This seems to be the summer of the belated lacklustre blockbuster with Indiana Jones and The X-Files now being followed down the path of humdrum by The Mummy series.
It’s fair to say that since The Mummy Returns bit the dust in 2001, Brendan Fraser’s career has been the main thing in need of revival with barely a single entry in his subsequent filmography worthy of note (the one exception being Crash).
Ironically, when he effectively played the same role in the still on release Journey to the Center of the Earth, the reasonable reviews he received were his best for a very long time.
The producers of the third Mummy film obviously had their doubts about his ability to headline another expensive blockbuster – especially when newly Oscar awarded Rachel Weisz declined the chance to return and was replaced by second division leading lady Maria Bello.
So they stacked the deck by recruiting martial arts legend Jet Li to play the bad guy emperor of the title and added a touch of class by signing up the exceptional Michelle Yeoh as the sorceress who is the emperor’s mortal enemy.
The story now has Rick and Evelyn O’Connell retired from mummy-hunting only to be dragged back into action when they discover their grown-up son Alex (Luke Ford) had reawakened the evil emperor while on an expedition in China.
The emperor is newly determined to achieve his previously stated ambition of taking control of the world with the help of an army of undead, so it’s just as well Yeoh’s sorceress also returns to help the O’Connells defeat him.
John Hannah is back as Evelyn’s whingeing comic turn of a brother and the film strives hard to recapture the frivolous fun and wisecracking liveliness of the first picture, which was such a joy.
But a lot of those elements tend to get lost in the kind of overuse of computer generated effects which has proved the downfall of so many movies of the past decade, not least The Mummy Returns.
STAR RATING: **