Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. D+


"Welcome to the 20th century!" yells Rick O'Connell, as an army of undead creatures is treated rudely by a bunch of noisy guns. I imagine that their reaction to those guns was about the same as ours was to the movie itself: loud, obnoxious, and wishing that it didn't exist. Then again, those undead monsters don't exactly have brains. We do, however, and as soon as the massive snow monsters appear about a third of the way through the film, they tell us that this is one terrible movie. The picture opens with a little history lesson as to the origin of the Chinese Dragon Emperor. He was a cruel man who cared nothing for his people. When he orders a witch to make him immortal, she casts a spell on him, and he is lost for hundreds of years. Then, in the 1940s, the young and naive Alex O'Connell (Luke Ford) digs up his tomb. Meanwhile, his parents, Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn (Maria Bello) are summoned to bring an ancient stone back to China. Little do they know that a dodgy professor will betray them and use the stone to bring the mummy of the Dragon Emperor back to life. Why? So he can take over the world, of course. At this point the movie is reasonably enjoyable. But what follows is one long, preposterous, CGI laden action sequence after another and by the end we're worn out and begrudging the fact that we ever saw the movie in the first place. As for the characters, they felt tired and frayed. Fraser obviously is trying for the charm with his witty one liners mixed with explosive action, but his character felt old and overused. And then Bello, who replaces Rachel Weisz, is dreadful as she painfully tries to put on a British accent while her character becomes more of fighter than in the previous two films in the series. Now, I was a fan of the first 'Mummy.' Though it was ridiculous as well, it also had a mind and it didn't bother with so many obnoxious visual effects. Another thing I really disliked was how the Dragon Emperor transforms into various wild beasts, including a three headed dragon. Couldn't the screenwriters have gone for a little more creativity? Take the first film for example. I thought it was cool how the mummy could turn into sand. It was subtle and imaginative, unlike this painful piece of work. The movie ends telling us that mummies have been found in Peru, the place where Evelyn's brother Jonathan is headed. That spells 'sequel,' doesn't it? Okay, fine. Just as long as the screenwriters realize that some people in the audience may like to play video games, but certainly don't like watching them.

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