THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR (**) - Starring Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, Maria Bello, Michelle Yeoh, John Hannah, Luke Ford, Isabella Leong and Liam Cunningham.
Directed by Rob Cohen.
There are some problems with this movie that should have been ironed out before filming began. I usually like Maria Bello, but giving her dark hair and a British accent just pounded it home that she's not Rachel Weisz. And if in 1999 there was The Mummy, where Rick & Evelyn fell in love, and in 2001 it was ten years later where they had son Alex in tow, I guess it makes sense that in 2008, their son would now be 21. But Brendan Fraser is 39, and Luke Ford is 27. Freddie Boath, who played Alex in The Mummy Returns really was only ten when that movie came out, so he's 17 now. Anyway at this rate, Brendan Fraser's son will be his same age in The Mummy 4. And since this movie made almost $400 million worldwide, don't dismiss Mummy 4 just yet.
Now I know what some are thinking. Why make a third Mummy movie? Was there really that big a clamor for one? I repeat: it made almost $400 million worldwide. Movies are in the business to make money. I find it strange how Brendan Fraser could be in two successful blockbusters, but neither seemed to do a thing for his career. Well, I guess it means he can put off starring in a TV show for a couple more years.
Arnold Vosloo's mummy was laid completely to rest, and The Rock's Scorpion King became a good guy, so it's time for a new one. Alex O'Connell is now his own man, doing archaeological digs in China. He unearths the burial ground for the dragon emperor, played by star-power upgrade Jet Li. He'd been cursed by a witch, but naturally, with a drop of blood from one pure in heart, he can be awakened. Why do witches put little caveats in their spells like this?
Mom and Dad show up in China, and apparently Rick & Alex have father-son issues. "Why can't you let me fight my own mummies?" Weird as it is to see Fraser pretend to be Ford's father, it weirded me out more when I realized Ford looks like a 25-year-old Matt Damon and a 25-year-old Ethan Hawke have been photoshopped into one face. But I digress.
It was the big dumb explosion-fest I expected. Rob Cohen took over directing duties from Stephen Sommers, and he's actually a little worse. Proof of this is the fight scene between Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh. It's so choppy and slo-mo'd, it could be any two amateurs fighting. What is Cohen trying to cover up? You telling me Li and Yeoh can no longer choreograph five punches in a row without needing a break?