One of Hollywood’s highest grossing movie franchises that began with a bang ends with a whimper with the third entry in The Mummy franchise having a noticeable lack of smarts and entertainment.
The fact that the series became less memorable and uninspired as it went along doesn’t help, but a seeming lack of current interest in the franchise plays a part here as well. After a solidly entertaining flick like The Mummy is followed up by a forgettable sequel and a direct to DVD prequel to the sequel, a third entry in the franchise soon becomes improvident.
Called back into action is Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser), his lovely wife Evelyn (Maria Bello), the wise-cracking Jonathan, and newly introduced son Alex O’Connell (Luke Ford) to put yet another mummy to rest. After a 2,000-year-old curse is broken, the Dragon Emperor (Jet Li) is revived and on a mission to gain control of the China Empire using his army of undead. It’s is up to the new and improved O’Connell family to save China from the ruthless Dragon Emperor and crack a few lame jokes along the way.
A promising start with some decent CGI work becomes ruined by an overload of middling special effects afterwards, prolonged battle sequences, and the usual bad line reading by Brendan Fraser (the goofball of cinema). These are just some of the numerous shortcomings that the third entry in The Mummy franchise has to offer. Topping off these blemishes are bland hand-to-hand combat sequences and a layout in the script that called for poorly imaged abominable snowmen to the rescue.
With a director like Rob Cohen at the helm, a man who seems very addicted to deploying frantic action and rapid gunfire that quickly becomes stale (xXx, The Fast and The Furious, Stealth), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is a perfect example of how a change in director can completely change the tone and momentum of a stable series. This is loaded with repetitive action, occasionally sloppy camerawork, ill-favored subplots involving love and daddy issues, and an excessively lackluster script. The fun is bogged down by these multiple faults, predictable humor, misleads in the direction, and an underused Jet Li in poor form.
Having taken full interest in Jet Li after being convinced he is the only reason to watch the film, I was disappointed that computer generated imagery took his form. And when used in martial arts sequences, the excessive use of slow motion is a momentum burner. In the end, even Jet Li is mildly disappointing in his short appearance on screen. On the plus side, it’s much more watchable than expected thanks to some standard CG imagery in the opening and final scenes that sadly top anything downstream.
Even the special features lack entertainment value. The 2-Disc Deluxe Edition contains nearly 90 minutes of special features including deleted and extended scenes, a walk through through the 89 days of shooting, stunt work, China’s legacy, and much more. Problem is that it’s an effort to sit through such dull special features that have a distinct lack of fun. The DVD will be available to own on December 16, but fans of the series will most likely be disappointed this time around. 1/5 stars