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The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this third installment in The Mummy series has plenty of action violence, which may be a big draw for kids. Only a few of scenes are actually gory -- faces melting off, men about to be decapitated or dismembered -- but most of the battle scenes involve explosions, sword fights, guns, and hand-to-hand combat. Be prepared for the vast hordes of skeleton warriors; they could be quite scary for younger viewers. There's relatively little swearing, although hero Rick does refer to two Chinese soldiers as "Ying" and "Yang." In addition to a few kisses, a woman appears in a long negligee, and two characters appear about to make love (passionate kissing lying down).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In the third film in the Mummy franchise, Rick and Eveyln O'Connell (Brendan Fraser and Maria Bello, who took the role over from Rachel Weisz) are living a life of bored luxury in 1946 England -- until they're asked to personally escort a priceless crystal back to China. They don't know that their 21-year-old son, Alex (Luke Ford), is also in China on a dangerous expedition, instead of in college as they believed. Soon after they meet up, all three O'Connells must try to stop the crystal from awakening the ancient terra cotta army and its ruthless leader, the Dragon Emperor (Jet Li).
Is it any good?
The first two Mummy movies were far from action masterpieces, but when you compare them to THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR, they seem like Oscar contenders. Without director Stephen Sommers at the helm and Weisz playing Evie, the new movie lacks the central chemistry that made the first two films charmingly bearable. Although it's always a pleasure to see Li and Michelle Yeoh (who plays a witch who cursed the emperor and his army to their stone tombs) show off their considerable martial arts skills, the action sequences are cribbed from parts of The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean (note to action directors: undead skeleton armies are officially passe).
Although the battle scenes are what most moviegoers crave, that's no excuse for sloppy dialogue and poor acting. Why young newcomer Ford thinks a pseudo-Bronx accent peppered with his native Aussie cadences is what the son of a rich American and his educated English wife would sound like is rather misguided and continuously annoying. Fraser, meanwhile, who's proved that he's adept at more than a popcorn blockbuster, phones in a performance so blah that it's hard to believe his character was likable in the first two films. There's no doubt that this movie will attract young audiences desperate for more high-decibel, CGI-heavy violence, but it would've been so much better had this particular Mummy not been unearthed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether sequels are generally as good as the originals. Can you think of any that are? Does it matter when, as in this case, one of the main actors doesn't come back? Also, the bulk of the film is set in China: How is Chinese culture represented? How does that depiction relate to the time period in which the movie takes place? Did you learn anything about Chinese culture?
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