Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The trailer for ‘The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor’ is really about as good a trailer as you’re ever gonna see. I’m sitting in the theater waiting for whatever movie I was about to watch and when that trailer played, despite the fact I didn’t care for the first two ‘Mummy’ movies, despite the fact that I know almost exactly how this movie will play out and can almost guarantee that I won’t care for this either, despite the fact I still, and never will forgive director Rob Cohen for the ‘Stan Shaw’ incident in his movie ‘Daylight’, somewhere in my soul was small hankering to see this flick. So I see this movie and it did not disappoint in that it pretty much lived down to just about everything I thought it would be.

The film opens sometime around the birth of Christ in ancient China where the megalomaniac Emperor Han (Jet Li) is building big ass walls and doing his darndest to whittle down the population of the most populous country in the world. The only thing this cat needs to make his already rockin’ life perfect is immortality, and for that he sends his right hand man General Ming Gao (Russell Wong) to fetch some mystical lady named Zi Juan (Michelle Yeoh) do just that. However Zi Juan runs the ol’ Okey Doke on the Emperor, for good reason mind you, and has the evil despotic ruler and his army encased in stone forever.

A couple of years later in 1947 we are reintroduced to Rick O’Connel (Brendan Fraser) and his wife Evelyn (Maria Bello – Rachel Weisz apparently missed her connecting flight). They have retired from mummy hunting but unfortunately are finding retirement a bit boring. Their young son Alex (Luke Ford) on the other hand has picked up the family business and has found the long lost tomb of Emperor Han, complete with Indian Jones traps and hot ninja chicks, and along with his professor Roger Wilson (David Calder), have made the find of the century.

Matters become complicated when Rick and Evelyn come out of retirement to deliver some sacred Chinese stone back to China, completely unaware that there son has become a tomb raider. Well things happen and events take place which bring the Emperor back to life and forces Rick and Evelyn to do what they do, this time with their adult son along for the ride, that ninja chick we saw earlier whose actual name is Lin (Isabelle Leong) as well as Evelyn’s brother Jonathan (John Hannah) who is along for reasons completely unknown to me. All the emperor wants to do resurrect his army and rule the world, but Rick and them know a thing a two about putting down 2000 year old resurrected dudes and they aren’t about to let that happen. Let the CGI begin.

Probably my biggest problem with this movie is I just couldn’t get past the fact that Brendan Fraser and Maria Bello, who look like they’re in their mid-thrities, have a son who looks like he’s in his late twenties. That totally wasn’t working for me. Every time Alex O’Connell called Rick O’Connell ‘dad’, it just seemed unnatural. I think the parents are ‘supposed’ to be in their fifties? Yeah, they either needed to cast older actors or use way better makeup to pull that off, plus ‘dad’ kept showing us his Hip Hop Abs which certainly didn’t help sell the illusion at all. Far be it from me to tell these weathered movie veterans how to do their jobs, but if they had made Alex, say, a thirteen year old who maybe made this awesome discovery on a school sponsored field trip or something, now we have a believable and workable scenario. I know that that would remove Alex making out with the hot Ninja chick and all, but that was worthless fluff anyway. Just a retrospective suggestion.

The trailer for this movie definitely doesn’t mislead as ‘Tomb of the Emperor’ is a big summer popcorn scarfing spectacle of a movie. There’s more action than you can shake a stick at with sword fights, fist fights, shootouts, explosions, avalanches, mystical monsters and abominable snowmen. All of this leads me to another problem I had with the movie which is, amazingly, this thing had just too much action. It was so loud and so furious and so obnoxiously frenetic that when director Cohen tried to slow down to inject some romance or sentimental moment or narrative prose, it came off as weak and you really didn’t want to hear it. Just bring the Yeti’s back yo.

Despite the presence of Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh, not to mention Anthony Wong and Russell Wong, they really weren’t used all that much as the film mostly gave way to the CGI artist who I’m sure had to work overtime on this movie. As a demonstration on what an artist can do with a computer this film is a smashing success because the effects for the most part were great, but unfortunately not only did character and story take a back seat to the effects wizards, they got stuck in the trunk. And it was a tiny MG Midget trunk at that.

Hey, if you like huge, effects laden, nonsensical non-stop action flicks that leave 98% of your brain free to think about other stuff, please don’t let me stop you from seeing this movie. Unfortunately for me, I need just a little bit more to enjoy my stupid action flicks. Not much more mind you, but just a little bit more.

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