Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Mummy - Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: Movie Review

The Mummy - Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: Movie Review

Cast: Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello, Jet Li, John Hannah
Director: Rob Cohen

Rating: 3/10
De La Soul once remarked that three was the magic number.
When it comes to the Mummy 3, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the third time is definitely not the charm.
This latest (and hopefully last) instalment in the franchise finds Brendan Fraser's Rick O'Connell and Maria Bello's Evie O'Connell in 1946, retired from the archaeology game after twice defeating an Egyptian mummy.
Only this time, they're struggling with retirement - Evie's writing novels of derring do and how she and hubby beat the mummy; Rick on the other hand is trying his hand at fly fishing (although resorting to the gun when it doesn't go how he wants); and Evie's brother Jonathan (John Hannah) is now running a bar in China.
But trouble has a way of finding the O'Connells as their son Alex (newcomer to the franchise Luke Ford) manages to unearth Chinese emperor Han (Jet Li) during a dig.
Emperor Han was poised to gain immortality and take over the world with his army of warriors until he was cursed by Michelle Yeoh's Zi Juan and turned to stone.
Trouble is Alex uncovers a whole heap of problems for the world once Han's resurrected via betrayal, double crossing, a magical jewel and some blood&can the mummy be defeated a third time? Well, have a guess...

The "charm" with threequels is that you know the characters, their quirky ways and don't have to worry about the back story and a director can just get on with it.

The "problem" with threequels, is ultimately many appear to have run out of plots and rely on old favourites, bigger bangs and explosions to hide the gaping holes in the story.

I think my problem with this film is that I had a distinct feeling of déjà vu early on and subsequently lost all interest.
However, I was impressed that Maria Bello's appearance as Evie (Rachel Weisz sensibly declined reprising her role) was explained away in a throwaway (but savvy) line about how the Evie of her books was a different person to her; but, the malaise appeared to have spread to the rest of the cast with Brendan Fraser looking like he's simply going through the motions and John Hannah's bumbling fool has a reduced role and seems surplus to requirements.

Although I can pinpoint exactly the moment I mentally checked out of this film - it was when Lin (Zi Juan's immortal daughter and potential love interest to Alex) issued a cry for help in the Himalayas and it was answered by a crack squad of CGI yeti....

There are some attempts at showing the strains of retirement on the O'Connells with the father/ son relationship being difficult (though ultimately resolved through a love of guns) and with Rick and Evie's relationship struggling to survive the banality of a normal life after the thrills of being thrown together in their quest to defeat Arnold Vosloo's Imhotep Mummy in the earlier films.

But if you want to leave your brain in neutral, discard any rational thought, then the Mummy 3 is bigger, dumber and louder than its predecessors.

Sadly though, I'd side with the opinion that it's time this franchise was as dead and buried as the mummies (and ancient plots) they dug up to make it in the first place.

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