Thursday, October 25, 2012

Third Time Not Quite the Charm with "The Mummy: Dragon Emperor"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 80 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)
Running time: 112 minutes (1 hour, 52 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for adventure action and violence
WRITERS: Alfred Gough and Miles Millar
PRODUCERS: Sean Daniel, Bob Ducsay, James Jacks, and Stephen Sommers
EDITOR: Kelly Matsumoto and Joel Negron
COMPOSER: Randy Edelman


Starring: Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, Maria Bello, John Hannah, Michelle Yeoh, Luke Ford, Isabella Leong, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Russell Wong, Liam Cunningham, Jessey Meng, and David Calder

The subject of this movie review is The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, a 2008 fantasy adventure film from director Rob Cohen. It is a sequel to The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001) and is based upon John L. Balderston’s 1932 screenplay and Stephen Sommers’ 2001 screenplay. Tomb of the Dragon Emperor moves from the Egyptian setting of the first two films to China, and is set some 13 years after the events depicted in The Mummy Returns.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor opens in ancient China and tells the story of Han (Jet Li), a brutal and tyrannical warlord. He unites the various kingdoms of China to form a single empire, and he also orders the construction of the Great Wall of China. Han becomes the Dragon Emperor, a master of the five elements (fire, water, earth, metal, and wood). His quest for immortality leads to the downfall of him and his empire.

In 1946, Alexander Rupert “Alex” O’Connell (Luke Ford) discovers The Dragon Emperor’s tomb in the Ningxia Province of China. His parents, Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn Carnahan O’Connell (Maria Bello), aren’t exactly pleased to find their son engaged in the kind of archeology that got them into so much trouble in Egypt. The family doesn’t have much time to fight, though. The rogue General Yang (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang) has hatched a conspiracy to resurrect the Dragon Emperor.

Now, Rick, Evey, and Alex, with Evey’s brother, Jonathan Carnahan (John Hannah), reluctantly following, must stop the Dragon Emperor from gaining immortality. Their allies include the mysterious mother-daughter tandem of Zi Yuan (Michelle Yeoh) and Lin (Isabella Leong) and also the drunken pilot, Mad Dog Maguire (Liam Cunningham). Can this group stop the Dragon Emperor and his Terracotta Army?

I am a big fan of Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy films, but I had only a passing interest in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor when it was first released back in 2008. I wanted the franchise to stick with its Egyptian themes, not move to China. I have watched bit and pieces of Tomb of the Dragon Emperor on television, but was not really interested in seeing the entire movie. I finally rented a copy so that I could watch it in its entirety in order to review it, and I only want to review it so that I can post it as a set with the first two films.

That said, I enjoyed The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. It’s ridiculous and frivolous and played entirely for fun, which is a bit different from the first film. The Mummy, for all its Raiders of the Lost Ark leanings, was something of a horror movie. Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is more like The Mummy Returns – a family affair. This is a fantasy adventure about a cast of characters that are family in one form or another, and this is for family viewing even with the profanity, mild sexual innuendo, and gunplay.

Yes, I did have problems with Maria Bello playing Evelyn Carnahan O’Connell. After all, my “Evey” is still Rachel Weisz. I eventually stopped thinking about the change, watched the movie, and accepted Bello, who is a good actress. I have watched The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, in parts or whole, countless times, and the first film is one of my all-time favorite movies. I won’t take The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor to heart in that manner. It is harmless entertainment, and because it is a way to see favorite characters again, it’s worth seeing… now and again.

5 of 10

Sunday, October 21, 2012

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