Archive for Yeti

Revisited: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT: (spoiler alert!!!):

In ancient China, a brutal and tyrannical warlord unites the country’s kingdoms into an empire and becomes the Dragon Emperor. He orders the construction of the Great Wall of China to bury and curse his dead enemies, eventually learning power over the traditional Chinese Wu Xing elements of fire, water, earth, wood and metal. Emperor Han soon grows fearful that his death will end all he has accomplished and summons Zi Yuan, a sorceress who is said to know the secret of immortality. She seemingly casts a spell on Han in Sanskrit, before he executes General Ming, his trusted friend and Zi Yuan’s secret lover. He stabs Zi Yuan with a dagger, but having foreseen this event, she immolates and imprisons the Emperor and his soldiers in clay, transforming his army into the Terracotta Army, and flees.

In 1946, Alex O’Connell, Rick and Evelyn O’Connell’s son, and his archaeology professor Roger Wilson locate Han’s tomb. Though attacked by a mysterious woman, they succeed in bringing the coffin to Shanghai. Meanwhile, the British government entrusts the O’Connells to take the Eye of Shangri-La back to China. However, they learn that Wilson works for a rogue military faction led by General Yang, who had provided the financial backing of Alex’s expedition. Yang believes that Han is the one who can lead China out of the chaos following World War II and plans to resurrect the Emperor using the Eye, which contains the Elixir of Life. They open it, but it accidentally lands on the statue of the carriage driver, which is revealed to actually be Han’s mummified body. He accepts Yang’s service but kills Wilson and escapes.

Along with Evelyn’s brother Jonathan Carnahan, the O’Connells and the mysterious woman, Lin, travel to a stupa in the Himalayas that will reveal the path to Shangri-La when the Eye is placed on top of it. With the help of Yetis summoned by Lin, the group hold off Yang’s soldiers but Han discovers Shangri-La’s location. Alex attempts to trigger an avalanche. Han throws a dagger at him, but Rick shoves Alex and is stabbed instead. Lin takes the group to Shangri-La, where Zi Yuan still lives and heals Rick’s wound. The group discovers that Lin is Zi Yuan’s daughter, both rendered immortal due to the power of Shangri-La’s waters. As Rick heals, Alex and Lin have grown attached to each other, but Lin refuses due to her immortality, unable to bear falling in love with Alex only to watch him grow old and die, just as Zi Yuan mourned for General Ming.

Han and General Yang eventually arrive and attack them in Shangri-La, and Han bathes in the mystical waters, which restores his human form and youth, and gives him the ability to shapeshift. Transforming into a dragon, Han kidnaps Lin and flies back to the tomb, raising his Terracota Army, planning to cross the Great Wall, where they will be invincible. The O’Connells and Zi Yuan pursue Han to the Great Wall where she sacrifices her and Lin’s immortality to create an undead army from beneath The Great Wall, led by a revived General Ming. As Alex rescues Lin, Zi Yuan fights Han and is mortally wounded, but secures the dagger. Zi Yuan gives the dagger to the group before dying. Meanwhile, Han goes into the Great Wall to use his elemental powers to negate the undead spell. Rick and Alex fight off Han while Evelyn and Lin fight and kill Yang and Choi. Han gains the upper hand over Rick, but Rick and Alex manage to stab Han in his heart with the dagger, killing him and defeating the Terracotta Army. Ming’s army briefly celebrates before finally moving on to a peaceful afterlife.

The O’Connells return to Shanghai while Jonathan decides to move to Peru with the Eye of Shangri-La, as he wants to go somewhere with no mummies. However, in postscript, it is revealed that upon his arrival, mummies were discovered in Peru.

REVIEW:

Ten years ago, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor began my journey as a movie critic blogger type person. It seems fitting that I revisit it as a way to bookend all 2,743 entries. Aside from that, we still have a film to talk about here. A film that sees our intrepid hero, Rick O’Connell once again messing with the undead. Many times the third time is not the charm for film franchises. Could that be the case here? Let us find out, shall we?

What is this about?

