Suckophagus – The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor DVD review

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor – Starring Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello, Luke Ford, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh. Directed by Rob Cohen. Rated M for action violence. 112 mins.

Never trust a movie in which a character exclaims “here we go again”, just as Brendan Fraser does 30 minutes into the third instalment of The Mummy franchise. Leave the cinema, return the DVD or just turn off the television and stand as far away from it as possible. Sure, it’s just one little line, but it speaks volumes: we’ve already seen this before. And we really have. When The Mummy opened in 1999, it was a box office sensation. It was a fun, post-Indiana Jones, throwback to the monster matinees of the early 30’s. Its sequel The Mummy Returns was not so great. Sitting here with my fingers at the keyboard, I am desperately trying to recall a single scene from the film, but it looks as if I’ve struck it from my memory. Wow. Hopefully I can do the same for sequel number dos.

Should I even recap the plot? Does it matter? I bet those of you who haven’t even seen Tomb of the Dragon Emperor could tell me what happens. For tradition’s sake, here are the basics: Rick O’Connell (Fraser) has quit the Mummy-killing game to settle down in decadent style with wife Evie. However, with the mummies gone, so has the spark in their marriage. So good news that son Alex just found the tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Jet Li), a power-hungry warlord with unfinished business. Insert conflict here.

I’m not going to describe any more of the plot, because you don’t care and I’ve already lost interest. I will say that the acting is awful. Maria Bello (in a terrible, terrible lapse of judgement) replaces Rachel Weisz as Evie. Both are great actresses, but it’s clearer in her absence just how much Weisz had brought to the character. Bello is much less fun. John Hannah returns as Evie’s brother Jonathan for no reason other than he was in the first two. Michelle Yeoh joins the gang this time around as an immortal witch with a grudge against the Emperor. Her involvement in this film makes me sad to no end.

The acting has to be pretty bad in a film for Brendan Fraser to embarrass himself the least. Taking the prize for worst-in-show is home-grown star Luke Ford as the irrepressible Alex O’Connell. Oh man. Ford won an AFI award last year for his supporting performance in The Black Balloon. I’m sure he’s an amazing young actor with a big career ahead of him. That being said, he does not do a good job in this movie. Now it’s more likely that the blame should fall on the screenwriter (who I will not name and shame because I can’t even be bothered IMDB’ing them). The character is so annoying and underdeveloped Philip Seymour Hoffman himself couldn’t make him likable, and he can make a priest accused of sexual abuse seem like the perfect dinner guest.

Maybe I am being too hard on this film. Director Rob Cohen knows he’s not adapting Richard Yates here – this is just meant to be a fun, dumb blockbuster. And yes, I admit the film is completely inoffensive. But that doesn’t mean it’s beyond criticism. People shouldn’t feel compelled to like this movie just because they spent a lot of money on explosions and set pieces and CGI Yeti (oh yeah, there are Yeti in this film too – don’t ask why). The overall lack of imagination is glaring. Everything looks as you assume it would – there’s not a single scratch of wonder here. Watch even one film directed by Guillermo Del Toro and Andrew Stanton, and you can tell they’re bringing a whole new level of ideas to the game. Rob Cohen is no such visionary.

You don’t pair up martial arts legends like Yeoh and Li and give them one thirty-second fight scene (in inexplicable slow-motion no less). You don’t make a young female ninja fall in love with Alex just because he’s there. You don’t bring the very talented John Hannah back from a three-year acting hiatus to have a yak vomit on him during one of the film’s set pieces. You don’t spend $200 million on a sequel without putting any effort into a screenplay first. And you don’t have to see The Mummy 3. I wish I hadn’t.

1.5/5

P.S – During press for the film, Luke Ford mentioned the possibility of carrying on the franchise with Alex O’Connell as the star. I never want to see that.

Check out the trailer.

3 Responses to “Suckophagus – The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor DVD review”

  1. I agree. This movie is so sad. I watched it just because I’ve seen the other 2. But I so wish I wouldn’t be bothered with it.

  2. I found the movie as entertaining as the latest Indiana Jones movie the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. If you like this type of genre this movie is right up your alley. If you expect something new you will be seriously disappointed.

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