Film: The Mummy Returns

The Mummy Returns (2001) is the second movie in The Mummy Trilogy.

Set in 1933, the film features the now-married Rick and Evelyn O'Connell and their inquisitive son, Alex. Imhotep is resurrected by an Egyptian cult to steal the supernatural Army of Anubis from the Scorpion King, an ancient immortal warlord who will use the army to end the world if he is awakened. When Alex is kidnapped during a raid on the O'Connell's home, they must get their son back and save the day.

This film provides examples of:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Imhotep sees what True Love is really like. He'd sacrificed everything, his position and his mortality for Ankh-su-namun, and she abandoned him when the chips were down. Then he got to watch Evy race to Rick's side in his moment of need. To top it off, while he was begging Ankh-su-namun to save him, his enemy was begging his beloved to save herself- and she refused, insisting on trying to help him. With this came the realization that his sacrifice and suffering had been pointless and empty, and he gave a bitter smile and let go of the ledge.
  • Artistic License Physics:
    • When the jets on the sides of the dirigible are activated, there is no drag on the balloon itself. And the balloon somehow manages to rise immediately after being soaked with probably many hundreds of pounds of water.
    • They outrun the sunrise.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Whoever slays the Scorpion King with the Scepter of Osiris automatically gains the authority to command the Army of Anubis.
  • Battle Couple: Rick and Evy as of the second movie.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The Medjai tattoo on Rick's wrist. The tattoo was there in the first movie as well, visible in a few scenes. Just no big deal was made about it.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Jonathan is the bumbling Plucky Comic Relief, true, but when Anck-su-namun is about to kill Evy in the first movie, he uses the Book of Amun-Ra to order the guard mummies to kill her without batting an eyelid. Here, he has no problem going one-on-one with a reincarnated Anck-su-namum with some Good Old Fisticuffs, despite not being the type that Would Hit a Girl, and holds her off long enough for Alex to decipher the spell that will bring his mother back to life. Considering that Anck-su-Namun had stabbed Evy to death not much earlier, giving her several good jabs to the face was probably as therapeutic for Jonathan as it was necessary.
  • Big "NO!": One particularly notable one happens at the end of "The Mummy Returns" where Imhotep runs into shot, poses, then screams. Rick and Evelyn both get more meaningful ones when they see each other in mortal danger, or being fatally stabbed.
  • Bond One-Liner: Rick to the Scorpion King. Amusingly, he actually meant what he was saying, as killing the King gave him control over the undead army, or in this case, the authority to banish it.
    Rick: [upon stabbing the Scorpion King] Go to hell! And take your friends with you!
  • Bookshelf Dominoes: This seems to run in the family, as Alex does it with freaking giant stone pillars. Although it makes you wonder what exactly those pillars were holding up.
  • Brats with Slingshots: Alex.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Anubis depowers Imhotep before he can fight the Scorpion King, presumably because he knew it wouldn't be very sporting with Imhotep's godlike powers.
  • Call Back: Evy and Rick's conversation in the tomb regarding what happened the last time Evy disregarded an ancient "Do Not Disturb" sign.
    • The columns crashing into each other in the catacombs calls back to the shelves in Evy's library falling in a similar fashion in The Mummy.
    • After briefly wondering how she was able to pull off an expert combat move (ultimately due to her past life as an Egyptian princess,) Evy slugs a mook with a headbutt and says to Alex, "That, I learned from your father." It calls back to Rick teaching Evy how to throw a punch in the first film.
      • And this gets its own Call Back later when Evy uses the same move against Anck-su-Namun.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Jonathan enters the movie carrying a scepter, and the scene plays out as though it's merely a random trinket he pilfered away like usual. Then Hafez draws attention to it by taking it with great respect and exclaiming "It can't be!" and it's forgotten for the rest of the movie until the end... It turns out to be the ceremonial spear needed to slay the Scorpion King.
    • The tattoo on Rick's wrist marking him as a Medjai from the second film. Look closely in The Mummy, and it's there.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Jonathan and Alex are established early on as learning how to read hieroglyphics. This eventually pops up after Evy dies and they need to resurrect her using the Book of the Dead... written in hieroglyphics.
