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DVD Review: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

DVD Review: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor


Brendan Fraser returns as explorer Rick O’Connell in an epic adventure that races from the catacombs of ancient China high into the frigid Himalayas. Along with his son Alex (Luke Ford), wife Evelyn (Maria Bello) and her brother Jonathan (John Hannah), he must stop a mummy awakened from a 2,000-year-old curse from enslaving the world. Doomed by a double-crossing sorceress (Michelle Yeoh) to spend eternity in suspended animation, China’s ruthless Dragon Emperor (Jet Li) and his 10,000 warriors have lain forgotten for eons, entombed in clay as a vast, silent terra cotta army. When dashing adventurer Alex O’Connell is tricked into awakening the ruler from eternal slumber, he turns to the only people he can think of with the skill and knowledge to combat the undead: his parents. But the Emperor’s quest for world domination has only intensified during his imprisonment and, with unimaginable supernatural powers and a legion of Terra Cotta Warriors at his command, the Emperor Mummy could be an unstoppable force – unless the O’Connells can vanquish him first.

In the final installment in The Mummy trilogy, we find Brendan Fraser reprising his role as tomb raider/adventurer/treasure hunter Rick O’Connell. Rachel Weisz did not return Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and therefore Maria Bello plays the part of Evy. Both Rick O’Connell and Evy languish in their English mansion in the midst of a rather unfitting retirement since they both long for another adventure. Evy has a successful career as an author (having penned two novels that follow the storyline of the previous Mummy films) and is attempting to write a third, but finds herself in the midst of writer’s block because she has no inspiration from a third adventure. The couple is then asked to escort an ancient Chinese artifact called the Eye of Shangri-La to Shanghai in a good-faith gesture from Britain to China. Or at least that’s the idea.

From the beginning, the movie has a painful start. While Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh (who you wouldn’t believe was in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon after seeing this film) generally aren’t talkers on screen while still putting in a generally good performance, they didn’t have much to work with this time. Obviously the script was the main problem here, although replacing Rachel Weisz with Maria Bello didn’t help either. Clearly Weisz was correct when she cited “problems with the script” as a reason for not signing on to the third. Perhaps it was the cheesy, quasi-romantic dialogue between her and Brendan Fraser, or maybe a Chinese emperor coming back to semi-life as a statue just wasn’t quite as realistic as an Egyptian mummy coming back to life. Twice. Or possibly the yeti that randomly shows up halfway through the film to save the day was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Either way, Rachel Weisz came out the best for this entire ordeal.

It was easy to enjoy the first two Mummy movies. They didn’t try to be anything more than they were and the rapport between Rachel Weisz, Brendan Fraser and John Hannah was enough to carry those films. In fact, the action was generally side-lined in order for reasonably witty dialogue. But clearly the writers got lazy for Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. It seems that they just decided to half-ass the script and ride the coat tails of a successful franchise. If you liked the first films, or any of the actors in them, then just leave it at that and be satisfied. On the other hand, if you want to see one of the worst performances that any of these actors have ever done, then tune in!

Review by Nicolas Bunzmann

Grade: C-
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