The Austin Chronicle

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Rated PG-13, 114 min. Directed by Rob Cohen. Starring Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello, Jet Li, John Hannah, Michelle Yeoh, Luke Ford, Isabella Leong.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 1, 2008

It's been seven years since husband-and-wife adventurers Rick and Evelyn O'Connell (Fraser, playing Indy, and Bello, playing Rachel Weisz, poorly) last kicked off the wrappings of undead Egyptian Imhotep, and by golly, they are one bone-bored couple. While their now-grown offspring, Alex (Ford), is off in China desecrating the tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Li), they're trapped in their oversized English country estate, victims of their own success. No more mummies (they rekilled what felt like a thousand of the creaky things in 2001's The Mummy Returns) means no more gallivanting around the globe. Reduced to sharing "yet another lovely night in" and dining at a table of Arthurian proportions (if not circumference), they can be excused for going all giddy when Her Majesty requests of them one final mission: Safeguard the passage of a sacred 400-carat diamond to Shanghai. Easy as pie, you'd think, but as Evy's brother Jonathan (series regular Hannah) notes, the O'Connells are "mummy magnets." He's right, too. Before you can say, "Hey, didn't Universal Home Video just release the vastly superior 1932 original as part of its excellent bells-whistles-and-tannis-leaves Universal Legacy Series?" the O'Connell family is up to its neck in ambulatory terra-cotta warriors, a mother-and-daughter pair of immortal Chinese tomb guardians (Yeoh, Leong), and Li's reanimated Dragon Emperor. It's a confused mess of a film, however, no more so than when the emperor morphs into what amounts to an outright plagiarism of Toho's triple-headed King Ghidorah (from Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, et al.), complete with virtually identical sound effects. It's abundantly clear that this is one franchise that is dead in all but name. Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is little more than a cluttered, noisy, and unsatisfying thrill ride to nowhere, so masturbatory in its quest for action-comedy box office that it becomes an almost literal case of, dare I say, spanking the mummy. Forget this bloated misfire, and instead, hit the video store and get off on Karloff in the privacy of your own tomb.

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