The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

It's not a terrible film, but it's barely worth the effort of having it parade in front of your eyeballs.

Released in 2008, certified UK-12A. Reviewed on 01 Nov 2008 by Scott Morris
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor image

The seemingly never-ending series of Mummy films and side projects plods along with yet another dependably bland time-stealer of an instalment, the only noticeable difference being a move to the Orient for a somewhat less Vosloo-dependant villain. Well, you could say that the reluctance of Rachel Weisz to reprise her character presents another noticeable difference, but the crucial failing in phrase such as this is the implication that you'd taken any notice of The Mummy in the first place, which, on balance, there's very little reason to do. Oh dear. This paragraph is rather getting away from me. Let's draw a line under the whole sorry episode and crash onwards.

Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) and his now wife Evelyn (Not Rachel Weisz, Maria Bello) have survived World War II and spawned an offspring, Alex (Luke Ford), who seems keen to follow in his father's footsteps. So keen, in fact, that it's not long before he's pointlessly manipulated into uncovering the tomb of the legendary Dragon Emperor (Jet Li), as introduced to us through a fairly needless prologue. It seems a splinter group of the Chinese Army have decided that the only way to restore their country's glory is to resurrect the feared, nigh-on-unstoppable Dragon Emperor and yadda yadda yadda.

Through some contrivances it's not long before this happens, and through further contrivances Alex's folks show up to help put down another mummy fuelled insurrection, this time aided by the immortal witch responsible for stopping him the first time round (Michelle Yeoh) and her daughter. And a few Yetis. And an army of skeletons. Y'know, you wouldn't normally think of a Mummy film as an ensemble piece.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor image

What follows is pretty much what you'd expect from the third outing of a franchise that was a third rate knock-off off Indiana Jones in the first place, albeit a third outing that's pretty much as good as the first film. This really says more about the quality of the first film than the most recent. It delivers a big ol' bunch of loosely connected, CG-d up the wazoo setpieces to keep the kids amused for a few hours and then slinks back off again, with all the lasting impact and cultural import of a Tory party political broadcast.

With broad, and broadly not funny, humour aimed at an audience about twenty years younger than I am, it's of little surprise that there's not a massive amount that I'm going to be able to point at and say I liked. We can, at least, take some small comfort in the fact that despite this, it's not an unbearable way to spend a couple of hours. It's diverting enough and handled competently enough such that I was happy enough to stare slackjawed and vacantly at it without becoming enraged by what it's dishing out to me, as was the case with its genre stablemate National Treasure 2: Electric Boogaloo.

This is perhaps not coming across as the most strident recommendation the world has ever seen, and that's entirely accurate. The entirety of the world could go their entire lives without seeing this film and the net impact would be absolutely naught. While it's exactly what everyone was expecting, and not exactly bad, in many ways it's a more insidious evil than that. It's a film so bland, emotion-free and nondescript that it almost fades away into the canvas even as it's being projected. Fast food haters talk of 'empty calories', and this is the direct cinematic equivalent. Mediocre to the point of defying description, while it's certainly true that this film is unlikely to give anyone direct cause to list watching it as one of the main regrets of their live, I'm left searching for one reason, any reason at all, to recommend that anyone bother watching it at all.

I can't find one.

Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 2/5 TippyMarks.

Rob Cohen
Cast list:
Brendan Fraser (Rick O'Connell)
Jet Li (Emperor Han)
Maria Bello (Evelyn O'Connell)
John Hannah (Jonathan Carnahan)
Michelle Yeoh (Zi Juan)
Luke Ford (Alex O'Connell)
Isabella Leong (Lin)
Anthony Wong Chau-Sang (General Yang)