This week at the movies, we’ve got eerie excavations (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, starring Brendan Fraser and Jet Li) and back-woods balloters (Swing Vote, starring Kevin Costner and Kelsey Grammer). What do the critics have to say?
Critics are comparing the third installment of the Mummy series, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, to an Egyptian burial shrine — not because it contains visual opulence, but because it’s more than a little musty. Brendan Fraser returns as Rick, an intrepid explorer whose latest mission finds him in Asia, where he has to contend with an army of terra cotta warriors led by an ancient emperor (Jet Li). Let’s face it: the appeal of Mummy movies was their B-movie swashbuckling, not emotional heft or serious thematic resonance. But pundits say Tomb fails even at that modest level, featuring soulless CG effects, a notable lack of energy from the cast, and an overall lack of fun. At 11 percent on the Tomatometer, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is easily the worst-reviewed entry in a series the critics say is probably ready for embalming. It’s also one of the worst-reviewed films of the year. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we provide an overview of Jet Li’s best-reviewed films.)
Turns out Jet Li is the center of the universe.
We’ve seen some recent national elections come down to a few hundred votes, but what if the presidency was decided by a single ballot? It’s an inspired premise, one that critics say unfortunately pays only intermittent dividends in Swing Vote. Kevin Costner stars as Bud Johnson, an amiable, slothful average Joe who, through a technical error, becomes the deciding vote in a presidential election; as a result, he’s heavily courted by the candidates while trying to do right by his daughter. The pundits say Swing Vote has moments of gentle charm, but it’s too predictable and lacks the sharp bite required to make it truly successful satire. At 37 percent on the Tomatometer, a recount isn’t going to save Swing Vote.
“Don’t ever get drunk and go on eBay again!”
Also opening this week in limited release:
In Search of a Midnight Kiss, an indie comedy about a lonely guy looking for a smooch on New Year’s Eve, is at 89 percent.
America the Beautiful, a documentary about how the fashion industry negatively contributes to Americans’ obsession with their looks, is at 80 percent.
Frozen River, an indie drama about how a woman’s desperate search for her husband gets her involved in the trafficking of illegal immigrants, is at 78 percent.
Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind, a doc that poetically examines the gravesites of a variety of important historical figures, is at 80 percent.
His attempts at water polo were less successful.
Recent Kevin Costner Movies: