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MOVIES: GLOOM AND TOMB; THE BIG RELEASE THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR Cert 12A, 112mins **.

Byline: DAVID EDWARDS

Mouldy, lumbering and smelling of death, the mummy rises from the grave once more for a third instalment that's... well, mouldy, lumbering and emitting an deeply unpleasant odour.

Easily the summer's feeblest blockbuster, this isn't even one the kids will enjoy, thanks to a dry-asdust first half and a final hour that could be marketed as a cure for insomnia.

It's being forced to watch films like this that make me consider jacking it all in for a more rewarding career. Maybe as a corpse maggot expert.

The tedium kicks off in 50BC China when the power-hungry Dragon Emperor (Jet Li) is turned to stone while seeking the secret of immortality. Fast forward 2,000 years and we're in 1946 Oxford, where Egyptologist Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) has retired after his adventures of the first two films with wife Evelyn (Maria Bello, replacing Rachel Weisz).

However, our heroic pair are bored senseless and don't need to be asked twice when they're approached by the Government to transport a priceless diamond to Shanghai.

Also in China is their son Alex (Luke Ford) who's following in his folks' footsteps searching for the Dragon Emperor's long-lost tomb. And it's not long before the fearsome leader and his army of 10,000 warriors are on the march again, two millennia having done nothing to dull their appetite for world domination. Also pitching up is Evelyn's twittish brother Jonathan (John Hanna).

Now don't let any of the above fool you into thinking this is all good, knockabout fun. It just isn't. And even if you liked the first two films, it's still a long shot that you'll find anything to enjoy here, mostly because it's all so predictable.

A hopeless, hapless hodgepodge of Indiana Jones-style tomb traps, too much talk and a plot with all the excitement of a bus trip to Bognor, there's also the small problem of there not being an actual mummy in it.

None of this is helped by Fraser, who lacks the goofy charisma of the first two outings, looking bored to be there, and ER-star Bello who comes with none of the appeal or presence of Weisz.

A franchise like this deserves to be left to rest in peace although, word is, they're already looking at a part four. May I suggest a release date approximately 2,000 years from now.

THE REEL LOWDOWN

BEST QUOTE: Jonathan to Rick and Evelyn: "You guys are like mummy magnets."

BEST BIT: John Hanna looks as if he's having fun...

WORST BIT: ...Nobody else does.

IF YOU LIKED... The Scorpion King, Van Helsing, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider... YOU'LL LIKE THIS.

Even if you liked the first two films, it's still a long shot that you'll find anything to enjoy here

STAR RATINGS: ***** Brilliant **** Good *** Average ** Poor * Dreadful

CAPTION(S):

PREDICTABLE: Bello, Hannah and Ford; WARRIOR: Russell Wong; POWER HUNGRY: Jet Li
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 8, 2008
Words:482
Previous Article:MOVIES: No escaping the tedium; DEATH DEFYING ACTS Cert PG, 96mins **.
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