The Mummy - Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Retirement for cinematic adventure heroes is rarely ever permanent. Approximately 13 "movie" years have passed (it's been seven "real" years since the last Mummy came to theaters) since Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) and his wife Evelyn (Maria Bello) went hunting for mummified personas. But when they are officially asked to escort a beautiful gold encased diamond being returned to the Chinese government, they can't resist the appeal for assistance.
The trip is also a good excuse to visit with Evelyn's brother Johnathan (John Hannah), a nightclub owner in China, and the couple's son Alex (Luke Ford). Now an adult, the young man has followed in the footsteps of his parents and is presently hunting for ancient Chinese secrets amidst the ruins of the bloodthirsty ruler, Emperor Han. Too bad Alex wasn't privy to the fifteen minutes of back-story shown at the beginning of this movie where he would have learned how the beautiful sorceress Zi Juan (Michelle Yeoh) placed Han (Jet Li) and his army of 10,000 under a spell.
However, the significance of Han's ceramic sarcophagus is understood by General Yang (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang), a paramilitary leader who is convinced the O'Connell's diamond, known as the Eye of Shangri-La, will bring the ancient warrior back to life. He's also betting on getting the job as right-hand-man for the immortal sovereign who, with the aid of his unstoppable army, could rule the world. But before he begins his reign of terra cotta (...ahem) he must get past the O'Connell's, who have a long history of stopping resurrected evil personages in their tracks (as seen in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns).
Grandiose landscapes along with exquisite interior sets and mega digital manipulations create a visual extravaganza that is indicative of the production's reported $175 million budget. Unfortunately, the predictable script is a video-game-like road map of hero-centric conflicts leading to ever bigger and longer battles until a prolonged final act. The resulting aggression is the film's really only major concern for parents considering bringing younger viewers.
Literally hundreds of digital terra cotta soldiers are satisfyingly smashed into pieces, along with an opposing army of skeletons. Often we see these figures with heads and arms missing or with arrows sticking through their "bodies." In other scenes, frequent hand-to-hand combat is portrayed, as well as the use of knives, swords and other weapons -- some minor depictions of blood accompany these altercations. Guns are another popular choice and many of the fantasy characters, along with a few human victims, are literally "blown away." Then there are those who are crushed, bombed, and burned. Yet, the violence, while nearly continuous, stops short of explicit or gruesome.
Thankfully profanities are limited to a smattering of mild swear words and a couple of references to deity. Sexual content is confined to a scene of scantily clad nightclub dancers, a couple of jokes with veiled innuendos, and some romantic gestures between the O'Connells (a rare happily married movie couple).
Yes, it is intended to be matinee-style popcorn cinema, and if you and your teens come expecting nothing more than a "thrill ride," you may leave satisfied.