"The Mummy" was an entertaining movie, "The Mummy Returns" which came 2 years later wasn't bad but then 7 years after the first sequel came "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" and the words "oh dear" spring to mind. Ignoring the fact that Rachel Weisz didn't return and rather than writing out her character of Evy they replaced her with Maria Bello there is something plainly wrong about this latest adventure. That something is that whilst the movie has action and lots of it, the sense of adventure is lacking, so is a reasonable storyline and whilst by nature the series of "Mummy" movies are far fetched "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" goes too far and becomes less of a parody and more of a joke. But the thing is that it serves a purpose and will entertain those who don't care for a reasonable storyline or clever comedy but love plenty of over the top action.
Having retired from his life as an adventurer Rick (Brendan Fraser - Bedazzled) is struggling to live the quiet life of an English gentleman as his wife Evy (Maria Bello) flourishes as a novelist. But when their son Alex (Luke Ford) discovers the tomb of an ancient Chinese Emperor (Jet Li - War) they find themselves back in the thick of the action when an evil General brings the Emperor back to life. Along with Evy's brother Jonathan (John Hannah), Rick, Evy and Alex must do what ever it takes to stop the Emperor from reaching Shangri-La and resurrecting his army of dead soldiers.
As storylines go "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" has what can only be called a slim one. We get the customary intro as we are given a bit of history to who will be the bad guy, in this case the abruptly titled Emperor who centuries ago was both evil and killed. And what follows is a generic action movie as young Alex O'Connell uncovers the mummified body of the Emperor and Rick as well as Evy and her brother Jonathan find themselves on another mission to stop a mummified bad guy when he is brought back to life. But whilst "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" is dressed up in some mysticism with protectors of the tomb, bad guys wanting to resurrect the Emperor and a lot of other flourishes none of it makes for an interesting storyline. Although saying that it is most certainly better for giving us a new Mummy for Rick and Evy to battle rather than just digging up the same old bad guy again.
Part of the problem is that "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" is so far fetched and whilst you expect these "Mummy" movies to be far fetched this just goes too far. The whole mystical East thing becomes more than just a joke and when suddenly we get Yeti's and the terracotta army coming to life it just ends up all rather stupid. Oh it allows "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" to be a movie which is a visual treat of CGI drenched action but that's all it is. The cleverness of "The Mummy" as it sort of parodied the adventure genre is lost for all out action.
As such those who don't care for clever comedy or a semi intelligent storyline will probably find "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" entertaining. It has to be said that the numerous action scenes and there are a lot, will delight those who enjoy CGI battles between skeletons and terracotta soldiers all with a martial arts slant. Even the inclusion of Yeti's in various action scenes is impressive if ultimately a step too far and utterly daft.
What is amusing is that Brendan Fraser returns as Rick and early on we are lead to believe that he is struggling with the quiet life, where in fact it feels more like Brendan Fraser is struggling to get into character. The whole heroic side of Rick is lost, replaced by too much unsubtle comedy and with Rachel Weisz not returning the double act is lost. In many ways I feel sorry for Maria Bello as she tries to take on the character of Evy because there is no way she could compete with Weisz and whilst she tries to give Evy a new angle, a slightly different character it just fails. It means we have Rick and then we have Evy, no chemistry between them at all and that extends to John Hannah who returns as Jonathan, basically giving us 3 individual characters who don't interact very well. You could even add Luke Ford who plays Rick's son Alex as he is as isolated from the other characters as they are to each other.
As for Jet Li who has the sorry task of playing the Emperor well as you would expect the action sequences with him look stunning but little else does. Now it's not a criticism of Li, but the decision to have the Emperor speaking what I presume is Mandarin and having subtitles on the screen is plain annoying. Even the delightful double act of Michelle Yeoh and Isabella Leong as Zi and Lin fail to add anything other than some beauty and some kick ass moves.
What this all boils down to is that for me "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" is a disappointment. Anything which made "The Mummy" good has been lost and replaced by more over the top action. It also doesn't help that Rachel Weisz is replaced by Maria Bello which means that "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" is a movie for those who don't care for either a clever storyline or subtle comedy but get their kicks from action scene after action scene.