The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor
Review by Jack Foley
“I HATE mummies, they never play fair!” declares one of the protagonists at the centre of Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor. And by the time you’ve finished watching this belated third instalment in The Mummy franchise you may well be screaming the same thing!
Rob Cohen’s Asia-based adventure is a half-hearted attempt to reboot a franchise that really should have been left alone. It seems to think that by following one overblown action sequence with another audiences won’t notice just how pointless and tired the whole enterprise has become.
It’s 1947 and Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn (Maria Bello) O’Connell are lured out of retirement for one last job to baby-sit a valuable egg to China. Needless to say, their ensuing trip places them at odds with a new Mummy menace in the form of the recently resurrected Emperor Han (Jet Li), a fierce tyrant who wants nothing more than to rule the world.
Taken at face value, the presence of a new director, a martial arts master in Li’s central villain and a change of scenery ought to suggest a fresh perspective. Instead, it’s a lazy retread of the first two movies, stripped of the original’s charms and over-burdened by the sequel’s insatiable appetite for self-referential humour.
Li is completely wasted – appearing only fleetingly in the grand scheme of things and then being rendered a virtual spectator during the action scenes as Cohen opts for special effects over his natural ability.
While even Fraser feels short-changed, often being forced to play second fiddle to his son (a good-looking but bland Luke Ford), and lacking the devil-may-care attitude that made his character so endearing in the first place.
Maria Bello, meanwhile, (stepping in for the wisely absent Rachel Weisz) is hampered by one of the worst English accents you’re likely to hear in a very long time!
Some of this may have been more tolerable had Cohen been more inventive with the action, yet in spite of throwing everything at the screen (CGI yetis, avalanches, terracotta armies) he never comes close to delivering a sequence worth remembering, which really is the final nail in this particular sarcophagus.
The only rule that the producers of this franchise appear to be playing by is how to make as much money as possible… at the expense of audiences. And that just isn’t fair!
Running time: 112mins
UK DVD Release: December 1, 2008