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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Movie Watch: Mummy 3, Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor

Oh. Dear. God.


There are times when it should be clear to those involved that a project is going to come out so bad that it should just be halted. Mummy 3 is such a movie. Rachel Weisz turned down the offer to return as Evie, presumably because the script was simply not up to snuff.

Kudos to Weisz for reading the script. In her place, the producers give us Maria Bello, and even insert a rather snarky joke in the movie to point out this fact. It should be noted to the filmmakers that when you have a girl from Pennsylvania doing a bad Rachel Weisz impersonation for the entire movie - you probably should not point out this fact. It's not a knock against Bello, I loved her in Payback and loved her more in A History Of Violence, but the writers would have been better off simply writing the character out than including a bad breathy English accent through the the movie.

But Evie is hardly the movie's real problem. The script suffers from not only all the normal Hollywood flaws, but manages to create a few new ones on the way. There's the odd references to the war and espionage that has apparently made our character fantastically rich and famous. There's the fact that their kid has suddenly turned college aged, mysteriously become another Indiana Jones clone without all the other Indiana Jones clones figuring it out. There's the rather awkward slamming of what feels like a draft for someone else's kung fu movie into Mummy 2. And that's not even accounting for the numerous plot holes and rather impressive suspensions of disbelief required from the viewers.

And going to jump into some spoilers here - because this is one of those movies I really think should be spoiled. Firstly, Jet Li (who heads a woefully underused Asian portion of the cast, including the generally excellent Russell Wong) spends most of his time in a mocap suit grunting and pointing. The Dragon Emperor himself is one of those "insanely powerful and yet conveniently not" kind of villians (I think he may make a cameo on the next season of Heroes). By the end of the movie, the big bad can transform into any manner of beast, including a massive three headed dragon ... and yet still prefers to get his ass kicked in human form quite a bit.

And all of this hooplah is to stop ... wait for it ... wait.... for it...

His terrible, horrible terra cotta army. Surely, you say, they are supernatural soldiers who can't be stopped by mere bullets? Because that would be really something, right? No, no, pretty much one bullet and they go down like a clay pot.

Know why? Because they are clay freaking pots, people. The movie would have been more effective threatening the world with shrubbery, because at least that would have been hilarious.

This is an outright avoid type of title, unless you're under the influence of drugs and can get it for free.

And oh by the way, if you need more proof that Ebert is hack, he considered this "the best in the series", apparently accepting the "it's so bad it's good" philosophy to the extreme.

Maybe Ebert has a taste for movies that are so good, they're good. This one, dear Roger, is just plain bad.

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