Seven years since its last outing, when Rachel Weisz revealed she would not be returning to reprise her role in the latest on the Mummy franchise, the writing appeared already on the wall. However, after providing stern opposition to The Dark Knight during its domestic opening weekend, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor at least demands a chance to improve its reputation.
Picking up the action back in ancient times, Emperor Han (Li) has defeated enemies across the land, but as time draws on, now lies in fear of only one killer, growing old. He seeks the help of Zi Yuan (Yeoh), a local immortal who holds the secret to cheating death, however, Zi Yuan instead curses the Emperor and all of his army, killing them all, and turning their bodies into terracotta.
Of course, this is The Mummy, and after jumping forward to 1947 and the lives of past Mummy heroes the O’Connells, Emperor Han is revived, sparking the latest face-off as Rick (Fraser) and Evelyn (Bello) attempt to stop Han on route to Shangri-La’s pool of eternal life.
While the story is expectedly implausible stuff, given the success of previous fictitious plots, this shouldn’t hold Tom of the Dragon Emperor back, but the narrative and story-line prove to be two of the films biggest problems. The plot feels like it fails to ever develop as the twists as turns along the way are all too generic. The terracotta army is a pleasing plot-device and at least holds an inch of accuracy to the real-life artefacts but all around it fail to capture any of the audience’s imagination, including the perplexing introduction of the yeti race.
Often the saving grace when a story falls so easily apart, here even the action sequences feel cheesy and wholly unremarkable, with the extensive C.G.I. adding little to the experience.
Despite the glossy feel big budgets almost always brings to new adventures in cinema, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is an uninspiring cash-in on what was a fun, successful franchise. Given the relative box-office success, it’s unsurprising there are already talks for a fourth, with a second Scorpion King spin-off also in development, but hopefully those involved will finally see sense and lay The Mummy to rest at last.