Ah, summer! That magical time of year where three things are guaranteed:
- youth camp has either just finished or is right around the corner.
- that teen who shaved his head at youth camp has an irate parent who’ll be calling shortly.
- it’s time for Hollywood to churn out a few subpar sequels … which brings me to The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Now to be fair, “Mummy 3” brings back all the elements that made the first two Mummy movies huge box office hits …
… well, except for Rachel Weisz, the love interest from the first two movies (Maria Bello takes over the role of Evie, but never comes close to seeming like the same character). Oh, there’s also a different director (Rob Cohen – the poor man’s Michael Bay who directed Stealth and that Vin Diesel movie xXx). And technically there’s not a mummy in this movie either, since the entire film is set in China where mummification never really caught on.
So yes, a lot of elements are missing. And yes, the movie constantly feels a step behind its predecessors. But to fill these gaps this movie gives us all sorts of new things. Like field goal kicking yetis.
Yes, yetis. As in, abominable snowmen with a layman’s knowledge of American football.
The plot of this movie is exactly what you’d expect. An ancient curse traps an ancient evil in an ancient tomb until the evil is inadvertently awakened by Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser), his wife Evelyn (Bello) and their “all grown up now and looking to prove himself” son Alex (Luke Ford). Emperor Han (Jet Li) – who is that ancient evil I previously mentioned – escapes after waking up, and sets off to obtain immortality/ raise an ancient evil army which will conquer the world. Also, Emperor Han can also control fire, ice, and wind, AND change himself into any kind of weird creature on a moment’s notice (no explanation on why he can do that last part – it just sort of happens). So the O’Connell family sets off to stop Emperor Han, aided along the way by a couple of immortals, an army of undead soldiers, and did I mention the field goal kicking yetis?
Now I know it sounds like I’m criticizing the plot for being ridiculous, but I’m really not. The first “Mummy” film had a ridiculous plot as well, but still managed to be a whole lot of fun. It had well crafted action scenes, a great villain, some decent chemistry between Weisz and Fraser, and most importantly, it felt fresh. Sure it was an Indiana Jones knock-off, but it tweaked the formula just enough to be entertaining. This movie, in comparison, feels forced, recycled and totally lacking in imagination from beginning to end. Oh, it TRIES to be fun, but trying to manufacture fun is like getting a piercing so your skater kids will think you’re edgy – it just makes everyone feel awkward.
That being said, “Mummy 3” doesn’t have much in the way of objectionable content. There’s some mild profanity throughout and a bit of violence, but compared to the first movie I felt this one was less gruesome. And I suppose this movie does give a positive picture of sacrifice, the importance of family, standing against evil, etc. But it’s hard to take any of this stuff seriously when the plot is barely coherent, the dialogue is awful, and the acting isn’t much better.
So while I wouldn’t be concerned about my students seeing this movie, I also wouldn’t be excited. There’s just not much to get out of a movie that really doesn’t have much to say – either morally or artistically.
But it does have field-goal kicking yetis … and those were positively brilliant.
Josh Pease is on the HSM team at Saddleback, is a self-admitted movie snob/over-analyzer of film, and thinks that if yetis do exist, they probably WOULD have basic knowledge of the rules of football. Feel free to email him with comments/suggestions for this column at firstname.lastname@example.org.