Review: 'The Mummy' not as good as previous outings

2008-08-10 00:00

Brendan Fraser returns as Rick O’Connel in the latest instalment of the popular Mummy franchise, and this time around his exploits lead to Asia where he is assisted by wife Evelyn (Maria Bello), son Alex (Luke Ford), guide Lin (Isabella Leong) and three computer-generated abominable snowmen.

Jet Li has also been roped in as Han, the Dragon Emperor, the ruthless commander of a mighty Asian army whose unrivalled dominance across the globe some few thousand years back struck terror into the hearts of many a civilisation unwilling to be conquered.

The plot pans out in much the same way as in previous Mummy films — a series of cataclysmic events induced by evil human beings awakens an authoritative mummy desperate for world dominance, and it’s up to Rick and company to save the day.

The first half-hour of the film is a touch drab and drawn out as the history of both the Dragon Emperor and our characters is established, and while it may take some time to build steam, when the mummy does get going the viewer is continuously bombarded with relentless action that doesn’t cease until the closing credits.

This may be a feast of sorts to the action junkies out there, but the ordinary viewer is left jarred and uninterested. The movie’s saving grace is delivered in the form of the at-times snappy humour that serves as a much-needed break from the constant visual spectacle on display.

In terms of the casting, I found all performances to be solid, though I would’ve loved to have seen more of Jet Li as he was particularly menacing as the Dragon Emperor and his performance reeked of both greed and ruthlessness — everything expected of a commanding central villain.

His character is rather unfortunately over-run, though, by the computer-generated rendition of the mummy.

On the plus side, the film’s CGI is credible throughout and awesome at times, which must’ve been an immense task given this particular filmic genre. The Asian cinema’s famous wire-fighting technique has also been deployed in some of the more detailed and well choreographed fight scenes. I found this worked well, as Mummy films have in essence always been fantasy.

On the whole, though, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor isn’t as good as its predecessors and only just does enough to warrant a three-star rating.

***

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