    • Evelyn taught Jonathan to pronounce the symbol that is shaped like a stork near the end of The Mummy. In The Mummy Returns, Alex was stuck at the same symbol, and Jonathan proudly proclaimed "Oh! I know that one!", and told him how to pronounce it. Both of the people who knew the symbol (Evy then Jonathan) were fighting Anck-su-namun, and almost choked as they pronounce the symbol. Those trying to read the inscription (Jonathan then Alex) also made the same motion and comment whilst describing it.
      "It's a bird-" [flaps elbow like a wing] A stork!"
    • In the first film, Rick disarms an enemy when he is pressed against a pillar with a well-placed headbutt. In the second film, when the house is under attack, Evy uses the exact same move against a Mook and comments to Alex, "That I learned from your father!" She uses it again on Anck-su-namun during their late fight.
  • Close on Title
  • Conveniently Precise Translation: A visual version where Rick encounters a set of pictograms illustrating precisely how to kill the Scorpion King.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Some of Imhotep's mooks get drowned in tar.
    • Anck-su-namun in the second movie abandons Imhotep, unwilling to risk her own life to save him. As she is fleeing, she stumbles and falls into a swarm of scorpions (and possibly the flesh-eating scarab beetles). The scorpions/beetles crawl all over and inside her, choking her dying screams.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Ankh-su-namun/Meela has several moments. None are pleasant, but most are efficient:
    • Rather than share in the curator's disgust at having to barter with them, she lures Red, Jacques, and Spivey into Imhotep's room and locks the door on them. She then convinces the latter to open the forbidden chest, allowing Imhotep to harvest them.
    • She flat-out murders Evy/Nefertiri in cold blood when she first sees her again. No theatrics needed.
    • When Imhotep is de-powered by Anubis, she tries to dissuade him from fighting the Scorpion King alone. Things go poorly for him even with Rick to serve as a distraction, and only through sheer coincidence was the means to kill the Scorpion King present at all.
    • She quickly tires of a fist fight with Jonathan and pulls knives on him. This gives her a glaring moment of genre blindness however, when despite having the upper hand she does nothing about Alex using the Book of the Dead on Evy only a few meters away.
    • Rather than brave a collapsing pyramid to rescue Imhotep, she bolts for the door and leaves him to die.
  • Death by Materialism: Jonathan nearly ends up this way with the giant diamond on the pyramid. Rick tries to tell him it isn't worth his life, but Jonathan responds, "Yes, it is!" Rick eventually manages to pull both Jonathan and the diamond to safety.
  • Death as Comedy: A scene in the second movie where Jonathan leads a guy to be killed by pygmy mummies.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Between Evy and Anck-su-namun. Justified as Jonathan does try and fight her but is completely outmatched and Rick is busy fighting the Scorpion King.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Imhotep was not expecting to have his powers taken away by Anubis before fighting the Scorpion King.
  • Dirty Coward: First, Anck-su-namun stabs and kills Evelyn (she gets better, however) when her guard is down, then draws sais on an unarmed Jonathan (who ''still' manages to hold her off well enough regardless), and ultimately, when both she and Evelyn see their loved ones in mortal danger, she blindly flees while Evelyn charges forward.
  • Disgusting Public Toilet: Alex finds one on the train.
  • Everybody Hates Hades: Or rather, Anubis. He was actually one of the good guys in ancient Egyptian mythology.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: If only Hafez knew that. He wants to unleash Imhotep in the hope that he can stop the Scorpion King, not taking into account that no matter who wins it will be an evil undead. It works about as well as you'd expect. Well to be fair, the Scorpion King was going to destroy the world. Hafez probably figured Imhotep ruling it was better, and maybe that he might be spared.
  • Fanservice: Rachel Weisz and Patricia Velasquez dueling with sais in ancient Egypt, wearing skimpy gold lame loinclothes.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: Anck-su-namun wears a feather boa when invading the O'Connell's home. As well as a Feather Boa Constrictor.
