Alex O’Connell, estranged son of Rick and Evelyn O’Connell, makes the discovery of a lifetime: the tomb of The Dragon Emperor, a brutal warlord of ancient China. When soldiers loyal to the emperor reawaken him, the O’Connells have to once again use their skills in stopping mummies in a race against time to prevent The Dragon Emperor from becoming immortal and using his terracotta army to take over the world.

The Mummy: Tomb of The Dragon Emperor (2008) – Director: Rob Cohen

Is The Mummy Tomb of the Dragon Emperor appropriate for kids

Rating: 12

Running Length: 112 mins

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello, Jet Li

Genre: Action/Adventure, Horror

REVIEW

‘Tomb of the Dragon Emperor’ is the third instalment of ‘The Mummy’ franchise and unfortunately the magic of the first two movies has somewhat been lost. Rachel Weisz is no longer on board as the sweet-natured but intelligent and strong Evy and has instead been replaced by Maria Bello whose forced English accent and twee performance of a stereotypical ‘English Rose’ betrays the character that fans have come to know and love. Alex, the fun-loving and chip-off-the-old-block son from ‘The Mummy Returns’ has somehow developed a strong American accent and is estranged from his parents. The flimsy excuse for this being that his father has been distant and unsupportive, even though Rick was not like this at all in the previous film. Other than the characters, the gaping plot holes and somewhat dubious character motivations are off-putting, and despite the interesting concept and top class actors involved, this movie just doesn’t hit the mark.

However, in spite of its flaws, ‘Tomb of the Dragon Emperor’ is a perfectly entertaining action/adventure movie for kids. The action scenes are exciting and the pacing never gets too slow or too fast to become confusing. The martial arts sequences will keep Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh fans happy and the sheer scale of the movie is very reminiscent of ‘The Mummy’ and ‘The Mummy Returns’. While fans of the original movies may dislike ‘Tomb of the Dragon Emperor’, it isn’t a bad film; it just isn’t as good as the other two.

IS ‘THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

The opening scene is set in ancient China when The Dragon Emperor was in power. He is portrayed as an evil tyrant who kills people without a second thought. Slaves are used to build a fortress and the dialogue explains that ‘when they were dead or useless he had them buried beneath it’. There are skeletons in the walls of the structure and later, when Alex reaches the tomb, the remains of several people who have clearly died in distress are described as the Emperor’s concubines who were buried alive. The Emperor is shown to kill several people, mostly by stabbing them; however one man has his limbs tied to several horses which then pull him apart. This happens off-screen so is not gory, however the camera focuses on the reaction of someone who cares for him.

When the Emperor is cursed, mud pours from his eyes and mouth and then he suddenly combusts into fire; he screams and gradually becomes a solid statue. There is then a brief shot of the Emperor’s army looking bewildered as they rub their eyes which are now starting to flow with mud. When the Emperor is shown in his ‘mummy’ form, he is covered in terracotta which often cracks and falls away to reveal decomposing flesh beneath it.

A decomposing skeleton is found, held up against a pillar with arrows. The dialogue explains that whoever killed this man has put his body there as a warning to others. A little while later, several booby traps are set off, including one which covers a character in an acid-like powder. He screams in pain and the camera shows the man’s face which is now distorted and melted. This part is quite graphic.

One character has their head knocked off and, in a bizarre CGI effect, it rotates directly on camera for a couple of seconds as it flies off the body. Strangely, there is no blood (even though the neck is shown) and this part is not gory. One of the terracotta horses also has its head knocked off. It continues to run and does not suffer in any way. The inside of its body appears to be made of liquid fire and its heart, which is made of the same liquid fire, can be seen pumping. Two characters who have been in an explosion are seen with burns and cuts all over their faces a few minutes later.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

‘Tomb of the Dragon Emperor’ is unlikely to make many fans from an adult audience; however its exciting action sequences and fun characters are bound to entertain kids. We feel that the level of violence in the action sequences are little more than would be found in a movies such as the ‘Indiana Jones’ films although there are a few slightly stronger moments. Therefore, we believe that this movie should be appropriate for kids aged 8 and over.

  • Violence:  3/5
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (more than one established character is killed, one is mortally wounded)
  • Fear Factor: 3/5 (the Emperor is quite frightening as he has a ruthless nature and is willing to kill anyone who isn’t useful to him. The Emperor can also transform into other creatures like a three-headed, fire-breathing dragon and a demon. Skeletons come to life. The Yetis may be a little frightening for younger children, however they help the O’Connells and never attack them. Two characters are crushed to death)
  • Sexual Content: 2/5 (two characters are seen kissing on a bed with their clothes loosened and are about to become intimate. There is some mild innuendo and references of intimacy. Alex tells his mother that he ‘has had a fair amount of experience with the opposite sex’. At Jonathan’s club, Egyptian style dancers wear very short skirts and short tops)
  • Bad Language: 2/5 (some infrequent mild cursing and blasphemy. One character’s bottom catches on fire and when asking another character to help him to put it out, he says ‘spank my ass’)
  • Dialogue: 2/5
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of sacrifice, betrayal, doing what is right, estranged families, exploration and bravery.

Words by Laura Record

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