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Old August 3 2008, 12:33 AM   #24
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Location: Kansas City
Re: Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - Review&Discussion **SPOILERS**

Nine years ago when The Mummy came to theaters I was pretty dismayed at all of they hype and attention it was getting. At the time I didn't care for Brendan Frasier (who's star was starting to climb a bit) and the commercials and previews looked interesting. I went into it expecting to hate it and came out completely turned around. The first movie was a fun adventure that I consider(ed) to be the definition of "swashbuckling" all of the characters were a lot of fun, the special effects were, well so-so if over the top had good comedy to it and I felt it was an Indiana Jones for the 90s and 21st century.

Here we are a little more than 9 years later -in a year where we HAVE an Indian Jones sequel- and we've another Mummy movie where the key creative staff isn't a part of it and it's missing one of the original stars, her character now played by someone else.

On the recasting first -I liked Maria Bello. I thought she did pretty good but, for me, she was no Rachel Weisz in looks or in the way Evie was played. But, in a rare moment of me liking meta-jokes- the movie winks at the audience an acknowledgement to the change in Evie's appearance and character. One wonders though why Evie choose to write herself as a much dimmer and clumsier librarian. Oh well.

The comic relief character -Evie's brother Jonathon- is given much less to do this time around and when he IS around his jokes an antics are pretty lame and are pale and darn-near farcical to what he goes through in the first two films.

Brendan Frasier is in top form in this movie and -since my opinions on him have changed in the intervening time- it's a shame he doesn't do more in film lately.

The second movie -much to my chagrin- introduced Rick's and Evie's son Alex where he was pretty much the typical movie kid. Precocious and way to strong and aware for a child his age, even given that his parents are swashbuckling tomb raiders. This time around Alexander is much older, as expected, and he does very well as a son reconnecting with his estranged parents. And he's more obviously a "chip off the block" and fits much better into the tomb raider role. A far contrast to a certain other child of a well-known theatrical tomb raider.

The plot is pretty much the same as the other Mummy movies; and even opens with the documentary-like narration of the ancient events that created our mummy de jour; a long time a go a warrior hell-bent on taking over civilization made a deal with another entity for internal life. Events turned on him and he became entombed. Centuries later a series of events take place to rise him from the dead so he can become immortal and take over the world. Some of the details are different here (we're dealing with ancient China mummies and warriors rather than Egyptian ones) but pretty much the same as the other movies.

We're given the usual staples for movies of this nature, big CGI mummies roaring at the screen, decomposing skeletons, mummies and corpses with elemental/supernatural powers and so on and so on. It's very paint-by-the-numbers. (Shockingly to me this movie was written by Smallville writers/creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, I'm surprised their wank-toy Kristin Kreuk was no where to be seen in this thing.)

My review to you so far may sound like I disliked this movie. Well, I didn't.

It's very formulaic, it's very routine, and it's very repetitive of the movies before it but in the end I enjoyed it. It's not as much fun or "swashbuckling" as the ones that came before (mostly The Mummy) but I had a good time and it wasn't nearly as over-the-top and silly as Indy 4. I liked Indy 4 enough but it didn't feel like part of its own franchise and setting aside the creator's desires to move the series from the '30s serials to '50s B-grade sci-fi movies parts of it still just didn't feel right. (CGI car chases, and sword fights while balancing between a jeep and a duck, I'm looking at you.)

The Mummy [3] is a decent enough movie and, for me, the better of the tomb-raiding hero movies to come out this Summer. It's no Iron Man and it's surely no Dark Knight but The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor eeks out an A- from me. Yes, one grade higher than Indy 4. As I said, it's a better movie.

All and all, as the Summer Movie Season winds to a close (and for the most part this is the Summer's closer although a couple more movies come out in August) this one fits in with the rest in what, for me, has been one great Summer for movies!
Just because it's futuristic doesn't mean it's practical.
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