Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

What would be great would be if this were an actual job, so then I wouldn't have to pay ten dollars to go see movies like this. The third Mummy installment was just awful. It was a close race, but it still failed to unseat Dark Knight from the #1 spot where it has sat for the third week. I guess we'll have to wait and see if Pineapple Express manages to accomplish that next week.

This movie employs essentially the same formula the other's in the franchise have. This time, however, Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) is fighting a mummy in China. The movie opens with a fairly long winded history of the Dragon Emperor, his rise to power, and his downfall. 2000 years later, his tomb is discovered by Rick's son, Alex (Luke Ford), and a militant faction is trying to raise the emperor and his ancient army. In true Mummy fashion, the fate of the world rests on a rather small band including Rick, Alex, Rick's Wife, Evelyn (Maria Bello), her brother, Jonathan (John Hannah), and the mother daughter team of Zi Juan (Michelle Yeoh) and Lin (Isabelle Leong) that has been trying to keep the emperor down for the past two millenia. Aside from the different setting, there is virtually nothing new about this movie.

This movie takes some of the funny absurdities of the previous installments to a new level. The horribly integrated Yetis and a rather cartoonish dragon divorce this movie from any sort of reality. Of course there was the obligatory clash between the armies of the undead. And actually, these looked pretty good. In fact, I'll even through the "car" chase scene between a chariot and a truck loaded with fireworks into the good pile. But it takes more than an impressive battle to make a movie.

The movie was obnoxiously self aware. Early on in her first appearance, Evelyn says "I'm a whole new woman." This is clearly nod to the fact that Bello replaced Rachel Weisz who had played the role in the first two movies. Not long after that in a scene about their marital relations, the music plays up anticipation than letdown as the orchestra comes to a grinding halt. I understand that this is an adventure comedy, but parts like those were just annoying.

I've made it no secret that I am no fan of Brenden Fraser. It seems like he can only play himself. His lines in this movie seemed almost interchangeable with those in Journey to the Center of the Earth. And Bello plays a rather odd character (much different than I remember from the earlier movies) who seems to have some sort of sexual fetish about mummies and being in danger. That's gotta be a difficult turn on to deal with. And Luke Ford was just about on par with Fraser, but I think it was just his character. In the middle of tracking the emperor, he's talking to his mother about relationship advice because he has a thing for Lin, whom he just met earlier that day. I think he may have more pressing matters. And that's not even mentioning the fact that Ford is only 13 years younger than the actors portraying his parents- and it looks like the gap is even smaller.

This really shouldn't come as a surprise. Even the best series start to have problems by the third installment. And the Mummy was never a very good franchise to begin with. Judging by how this movie will probably be received, and the fairly lackluster opening weekend, I can imagine this may be the last we hear from The Mummy.


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