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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » September 17, 2008
Film review
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The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
September 17, 2008 By Witold Żygulski   
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A new director, screenwriters and leading actress have not helped the third part of The Mummy (1999) franchise, which started in 1999 and continued with The Mummy Returns in 2001. Rob Cohen (Stealth, The Fast and the Furious, Dragonheart) has taken over the director's chair from Stephen Sommers, who this time is happy just being the producer.

What's worse, Sommers did not sufficiently contribute to the script and handed the job over to Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (Spider Man 2). Rachel Weisz, who played Evelyn O'Connell in the first two installments, reportedly pulled out of the project as soon as she read the script. You can hardly blame her, because no matter how hard the actors try, they cannot possibly fix the mess created by Gough and Millar. Replacing Weisz, Maria Bello (A History of Violence, The Cooler, Payback) does her level best, but she comes across as bland as the rest of the cast. Brendan Fraser (The Quiet American, Bedazzled, George of the Jungle) as Rick O'Connell, reproduces the three or four stock facial expressions he used to appeal to audiences of the previous movies. The same can be said of John Hannah (Four Weddings and a Funeral), who plays Jonathan, Evelyn's hapless brother. Admittedly, his job is even harder, as the writers have him amuse viewers with jokes about a vomiting yak named Geraldine.

Since the days when Imhotep once again rose from his grave in The Mummy Returns, the O'Connells' son Alex has grown up and become a young, freelance archeologist determined to impress his parents, whatever the cost.

Instead of the notorious Egyptian priest, this time the new adversary for Alex and his family is a Chinese emperor who has been dead for millennia (Jet Li-Hero, Danny the Dog, Romeo Must Die). The ruthless and treacherous ruler found himself outsmarted by a witch named Zi Juan (Michelle Yeoh-Memoirs of a Geisha, Tomorrow Never Dies, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). In revenge for the execution of her lover, a general in the imperial army, the witch put a curse on the emperor and his troops. He is awakened from the curse by the O'Connells. The emperor quickly regains his strength and agility (he can command fire, water, air and so on) and acquires new, frightening skills, such as morphing into a three-headed flying dragon or a monster reminiscent of a gigantic saber-tooth tiger. The O'Connells have to save the day, teaming up with Zi Juan and her daughter, an immortal for 2,000 years like her mother.

Absurd plots never ruined the fun in the previous two movies, but the third installment is a huge let-down consisting of action scenes randomly thrown together and overloaded with special effects. Viewers get treated to a plane landing in Himalayan mountain passes, different worlds hidden in caves, a pack of Yetis bravely helping the main characters, fireworks which demolish half of Shanghai and lots of other attractions. In the meantime, our heroes take time to debate the superiority of Russian PPSh submachine guns over American thompsons. Finally, you learn the inevitable lesson that the best way to defeat an immortal monster is to bang your head against its face and kick it between the legs.
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