ITV1: Sunday 29 November, 4.20pm
Adventurer Brendan Fraser and archaeologist Rachel Weisz return to Egypt, their bratty young son in tow. Only they, it seems, can stop the reincarnated Imhotep from reviving the Scorpion King’s army of phantom dogs. Or something. As John Hannah wearily remarks, it’s the old wipe-out-the-world ploy. Adopting a three-pronged pyramid attack on obviously recycled material, Stephen Sommers is clearly a director in thrall to an unreliable old adage: if you are going to go over the top, you might as well go all the way over the top, round the other side and back again.
That way, absolutely no imagination is required. And there’s no need to wait for the computer game – it must be exactly the same. It looks fabulous (albeit utterly fake in a way the Indiana Jones movies never did) but sounds fatuous thanks to the clunkingly comic script. The adventure soon turns into an absurd Arabian Nights panto that would give Baron Munchhausen a run for his money.
Emboldened by the success of 1999’s The Mummy, Sommers has coarsened the flippant humour and trivialised the use of extravagant digital effects, removing any sense of danger or suspense while replacing the charm and verve of the original with a succession of tiresomely excessive set-pieces, usually played out to the sound of ricocheting bullets and a booming music score that makes no attempt to disguise its debt to John Williams.
Patricia Velasquez’s uncertain performance as Imhotep’s bit on the side is testimony to the good judgment of the first film, in which she had a non-speaking role. And the boy is a real liability. But why pick on him? Everyone overacts shamefully. In case we didn’t get the point, 2008’s Tomb of the Dragon Emperor was even worse.