July 31, 2008

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

I'm tired...just pull over and ask for directions
to the nearest mummy's tomb.

Grade: D

Director: Rob Cohen

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, Maria Bello, John Hannah, Michelle Yeoh, Luke Ford, and Isabella Leong

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes

Mummies get outsourced to the Far East in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the latest misbegotten sequel to an already marginal adventure-fantasy series. Consistent hack Rob Cohen (Stealth; xXx) inherits the directorial reigns to a senseless storyline about an ancient, shape-shifting Chinese emperor (Jet Li) resurrected in order to awaken a dormant, Terracotta army of CG cannon fodder and retake his Oriental throne.

Coming to save the day are father-son adventurers Rick and Alex O’Connell, played by Brendan Fraser and Luke Ford, whose every conversation sounds like marble-mouthed silent film stars struggling to adapt to talkies. Along for the ride are a pair of immortal crouching tigresses played by Michelle Yeoh and Isabella Leong, plus a pair of Yetis played by the sort of F/X normally seen in the direct-to-DVD releases, who, after dropkicking one of the emperor’s henchmen over a Himalayan gateway, raise their arms like a football referee signaling a successful field goal attempt.

The perfunctory air permeating this green-screened spectacle is as stale as a sarcophagus, and detailing all the script’s illogic would far exceed this limited space – e.g., why would a villain capable of morphing into a giant, three-headed dragon ride into battle on horseback in human form? Only Rachel Weisz emerges unscathed since she had the prescience to abandon the role of Evelyn O’Connell née Carnahan to poor Maria Bello and her wobbly English accent. Those responsible for this albino imitation of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom should leave any future Mummies where they belong: dead and buried.

Neil Morris

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