Friday, August 01, 2008

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

By Reymundo Salao

The Mummy franchise is like Indiana Jones' video game influenced teenage brother; kinda immature and senseless, but knows how to have a really enjoyable time. It was dazzling to see our heroes go to the Orient this time, and meet dragons, yetis, and alluringly beautiful Chinese ladies. The amazing special effects and creature designs here were awesome, especially when the Dragon Emperor transforms into this bull-like, ape-like mythical Chinese creature. My personal favorite were the Yetis, which actually were on the side of the good guys. If they could make a movie wherein the Yetis were the main characters and Brendan Fraser and the rest of the Mummy cast would just be the background characters, I would watch that movie.

Jet Li plays the Dragon Emperor and Michelle Yeoh as the witch Zijuan did fine performances, Also in the cast is Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, who is very well known in Hongkong films playing roles in such movies as Hardboiled, and the Infernal Affairs movies (Infernal Affairs is the original movie from which The Departed was copied) plays an evil ambitious Chinese general in this movie. Then there’s the alluring actresses Jessey Meng, who still looks foxy hot even when she has a scar on her face, and Isabella Leong, whose beauty is just pure diabetes-inducing eye candy. And lastly, there was the casting of Maria Bello as Evelyn Carnahan O’Connell, a character played and really owned by Rachel Weisz. Having her replaced by Maria Bello was just awkward, Bello is actually a really good actress, but it was excruciating seeing her clumsily get into the role played by Weisz. It was not as smooth as such role transitions as Maggie Gyllenhaal in Katie Holmes’ role in The Dark Knight. Here, we had to sit through Mummy 3 and force ourselves to accept Bello for a role which was made memorable by Weisz performance.
As always, Brendan Fraser (as Rick O’Connell) whose mixture of comedy and action, and the humor of John Hannah (as Jonathan Carnahan) really make the movie fun to watch.

Director Stephen Sommers who also directed the first two Mummy movies (1999 and 2001) is a director who seems to rely too much on special effects, stunts and action sequences. Sadly, this is echoed by the new director Rob Cohen, who is, just like Sommer, a master of visual but dumb movies, having done shallow films such as XXX and The Fast & the Furious. Maybe Cohen is a little better than Sommers by one degree anyway, because this one is fun but very predictable, as if it was just blindly following the same template from the previous 2 movies. Then there’s also the action which would have been a whole lot better. If you put in action icons like Jet Li in a movie like this, your action shots should capture each and every action move. The problem with american film directors these days is that they shoot their fight scenes with handheld cams, which tend to be shaky, therefore ruining/cushioning the glorious impact of the action sequences. Don’t get me wrong, the action was indeed good, but it was lessened by lousy cinematography. In the long run, you watch this movie for the fun factor, and the humor and the comedic performances of its actors and actresses, along with the special effects, really are the saving grace of this movie, any scene that does not involve monsters or jokes really are bland. They should have just called it Mummy 3 because this movie is the kind of movie that will bore you the second time around, it is just meant to be the kind of movie played during the fiesta when everybody is busy chatting with each other and eating lunch.

This is mere disposable feel-good fun movie. Cartoonish, visceral, and funny, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is Hollywood's most “pop” summer movie entry.

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