The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) – Rob Cohen

There is a fun, if not a good movie somewhere in this mess of a mummy film that is my next stop in the mummy chapter of DK Canada’s highly enjoyable Monsters in the Movies book. Unfortunately there are a number of things holding it back, there are some casting changes that affect onscreen chemistry, but the thing that really sticks in my craw is the inclusion of the Yeti.

There is no dramatic reason to include the myth of the abominable snowmen, and they become more offensive the longer they are on the screen, and the less said about the ‘field goal’ moment the better.

Brendan Fraser returns as Rick O’Connell, and it’s great to see him in the role again. This time around it’s 1946, the Second World War is over, and the O’Connell’s are ‘retired.’ Their full grown son, Alex (Luke Ford) is following in the family footsteps however, and is in China digging up the expansive tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Jet Li).

Recruited for one last mission, Rick and Evy (Maria Bello replaces Rachel Weisz, and as good an actor as Bello is, she’s not Weisz, and consequently the film doesn’t have the same spark between the two leads) travel to Shanghai, where they meet up with Evy’s brother, Jonathan (John Hannah) who know runs a bar called Imhotep’s.

dragonemperor

We are given a brief mythological history of the Dragon Emperor setting up the danger of both him, and his Terra Cotta army, and the threat they will pose should they be reawakened.

Which, spoilers, they are.

With the whole family back together, they race to beat the Emperor to the fabled Shangri-la and from there past the Great Wall of China when his army will be unstoppable.¬†They are joined by the guardian of the Emperor’s tomb, Lin (Isabella Leong) and a brilliant witch, Zi Yuan (Michelle Yeoh) who has a history with the Emperor.

There are some fun moments in the film, and adding Liam Cunningham into the film’s universe is a plus, as he’s such a great actor, but it’s held back by too many things, the CGI, though it has improved since the last film, the replacement casting, the ridiculous Yeti.

There is so much beauty, and so many fascinating aspects to Chinese mythology that this one could have been a much more fun, and stunning film. It stumbles, and unfortunately the film suffers from diminishing returns.

The O’Connells, Rick and Evy, MADE the first two films. Yes the action beats were great, the comedy was there to balance the horror and Weisz and Fraser were a delight to watch. This ends up as a could have been, and makes a lackluster ending to a trilogy which could have continued for years (there was a plan for a sequel as hinted at the end of the film, as the story would move to Peru).

Still, it was a mostly enjoyable rewatch. But if that’s not your thing, pick up a copy of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies today, and find something fun, bloody and macabre to watch tonight!

mummyli

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