Sunday, January 4, 2009

It’s A Wrap, Folks!

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

What’s it about, Mike?
Take The Mummy 1 story and replace “Egyptian” and “Imhotep” with, respectively, “Chinese” and “Emperor Han.” Then take Rick and Evey’s annoying 10 year old son from The Mummy 2 and add about 10 years to him. Finally, replace bubbly hottie Rachel Weisz with cold hottie Maria Bello. Oh, then sprinkle on a few yetis. Viola, instant vapid third film to round out a trilogy no really asked for.

Is it any good, Mike?
No, it wasn’t too good.

The hell, Mike?
A flesh and blood Jet Li in real fight scenes is cool. A CGI Jet Li walking around leaving terracotta crumbs everywhere is not.

Since they discovered you could make giant crowds of soliders in CGI we’ve seen the “Big Epic Battle ™” in Phantom Menace, Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions, Attack of the Clones, Two Towers, Return of the King, Troy, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, 300, Prince Caspian and now M3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. For the love of God, Allah, Buddha and Shazam can we officially put the “epic CGI armies battle” to rest, forever.

Is it really that bad, Mike?
Yes. I used to really enjoy Brendan Fraser. His Rick O’Connell in The Mummy was the first Indiana Jones wannabe that wasn’t trying to be a mere copycat – Fraser’s strength is light comedy and in the first film he played things just right. He was good in The Mummy Returns, but I didn’t like the script (it was a mistake to saddle him and Evey with a 10 yr old son so quickly). Here in M3: TOTDE, Brendan plays a caricature of Rick O’Connell – every movement, every quip is a LOUD exaggeration. It's like in every scene he thought he was talking TO A DEAF PERSON. If he had reined it back in, I think I would have enjoyed this messy film a little more. Just a little more, mind you.

Rachel Weisz was sorely missed. I like Maria Bello (watch her stunning performance in The Cooler) but she was miscast here; she comes across as very modern and not like someone in the 1940s. John Hannah was on autopilot as Evey’s brother. And Luke Ford, who looks like a cross between Mark Wahlberg and Chris O’Donnell, as son Alex O’Connell was flat out dullsville. And you know he and his character were intended to carry on the Mummy films if the box office warranted. Unless they go direct to video, as with The Scorpion King 2, we won’t have to suffer through seeing Ford fight mummies ever again.

So pick up some Chinese food and settle in to watch…The Mummy, the 1999 Brendan Fraser original, or better yet rent the 1932 original original with the great Boris Karloff.

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