One of the five or six nice things to happen in the last few years is the world collectively looking at Brendan Fraser and saying “we love him and we will do anything to make sure nothing bad ever happens to him again,” and with that reassertion of our fondness for Fraser has come the realization that we all also loved his Mummy movies—which have grown into weirdly timeless treasures from the pre-superhero days of Hollywood blockbusters. Of course, there is one thing about those movies that is not especially timeless (and it’s not Fraser’s character’s womanizing buddy, which is an archetype that they don’t really do anymore).
We’re talking, obviously, about the CG scorpion monster that Dwayne Johnson plays in The Mummy Returns, which is just stunningly ambitious and would require a lot of money and time to get right even today. But they didn’t have a lot of money or time when they made Returns, so the scorpion monster looks like shit. Fraser even addressed it during a career retrospective video for GQ, saying that he met the VFX artists for the movie at its premiere and they warned him that they “needed a little more time” on it and that it was “very last minute.”
Which… is pretty obvious and probably not their fault. That being said, Fraser does note that there’s a “charm” to how it looks, and while he thinks it could get “remastered” at some point, “it wouldn’t be as fun if you didn’t see this janky video game character of Dwayne.” He says it’s “somehow just perfect how it works.” And you know what? He’s absolutely right. It looks bad, and it was probably embarrassing at the time, but it absolutely works now. The movie is already a throwback adventure story, so why shouldn’t there be a GameCube-style Dwayne Johnson stomping around with scorpion parts? And it’s a supernatural monster, who are we to say what it should or should not look like? Maybe that’s just how scorpion monsters are! See, it’s not only not as bad as you remember, but it’s actually actively good.