The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)

The Mummy movie franchise consists of multiple films by Universal Pictures. These films are renowned for their action, adventure, and horror, primarily focusing on Egypt and the mummy mythos associated with its history. However, as the films continued to be produced, the franchise moved its setting from Egypt to China. In The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, adventurous and heroic archaeologists must find a way to stop an ancient, cursed Chinese emperor from reviving his vast army and taking over the world.

The film’s title sequence primarily uses contrasting colors in conjunction with music from the London Symphony to create a dramatic mood. The extensive use of black and red throughout the introduction simultaneously reinforces the film’s genre (horror/action) and contributes to the mood. The simple color palette makes the imagery in the title sequence quite clear and easy to perceive.

Designers used 3D computer software to create animations and transitions that referenced not only the movie, but also Chinese calligraphy, brushstrokes, and ink paintings. This animation efficiently pulls the viewer into the film’s world. The animations feature slow motion subjects such as a plane flying over mountains, the emperor being pulled by horses in a chariot, and people hiking across a ravine on a wooden bridge. Although the compositions and transitions are clearly animated, the style is very painterly. Brush strokes, ink splatters and calligraphic Chinese characters create a formal tone reminiscent of traditional Chinese culture.

The actual lettering in the title sequence consists of an all-capital, serif typeface, with certain letters like G, H and E featuring extended arms or bars to evoke a calligraphic feeling from the font. Overall, the symphony music, dark/contrasting colors, and scenes animated in a painterly style all contribute to the exciting, vivid ambiance a viewer experiences while watching the title sequence. These animations and letter forms do an excellent job of relating the title sequence to the film’s subject matter and genre.