The purpose of a sequel is to take the narrative of one IP and then build on it by adding additional characters and stories. While this task may seem simple, the reality is that it is complicated. Especially when its predecessor is well regarded.
The Mummy Returns (2001) takes place after The Mummy (1999) and before The Scorpion King (2002) and. Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) are now happily married and living in London with their son. They are still in the archeology game and believe that Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) will never enter their lives again. But when an artifact emerges and Imhotep’s remains arrive in the city, they will again have to send him back to the world of the dead.
I appreciate the addition of a precocious, troublemaking child, Evelyn’s growth as more than a damsel in distress, and the backstory set in ancient Egypt. It adds depth, allowing the audience to see Imhotep as more than just a generic villain. But my main problem is that Evelyn still needs Rick to rescue her, even when she claims to have learned some form of self-defense.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I received 2 educations: one inside the classroom and the other outside of the classroom.
In the 1994 movie, With Honors, Monty (Brendan Fraser) has just completed his thesis, which he hopes will get him on the right track to a healthy and successful career. Then his computer dies on him (as usual at the most inconvenient of times). With only one physical copy of the thesis back to his name, Monty runs to the library to make a copy. But before he can get to the library, Monty slips and falls. The envelope holding the single copy of his thesis falls through a grate.
Desperate to locate it, Monty goes through the building that is connected through the grate. In the basement he finds homeless drifter named Simon (Joe Pesci) burning the pages to stay warm. Simon makes Monty a deal. Simon will give Monty a page a day. In return, Monty will house and feed Simon until he gets back what is left of his thesis. Monty hopes to get his thesis back, what he surprisingly gets is an education that goes far beyond the classroom.
What I like about this movie is not just the dynamic between Fraser and Pesci, but also the idea that education and learning does not stop when we leave the classroom.
The Cold War was a scary time in The United States. Americans genuinely believed that the Soviet Union were at any moment aiming nuclear rockets, ready to kill millions.
Adam (Brendan Fraser) was raised in a bomb shelter. His parents, Calvin (Christopher Walken) and Helen (Cissy Spacek) believe that the nuclear war between America and the Soviet Union started in earnest. They raised their only son in the shelter. After 35 years in the bomb shelter, it is the only world that Adam knows.
Adam is sent to the surface to get food and supplies. He is extremely surprised that not only is the world intact, but it has changed since his family went underground. He also meets Eve (Alicia Silverstone), who is the cynical ying to Adam’s naive yang. Eve agrees reluctantly agrees to help Adam find the food and supplies that he needs. As they work together, something changes within their relationship. Will they end their partnership once Adam has acquired what he has come up to the surface to find or is there something more?
This movie is not completely subpar in terms of the romantic comedy genre, but it’s not the best that the genre can offer audiences. The chemistry between the two leads is questionable during some scenes. But it’s cute, which in terms of the genre, means it not all bad.
For every serious story, there is the perfect parody. For Tarzan, that is George of the Jungle (1997).
Based on the 1967 animated series, the movie stars Brendan Fraser as the dopey, not all there Tarzan wannabe and Leslie Mann as Ursula Stanhope. George’s parents were killed in a plane crash as it traveled over the jungle. He was discovered by and raised by the wise Ape (voiced by John Cleese). As an adult, George meets Ursula when she is part of a safari. They form a relationship and Ursula takes him back to the United States to meet her family. Ursula and George together in the jungle is easy. Ursula and George in the states with her trying not to be judgmental parents, is not easy. Will their relationship work or will their differences tear them apart?
The movie, like the television show does not require a lot of brain cells. George is not the sharpest nail in the tool box. But it is a fun movie and sometimes, I don’t, at least, don’t want to think. I just want to enjoy the movie.
Hollywood has a dirty little secret. When one movie is successful or one genre becomes the genre of the moment, the good people in Hollywood will continue until that movie or that genre has hopefully run it’s course.
In 1999, Hollywood brought back the monster/action genre with The Mummy. Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) is an English librarian who has become interested in the ancient Egyptian city of Hamunaptra. Rick O’ Connell (Brendan Fraser) is saved by Evelyn from death. Rick joins Evelyn and her brother, Jonathan (John Hannah) at an archeological dig, but they are not alone in following the results of the dig. Another group is interesting in the results and resurrecting the mummy of a high priest who has the power to unleash a powerful curse.
This movie harkens back to the 1930’s and the era of the black and white monster movies of the era. While it is escapist entertainment at it’s best, I can’t help but think that Evelyn is just a little too much of the damsel in distress for my taste.
Three years later, after a sequel to the Mummy was released, a sort of prequel entered movie theaters. The Scorpion King, an off shoot of a character that was seen briefly in The Mummy Returns was presented to audiences. Mathayus (Dwayne “The Rock Johnson) is a desert warrior hired to assassinate Cassandra (Kelly Hu) the sorceress who evil King Memnon (Steven Brand) is using to predict the outcomes of battle. What seems like an easy capture will become much more than the hero can imagine.
Again, this movie, at best, is escapist entertainment. While it’s not completely intellectually stimulating, it’s fun ride and an enjoyable film.
Tomorrow, January 27th, is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
While I do not want to talk about Auschwitz directly, what I want to talk about in this post the hatred that poisons hearts and minds and leads to the creation of places such as Auschwitz.
I am going to feature two movies, where the theme is antisemitism.
In School Ties (1992), David Green (Brendan Fraser) is the new boy in school and the new star of the football team. In order to survive, he has to hide his Jewish faith from his classmates. When a jealous, bigoted classmate accuses David of cheating and his faith is revealed, he must make a hard choice.
Forty five years earlier, Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) was released in movie theaters. Philip Green (Gregory Peck) is a reporter who takes on the assignment of investigating antisemitism. To fully understand the subject, he goes undercover as a Jew and will soon discover the hatred that he did not expect.
Both of these movies made and continue to make audiences squirm. As far as I am concerned, that is a good thing. Being uncomfortable leads to dialogue, dialogue leads to questions, questions lead to open conversation and open conversation leads to understanding.