Monday, August 11, 2008

Movie Review: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

If I were a certain music reviewing site, I might not actually review this movie. I might instead post a picture of a chimp urinating on itself, or an "aww" inspiring apologetic picture of some pugs. I might even post a picture of a bunny with a pancake on its head.

That would, of course, be letting the movie off too easily. It's easily the worst movie I've watched this year (I've been fortunate enough to avoid certain 'gems' such as "The Hottie and the Nottie"), and I honestly think it's one of the more poorly made popcorn flicks I've ever seen.

(note: I will be adding spoilers into my review of this movie. I don't feel bad about this at all, since the movie is actually an abomination that deserves to make as little money as possible, in the hopes that no more braindead sequels will be tacked onto its lifeless corpse. If you honestly want to see this wretched excuse for a movie, you've been warned - in more ways than one.)

Jet Li 'stars' as some dude I really can't remember the name of, and within minutes, he proves that he's all big and bad by pointlessly executing a friend, and getting all stabby on some chick he was putting moves on not 60 seconds prior (neither of these make sense, and just seem tacked on to show how EVIL this guy is, because if he wasn't super evil, this movie would have even less point in existing). I say 'stars' because once he does these things, the crazy witch chick curses him. This curse supposedly turns him into terra cotta, but the obscenely bad special effects make it look like he's being turned into chocolate. He's understandably upset about this, and rightfully so... because at this point in the movie, he turns into a poorly rendered CGI creature, and he stays that way pretty much the rest of the movie. What on earth is the point of having Jet Li in your movie if you're going to instantly replace him with a cartoon? (on second thought... this series does have a certain precedent for that...). He does do some of his near patented martial arts in the VERY beginning, but it's basically for the filmmakers to say "Hey! Remember this guy!? He did all that crazy kung fu shit back in the day. Where are you going? Don't leave!".

Thousands of years later, the most inept archaeological team in recorded history stumbles upon the site; watching their team die by booby traps¹ while happily gallivanting on their merry way. People are literally having their faces melted off, and these morons can't be arsed to watch where they walk. Kindergartners on meth would have used more caution. The professor guy predictably betrays them, then is predictably killed mere moments after.

Which is where we pause a moment. It's not terribly uncommon to make a prediction in a movie and later be proven right. Simple probabilities, coupled with limited plot twists ensure that you'll be right about at least a few things before they happen. During this movie, however, my friend and I made no fewer than 15 predictions, and were right about every single one of them. From "ah, creepy assassin chick... that seems like good girlfriend material" to "so the creepy chick with the scar on her face? yeah, she'll be fighting the female lead before much longer". This movie makes no effort to throw any curveballs. It just goes on its merry way, broadcasting every single thing it's about to do. Not that an action movie usually tries to be mysterious about its intentions, but even Armageddon had the twist ending of Bruce Willis turning out to be George Herman Ruth in disguise.

A lot of convolution later, our intrepid team ends up in the mountains. It's at this point that I lost what little faith I had that it could turn itself around. Everyone is dressed in stuff that looks like it came straight out of the LL Bean catalog. Surely the first rule in filmmaking should be "if you're making an action movie, make sure the clothes aren't better actors than the actual actors". The lead actress is wearing a blaze red parka that made me wonder if Lindsey would like something like that, and how much said item would cost. It was literally more interesting than anything happening on screen at that point in time.

15 yak puke jokes later (wow, I wish I were joking), the movie pretty much is over. There's some sort of zombie mummy fight toward the end that is well featured in the previews, but it really doesn't matter, since apparently all of these mummies are tied to Jet Li's character. Brendan Fraser's char inexplicably shouts "fight like a man" at Jet Li, who inexplicably does. Even more inexplicably, Jet Li (martial arts master extraordinaire) gets the tar kicked out of him, before getting stabbed to death. Yay, rugged adventure types, I guess.

To this point, the Mummy series has stretched a bit while calling itself "horror/comedy" (being extremely light on horror, and fairly generous with comedy), this movie stretches that genre to the breaking point, and then well past, but miraculously does so by completely removing anything that any non-lobotomized person could possibly find amusing. Nearly every joke is an in-joke, and with one exception that I can't even remember at this time, EVERY ONE OF THEM FAILS. That's right, I laughed along with this movie ONCE. One time. I think it was more of a 'chuckle' than an outright laugh, but when you're pressing that hard for laughs in a comedy, I guess it'll count. One of the few enjoyable scenes in the movie (involving yetis and the ass they so love to kick) is instantly ruined when the yetis all make celebratory moves after kicking said ass it takes the scene from acceptably cool to... something resembling a pokemon episode. More than anything, this is a movie that begs you to laugh at it, sort of like an unfunny clown (sorry, redundant). Nothing here works as comedy, and since the action and plot have so much fail in them that they're bursting at the seams, the distinct lack of any intentional humor dooms the movie.

Respected film critic Roger Ebert gave this film a somewhat positive review, noting that it was "...plain dumb fun, is why" and "absurd and preposterous, and proud of it.". I'll give him "dumb", and I'll certainly agree that it's "absurd", but it's entirely possible that he was watching a different film than the one I ended up seeing; because I'm honestly not sure how a person who had to sit through Mummy 3 could possibly call it "fun". I like dumb action movies, and I (to this point) liked the Mummy series, and this was a bigger waste of money than Indiana Jones. This movie gets tossed on the list of movies where the third installment does everything in its power to actively destroy anything you enjoyed about the first two - to the point where you question whether you actually liked the first two all that much, in the first place.


¹ By the way, seriously... who set those up? ...and I thought the Jet Li guy froze in a completely different pose? I know it's a touch ridiculous to expect this to make any sense when nothing else even tries to, but these are the things that go from 'suspension of disbelief' to 'you're really just making shit up as you go along, aren't you?'

No comments:

Post a Comment