  • Groin Attack:
    • When Anck-su-namun casts aside her daggers during Evy's flashback, they stick in the groins of a pair of statues nearby.
    • Two in the same fight scene. Evy groin-attacks a Mook, and Lock-Nah groin-attacks Ardeth. Ardeth recovers quickly. Aforementioned Mook doesn't, but that's more due to Alex knocking a bookcase onto him.
  • Hand in the Hole: Hafez does this. It does not go well for him.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Rick O'Connell grabs Ardeth and shoves him into a post to yell "What the hell are you doing here?" at him. Granted, Evy had just been kidnapped, but it seems a bit harsh of a way to treat your known ally.
  • Karmic Death: Anck-su-namun didn't last long after her "Heel Heel Turn".
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: As soon as he sees that the formerly human Scorpion King is now quite literally a centaur-like scorpion, Imhotep immediately pledges his loyalty and points the Scorpion King at Rick.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Evy, increasingly throughout The Mummy.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Played straight.
  • MacGuffin: The bracelet on Alex and the Sceptre of Osiris, as the golden stick-thing that actually opens into a spear that can defeat the Scorpion King.
  • Mr. Exposition: For the first half, Ardeth is made of this trope. If he's talking, odds are he's giving exposition.
  • Mythology Gag: In the original 1932 film, "Ardeth Bey" was Imhotep's alias in modern times.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Imhotep is no longer causing the plagues of Egypt, but he's seemed to pick up a few new tricks like Telekinesis.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: The Scorpion King's army.
  • Nonchalant Dodge: Shafek, one of the Mooks, does this a lot.
  • Off with His Head!: Anubis warriors are unkillable except by decapitation. That they are also quite numerous, giant killing machines doesn't make that task any easier.
  • Oh Crap!:
    • Ardeth and the Medjai have just defeated the Army of Anubis at great cost to their forces. They cheer. But that was only the first wave. Cue the entire horizon turning black as the unfathomable hordes of Anubis warriors blanket the sands. To be fair to poor Ardeth, though, he took it rather well, all things considered.
    • Alex's expression when Imhotep takes off his mask.
    • And an absolutely brilliant one from Izzy, when his dirigible has just run out of gas.
    Izzy: ... Well that's not good.
  • Past-Life Memories: Evy keeps having flashes of insights and memories that make her think she's hallucinating. It turns out, they're memories of her past life in ancient Egypt as Nefetiri, Pharaoh Set I's daughter.
  • Please Wake Up: Rick to Evy after Anck-su-namun fatally stabs her. Thanks to her son being able to read hieroglyphics and the ever present Book of the Dead, she eventually gets better.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Used by Rick dispatching the Scorpion King ("Go to hell, and take your friends with you!") and Emperor Han ("Now you can rule... in hell!").
  • Punch Clock Villain: Shafek, who doesn't do anything particularly villainous other than follow the other villains around. He even briefly teams up with Jonathan when the pygmy mummies attack.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "IT OPENS! UP! INTO! A SPEAR!"
  • Rearing Horse: Ardeth's horse at the end.
  • Running Gag: Shafek constantly dodging knives and bullets and letting people behind him take the hit. This comes around later one when Jonathan dodges a pygmy mummy's spear and lets Shafek take the hit.
  • Sadly Mythtaken:
    • There were two ancient Egyptian rulers who had each claimed the title of Scorpion King. One was named Osiris Scorpion.
    • Applies to the prologue. Anubis is not an evil god, not by a long shot. The closest thing late Egyptian mythology had to an evil god would probably be Seth, the villain of the Osirian cult and formerly a benign god in his own right; before Set there was Apep, the Immortal Serpent who would battle Ra every night for all eternity, explaining the shift between day and night. Then again, Rule of Cool is in full effect, and Anubis is certainly one of the cooler gods: he essentially was a dying man's best friend, keeping carrion beasts away from your corpse, was present at the Opening of the Mouth ceremony marking a dead soul's entrance into the afterlife, and admitted the worthy into paradise. All around a pretty swell guy, and doesn't fall under Evil Is Cool by any stretch of the imagination. Oh well, everybody hates Anubis.
