‘Mummy’ issues


During a climactic battle scene in “The Mummy: Curse of the Tomb of the Something or Other,” Brender Fraser’s charactrer, What’s His Name, bellows: “I really hate mummies.”(At least, I’m pretty sure he said, “mummies,” as there was nothing prior to this that would suggest he said “mommies,” as there was no strained parental issues of his discussed in this film.)

Regardless, I could not agree agree more, Brenden.

“The Mummy” is not so much a film as it is a marathon for the senses, testing the threshold your eyes and ears can endure.

When it’s not busy reminding you of earlier, far better films, it’s pounding your peepers and pummeling your drums into submission.

It’s difficult to look past its flaws, for the mere conception of this film is one – a story as lifeless and dry as an empty sarcophagus, this third “Mummy” can’t even muster enough credibility to pass its non-computer-generated cast as believable.

For example, the 27-year-old actor Luke Ford is apparently the college-aged kid of 39-year-old Frasier and 41-year-old Maria Bello, who plays Fraser’s wife. The younger actor’s rather difficult time trying to squelch his Australian accent only adds to the fact that he does not bare even a passing resemblance to the other actors. Except, of course, he shares the same crow’s feet.

The film opens heavy on exposition, as if anyone really cared about that going into a “Mummy” movie. Talk of “collections of mystical secrets,” “the Eye of Shangri-La” and “eternal youth” are stiltingly read while generic shots of battling armies flash before us.

Then, we are treated to a shot of our now-retired hero, Indi… er, Rick O’Connell (played by Fraser), unsuccessfully fly fishing in one of those sad, slapsticky, I-can’t-deal-with-retirement montages that serve as filler in films such as these.

“The Mummy” films have always been a pale copy of the “Indiana Jones” franchise, but in a summer in which Dr. Jones himself makes a (rather flat) return to the screen, Rick’s re-entry into the adventure fray seems superfluous. There’s even a shot where he stares at his old leather adventurin’ jacket that’s supposed to echo the iconic sight of Dr. Jones picking up his dusty fedora again. While watching, all we can think was, “Oh, is that what he wore?”

A car chase, countless bad puns, an army of undead, CGI- rendered (CGI standing for crappy, generic images), a countless loud, bland scenes later, and all is wrapped up and forgotten before pushing open the theater’s exit door.

Fraser, as always, is a champ, completely comfortable with the fact that the majority of his co-stars are mere pixels, and he still manages to make the most of his “Raiders” – light role.

Rachel Weitz, who smartly bailed on this outing, has been replaced by Maria Bello ( “A History of Violence”) as Rick’s British wife. While some critics have bemoaned the former;s absence, can they really say “The Mummy” films were such paragons of adventure solely because of her textured performance? At this point, I think she could have been replaced by a Colorform with little difference.

As mentioned earlier, the decision to advance the age of the son, last seen as a precious scamp in “The Mummy Returns” seven years ago, is rather awkward and jarring any time he shares the screen with his “dad.”

Action sequence after action sequence lifts bits from other films and appears edited with a ceiling fan, allowing shots strewn about in random order. The final battle with an ancient undead terra cotta army (really, how threatening can an army be when its mere name suggests patio furnishings?) is routine and uninspired. The weapon-weidling skeletons only harken back to Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion animation of “Jason and the Argonauts.” But in the caffeinated hands of director Rob (“The Fast and the Furious”) Cohen, the memories are fleeting before it’s on to the next strained attempt at humor or peril.

With the sun setting on summer cinema, we can only hope that we’ve seen the last of this sort of generic, bombastic, seizure-inducing form of film, and we can wrap this “Mummy” up and entomb it with its anxiety-inducing box office brethren as we await the more deliberately paced films of the fall.

~ by usesoapfilm on August 5, 2008.

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