- The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
- Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, Maria Bello
- Directed by Rob Cohen
- Rated PG-13
- Opens Friday August 1
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There’s a thin line between “winking at the camera” and “drawing attention to how bad your movie is.” In its third installment, The Mummy franchise crosses that line. Stephen Sommers, the writer and director of the first two films, is an expert in coaxing his actors to keep one eye shut with the consistency of one-eyed pirates. Deep Rising, with its beyond-sketchy CG effects and wisecracking characters, is destined to become a camp classic if it hasn’t already been declared so. His next film, The Mummy, was similarly campy, but managed to contain scenes that would’ve been at home in a respected Indiana Jones entry. In point of fact, the latest Indiana Jones arguably rips off elements from The Mummy.
But in this second sequel, Sommers has surrendered the directing reigns to Rob Cohen (director of xXx and The Fast and the Furious), and try as he might, he can’t quite emulate Sommers’ hair-above-cheesy style.
At one point, Brendan Fraser (reprising his role of Rick “Ricochet” O’Connell) cries, “Abominable snowmen!” with hyperbolic incredulity to prepare us for the ridiculousness of white-haired behemoths engaged in battle. So we’re ready for cheesiness. Then, the beasts show up, rendered in CG that makes Sully from Monsters Inc. look photo-realistic. Pretty cheesy. Then, they exhibit modern human mannerisms that are inappropriate in the film set in the 1940s. Too cheesy. Way, way too cheesy.
The film is groan-inducing from beginning to end. The O’Connells are running an errand in China, so, of course, they revive another mummy. It has nothing to do with the first two films; the movie’s title simply demands it.
Some of the action scenes have a humor and suspension-of-disbelief spectacle worthy of the first two films. But too much attention is paid to the O’Connells’ family dynamic. Fraser, who looks very young for 40, would have to have been 13 to father the actor who portrays his son. If I liked the character, or if this were a better film, I’d happily suspend disbelief. Alas, I cannot.