Reader Review: The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

2008-08-07 16:44
When you go to see a movie that you know features mummies – living, breathing, cognizant, undead beings held together by the ancient equivalent of duct tape – you are willing to put up with a certain amount of ridiculousness. It's a contract you enter into with the filmmakers: you will, for the requisite hour and a half (or longer) voluntarily believe in the existence of an obvious impossibility, and you will invest a great deal of emotional energy in its fate and in those of the people around it.

But there is a limit. If you're already asking audiences to believe that the bodies of the ancient dead can be resurrected and that they'll be able to walk and hold an intelligible conversation with someone from the present, then the least you can do is ensure the rest of it makes sense.

This is something the previous Mummy movies understood and abided by... more or less. With Tomb of the Dragon Emperor the filmmakers must have thought, "What the hell, let's add yetis!" They may as well have called this movie Cool Ideas We Didn't Think Through because their thoughtlessness messes with the plot and destroys any vestige of verisimilitude.

At least in the first movie the silliness made some sort of sense. But in the new film, we must tolerate a completely unnecessary battle between two zombie armies so that our two main characters can waste crucial screen-time firing guns into a mob. Characters get lost in large battle scenes, which is not something you can afford – especially since they're the central characters from the original film (It's like making a sequel to Jaws, but without the shark).

This movie is a hash of a silly but serviceable conceit, and has a fairly appropriate cast. This is a pity because Brendan Fraser is generally a likeable actor. Even though he's descended into a plane of existence where the inhabitants are forced to constantly release bad remakes of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. He's been in many enjoyable movies. So perhaps, if he's lucky, he'll soon graduate from the slew of kiddies' pictures he currently finds himself mired in. And yes, I wish Mr. Fraser the very best of luck. So let's all hope they don't decide to make The Mummy 4: Monarch of the Moon-Sea.

- Jacque van Heerden

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