    • In the prologue, Scorpion King offers his soul to Anubis in exchange for glorious life. The idea of selling a soul to an evil power (which Anubis isn't) is a purely folk Christian concept (it's not even Christian proper as Satan does not rule the damned). To make it more ridiculous, the offer itself had no sense as all deceased were destined to meet Anubis. You had to cross the desert after death first, to reach Anubis and have your soul deemed worthy. Not all made it through the trip, since there was dangers to be met on the way.
  • Scary Black Man: Lock-nah, who is also the first named villain to die. Averted with Izzy.
  • Schmuck Bait: Meela Nais tricks a trio of mercenaries into entering Imhotep's train compartment. Imhotep scares them For the Evulz, and when they beg to be let out Meela tells them to open the chest that's in the compartment... as in the cursed chest that will let Imhotep steal their body parts.
  • Shoot The Shaggy Dog Story: In-universe example, Imhotep's life. Imhotep sees what True Love is really like. He'd sacrificed everything — his position, his mortality, and his soul — for Anck-su-namun, and she abandoned him when the chips were down. Then he got to watch Evy race to Rick's side in his moment of need. To top it off, while he was begging Anck-su-namun to save him, his enemy was begging his beloved to save herself — and she refused, insisting on trying to help him. With this came the realization that his sacrifice and suffering had been pointless and empty, and he let go of the ledge with a bitter smile at the couple who had what he had wanted so badly.
  • Shot in the Ass: Izzy complains that his last adventure with Rick ended with him getting shot in the ass.
  • Soft Water: When they "drink the Nile" they aren't crushed into the wall behind them, and the airship is later pushed by the wall of water rather than harmed.
  • Stripperiffic: The "Ancient Egyptian bikinis" Anck-su-namun and Nefertiri wear in their fight scene flashback deserve a mention, since those outfits are highly impractical for an incredibly violent fight complete with acrobatics.
  • Taken for Granite: Imhotep somehow became trapped in a block of amber after his defeat in the first movie.
  • Tempting Fate: Done again and summarily lampshaded.
    Evy: It's just a chest. No harm ever came from opening a chest.
    Rick: Yeah, and "no harm ever came from reading a book". Remember how that one went?
  • There Was a Door: Invoked when Evelyn tries to block a door to stall some mummy soldiers.
    Rick: Honey... What are you doing? These guys don't use doors!
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: If you're Ardeth Bey, Throwing Your Sword From Horseback At Things With A Specific Weak Point Always Works.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Alex. Given who his parents are, all of the ancient traps and cursed objects they've encountered and that the Temple they found the Bracelet in immediately self-destructed upon its removal... what made him think that putting the damn thing on his arm was at all was safe?!
  • Translation Convention: Imhotep starts a conversation in ancient Egyptian with Alex. By the time they're finished, they're speaking in English.
  • Wolverine Publicity: They heavily hyped up Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's role in the film. He ended up being a minor character at best. Especially funny with an Entertainment Weekly cover focused on The Rock, with Brendan Fraser Out of Focus on the side and looking downright pissed about it.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Jonathan, who sucker punches the evil Anck-su-namun at one point.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Alex could not possibly be eight years old in 1933, because his parents didn't meet until 1926. Someone who was eight in 1933 would be born in 1925. And there's no indication he's an adopted child or a child one of them already had; it seems more like they ignored the Three Years Later card in the first movie and went with the whole thing happening in 1923. Possibly it is the year that was miscalculated. One of the Hafez's henchmen says that he heard about "one American who resurrected Imhotep nine years ago".
  • You! Exclamation: Imhotep to Rick when the two meet just after Imhotep's re-awakening.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: Another one occurs, though technically, she actually didn't say it...
    Jonathan: I told you what you wanted to know.
    Anck-su-namun: Your point being...?
    Jonathan: My point being I told you so you wouldn't kill me.
    Anck-su-namun: When did we make that arrangement?
  • Zerg Rush: The Anubis warriors use their numbers to sweep over all in their path.