Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Action,Adventure The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

I want my money back. 

Worse yet…I want my Mummy back.

Worse even still? I didn’t pay to see the damn movie in the first place. Nope. I had one of the moviemoney deals where you buy a DVD and get a ticket to a movie and so I checked it out…and I still want my money back. I know, I know. I just explained how I didn’t even pay to see it to begin with, but you know what? I demand some sort of compensation for the pile of crap I just witnessed and endured on a perfectly sunny afternoon. Maybe they could figure out how much gas I used and give me a gas card? Might be worth a shot…hmmm, note to self: look into that, but don’t get your hopes up. Ok. Moving on…

I don’t even know where to begin trying to pinpoint exactly where this one went wrong. So much of it is utter rubbish, infact about 98% of it, that its hard to think clearly about it and try to put it into words. So, I will start at the beginning. For starters, Mummy and Mummy Returns Director Stephen Summers did not sign on for this film. Wiether that was his idea or Universal’s, I don’t know per say, but either way, that’s been a red flag for me since I first heard about this a year or so ago. Secondly, a major cast member chose not to return either, and Thirdly, it has nothing to do with the overall plotline of the first two films. I know what you’re thinking: where would they go with the Imhotep character after the conclusion of Returns? That’s the thing, there is nowhere to go with it, and really nowhere interesting to go with the O’Connell’s when the big guy ain’t in the picture anymore. The storyline was concluded. Also: A hero is only as interesting as his villian, and Imhotep was interesting…at least in the first film, and there was still story to tell in the second, and so the cheesiness of that film can be forgiven for the sake of entertainment. To a degree anyways, and yet that second film was a far cry from the greatness of its 1999 predecesor.

But this? My god. So many things had me shaking my head and groaning, yes groaning, in my seat and looking at my watch as I tried hard to fight the urge to just walk out. Afterall, as I said, I didn’t even pay for the thing, but I had hope that new Director Rob Cohen would get his sea-legs under him and turn it around. I was dead wrong.

The story for this third Mummy adventure centers around Brendan Frasier and company, who all return (sort of) as swashbuckling heroes for another go-around fighting the undead, this time they travel to China and are tasked with stopping the unearthed mummy of Emperor Han (Jet Li), a dark overlord with shape shifting abilities and who is also at the head of a gigantic army of undead warriors, bent of conquering the world. Han is cursed by Zi Juan (Michelle Yeoh), an oracle whom Han has his sights set on, but who falls for his best General instead. Like the previous two films, we get all of this in an exhausting backstory in the opening ten minutes of the film. We then flash forward to Rick O’ Connell (Frasier) bored to death trying to learn fly-fishing while his wife, Evelyn (recasted in the form of Maria Bello…more on her later), reads aloud her tales from the previous two films in book form, apparently having become a successful writer in the 13+ years since the previous film. The two lovers are also seemingly bored with one another when danger isn’t lurking about and the two go thru the motions of there lives and marriage.

Just how do the O’Connell’s, bored to death in England, end up mixing it up with evil undead chinese baddies? Well, that’s just one of many stupid plotpoints in a movie filled with them. It seems that the O’Connell’s are lured from a “promise to one another” to live the quiet life by the simplest of crusades for the British government. All they need to do is bring this super shiny thingamabob to Shanghai, where conviently there son, Alex (Luke Ford), has brought his recent find, naturally the entombed cursed emperor, and further still is also where Jonathan (John Hannah) has a night club. Why he’s in Shanghai isn’t explained and apparently not that important, probably to hide how obvious the badly written script really is. After the emperor is released (in ridiculous fashion), an adorable cutie-pie assassin (Isabella Leong) helps the O’Connell’s and just so happens to have the one weapon forged that can kill him, and also knows every step he has to take to awaken his evil undead army. Convient? Or just bad writing? I tend to weigh on the later.

Other tiny details of the time elapsed between films come to light, and it honestly starts feeling like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, from earlier this summer, for awhile, with its specifics about the characters and whats happened. Lets examine them a minute, so you catch my meaning; The O’Connell’s apparently were involved with the British government doing espionage during World War II, and Rick has a brief war flashback while looking at an old uniform in the closet. The now young adult and grown up son is estrainged from the father, yet has run off following his footsteps uncovering forbidden undead nasties in the sands of China. So much of this screams Indy and Mutt from Crystal Skull that I was actually offended. I always realized, and appreciated infact, that Rick was a poor man’s Indiana Jones, but this is too much.

Then its made worse by the horrible new cast members in key roles, none of whom have any identifiable chemistry with Frasier. Luke Ford steps into the grown up shoes of Alex O’Connell, and has to suffer the baggage of how annoying the younger version of the character was in the previous film. It’s a lot like Hayden Christiansen stepping in and trying to make good on Jake Lloyd’s performance as a younger Anakin in Phantom Menace. Unlike Christiansen, Ford fails in all aspects, and wiether its the character, the writing, the acting, or all three, it doesn’t help anything. Ford is horribly unlikable in the entire film, so much so, I was rooting for his demise in the finale. Worse is the recasting of Evelyn. Given a choice between a major character in a franchise I love being recasted or simply written away, I will always take writting them away. Don’t get me wrong, Maria Bello is a fabulous actress, but not in this film. Again, she may be okay, but its up against the wonderfully nuianced performance of Rachel Weisz in the previous films and the amazing and romantic chemistry she had with Brendan Frasier. Bello comes off a bit sexier than Weisz, at times, but her horribly bad british accent got on my nerves quickly. Frasier himself even seems bored and to be going thru the motions in this film.

As for the Asian invasion, Michelle Yeoh is decent, but not in the film much, and Jet Li continues his knack for helping to bury once very good film franchises (Lethal Weapon 4, anyone?). Neither of them are good in the film, and most of Jet Li’s martial arts are done via CGI in the form of monsters or stone. As for them fighting? Don’t hold your breath. They do fight…for about nine seconds. Aside from that, and the badly written script, plently of other things will ruffle your feathers and make you wish they served a nice hard vodka martini during the film. By the end of the film you will witness a horribly bad CGI transformation sequence of Jet Li into stone, blatantly bad homages to Temple of Doom when the O’Connell’s visit Jonathan’s club (nevermind the name of the club), a very bad resurrection sequence followed by an even worse chase sequence in the streets of Shanghai, a plane land on the edge of an ice cliff at a 90 degree angle and then magically fall back on its wheels, a somewhat cute chinese girl begin speaking in jibberish to call Yeti’s to the groups aide and then watch one of them kick a Chinese soldier between two stone pillars while another Yeti makes the referee signal for “it’s good!”, see the group find the entrance to Shangralai in about 5 seconds because one of them is hurt and needs some magic juice to help them recover, and about a million other really ridiculously stupid things that band-aids the films plot along scene-by-scene.

Perhaps the worse thing about the movie is that it didn’t need to be made. The story was wrapped up (no pun intended) in the second film, and this is really just another studio wanting to cash in on a franchise’s past success at the box office. That alone is enough to hate this film, nevermind how bad it actually is, that and the fact that it’s so bad that it almost…almost deminishes my love for the first two films as a result. Its that bad, and for that, there really is no excuse. So, I am forced to say it again…

..I want my money back.

3 thoughts on “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”

  1. hmm..i agree with some parts yes but I thought it was alright, I had mixed feelings about it to, but it will go into box office with negative aspects. I agree that the storyline was unaccounted for and I do too miss Rachel Weisz as Eve so I agree. but eh, the movie was iight.

  2. I think you’re right, It was garbage. Maria Bello is a good actress but I don’t know why I just didn’t feel her in this film. Just a Boring movie.

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