Reviewer's Grade: C+
Brendan Fraser ("Journey to the Center of the Earth") returns as Rick O'Connell, the dig-'em-up adventurer who once tangled with Imhotep and The Rock in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. This time he's accompanied by a new wife (Maria Bello, "The Jane Austen Book Club," taking over the part for Rachel Weisz) and his newly grown-up son Alex (Luke Ford, " McLeod's Daughters"). Alex, aspiring to the family biz, digs up the mummy of Emperor Han (Jet Li), who was an evil, world-dominating type back before sliced bread. In a totally shocking and unforeseen plot development, Emperor Han is revived and heads out to reclaim the world as his army's personal marching grounds.
While fast-paced and not un-watchable, "Dragon Emperor" lacks the charm of its closest genetic relative, the "Indiana Jones" series. The characters are flat, predictable, and often boring during the moments they aren't escaping death. Luke Ford's performance is about as compelling as watching a third-grader in a school play, and Maria Bello's English accent is borderline.
The movie's only saving grace is Li and Michelle Yeoh ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"), but unfortunately they're criminally underused so the principles can exchange limp repartee. PG-13