Sunday, 3 May 2009

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Lowdown: A Chinese Mummy.
It's been something like seven years since the second episode of The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, and now we've been hit with Mummy 3 (or, by its full name, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor). Once again, it's a story of an Indiana Jones like archaeologist who just happens to stumble upon a resurrected mummy keen upon ruling the world rather ruthlessly and leaving our hero with no choice but to make sure our the mummy is retired to its former status. The main difference is that now our mummy is Chinese (and portrayed by Jet Li), the story is in China, and some personnel changes with the actors and director.
So, did the series survive this migration? Before answering, let me ask you this: given that the story follows an evil mummy, what is the scariest thing about Mummy 3? My answer is that, at least according to Widescreen Review, Mummy 3 has been the best grossing film of the trilogy thus far. And why is this so scary? Simply because Mummy 3 is an incredibly bad film.
Where shall we start? With the cast, if you please. Brendan Fraser is back for the main role, but seems like he never really woke up for the job; on his opposite side, Rachel Weisz has decided not to come back and play Fraser's wife (a very weisz move), so this quality actress is replaced by
Maria Bello about whom I cannot say much other than that she's doing an awful job. And Jet Li? Well, he spends most of the film as a digital effect anyway.
Yes, like many of its compatriots that try to make a killing at the box office without delivering much, Mummy 3 is digital heavy; way too heavy, so heavy it drowns. Similarly, its action scenes are shot with a shaky camera that doesn't allow you to figure out what is really going on (other than notice the rather unreal digital nature of it all). Pretty bad.
Character development? You mean, you're asking for character development in a film that puts digital effects ahead of everything? What are you going to ask for next, a decent plot? No, this one relies on you knowing the characters from before, and settles for just the very basic cliches the book can offer.
The bottom line is that Mummy 3 is a cheap excuse for a foundation lacking sequel to be set in China. It's predictable, it does not thrill in the least, and it's not funny like its predecessors were (to one extent or another). The magic that was there, at least with the first film (and despite its blatant copying of the Indiana Jones formula), is gone; Mummy 3 is exactly the type of film that gives sequels a bad name.
Worst scene: There's a tough competition for this title, but I'll hand it out to the scene where Yetis are introduced on a mountain scene. Digital yetis (say no more).
Overall: Bad from start to finish. 1.5 out of 5 stars.


Anonymous said...

"Mummy 3 has been the best grossing film of the trilogy thus far."

Actually Mummy 3 made less money that the other two films domestically and world wide. As for your review, i agree wholeheartedly. Its a terrible movie, one of the worst i have seen in a few years.

Moshe Reuveni said...

Thanks for the relieving info. I was basing my statement on an interview with director Rob Cohen (published in Widescreen Review), where he boasts Mummy 3 to be the best grossing of the lot. Didn't make much sense to me as there was absolutely no buzz in the air with this one, but it's strange for a director to go outright and lie.

Anonymous said...

No problem, Rob Cohen is a known liar and he tried to lie before about why Rachel Weisz did not do the movie. He went on to say that he had no contact with her and that she left after she did the second film but then turned around and said that her agent called and told him that Rachel did not want to play the mother of a 21 year old. Now common sense would tell you that having contact with an agent is the same thing has having contact with the client and if Rachel left after the second film, why would she be concerned about what was happening with the third one? The reason he lied was because news broke before the start of production of the third film that Weisz thought the script was horrible and that's the real reason she did not do the movie. So sour grape Rob tried to bad mouth her in the press by making up stories, stories that he seems to contradict every time he's interview.

If you want more behind the scenes truth on what really went wrong with this film, go here:

Uri said...

Accorting to imdb, it did make more money in non-USA than the other two (although, as Anonymous said it was #3 world-wide).

So which did you like better? The third Mummy or the fourth Indy?

Moshe Reuveni said...

Both are bad films, but as the star ratings I gave them indicate, Mummy 3 is just plain bad whereas Indy 4's main annoyance is in the shame it puts on its predecessors.
To put it another way, Indy 4 is a crap film that can be watched; Mummy 3 is a film one should actively avoid.