The judgemental bastards among you may think I’ve been slacking off lately, but I haven’t. Computer trouble has struck again and I can’t use my beloved desktop. Long story short, it’s new review time.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)
I’ve always quite liked “The Mummy” films. To me, they were a sort of “Indiana Jones” replacement franchise showing the type of mythical adventures Dr. Jones used to get up to. Whilst they didn’t have the quality the Indy trilogy did, they matched it in both theme and scope. Funnily enough, both the Indy and Mummy films got a new installment for summer 2008. With “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” being a crushing disappointment, could the pretender to the fantasy action crown finally boot the aged Indy from his throne made of my broken dreams? (That sounded a lot less Emo in my head) Well, as it transpires, no- not really.
“I hate mummies. They never play fair!”
The basic plot is that the O’Connells, Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn (Maria Bello, replacing Rachel Weisz) have retired from the mummy fighting business and are trying to live a quiet life at home. Their son Alex (Luke Ford) has grown up and is following in his parents’ footsteps by digging up ancient evil and being surprised when it bites him in the arse. Now the O’Connells have to stop the evil Dragon Emperor (Jet Li) from enslaving the world. I didn’t really buy the whole Chinese mummy thing. I know they existed, but when I hear the word “mummy” I expect something to do with Egypt. Having said that, I quite liked the idea of the Terracotta army coming to life. My main problem with the plot is the fact that it’s purely there to stitch the action sequences together. In “The Mummy” we had a strong sense of story, whereas here it’s pretty weak. I liked Brendan Fraser and Maria Bello as the O’Connells. There has been quite harsh criticism thrown Bello’s way, saying that Weisz was much better in the role. To be honest, I think it’s down to slapdash writing rather than poor acting on Bello’s part. She’s perfectly fine as Evey-just not given much to do beyond saying things in a plummy British accent and being a doting mother and wife. I think that if Weisz had reprised her role, this would have been more apparent.
As it went on, I found that “Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” was raising a few question in my mind. Why is Alex now American when he was British in “The Mummy Returns”? Why isn’t the Emperor scary at all? I mean, Imhotep was something to be feared in the first film. In this one, the Emperor is about as scary as runny cheese- even shapeshifting into a creature resembling something from popular children’s book “Where The Wild Things Are”. Talking of creatures, why are there Yeti in this film? In fact, why do we have a scene where the Yeti kick a soldier over an archway American football field goal style- and celebrate by punching the air and such? Why is there a vomiting yak in this film? And so on…
The ending is odd too. We have Jonathan (John Hannah) jetting off to Peru saying that at least there are no mummies to be found there. As the taxi drives away we are presented with on screen text saying that soon after mummies were found in Peru. The letters W, T and F do not cover it. To be honest, it just feels lazy rather than funny. Couldn’t they be arsed to film someone reading a paper with a Peruvian mummy headline? I’d have much rather had some effort put in here than field goal celebrating Yeti.
“Die you mummy bastards! Die!”
There are some nice ideas and some decent action sequences to enjoy-even if the chase through the streets of Shanghai screams “Temple of Doom” so loudly it eclipses the biggest of explosions. But maybe I’m being too harsh- it’s a fun enough ride while it lasts. It’s no “Indiana Jones” film, but at least it can appeal to a similar family audience. Mind you, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” didn’t have to resort to a motion-sick yak for its laughs-just a Nazi saluting monkey.