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Overall Rating

Awesome: 5.88%
Worth A Look: 3.92%
Average: 7.84%
Pretty Bad: 35.29%
Total Crap47.06%

4 reviews, 27 user ratings

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Mummy, The: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Stick a hook in this series' nose and yank its brains out already."
2 stars

The first ten minutes or so of "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" are like the biggest, most lavish Hong Kong fantasy ever filmed.

Jet Li is there (as an evil emperor with plans to conquer death and the world, in that order); Michelle Yeoh is there (as a witch who promises the emperor eternal life but falls in love with his general); thousands of extras are there in finest Ancient China military garb — or, at least, computer-generated extras are there. Director Rob Cohen, who reportedly has a deep interest in Chinese history, may have taken this gig just so that he could film this prologue, which plays like an elegant short movie. Then we cut to Brendan Fraser trying to fly-fish and hooking himself in the neck, and, well, say goodbye to elegance.

I enjoyed the first two films in this series — The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001), both directed by Stephen Sommers — as giggly, brain-damaged adventure eye candy. At the time, you have to remember, there wasn’t much around in terms of old-school adventure; there were a lot of action movies, which isn’t the same. Now, of course, we’ve had Sahara and the National Treasure films and the fourth Indiana Jones film; with that in mind, it may have made financial sense for Universal to drag Rick O’Connell (Fraser) out of retirement after seven years, but the Mummy franchise is no longer unique, and it’s also lost touch with its roots in horror (which were tenuous to begin with).

Rick and his wife Evelyn (Maria Bello, in for Rachel Weisz) are asked to deliver the Eye of Shangri-La to Shanghai, where, coincidentally, their son Alex (Luke Ford) is hanging out in a nightclub owned by Evelyn’s inept brother Jonathan (John Hannah). Alex, who now looks way too old to be Brendan Fraser’s son, has excavated the evil emperor, who was turned to stone way back when. The emperor revives and heads for Shangri-La, where he will theoretically gain Ultimate Power and rule us all. The O’Connells, accompanied by the witch’s daughter Lin (Isabella Yeong), must stop the emperor before he raises his army of darkness.

Speaking of which, there’s a sequence involving the emperor’s army of stone soldiers (who crumble so ineffectually when hit that we wonder why the emperor bothered to raise them) versus the near-skeletal army led by the general who was put to death for falling in love with the witch. I found myself wishing that Sam Raimi, using all the clout he’s gained from directing three Spider-Man blockbusters, could use this technology to make an astonishing fourth Evil Dead film — imagine an army of Deadites versus an army of Bruce Campbell clones, or something. When you’re watching a movie and wishing you were watching a different, non-existent movie, the movie you’re watching is in trouble. Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is frantic but dull, even dreary, with frat-boy divertissements like John Hannah covered in yak vomit and Brendan Fraser icing his nuts after a sequence wherein he rides a stone horse.

Rob Cohen has now directed three (unconnected) movies with “dragon” in the title: this, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993), and Dragonheart (1996). Cohen enjoys dragons, I guess, and we get one here when Jet Li transforms into a three-headed dragon. Jet Li also transforms into other things, and he spends most of his post-prologue screen time covered with CGI stone and muck. It’s late in the game by the time he’s actually recognizable as Jet Li, and he and Michelle Yeoh get to spar for all of two minutes. This obviously isn’t an actor’s movie, but Maria Bello manages to shine anyway, since she’s Maria Bello and that’s what she does. Bello has taken some lumps for her fake British accent — and she does lose a bit of her earthy, been-there-done-that American-ness when she tries to ape Rachel Weisz (and what about Aussie Luke Ford's now-you-hear-it now-you-don't American accent?) — but her pleasure (stated in interviews) at being in her very first big adventure flick is infectious.

Let’s bag the "Mummy" franchise and give Maria Bello her own adventure series. She deserves it, and so do we.

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originally posted: 08/04/08 09:47:51
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User Comments

3/05/12 Silkworm A mish mash of nothingness 1 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles I want to kill someone this movie was so bad 1 stars
3/13/11 Monday Morning It sucked, but it was a good suck. 2 stars
5/02/10 bob The acting was horrendous, especially Brendan Fraser. 2 stars
8/13/09 Daniel Kelly Saw this last year in the theater and was horrified. A solid candidate for 2008's worst. 1 stars
3/08/09 g. crap 1 stars
3/02/09 KingNeutron Not the same without Rachel Weisz, but we did get a couple of good laughs 3 stars
1/14/09 Anonymous. worth a look for people wanting to see the entire trilogy...the first one was the best. 3 stars
1/05/09 sood action and effects but to silly and cartoonish to be effective action movie fan 2 stars
12/27/08 TreeTiger Extremely bad movie... 1 stars
10/01/08 Danny Eh, not bad....Rachel Weisz's presence is sorely missed 4 stars
9/25/08 john lame 1 stars
9/14/08 Bender Susan, who cares? Lets drink alcohol and play ping pong, and have a hangover. 5 stars
9/03/08 Alexandru Totir Good adventures summer movie, not brilliant. But they should stop this series here. 4 stars
8/17/08 Margeaux Two thumbs down! 2 stars
8/10/08 Susan the lack of rachel weisz was glaring, maria bello was poorly cast, ok popcorn fare 3 stars
8/06/08 joe nothing good to say about this mess. dark knight mops the floor with this 1 stars
8/06/08 L. Slusarczyk Why do they keep making sequels? Good for teens only! 2 stars
8/06/08 Eloise Carlson I loved this movie, Brendan Fraser is as hot as ever. 5 stars
8/04/08 ebert man this is awful. take the series back to egypt and bring back weisz 1 stars
8/03/08 clown waste of time and money. bello is a horrible addition 1 stars
8/03/08 jimmy no quigley, this movie is terrible. there's not a single good thing about this 1 stars
8/03/08 Quigley Not terrible but definitely not good. 3 stars
8/02/08 johnnyfog Al Gough and Miles Millar? Aren't those the fucktards who created Smallville? 2 stars
8/02/08 mike absolutely horrible. I kept falling asleep. the mummy series is offficially dead after this 1 stars
8/02/08 Me bite me it was fun 5 stars
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  01-Aug-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 16-Dec-2008


  DVD: 16-Dec-2008

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