Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What Happened to Jet Li? The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Sometimes you have a choice in life. You can go to the dentist to have every tooth drilled through the root into your skull without benefit of anaesthesia or you can go to a Brendan Fraser movie. I sincerely hope you are wiser than I and choose the former. That was not always true. I mean, sure, he has been in Encino Man (1992), Son in Law (1993), Airheads (1994), George of the Jungle (1997), Blast from the Past (1999), Dudley Do-Right (1999), Bedazzled (2000), Monkeybone (2001), and Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), but doesn't that mean he is due? And to be fair, he also was in The Mummy (1999), Crash (2004), and somehow weaseled his way into the reputed train wreck of G.I. Joe:Rise of Cobra (2009) but for the most part he has been in train wreck after train wreck after train wreck.

Now, I in no way blame him. If I could be hired for movies and those were the only roles I could get I freely admit I would take them too. And someone keeps hiring him so he must be doing something right.

Now he stars in the 4th entry in The Mummy franchise, The Mummy:Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) alongside a pretty promising cast including Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh (probably most famous for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), ). That perhaps begs the question, whatever happened to Jet Li?

Once he made quality flicks and still pops off with the occasional gem such as the overlooked War (2007). Unfortunately, he more than counterbalances that in this effort.

The Mummy gets lost in too many asides and 4th wall jokes about the events of the first 3 movies. It tries for the same sense of fun that placed them atop the constellation of Fraser movies but misses badly. The performances are wooden, forced, and inadvertently cheesy. There is a good cheese and a bad one. A bad cheese takes you out of the world the movie tries to build and makes you regret the coin you spent to enter the theatre.

Actually, it started out okay. The opening scenes of how the Emperor became a Mummy were pretty well done and entertaining. Until, that is, he turned into a Chocolate Fountain and so did his army. Seriously, it looked like liquid chocolate. And that is being charitable.

Shortly thereafter I knew I had made a mistake walking in on this. The derivative scenes that steal from...not reference, not "homage" but steal from Indiana Jones and so forth. You will see nothing original...but you will see inferior nonsense. The way Alex (Luke Ford) and Professor Wilson (David Calder) disregard the numerous deaths of their trap-fodder henchman and NEVER TAKE PRECAUTIONS pretty much set up how it was going to go.

This movie was so painful to watch I nearly walked out. The story was weak, the dialogue forced, the special effects, with a couple of notable exceptions, simply sub-par, and ultimately this movie disappointed on every level. I really struggled to come up with at least one good thing to say about it, to spotlight a good performance or a nice line, to talk about the cinematography or special effects in a vain attempt to redeem this movie. Ultimately I could not because it lacked the 2 things that would have made this movie bearable; an awl to pierce my eardrums so I couldn't hear it and an ice pick to take care of my eyes so I did not see it.

Stay away from this poison. Please. See The Dark Knight (2008) again. See Step Brothers (2008). Smurf, see Mamma Mia (2008) or Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (2008). Just don't make the mistake of seeing this horrific effort.

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