CGI galore, but lacks authencity“The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” takes place in 1946. We find our archeologist hero (Brendan Fraser) and his adventure writer wife (Maria Bello) living a luxurious quiet life in the English countryside, retired from action and adventure.
Then their 21-year-old son (Luke Ford) goes to Shanghai without telling his parents and stumbles upon the tomb of Chinese emperor Qin Si Huang, bringing his evil spirit back. Naturally, his parents end up getting involved.
Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is actually the third installment of a series - “The Mummy” (1999) and “The Mummy Returns” (2001) - both of which I quite enjoyed years ago.
But this one’s really different from its predecessors.
It is directed by Rob Cohen, whereas the two earlier movies were directed and written by Stephen Sommers. It’s also set in China instead of Egypt.
Its production budget was also the biggest of the three. Considerable time and money has clearly been invested in the numerous action sequences.
We see impressively crafted CGI sorcery and warring ancient armies of Chinese mummies. There are even Yetis helping our heroes here - although aren’t they supposed to be living in Tibet or Nepal?
We also encounter a three-headed fire-breathing dragon, because the evil emperor turns out to be a shape-shifter.
But a big budget can only go so far. Despite its glorious computer effects, this film is not nearly as enjoyable as the first two movies. Even the CGI ultimately fails to rescue this film.
It’s not that the two earlier films were of significantly better quality. They were also popcorn movies, but at least they had an a spontaneous sense of authenticity that the third one tried but failed to get.
It’s not the only thing the new film failed to get. The actors seemed to have real problems.
For a start, they lacked chemistry, with each other and their roles. Brendan Fraser, who plays Rick O’Connell, a retired archeologist, is lackluster.
Maria Bello’s Evelyn was different from Rachel Weisz’s brave Evelyn in the earlier films, and not in a good way. Moreover, Evelyn’s British accent disappears, although Rick and Evelyn have lived in the English countryside for 13 years.
And they have a son Alex - introduced in this film by Rob Cohen - but the three did not appear convincing as a family.
Its one saving grace was the presence of a few Asian stars as the film was set in China. Michelle Yeoh, as a powerful sorceress, did a good job of integrating the disunited characters.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Action, Adventure / 134 min.
By Choi Jung-in Contributing Writer [email@example.com]
Brendan Fraser (left) and Jet Li duke it out in the next “Mummy” installment.[MovieWeb]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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