DVD: The Mummy III: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor


Theatrical Release Date: 08/01/2008
DVD Release Date: 12/16/2008
Director: Rob Cohen
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello, Jet Li, Luke Ford, Michelle Yeoh, Isabella Leong, John Hannah

The Film:


The third installment of “The Mummy” franchise, “The Curse of the Dragon Emporer” sees the return of Rick and Evelyn O’Connell … wait … Rachel Weisz isn’t in this? So who’s playing Evelyn? Maria Bello? Huh …

Actually, Bello did a decent enough job here, it was just odd to continue a franchise like this without one of the key players. I don’t know or care enough to find out if Weisz didn’t return because of a pregnancy or conflicting schedules but considering it’s been seven years since the last “Mummy” movie (which I like to call Mummy 2: Sarcophagus Boogaloo), waiting a little longer for Weisz to return doesn’t seem so wrong.

Anywho, this time around, the O’Connells are in China to deliver a rare artifact which (of course) ends up awakening a mummy. Said mummy is actually an ancient Chinese Emperor played by Jet Li. Michelle Yeoh is an immortal master of the arcane arts and protector of Shangri-La and with the help of her ninja-like trained daughter, a few CGI Yetis, a grown up O’Connell son and the wisecracks of John Hannah, the world is made safe again.

I think you can tell I wasn’t exactly thrilled about this film. They had a huge budget and the CGI still comes off pretty bad in most scenes (don’t get me started on Jet Li’s transformation into a three-headed dragon, it reminded me of Saturday morning cartoons). The action scenes were decently set-up and mindless, which is following in the franchise’s traditions but adding the O’Connell’s son into the mix was unnecessary and only split my meager focus on the film as a whole.

There are much better thrill rides to watch and this isn’t even the best Brendan Fraser fantasy film of the year – I actually enjoyed “Journey to the Center of the Earth” in 3D. However, if you’re a die hard fan of the series or director Rob Cohen’s love of throwing money into CGI, I wish you happy viewing.

For my full review, click here.

The DVD:



Wow … I have to say I’m surprised at the paltry features afforded the 2-Disc Special Edition. There’s not much more than an hour of extra features and half of those features basically say the same thing. In fact, there’s a quote from Rob Cohen that you’ll hear THREE times over the course of three different featurettes. That’s pretty special. I think you can tell that I’m not impressed and hope you get this DVD as a gift and not a line item on your credit card.

Audio/Video:

Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Anamorphic Widescreen 2:40:1.

Subtitles:

English (for the hard of hearing); Spanish; French.

Languages:

English; Spanish; French.

Extra Features:


Commentary with Director Rob Cohen

—– Any DVD in the Mummy franchise should come with cast commentary, since the chemistry between the actors are what make the series stand out at all from your basic TNT franchise *cough* “The Librarian”. Cohen dutifully describes the shooting locations and some of the tricks behind the movie magic but it’s very dry and it reminded me of a film class lecture … not the good ones. Honestly, if it weren’t for the inclusion of a commentary track (albeit a boring one), I’d have given a long period of though to giving this DVD a 0 out of 5 … it was that close.

The Making of “The Mummy:Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”

—– A pretty standard overview of shot setups and the philosophy behind the film. I’ve seen more in-depth information on tabloid TV.

From City to Desert

—– This highlights the various shooting locations and cities, which include Montreal for sound stages, Beijing, Shanghai and an area near the Mongolian Desert. Seeing the sets without the addition of CGI weather and lighting is at least something interesting … which is more than I can say for most of the rest of the features.

Legacy of the Terra Cotta

—– Cohen considers himself a China history buff and instead of really concentrating on the story behind the Terra Cotta warriors, this featurette essentially is about how much he wanted to make a film in China and how this film differs from the first two in the franchise. Why they didn’t call it “Rob Cohen loves China and this isn’t The Mummy or The Mummy Returns” is beyond me.

A Call to Action: The Casting Process

—– A basic “I love these actors and they were perfect for the role” pat on the back. At under 5 minutes long, and covering all the major characters, you can guess how in-depth they get about their roles.

Preparing for Battle with Brendan Fraser and Jet Li

—– Another oddly titled featurette since it concerns how each of the main characters approach their fights and their training processes. Some of the stunt work and fight choreography is shown here but not enough to scratch much more than the surface.

Jet Li: Crafting the Emperor Mummy

—– Due to Li’s availability to shoot, Cohen and the team decided to make his character mostly CGI, rather than flesh and blood, to allow for including him via voice and technical magic but not requiring him to be on-set. It’s only 8 minutes but this is perhaps the only featurette I wouldn’t have redone or scrapped. It shows the process of creating a digital character, revealing the many layers of effects and techniques required.

Creating New and Supernatural Worlds

—– Also at just over 8 minutes, here the production design and set construction get a spotlight … although technically they included much of this in the “Making Of” so really, why is this here?

The Sobering Conclusion:


The DVD looks to be something slapped together by disinterested production assistants told that they can go home once they finished. It’s the sort of lightweight stuff that makes me think there might be future editions of the DVD that include better material … though I can’t say after sitting through these extra features that I’d care to find out.

If you’re related to someone involved in the production or just ga-ga for the franchise, go ahead and buy yourself a copy. Interested parties should give it a rent and everyone else can find something better to do with their time.