August 1, 2008

Third ‘Mummy’ is a Bad Wrap

By Chris Hewitt, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.

Aug. 1--The actor who comes off best in "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" is the one who opted out: Rachel Weisz.

Everyone else flounders in the incompetently directed third "Mummy" movie, and poor Maria Bello, who steps into Weisz's role as the adventure-loving wife of heroic Brendan Fraser, fares the worst. Director Rob Cohen allowed her to play her role at an energy level about 50 percent peppier than everyone else's, so she sounds idiotic delivering the movie's gee-willikers dialogue ("There's something incredibly romantic about vanquishing the undead!"). Maybe Bello should just avoid China-set films, since she came off equally badly in "China: The Panda Adventure."

Like "Journey to the Center of the Earth," Fraser's earlier film this summer, "Mummy" is little more than a bunch of special effects occasionally interrupted by a wisp of a story: He, Bello and their adult son are trying to prevent a long-dead warlord (Jet Li) from reanimating and taking over the world along with his reanimated terra cotta warrior army.

The trouble with most effects-heavy films that aren't made by Peter Jackson ("The Lord of Flies,""King Kong") -- and this includes both "Journey" and "Mummy," as well as this year's "Hulk" -- is that they fail to establish rooting interest in the people before the creatures begin destroying each other. "Mummy" climaxes with two armies of brownish special-effect monsters going at it, and you won't care who survives, although I have to

admit I kept thinking, "Please, put Bello out of our misery."

"Mummy" keeps tossing interesting ideas into the mix -- those terra cotta warriors, yeti, Shangri-La -- and then just leaving them lying there in the hope that something will grab our interest. Not so much, but it's worth noting that the closing credits are the highlight of the film. They're really pretty, and they mean the movie is over.


Directed by: Rob Cohen

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello

Rated: PG-13, for tons of violence

Should you go? Leave this "Mummy" to rot. *


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