The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
AN OPEN LETTER TO ROB COHEN, DIRECTOR
Dear Mr. Cohen,
Earlier this summer, we were all treated to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a cinematic event many of us were deeply excited about, only to be greatly disappointed; the film was a pale, ridiculous ghost of its former self, more hokey parody than joyous reunion. After 15 years, it would have been better if we'd simply left Indy riding off into that glorious sunset. And so I'm forced to ask: Why, when that film was such a colossal disappointment, would I ever want to watch your third-rate, wannabe, copycat rip-off!? Mr. Cohen, I'll say this for The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor—it makes Indy's latest adventure look like a masterpiece by comparison.
In your film, Brendan Fraser reprises his role as Rick O'Connell, the globe-trotting explorer who, seven years after last Mummy installment, now finds himself living in an opulent Oxfordshire mansion, whittling away his hours fly-fishing—or at least attempting to. His wife, Evelyn (played by American actress Maria Bello, who does a commendable job with the English accent but seems to be channeling Kate Beckinsale more than Rachel Weisz), has made a fortune writing not-so-fictional novels about perilous run-ins with nasty, undead fiends. Young Alex, who was only a child in the last film (now played by Luke Ford, who looks no more than 10 years Fraser's junior), is all grown up and, unbeknownst to his parents, has quit university to go dig for a mythical tomb in the desolate Chinese outback. Like father, like son, eh? So clever, Mr. Cohen.
The tomb belongs to Emperor Han (Jet Li), a tyrannical leader who ruled all of China with a barbarous fist until a beautiful sorceress (Michelle Yeoh) put a curse on him, turning him and his 10,000-strong army into stone. But malevolent forces intent on raising the emperor back to life so he can once again rule the world are closing in on Alex. When things get out of hand, it's a good thing Alex can call on his parents and bumbling Uncle Jonathan (John Hannah) to save the day.
As a resurrected Han (and he ain't no Solo) seeks to raise his undead legion, our heroes must battle him from the bustling, neon-bathed streets of Shanghai to the frigid wasteland of the Himalayas to the portals of the fabled Shangri-La. As Han's supernatural powers grow ever stronger, the O'Connells realize that the only way they are going to take him down is to call on some mummies of their own.
Does that about sum it up? Not exactly Shakespeare is it, but then it was never meant to be. Still, for a film crafted as an Indiana Jones knock-off, it falls a wee bit short, don't you think? This is the sort of film Steven Spielberg used to do, and do so much better. We've seen it all—and I mean all—before haven't we? Between the archeological adventures, spying for the Allies during World War II, sword fights, and father and son infighting, I thought I was watching the latest Indy all over again! What didn't come from Crystal Skull seems cobbled together from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom—Shanghai nightclubs, airplanes crashing into snowy mountains, and people hanging on for dear life from rope bridges.