The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Misses the Mark

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Universal Pictures
Starring Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, Maria Bello
Rated PG-13 for language and action
112 minutes

The Gang\'s all Here (well, two of them) in \

I really liked the first two Mummy movies, and still do to this day. So I went into The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor with high hopes. I’m sorry to say I was quite disappointed.

Stephen Sommers who wrote and directed the first two only produced this third outing, and it shows. The dialogue lacks the jokey banter that was a common element in the previous two entries. There seems to be an attempt by writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar to take the series in a more serious direction. But can you make a serious film that has abominable snowmen running around?

Here’s the rundown of the plot: Rick and Evy (Brendan Fraser and Maria Bello, more on her in a bit) get roped into another adventure involving the evil Emperor Han (Jet Li) thanks to their son Alex (Luke Ford). They must stop Han before he regenerates, raises his army, and rules the world (sound familiar?). Plot similarities to The Mummy and The Mummy Returns aside, there are significant changes that did not set well with me.

First, I really like Rachel Weisz who played Rick’s wife Evy in the first two movies. Now, she’s been replaced by Maria Bello, an American actress doing a British accent. It’s just not the same! Did they think we wouldn’t notice the difference? The presence of a new Evy sticks out like a sore thumb. I kept thinking about how much I miss Weisz’s version of the character.

Second, the O’Connell’s son, Alex, had a British accent in the sequel, but now has a southern accent. He’s also played by an actor whose twelve years younger than the actors playing his parents. I’m sure they aged the son in order to get him off on his own, but Luke Ford and Brendan Fraser look more like brothers than father and son.

Third, the CG. There’s a story that director Rob Cohen screened the film and ordered his computer effects team to redo a number of the elements. Either they didn’t fix them, or I’d hate to see what they looked like before. Yes, the CG in the first two wasn’t on the same level as Terminator 2: Judgment Day, or Jurassic Park, but it also wasn’t overly obvious that CG was being used. In Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, there are several CG characters who are less effective than those that populate the world of the newest Star Wars films.

In a movie world now populated by sequels, part threes, and even part fours, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor stands out as a less than stellar entry in a successful series. Much like Rush Hour 3, Shrek 3, and Batman and Robin, there appears to be a laziness involved on the part of the writers, directors, and actors. It’s as if they just assume we’ll like what they give us because we’ve been with these characters before.

I wanted to like The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor like the previous two, but just found it hard to get into it. While there are some entertaining moments, the film as a whole lacks the energy, fun, and humor present in the first two films. I give this third Mummy movie a C-. If they make a fourth, let’s hope Stephen Sommers comes back to write and direct.

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