The Mummy Returns Again, But Without Rachel Weisz

Hey, there's a new Mummy movie heading our way. Did you know that? I didn't. I really loved 1999's The Mummy -- I loved it cuz it was the fourth Indiana Jones movie we'd been waiting for -- and the 2001 sequel, The Mummy Returns, is almost as much fun. So I'm primed for more.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, which looks like it's got a planned release date of August 1, 2008, moves the story to post WWII England and China, where the O'Connells' now-grown son, Alex, makes a major discovery of great archaeological and supernatural import. (IESB.net: The Movie Reporter has details on the plot and such: none of it sounds spoilerish.) Action-comedy will ensue, I imagine, as well as some kung fu fighting: Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh are listed as among the new cast members.

There's another new cast member, though, that makes me worry just a bit for Mummy 3: Maria Bello is replacing Rachel Weisz as Evelyn. Now, don't get me wrong: Bello is a fantastic actress, as daring and powerful and gifted as they come. (Have you seen The Cooler? Oh, man, see it.) But part of what made the first two Mummy movies so enjoyable was the potent chemistry between Brendan Fraser -- who will be back, thank the movie gods, as Rick -- and Weisz. Screen chemistry is such a delicate thing, and so impossible to fake: what are the odds that Fraser will be so lucky the second time around with a different actress opposite him as the same character?

I'm keeping my fingers crossed, even with the other pinch-hitters among the creative team. Original creator, writer, and director Stephen Sommers is all but gone -- he's acting as producer only on this one -- but Rob Cohen is taking over behind the lens. Yeah, he's made mostly cheese like Stealth, XXX, and The Fast and the Furious, but it's at least competent, engaging cheese. And screenwriters Miles Millar and Alfred Gough have written such highly amusing flicks as Spider-Man 2 and Shanghai Noon. That's gotta be a good sign, right?

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

MaryAnn Johanson (email me)

reviews, reviews, reviews! at FlickFilosopher.com