Masswyrm Wishes He Could Unwatch THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR!!
Published at: Aug. 1, 2008, 8:55 a.m. CST by merrick
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
Not since the summer of 82 have we had a season so spectacularly awesome, so distinctly geeky, as what weve just finished going through. 12 solid weeks of ass kicking science fiction/fantasy/animated/super hero badassery that has left even the pickiest and most effete among you happy with at least a handful of films. Name another summer that even comes close. 99. MAYBE. No, its been an incredible year for us.
Now, the reason I bring this up is that in any other summer, most critics would give The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor a pass. Sure theyd complain about the acting, the story, the shameless pandering to the dumb American audience. But then they would verbally shrug, acknowledge the very same dumb American audience this was made for and say Yeah, but its not that bad for a summer movie. That is, they would say that in any other summer. But not this year. Not this summer. Not after seeing 3 straight months of intelligently written, well constructed LOUD, ACTION PACKED THRILLS, CHILLS AND LAUGHS. Not after one of the smartest, darkest movies of the year has broken record after record on its way to possibly challenge Titanic for its top spot as the highest grossing movie ever made. After that summer, this looks distinctly like what it is.
Shit. Unmitigated, inexcusable shit. I cant remember the last time I looked around and saw so many critics positively mortified to be watching what they were watching. We were embarrassed to be in that theater. It is a humbling, humiliating experience that will take anyone who bitched about nuked fridges and swinging monkeys and show them just how much Spielberg and Lucas actually got right. When you see kung fu yetis high five one another and celebrate touchdown kicks, your jaw will drop to the floor. It is not funny. It is not exciting. It is two solid hours of explosive boredom, with a loud driving soundtrack to serve as a constant reminder of how much fun youre supposed to be having. Its rather like leaving a party at a club because you think the DJ is kinda lame, only to end up at someones Bar Mitzvah. I mean, you just saw this movie three months ago. Only much, MUCH better.
The biggest problem here is that Stephen Sommers has spent his career aping Spielberg which is fine. Spielberg is kind of where youre supposed to aim when making something as derivative of his material as this is. But Rob Cohen, who took over the reins on this one, isnt in any way aping Spielberg. Hes aping Sommers. And you can see that on every frame of this movie. Its not even a Stephen Sommers movie for chrissakes. Its a facsimile of one. And Cohen suffers from a serious flaw he tends to make lowbrow material and hires great charismatic actors to (hopefully) elevate the material. But here hes saddled with a previous cast, none of whom have the ability to elevate this at all. So its a Rob Cohen impression of a Stephen Sommers film with only a fraction of the usual talent.
In fact, one of the biggest detriments to this film for the film literate is the casting of Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh. The film opens telling the story of Chinas first emperor, a great conqueror who set his sights on ruling all of China. And it takes only a few seconds to realize Wait a second. I SAW this movie. It was called Hero. And you were there, and you were there and and hey wait. Why is the Emperor the bad guy? Why arent the sets half as lavish for a film with a much bigger budget? What the..what the fuck are they doing to such an awesome story? The movie immediately veers off the tracks. And man does it take the ugly American approach to the story. You see, the Emperor didnt dream of uniting China and bringing peace to the warring nations. No. He was a tyrannical enemy of ...wait for it ...FREEDOM.
Oh fuck me.
Had the movie that followed in any way entertained, the distinctly Amerocentric attitude could be excused for the sake of storytelling. But it didnt. The characters are drawn in by the thinnest of threads that dont seem to make sense even while watching it, let alone in retrospect. The attempts at humor are gawd awful, the romantic angles forced despite an utter lack of chemistry and every scene seems like an excuse to set up an unimpressive stunt of some sort. This thing is an utter waste of time lacking a single payoff. But for a summer movie it commits the worst crime of all. Not stupidity, not implausibility. Its just fucking boring. All the other problems are secondary to this. I could complain about the dialog or the performances or the cheesy effects all day, but when it comes down to it, its just duller than watching shit harden. Sure, the last two werent exactly enduring classics, but at least they were fun while you watched them.
Until next time friends, smoke em if ya got em.