Despite it being a disappointing affair, Indiana Jones’ return to the big screen proved to be a box-office success. With this in mind, it must have seemed like the opportune time for Universal Pictures to resurrect ‘The Mummy’ franchise from its slumber. But after seeing the result of this, I can actually empathise with archaeologist Rick O’Connell…I too wish this Mummy stayed dead and buried.
In the form of an epilogue, the film introduces us to a power hungry Chinese Emperor (Jet Li) seeking immortality. Instead of granting him Immortality, the Emperor is cursed by a witch, causing him and his army to turn to terracotta. Lost and buried for centuries, Alex O’Connell (Luke Ford), son of archaeologist Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser), uncovers the Emperor’s tomb in an archaeological dig during the mid 20th century. Rick and his wife Evelyn (Maria Bello) are tricked into resurrecting the Emperor, whom mercilessly embarks on his quest to become immortal and resurrect his grand army.
If you thought the premise was drawing thin after the mildly entertaining The Mummy Returns, then this latest adventure will have you staring intently at the cinemas Emergency Exit sign in a hope that you’ll soon be given a valid excuse to use it. This very excuse comes when immortal witch Zi Yuan announces that “I would have died to, if the Yeti had not found me and brought me to this Pool”. It was this very moment in the film where the scarce remains of creativity and adventure crossed into the realms of mind-numbing stupidity. Yes, I am aware this was never trying to be anything more than a fun, light-hearted film, but that doesn’t give director Rob Cohen permission to treat you like you are intellectually challenged. The writers have taken the fantasy elements of the story to a level beyond logic, somehow producing a narrative that is both cliched and outrageously senseless.
In his reprisal of the lead role, Brendan Fraser lacks the comedic charm that highlighted the previous Mummy installments. Mario Bello is strangely casted as Evelyn, replacing the likable vulnerableness of Rachel Weiz’s original character with a more hardened and pompous temperament, which does little to establish a connection with the audience. In fact, Jet Li is the only actor on screen worth watching, which is a shame given he is only there for a handful of scenes before he is replaced by his terracotta CGI counterpart. This brings us to the film’s most surprising flaw; its digital effects are not only unimaginative, but visibly outdated. For a Hollywood film with a budget in excess of $170 million, this is simply inexcusable and genuinely takes away from what little immersion the film has, especially given how reliant the film is on digital imagery.
All of the fun, humor and originality that was moderately present in the previous Mummy installments is completely lost in this desperate attempt to resurrect the series. Hopefully, after this lackluster adventure, Rick O’Connell just lets the dead stay that way.
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