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Movie Review The Mummy – Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

August 1, 2008

The Mummy – Tomb of the Dragon Emperor – is a fantasy adventure, but not one of the best. So much mayhem and fireworks that it gives the viewer little time to ponder on whether the story make sense or not. And ofcourse it doesn’t, it’s fantasy after all and that too with three headed monster dragons, terracotta turned metallic warriors breathing fire, scrawny undead ghosts and gigantic white yetis. Not to mention planes and guns and knives and bombs, all of which sort of gets exhausting after a while.

The story (no spoilers)
The movie (directed by Rob Cohen) begins peacefully enough with explorer Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and his wife Evelyn (Maria Bello) having tea in a mansion in England, a trifle bored with their retired life and itching to get back into the mummy action. The action comes barely half an hour into the movie and it’s China they are headed for this time…a China of Terracotta soldiers buried in tombs and long-dead evil emperors. Sounds familiar doesn’t it. Well, it is. It’s similar to the other Mummy series, what with curses and charms and witches and ancient love stories. But no, this movie is not as good as the first one. As for the second Mummy movie, I couldn’t make up my mind whether it was better than this (third) one.
But I wasn’t bored, although I cannot guarantee that for you. I kind of enjoy dumb movies at times. Even those with lame humour, and this had that in plenty.

The actors
I was a little surprised to find that that Brendan Fraser is not the only leading man…his screen son (Luke Ford) jostles for space too. Surprising because Fraser’s charm and looks are quite intact. I was even more disappointed that Rachel Weisz (the actress who had played his wife in the previous two movies) was replaced by Maria Bello. I think Rachel was great in the two Mummy movies and she had great chemistry with Fraser too. Maria Bello not only lacks Rachel’s bubbly charm, she seems to have zero chemistry with Fraser and as far as I am concerned their kootchie cooing seemed forced. As for Luke Ford, he is plain boring.
An important Chinese character in this movie is played by Michelle Yeoh. She is the sorceress without whom the O’Connell family would have not been able to battle the Emperor…she holds all the secrets. She has a daughter too, the stunning Isabella Leong. Michelle is good and everytime she comes on the screen it livens up the movie. Jet Li was good too. He plays the villain, the evil dragon emperor who comes to life after 2000 years. He plays his part to perfection, all fire and brimstone, and the special effects are a wonder to watch. That’s Hollywood for you!
The movie is choc-a-bloc with characters, good and evil. A couple of generals and some side-kicks for example, all adding to the fun.

In Conclusion
Just want to add a few unrelated thoughts that went through my mind during the first few minutes of the movie. In this film, like in the other Mummy movies, people from the developed world venture into ancient cultures and dig up their treasures and save the world from evil mummies. They are the heroes, and all the local people, even if they are good, are either sacrificed or play second fiddle. This reminded me of the time we were in Africa when an African friend of mine complained to me about the African Safari movies. “Why are the white people always the heroes and heroines?” she asked me. At that time the answer from me came pat, “…because they make the movies, the Americans and the English and naturally they will use their own people because they want the movie to succeed in their homemarket.’
But I guess I understand what she must have felt. The Egyptians must have felt the same when they saw the first two Mummy movies. Even though it is a fact that much of the early excavations were done by the whites.
I wonder how an average Chinese will react to this third Mummy movie where a group of foreigners save the Chinese from an ancient curse. Though ofcourse a Chinese sorceress chips in.

Indian Mummy
Suppose the next mummy movie is set in India? We do have an ancient culture that Hollywood producers could dip into for some interesting kings who could be resurrected. A couple of names are already coming to mind…
Tip for a potential Bollywood director reading this post: Get into the act before Hollywood does. Here are some titles which might give you some ideas…

  • Mummy, hum aapke hai kaun?
  • Pappa, Mummy dulhaniya le jayegi
  • Maama ki doosri mummy
  • Mummy mil gayi!

More Reviews: The Dark Knight
Jaane Tu or Jaane Na

Other Movie Reviews of some recent movies

20 Comments leave one →
  1. August 2, 2008 12:41 am

    My wife wants to see this over the weekend.

  2. August 2, 2008 2:09 am

    Nice Conclusion. Unfortunately when movies are made by Hollywood the Americans or the Brits in the case of Mummy are portrayed as heroes. Brits in Mummy come in because of the time period when Brits colonised every single country on earth. As always in most cases the first movies are good in a series the rest only try to catch up with the first.

    Indian Mummy – hmm that will be a great idea! I can imagine Mummies dancing for a hero heroine romantic duet or perhaps – Dard-e-disco!

  3. August 2, 2008 3:05 am

    Im tired of the mummy series \ brenden fraser s overacting
    reminds me of young drunk eyed ajay devgan
    the only mummy i prefer company of is my mom

    will however see the batman movie sunday at the sterling multiplex 😦 (hate multiplexes loved the old sterling ) as u folks have given it a positive rating

    my fears about ugly have come true
    do see my sassy girl though – u will love it

  4. August 2, 2008 9:25 am

    I booked tickets for the first Mummy when it was released and once inside the theatre I came to know that I am watchind a dubbed version . 😦
    I had to book tickets again for the english version.

