The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor


By Robbie Collin

DEFINITION of a mummy in the movies: The soulless reanimated corpse of a long-dead dynasty that will suck the life out of millions of people in a horribly protracted and agonising way.

Definition of The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor? The above, but with a decent car chase.

The original Mummy film was a daft, very enjoyable, kind of own-brand Indiana Jones blockbuster. And the sequel, The Mummy Returns, was not quite as good, but still fun in its own way.


But this new offering? Such a let-down that it might as well be called The Mummy Forever, or The Mummy And Robin.

Because the promising start and mildly entertaining whiz-bang throughout can’t hide the fact this is one monster movie series which would have been better left for dead.

Plot-wise, we’re in 1946, 13 years after the events of the last Mummy film.


Archaeologist Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) has given up the adventurer’s life to retire to a plush country pile with his wife Evelyn (NOT Rachel Weisz this time, but Maria Bello, of which more later).

Meanwhile their now-grown-up archaeologist son Alex (Luke Ford) has just unearthed the tomb of the Chinese Emperor Han (Jet Li, who’s barely in the movie), an evil tyrant whose backstory is sketched in with a lengthy ten-minute narrated intro.

Rick and Evelyn get asked by the British government to take a diamond to China along with Evelyn’s schmuck brother Jonathan (John Hannah).


The diamond falls into the wrong hands, Alex falls in love with someone called Lin (Isabella Leong), some ancient curse, yadda yadda yadda, and basically we end up with undead CGI baddies beating the fossilised cack out of one another.

Predictable, box-ticking stuff, then. Which would be fine, if there was more to back it up than a couple of entertaining chase sequences.

But there isn’t.


Not that this should come as a surprise, of course. Because the following clues were there for all to see:

1. It’s been no less than seven years since the last Mummy film.

2. Even that one was noticeably weaker than the first movie.

3. And the best member of the cast from both of those films, Rachel Weisz, has (wisely) not come back.

4. But rather than write around it, they’ve just cast someone else in her role instead.

5. Namely, Maria Bello. Henceforth, known as Maria Bello Par— whose previous career high was playing that doctor that nearly humped Carter in the fourth series of ER, in 1998.

6. Leaving us with a Ford/Bello/Fraser combo. An Australian who can’t act American, an American who can’t act English and an American who can’t act.


Even in a weak summer, such a half-hearted effort would not have been welcome.

But going head to head with the likes of The Dark Knight, and arriving just two months after the new Indiana Jones film showed how this kind of swash should be buckled?

It’s a disappointment—but even more disappointingly Ford and Bello have already signed up for (big sigh) a FOURTH Mummy film.

So please, Universal. Tear up those contracts and bury this franchise in a sealed anti-chamber at the end of a maze of traps 100 feet below the ground in Egypt—or China, or Peru, or wherever.

Anything else? Oh yes. Just one more thing.

There’s not actually a fecking mummy in it.



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