I’ve never had any trouble admitting my fondness for writer/director Stephen Sommers’ “The Mummy” series.

Both 1999’s “The Mummy” and its 2001 sequel “The Mummy Returns” are enjoyable popcorn flicks with a great blend of humor, action and
cheap scares.

With Sommers no longer at the helm, however, “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” falls flat on its face.

The great balance of genre-blending is utterly destroyed by a lazy script from Alfred Gough and Miles Millar and terrible direction by hack of
all trades Rob Cohen.

Cohen has absolutely no interest in character or a coherent plot.  He rushes through both in a frantic attempt to get back to his comfort
zone, action sequences.

The problem is that he is a horrific action director also.  His sequences consist of little more than a barrage of frantic camerawork edited so
heavily that what little coherence there is in the photography itself is completely lost.

The one positive this movie has going for it is its cast.  Brenden Fraser is still very good as Rick O’Connell and the script provides a couple
funny moments along with a nice dramatic scene between him and his son (this time played by Luke Ford).

I’m not sure why the son lost his English accent from the second film, but Ford does a decent job here.

Maria Bello also does an admirable job replacing the irreplaceable Rachel Weisz.

The film’s other big star, Jet Li, is a complete waste, however.  He appears as a fire breathing CGI monster most of the time, and when he
actually does get to show off some of his moves, it’s so poorly directed and edited that it has no impact.

In addition to the disappointing action, the film also loses that lovable sense of humor.

Some attempted comic bits are so incredibly stupid that I was literally dumbfounded, such as a scene where a Yeti (who appears for
unknown reasons) kicks an evil Chinese soldier over a structure resembling a football goalpost.

But Cohen doesn’t leave it at that; the Yeti actually puts his arms over his head signaling that it’s good.

Even the score is no match for the previous entries from Jerry Goldsmith and Alan Silvestri.  Randy Edelman’s work here is as bland as it
comes, and even some last minute rescoring by John Debney (apparently Edelman’s action cues were even worse than the rest of his work)
doesn’t have much of an impact.

And that’s the best way to describe this film.  It has no impact.  It’s as by the numbers as they come.  Only the decent cast prevents this film
from being both a complete and utter disaster.  But it’s still a disaster, and this film should be buried along with the mummies it so eagerly
resurrects.

*
(out of four)
THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE
DRAGON EMPEROR

Directed by: Rob Cohen

Written by: Alfred Gough & Miles MIllar

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, Maria Bello, John
Hannah, Michelle Yeoh, Luke Ford, Isabella Leong

Cinematography by: Simon Duggan

Music by: Randy Edelman

Released: August 1, 2008; 114 Minutes