I haven’t seen The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the latest entry in the jocular action adventure series starring Brendan Fraser as a treasure hunter who constantly runs afoul of ancient supernatural forces yet—you’d get cranky too if Fraser woke you up after a 3000 year nap—but to get primed I did check out first two parts of the trilogy, The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, now out on deluxe editions DVDs.
Inspired by the 1932 Universal Boris Karloff classic both films are actually comedies disguised as horror. In the place of real scares are family-friendly thrills more in line with vintage Saturday-matinee horror-adventure classics than anything that’ll really send shivers down your spine.
In both films Brendan Fraser, with sidekicks Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) a clumsy yet intelligent Egyptologist and Jonathan Carnahan (John Hannah, the only actor other than Fraser to appear in all three Mummy movies) as Evelyn’s bumbling, but money-hungry older brother, unwittingly unleash a 3,000-year-old Mummy’s curse and must, like a poor man’s Indiana Jones, do battle with the Wizard of Gauze and his minions.
As Rick O’Connell Canadian-born Brendan Fraser’s mission is to “Rescue the damsel in distress, kill the bad guy, save the world,” and he anchors the film with a goofy charm balanced with just enough heroic swagger to effectively echo the Saturday matinee stars the film pays tribute to.
The jokes are on the level of Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy but on the upside both films feature outlandish, but lavish special effects.
On the downside both films are a tad too long and occasionally veer into cheesy melodramatics, but both are thrill rides that will keep the eye entertained—the bad guy transforms into a sandstorm!—even if they don’t engage the brain.