The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - 5/10
Please don't be the one Spirit was thinking of, I just remembered this one years later
I'm not saying that Branden Fraser is a bad actor, I'm just saying that he's a bad actor...
...Or maybe it has more to do with the movies he's in overall and how utterly droll they can be (looking at you, Journey to the Center of the Earth) and the mere fact that he's typecast as a do-it-all action movie hero, minus the charisma. Now, Dragon Emperor isn't all bad because the action, setpieces, and choreography are top-notch (bar that one kung-fu sequence), but the film sets itself up for disappointment with a wonky betrayal followed by some egregious pacing issues, a hackneyed script, and nigh-blatantly rushed special effects. The CGI really glares out at you, especially towards the end, like statues being plastered upon a realistic backdrop and calling it a wrap. Other times, the effects honestly aren't too bad, such as when the yetis show up and appear more human than the zombie allies, but I distinctly recall having a suspension of disbelief moment when the emperor transformed into a dragon/hydra/wyvern (oh yeah, it's in the title), and then later turns into a giant horned sasquatch (well, didn't see that coming). Talk about the titular Mummy shape-shifting into various mythological creatures and not having an existential crisis...
As for the characters, it's gonna be a 50/50 split just like the unfortunate score I'd settled on after the credits started rolling. Characters are the glue that holds the story and every other slapped-together piece in my eyes--and hearkening back to the script, this is really where things fall flat. For example, Branden Fraser plays the jack-trader sort, Rick, who can do it all: fight, shoot, and stab for 40% of the time and then spit out vapid one-liners the rest of the time. Here's the problem, though: Every other character is expected to do the exact same thing, resulting in a steam-rolled menagerie of cobbled-up story/action bits and tacky witticisms. Well, the lead female's brother, who owns a night club in China and just along for the ride more or less, is the obvious exception. I mean, if you're going to tag along, then you might as well make yourself useful rather than cower in the corner and mumble nonsensical things aloud. The yak, Geraldine, had more personality than this pretentious one-note milktoast. Reminds me of how Franklin was in Fallen Kingdom, actually: terrified by anything short of a squeaky duck (aka everything) and constantly
shrieking like a lil girlon the brink of getting everyone killed because of it. Why are you there, then? And no, it has nothing to do with your derma hue, mah brother.
Oh yes, and did I mention that half of the base film was in ancient Chinese without subtitles? I know I tend to enjoy the Asian mumble-jumbles from time to time, but at least have the courtesy to prepare translations for the general audience across the pond, eh wot. Well at least that one cool guy with the fancy earpiece can offer us a general overview--no wait, he can't because a decade has gone by and they've moved on to bigger and better things. Sorry, future viewers.
Nevertheless, I don't mean to rag too much on the negatives as anyone can enjoy the movie through a casual lens, and there are some pretty enjoyable and touching scenes that will impact the viewer in a meaningful way. It should also be noted that this is in no way "on par" with the commonly lampooned "around the world" action flicks such as Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom or Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (although I enjoyed the latter, save for ze La Boof). Heck, I'd even recommend Dragon Emperor above the Tom Cruise film which should've homed in on the supernatural elements of the Universal Monsters, um, universe instead of being another action-jammed adventure starring Tom Cruise (female Mummy was the only saving grace, unlike Jet Li's attempt sadly). The one good thing to take away from this, however, is that the tried and true Uncharted formula will always win out over box office busts. As such, please look forward to the crossover movie in 2024, featuring God of War Kratos and his stepdaughter Ellen Page.
Now, back to marathoning Yahtzee reviews...
I only like the first one as a guilty pleasure and Brendan IS a bad actor.