    The first one was cool. But the resemblance to the Indiana jones movies is always there. Brendan Frazer even wears similar clothes as Indiana in The mummy.

    Its just like Matrix, the first one was too good, the second well okay, the third aaargh….
    They just over do it.

  5. guqin permalink
    August 2, 2008 10:02 am

    Nita, never mind how Chinese audiences feel…

    When China’s traditional position in the world is restored, world audiences will see how Middle-kingdomers save poor Romans from their evil caesars and to help the gladiators to escape from the colosseums…

    …just joking…we won’t make this sort of movies

  6. August 2, 2008 10:30 am

    lol..great Indian “Mummy” titles. I saw this movie too and never felt bored. But I felt there is no story line and the movie is just about average. The Yetis were funny 🙂

    Nita, they did use our “Sanskrit” in the movie. They say itz Sanskrit when the witch starts reading those ancient…that doesn’t sound like Sanskrit 😀

  7. August 2, 2008 12:50 pm

    They replaced the heroine!!!!! I liked the first one. 😦
    I was thinking of watching it but laziness crept it. 🙂
    Indian Mummy?? Hmm…
    how about – Mummy ko nahi hai pata!!!

  8. August 2, 2008 1:19 pm

    lol … nice titles..
    they removed rachel ??? :O
    😦 i am sad
    i think i would download the movie ..adn see just for the special effects 😛

  9. August 2, 2008 2:04 pm

    Merey paas ‘gadi hein, bangla hein, naukar hein, bank balance hein……keya hein tumharey pass’????

    merey pass ” MUMMY” hein!!

    P.S. Shouldn’t have replaced Rachel Weisz , that’s sad.

  10. td23 permalink
    August 2, 2008 2:04 pm

    hi there
    well i havent seen the movie, but would love to see it. Your review is very balanced. its sad to know that Rachel Wiesz isnt there. I personally loved the sequel to Mummy, the Mummy Returns much much more than the first installation.
    Jet Li seems like a posterboy of period movies (ofcourse after Orlando Bloom). Was last seen in Jackie Chan’s ‘The Forbidden Kingdom’. he is a good actor and his action sequences are unmatched. lemme c for myself how this movie works out.
    take care

  11. August 2, 2008 3:47 pm

    one more to watch….the never ending list…

    Dark night





    kang fu panda….

    wow!i think i might have to do a movie marathon 🙂

  12. August 2, 2008 5:23 pm

    its been sooooooooo long that i have seen any english movie! 😦 😦

  13. August 3, 2008 12:11 am

    It was not one of the best movies that I have seen this month. The terracotta army was borrowed from someone who might have been to the museum in Xi’an. Since it is a fantasy movie I guess you can get away with a lot of things. However I guess may be they could have stuck to some semblance of sense and reality.

  14. August 3, 2008 9:36 am

    @ Vishesh – Apart from Dark knight and Kung fu panda, nothing else in the list is worth watching.
    I watched Kuselan in Tamil (though I do not understand tamil at all :(..Thanks to few of my colleagues 🙂 )…I didn’t think it was gret too.

  15. August 3, 2008 11:07 am

    Thanks for being my friend!! Happy Friendship Day!!

    I am fan of The Mummy series 🙂 I will definitely watch it.

  16. August 3, 2008 12:24 pm

    Boo hoo 😦 I want to see this movie as I’m a huge fan of Fraser but I have no one to go with. Sob 😦
    Good review 🙂 U beat me to it as I was watching to write abt this movie only after watching. As for Hollywood films on Indian culture do check out this post of mine.

  17. August 3, 2008 12:25 pm

    *waiting not watching.

  18. August 3, 2008 11:23 pm

    Thanks each one of you for responding!
    Brian, td23, hope you all liked the movie! It isn’t all that great actually and a lot depends on one’s mood on that day.
    Prax, Dinesh Babu, Arvind, Sakhi, thanks.
    Xylene, this almost happened to me once but luckily a friend who was with me caught it! I don’t like to watch dubbed movies and anyway if you can see it in the original why see the dubbed version!
    Gugin, Amit, Rahul, 🙂
    Manoj, I wonder if the Chinese have sanskrit! I remember that part in the movie, the spell was supposed to be in sanskrit. I think the director made a mistake.
    Vishesh, I am sure your folks are happy that you haven’t seen all those movies….like Manoj said most aren’t worth it.
    Odzer, agreed, lot of flaws…
    JV, happy friendship day to you too!
    Reema, will check out your post tomorrow!

  19. August 13, 2008 9:51 pm

    This was a popcorn movie, just like the last two, but this one stood out as especially bad. They knew they could squeeze a little more money out of this franchise, so they did. I think that’s all their is to it. Easy money for an unmotivated cast and crew.

  20. August 13, 2008 11:10 pm

    Finally!! Watched this one!!

    The special effects were Paisa Vasool & the car & horse cart scene on Shanghai roads was brilliantly done.

    But the story was yakk!

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