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The Day of 1,000 Reader Reviews Continues: THE MUMMY 3 Has Screened!

Beaks here... Is THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR more fun than INDY 4? Reader "JLF" seems to think so. Surprisingly, this matches up with the good buzz that's been emanating from this project over the last few months. It sounds like Rob Cohen has returned to the old-school fun of Stephen Sommers's THE MUMMY and worked off the bloat of THE MUMMY RETURNS. Hey, I dug Cohen's DRAGON back in '93 and didn't have much of a problem with THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS; give the guy a summer programmer, and he could very easily deliver. (I'd also like to see Sommers return to the trash glory of DEEP RISING.) Here's JLF's take (I don't know what qualifies as a spoiler on this movie, but if you're worried about such things, tread lightly):
Just saw the new Mummy ("The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor") tonight in Long Beach (California). I should start out by saying I really loved the first Mummy movie, after being dragged to it against my will. I found the second one less memorable, but still remember liking it quite a bit. I had my doubts that lightning could strike a third time. It kind of did. This time around, Jet Li is The Mummy…or the ruthless King in ancient China (just B.C.) soon to be "mummified"anyway. The guy's a real peach: he enslaves his enemies to build the Great Wall, literally works them to death then buries them beneath it as a bonus. The Great Wall stuff is really impressive. From the first opening action sequence, with the pumping Randy Edelman score, it's pretty clear that a lot of the elements that made the first Mummy such a fun ride are back. It looks big and rich and the sets and costumes are wicked cool. After kicking major butt across the country, the King sends his right hand General on a quest to find the secret of eternal life. The General finds Ziijuan (Michelle Yeoh), a witch who knows the location of a hidden library that houses the spell that brings it. The King (now Emperor) takes one look at her and warns the General to keep his mitts off Michelle on the journey…he wants her for himself. When the Emperor learns of that the General and the object of his affection have hooked up, he brutally kills the General and tries to kill the witch…but she escapes, cursing him and his Army to spend eternity as clay statues. Again, the effects here are big and splashy…it's a fun sequence, the audience I saw it with got really rowdy. Flash forward to post war London, where Rick (Brendan Frasier) and Evie (Maria Bello) O' Connell are a little bored with their humdrum lives. Evie writes books about the Mummy while Rick tries fly-fishing to pass the time. There's actually good physical comedy shtick here. Brendan Fraiser still can ooze the charm. Bello is fine, but she doesn't have that out of the gate likeability that Rachel Weisz had in this role. That said, she's a sexy woman and that goes a long way. Rick and Evie are having a tough time with their pistol-of-a-son, Alex (Luke Ford). It's hit pretty hard on the nose that Alex is too much of a chip off the old block for Rick's liking. While Alex is supposed to be in college, he's actually unearthing the Dragon King from his tomb in China. These scenes are cheeky fun. It feels almost like your watching the characters from "The Purple Rose of Cairo"—they could be wearing Pith Helmets and holding Martinis and the lined they're uttering wouldn't seem out of place. Rick and Evie are convinced to come out of retirement to smuggle a big diamond known as the Eye of Shangri-La back into China. In some plot points that are a little too coincidental and hard to swallow, Rick and Evie are soon reunited with their son and Evie's brother Jonathan (John Hannah). Seriously, John Hannah knocks some great lines out of the park. He's got some of the best lines in the movie. The sequence where the Mummy is brought to life and chased down the streets of Shanghai is SO MUCH FUN. It hands down beats any of the sequences in CRYSTAL SKULL. In fact, this whole movie seems to have hi-jacked the sense of fun and humor that "Skull" needed so badly. The family unites and vows to capture and kill this new, improved Mummy (this one has super powers…he can control fire, water and metal) before he can release his clay army. This part of the movie kicks into high gear like an amusement park ride. Big chases and jokes and splashy stunts. Somehow, these play as clever and fun, a vibe, again, that was sorely missing in Skull. The best part of this movie (in my opinion) are the Yeti (huge Abominable Snowmen!) that come to family's aide in the Himalayas. They are the coolest looking creatures I have seen in a long time…part Mogwai, part Grover from the muppets, all bad ass! There's a sick avalanche sequence that must have taken like, 4 years to render. I won't ruin the end, but the final sequences kind of bring home the fact why they needed to get Jet Li to play this Mummy. It's like KILL BILL meets CROUCHING TIGER on steroids. This movie did something that's been hard to do lately: deliver on the promise of a big, rocking summer blockbuster and keep the integrity and fun of the original. JLF
Didn't expect that. That's a whole lot of love to throw on a goofy, late-summer sequel. Here's hoping Mr. JLF knows of what he speaks. Faithfully submitted, Mr. Beaks

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