Movie Mom

Movie Mom

The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for adventure action and violence
Profanity:Some strong language (bastard, son of a bitch)
Nudity/Sex:Mild sexual references, warmly affectionate married couple
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, including drinking to deal with stress, scenes in bar
Violence/Scariness:Non-stop action-style violence, some graphic images (faces melting, characters on fire), disturbing themes (mummies coming back from the dead)
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters, strong, brave, capable minorities and women
Movie Release Date:August 1, 2008

Salt the popcorn and settle your gigantic soda in the cup-holder. Brendan Fraser is back and just as important, so are the mummies. Strictly speaking, these guys are not mummies, but they’re close enough.

It’s only been nine years since the first film, in which handsome, wisecracking, intrepid adventurer Rick (Fraser) met the brilliant, gorgeous, and equally intrepid librarian and Egyptologist Evie (Rachel Weisz). They found themselves battling mummies and falling in love. But this is movie world, so in the third installment Rick and Evie have a college-age son named Alex (the bland Luke Ford). Oh, and Weisz is not around any more, as we are informed with a brisk wink at the fans before the action gets underway. We first see Evie from behind, reading aloud from one of her books, and it is Weisz’s voice. But then she answers a question with “Honestly I can say she’s a completely different person,” and the camera swings around to show us that Evie is now played by Maria Bello.

And after that, it is just about all action, all the time. As is appropriate for movies in this category, there is just enough plot to give us an opportunity to have various kinds of conflict in various kinds of settings and otherwise stay out of the way of all of the chases, explosions, and battles. It’s sort of the same idea as Hellboy 2 — a sleeping army will awake and take over the world for evil if blah blah. This time, Rick and Evie end up in China mostly so that mummy honors can go to Jet Li as the evil emperor who was cursed by a witch who has the secret of eternal life.

Like the old movie serials that inspired it, the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously. But it takes the action scenes seriously and there are some great ones, especially a chase in a truck filled with fireworks. You can guess where that one is going. Yes, it is a little over the top by the time the Yeti show up. And Bello, as terrific an actress as she is, doesn’t match Weisz’s chemistry with Fraser and does not have his gift for finding the right mix of sincerity and spoof. The father-son-conflict and the romance are weak and predictable. But Fraser is spot on, Michelle Yeoh adds elegance and dignity as the witch, and Li is agreeably fast and fierce as the Emperor. When the silliness gets out of hand, just grab another handful of popcorn and before it’s gone the next fight or chase or near-plane-crash or fall or avalanche or mummy-esque attack will get things going again and remind you of the pleasures of the summer movie.

  • Bill

    Bad grammar.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Bill! Ten corrections and you get a free copy of my book, so let me know what you think I should fix.

  • Rosemary Tate

    I’ve missed you – you used to be on Yahoo reviews – then i lost you for a while – made some really bad choices but am glad to have found you again!!! Thanks

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much for tracking me down, Rosemary! I’m glad you’re here and hope you will let us know what you think about the movies you see. Welcome! And thanks for the kind words.

  • Crystal

    I heard that they hope Alex can take over the franchise but I don’t think Luke Ford could carry it. Thank goodness for Rick and the ever funny Jonathan. They distracted me from Bello and Ford. The two new additions to the O’ Connells family try but don’t quite make it. I too miss the chemistry between Weisz and Fraser and grownup Alex could use some of his father’s energy and life. But the sadness about that is trumped by my love of Michelle Yeoh as well as the rest of the cast.
    Over all it was entertaining film. I think your review is spot on.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Crystal! A very astute assessment, and not just because you agree with me!

  • kl

    The one star I plopped on this clunky bore-athon is due to the presence of the great Jet Li as the evil Dragon Emperor of the subtitle and the gorgeous Michelle Yeoh as Zi Yuan, a witch who’s been on the Emperor¹s a** for over 2000 years.
    Peter Travers
    Rolling Stone _mummy_tomb_of_the_dragon_emperor
    martial-arts superstar Jet Li triumphs as the mostly wordless evil Emperor Han of ancient China, a glowing magma spirit locked in a terra cotta shell.
    Jane Horwitz
    Washington Post 073100734.html
    Still, Li makes a great villain, using his powers to create fire, ice and other elements.
    Edward Douglas
    Coming Soon
    Toward the end of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh launch into a vigorous sword fight — and what a grand pleasure it is to watch these two world-class stars in action again…Their duel atop the Great Wall of China is a reunion of titans, an Old Timers’ Day for two actor-athletes still in their sinuous prime. Forgive the effusions of an alter-kocker fanboy, but the flinty glamour of Li and Yeoh — buttressed by the stolid, sneering presence of top Hong Kong villain Anthony Wong Chau-sang (who in 1993 appeared in 15 films!) — is the best reason to catch this third in the series of Indiana Jones knockoffs.
    Richard Corliss
    A memorably badass Jet Li.
    Nathan Rabin
    AV Club

  • Tim1974

    After having read your review, which was insightful, I decided to see the movie. I found I enjoyed it for what it was, both entertaining and fun. However, I did skip the popcorn. I agree that the group wasn’t really fighting “mummies,” but when it is just for fun I guess it is a moog point. I also found it amusing that the general who had been drawn and quartered returned later missing only one limb. I was also pleased that you mentioned that women and minorities were presented in a more positive, equal manner. Maybe the writers, directors, producers, and the MPAA Ratings Board will begin to bring more equality, of every aspect, to future films.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Tim! At first I didn’t realize that general was the same guy for just that reason! And I agree that more equality will produce better movies.

  • MomHon

    Sounded OK for my mummy-and-antiquity-loving 4th grader (9 & 1/2), but he had to leave after the melting face, the emperor pouring out & vomiting sand from the witch’s curse, the drawing and quartering, the decapitation of those who refused to be slaves, the beheading of those in stockades, the burying alive in the Great Wall… The review was so good, but the violence was way more intense than it sounded here. I didn’t go (these movies don’t interest me) & had to go get the poor boy half an hour into it. Dad and sis stayed though. He said “This should be rated R instead of PG-13!” This is the first time I goofed -from now on we’ll read them together.

  • Nell Minow

    Oh, MomHon, I am so sorry! It is just those kinds of unhappy surprises I try to prevent. I am sorry to say that what used to get an R now gets a PG-13. What gets an R never existed in mainstream Hollywood releases. Your 4th grader might enjoy some of the young Indiana Jones series. Thanks for the comment and please keep me posted on what you think about the movies you see.

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