The first two Mummy movies may not have been critical successes, but they did have an off-kilter charm that made them hits with the masses. As one member of those masses, I have to say that I did enjoy them, myself. So, why then, do I not care for the third instalment in the series?
Writer/director Stephen Sommers only produced this film. They recast Evelyn O’Connell – and Maria Bello ain’t Rachel Weisz, not by half. Luke Ford, who plays the O’Connell’s grown son, Alex, has the charisma of a box of Shreddies. Brendan Fraser, who threw himself into Journey to the Center of the Earth, seems to be going through the motions here. John Hannah’s exclamation, “I hate mummies! They never play fair!” is the height of the wit in this installment’s banter [you know you’re in trouble when Hannah has to force his dialogue…]. The action set pieces – and the CG, for that matter – have a been there/done that feel about them.
On the plus side of the ledger, we have Jet Li, whose energetic and charismatic villain might have been fun if he’d a script worthy of him; Michelle Yeoh, who manages to rise above the morass that is this film, as an immortal witch whose one true love was drawn and quartered by Li’s Dragon emperor, and Isabella Leong brings some badly needed spirit to the proceedings as Lin, the witch’s equally immortal daughter, who incomprehensibly develops a thing for Alex.
Despite director Rob Cohen’s best efforts, The Mummy: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor galumphs along at a lacklustre pace for a would-be summer blockbuster. If it wasn’t for the performances by the key Asian actors, this would be a complete disaster. Thanks to them, there are enough bright spots to avoid an F.
For a long time, fans of martial arts movies have longed to see Jackie Chan and Jet Li do a film together. Well, even though Chan is noticeably a step slower, and the real hero of The Forbidden Kingdom is a time-traveling poor white kid from the present, the two still provide a lot of fun in a movie that’s a fun riff on a number of martial arts movie themes.