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Theatrical Review: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Rick and Evie O’Connell are living out a life of leisure thanks to their huge successes in the past and are just bored stiff by it. Their son, Alex, has been participating in an archaeological dig in China that has successfully unearthed the mythical Emperor Han, who is believed to have been the greatest in China’s history, ruthless to a degree and having developed powers that give him mastery over the elements. Now through a series of events, Rick and Evie find themselves In China with their son, as the Chinese military is getting ready to revive the Emperor so he can lead them and make China the power it should be.

And that’s the simplified premise of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the third film in Universal’s Mummy series, and the first of these not directed by Stephen Sommers, but veteran action film director Rob Cohen. Now I like the first two movies as some cheesy pulpy B-movie fun, and at least in my eyes, the third film continues this and I at least had a pretty good time with it. It’s heavy duty fantasy that’s designed as pure breezy entertainment and not meant to be life-defining by any means, just a fun way to pass some time.

Cohen’s always had a pretty breezy style to his work, and this is evident here. I’m no student of history, but I’m sure this plays pretty fast and loose with everything, and really it just didn’t matter a whole lot, it’s just another adventure re-visiting the characters of the previous films but in a new, yet familiar milieu. I admit, though the trailer looked cool, my expectations were low going into this, and I went with it’s cheese and had a pretty good time.

From the previous films, Brendan Fraser is back as Rick O’Connell and John Hannah is back as Evie’s brother John. New to this are Maria Bello taking the place of Rachel Weisz as O’Connell’s wife Evie, Luke Ford as their son, Alex, and Michelle Yeoh and Isabella Leong as an immortal mother-daughter team dedicated to making sure Han never rises again, and Jet Li as the Emperor Han himself. Now a lot of people are really upset and making a big deal out of the fact that Rachel Weisz isn’t back for this film, and really just get over yourselves, this stuff happens and if the filmmakers want to keep the same character in a movie, then re-casting has to happen- I think Bello does a good enough job here, and excels at least with selling the action (as does Brendan Fraser).

My only complaint is that it plays with it’s time period a little fast and loose and Fraser and Bello are just so vibrant looking themselves, that it’s a little hard to believe that they have a college aged son and I might’ve done something that aged them a little more… but really that wasn’t anything that lessened my enjoyment.

It’s designed as a breezy action film and it has some contrivances in it’s story, but nothing that seemed to me out of place in it’s fantasy set-up. I had a good time, but looking over IMDB, I’m a minority in that, but then when I go to a movie in the first place, I’m not looking to take it apart right from the start either. I enjoyed it and basically I think that if you think the opposite of most of my reviews, then just stay away, especially if you’re going to be upset by the fact that one of the main characters have been re-cast or that there’s no actual horror in the film (of course neither of the first two have any actual horror in them either).

By Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

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