleasures of The Mummy Returns is the interaction of Rick, Evie, and Alex as a family. These three love each other; no question, which is a nice touch. Alex, who initially seemed to be overly precocious, becomes an appealing kid: bright and plucky, but a long way from a superhero.While family values may be one of the foundations ofThe Mummy Returns, there's no lack of action, including a great chase scene in London involving a double-decker bus, some old cars, and a bunch of mummies.For the rest of the two-hour screen time, Sommers and crew throw in hissing serpents, clicking scarabs, pygmy skeleton hordes, and the resurrected dog-faced troops of Anubis. Oh yes, and the Scorpion King, played by the
World Wrestling Federation's The Rock.The best that can be said about him?Don't quit your day job, fella.The Mummy ReturnsWritten and directed by Stephen Sommers; produced by James Jacks and Sean Daniel. A Universal Pictures release, opening today at Showcase Maumee, Showcase Toledo, Fox Woodville and Sundance Kid Drive-In and rated PG-13 for adventure action and violence. Running time: 121 minutes. Critic's rating: 4 stars or very good
"No. I'm a real overcast sky, emerald green forest, sweater, coffee kind of guy." -Brendan Fraser
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