It took seven years following the last Mummy for this third film in the franchise series to appear, and this is the best they could do? To the producers' credit, the first two were fun, energetic, over-the-top adventures. Sure, they missed a step or two along the way, but they never went this far from the path. Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is a forgetful dud, albeit an expensive one.
Brendan Fraser is back, yet all too often pushed aside for a newcomer. His son, played by Luke Ford, dominates the screen and a lot of the action. Never mind the fact that he’s way too old to be in this role, no longer speaks with the proper accent, and looks nothing like he did a few years prior. Oh, and don’t forget that Fraser’s wife has changed from a spunky, energetic Rachel Weisz to a rich, spoiled Maria Bello.
These are continuity errors from the previous films that must not have even entered into the equation for the screenwriters. Audiences are supposed to accept that Bello has been on the previous adventures, and the script tries desperately to show the viewer just that. How? By having her look absurdly ridiculous running across tables in her own home.
It’s not Bello’s fault, and it happens in movies. Sometimes actors/actresses don’t return. However, there’s no attempt to change Bello’s character, write out Weisz, or something else. It reeks of laziness or lack of time. In fact, the entire movie does.
Jet Li is billed as a star in the film, yet is on screen for less than 10 minutes of the entire movie. His so-so computer generated double does most of the work until the mummy can be resurrected. Li is the Dragon Emperor, trying to do what apparently all mummies do, and take over the world with his dead army.
On the upside, the action in the film can be lively. A street chase during the Chinese New Year is loads of fun. It’s what this entire movie should be. Sadly, that's not what it is. The script introduces an embarrassing set of abominable snowmen that come off as both hokey and conveniently scripted. The finale brings back memories of the opening to The Mummy Returns, and there’s even a rain of arrows, one of those irritating clichés that’s in far too many movies these days.