Movie Review for The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)

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Review #666 of 365
Movie Review of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) [PG-13] 112 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $13.75
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When Seen: 1 August 2008 @ 12:01 pm
DVD Release Date: 9 December 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
After the Credits: There is nothing after the credits

Soundtrack: Download now from Randy Edelman - The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - or - order the CD below

Directed by: Rob Cohen (Stealth)
Written by: Alfred Gogh (Herbie Fully Loaded ) • Miles Millar (Herbie Fully Loaded )

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Brendan Fraser (Journey to the Center of the Earth) • Jet Li (The Forbidden Kingdom) • Maria Bello (The Jane Austen Book Club) • John Hannah (The Last Legion) • Michelle Yeoh (Sunshine) • Luke Ford ("McLeod's Daughters") • Isabella Leong (Ci qing) • Anthony Wong Chau-Sang (The Painted Veil)

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So, it's been a while since The Mummy Returns and the semi-spin-off The Scorpion King which was really move of a prequel than a sequel to The Mummy franchise helmed by Stephen Sommers and starring Brendan Fraser as the daring mummy slayer Rick O'Connell. Yet, how fitting given that mummies rise from the dead that so does this franchise. And, rise it does in a rousing action-adventure that's everything most people probably thought Indiana Jones 4 was going to be but wasn't because Messers Spielberg and Lucas opted for an authentic look true to the Indy Jones Franchise right down to the lack of really special, special effects—which it was. Unfortunately, since those days we've become so spoiled by brilliant effects to the point where we hardly notice them and can barely live without them.

… at least 10 times better than Indiana Jones 4…
Fortunately, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor's director Rob Cohen felt no such obligation to pay homage to some perceived legacy of the past. Hence, Indy Jones ends up looking like a relic while this new Mummy chapter rocks. In all of the ways that Raiders of the Lost Ark was so cool and special when it debuted, The Mummy: TotDE lives up to expectations and the legacy of the genre.

The story, set in China, follows the lore of the first Emperor Han (Jet Li) of China who, in this version of history, was cursed by a witch, Zi Juan (Michelle Yeoh) whom he deprived of her soul mate when he killed his general, Yang (Antohny Wong Chau-Sang) for whom she'd fallen in love against his wishes. The curse encrusted him and his armies in terracotta clay all eternity. Possessing the secret of Shan gri la and eternal youth, the witch and her daughter, Lin (Isabella Leong) had guarded the temple to prevent his accidental release from the clay prison for the past several thousand years. They were, however, unable to foresee the resolve of young Alex O'Connell (Luke Ford) following in the footsteps of his famous parents and working to prove himself in the world of archeological discovery. Having located the long-buried temple of Emperor Han, his team worked tirelessly to enter the temple and, hopefully, recover the artifacts of a lost dynasty. What neither Alex nor his parents Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn (Maria Bello), now retired to a summer mansion in the countryside of England, could know was there were powerful forces working to help not only Alex make his discover but to bring his parents to China along with a special artifact that would indeed set Emperor Han free. Once free, the Emperor discovers he has a lot of cleaning up to do in the world to pick up where he left off. Indeed, there's a lot more world to conquer. Stopping him becomes a family affair when the O'Connells, Evelyn's brother Jonathan Carnahan (John Hannah), and Lin join forces with some CGI Yeti all seeking to return the former Emperor to his lengthy slumber while a force of ancient nationalists works to help the Emperor.

While this Mummy installment is at least 10 times better than Indiana Jones 4, it's not without some problems that detract from and prevent it from the potential to overshadow 2008's blockbuster The Dark Knight. Chief among these is the cheesy dialogue spoken in crazy accents and sometimes tongues mostly by Mr. Fraser and Ms Bello—who takes over the role of Evelyn held previously by Rachel Weisz. Furthermore, Ms Bello so butchers the English accent as to nearly detract entirely from her oddly overly enthusiastic participation in her now sedentary life as Mummy novelist. Also, for looking and acting like he's in his early 30s, Mr. Fraser, lacks some authenticity as the aged Rick (a problem that Harrison Ford did not have in playing the aged Indiana Jones—with all due respect to Mr. Ford).

Luke Ford is not half bad…Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh are at the pinnacles…
If you could subtract most of their stuff from the film, actually, again with all due respect, you'd have had a stronger film. Luke Ford is not half bad as a blossoming leading man / action hero type. Meanwhile, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh are at the pinnacles of their careers even when it comes to playing roles in USA-made films. Virtually, they are screen legends in their own right, and it shows in their portrayals. The young Isabella Leong has great silent chemistry with Luke Ford making their characters eventual coupling more believable. The comedic relief comes nearly exclusively, as it has in previous installments, from John Hannah's character Jonathan and his habit of getting in trouble at all the wrong moments.

In this day and age, the more exposure that USAers have to Chinese history (stretched out of proportion for Hollywood standards—something USAers have gotten used to even with our own history) the better. Stories are what bind the members of our species together inasmuch as does our DNA. Having mined the mythology of Europe for centuries, it is magnificent to see more and more coming from the other side of the globe. Moreover, the special effects as mentioned are great. Put them in a great story and you have a pretty good summer movie. It's a shame this film wasn't released earlier in the summer, end of June maybe, where it would have fit better in the schedule. Nonetheless, fans of the original two films and those disappointed by Indiana Jones, should give this film a try.

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Other Projects Featuring The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)
Cast Members
Brendan FraserJet LiMaria Bello
John HannahMichelle YeohLuke Ford
Isabella LeongAnthony Wong Chau-Sang
Rob Cohen
Alfred GoghMiles Millar

Review-lite The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) [max of 150 words]
At least ten times better than Indian Jones 4, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor takes The Mummy to franchise status and more than lives up to expectations despite Maria Bello's awful English accent and some cheesy dialog. Awesome special effects, a likeable cast: especially legends Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh, and a great historical setting, China, help make this film rise above the competition.

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