The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen continues the tale set into motion by director Stephen Sommers with this globe-trotting adventure that finds explorer Rick O’Connell and son attempting to thwart a resurrected emperor’s (Jet Li) plan to enslave the entire human race. It’s been 2,000 years since China’s merciless Emperor Han and his formidable army were entombed in terra cotta clay by a double-dealing sorceress (Michelle Yeoh), but now, after centuries in suspended animation, an ancient curse is about to be broken. Thanks to his childhood adventures alongside father Rick (Brendan Fraser) and mother Evelyn (Maria Bello), dashing young archeologist Alex O’Connell (Luke Ford) is more than familiar with the power of the supernatural. After he is tricked into awakening the dreaded emperor from his eternal slumber, however, the frightened young adventurer is forced to seek out the wisdom of his parents — both of whom have had their fair share of experience battling the legions of the undead. Should the fierce monarch prove capable of awakening his powerful terra cotta army, his diabolical plan for world domination will finally be set into motion. Of course, the one factor that this emperor mummy failed to consider while solidifying his power-mad plans was the O’Connells, and before this battle is over, the monstrous monarch will be forced to contend with the one family that isn’t frightened by a few rickety reanimated corpses.

What did I like?

Out of Egypt. I don’t know about you guys, but whenever I think of mummies, the first place that comes to mind is Egypt. If I’m not mistaken, that’s where the legends were born that led to the other film’s in this franchise, the classic mummy that we know from old cartoon and tv and, though I hate to bring this up, the recent film with Tom Cruise. With that said, it is a nice change of pace to have mummies from and in China, especially one that has these superpowers and is based in actual history. Now the question is, who would win in a fight, the Dragon Emperor or Imhotep?

Action-packed. Movies today seem to forget that audiences don’t want to sit in an already darkened theater looking at a dark alley with people talking for 3/4 of the film. No, if we go to an action film, then that is what we want to see. Perhaps it is fitting that this director is from the Fast and the Furious franchise because it has come as a surprise that those film have been raking in the bucks of late. Truth is, they are mindless action, an escape from reality, and that is what people want. In this film’s case, much like the Indiana Jones films, we come to see a normal guy kicking ass while fighting off supernatural beings. I would say he also is fighting to get the girl, but he got her in the first film.

Fun. This franchise has always impressed me with how fun it is. Not just with the action and comedy, but with how it captures the feel of an old Hollywood swashbuckler or the serial comics from that time. It is interesting that I bring this up, because it was around the time that this film came out that films shifted toward darker, more serious tones. Even this flick is guilty of that, but it manages to keep the fun factor. I mean, the dead emperor barges into Shangri-La and bathes in the rejuvenating pool only to re-emerge as a 3 headed dragon! That’s some video game boss level stuff there. I love it!

What didn’t I like?

Weisz she gone? I don’t want to take anything away from Maria Bello. She is a beautiful woman and a fine actress. However, she is not Rachel Weisz. What I mean to say is that there was a certain chemistry Weisz had with Brendan Fraser and John Hannah, as well as certain feel for the character of Evie that Bello doesn’t seem to have. To me, she felt like if your starting quarterback on your fantasy football team got hurt and you have to scour the waiver wire hoping to get a player that will put up decent numbers, but it just isn’t the same (and may cost you some games…not that I’m speaking for personal experience, mind you).

Daddy issues. Why is it no one if movies today has issues with their mother? It’s always about Daddy? If you will recall from The Mummy Returns, Alex was the precocious son of Rick and Evie O’Connell. Fast forward a few years and he is now estranged from his parents and an adventurer in his own right. Not to mention, he seems to take after his dad as a bit of a flirt. When we finally see the three of them together, we learn that he and his dad aren’t exactly on speaking terms. I could list for days films that have a similar subplot, especially with how it resolves. Personally, I think this whole thing could have been left out in favor of more development of Michelle Yeoh and Isabella Leong’s characters.

Try, try, try again. For everything that worked in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, changing location and doing the same thing doesn’t fly with this. You have an all powerful mummy and the famed Terracotta army, not to mention Yetis and the Great Wall of China, yet almost all of these are wasted and/or underused. With Imhotep, we spent the both films getting to know him, both with his actions on-screen and a history “lesson” from Evie. The Dragon Emperor is introduced to us in the opening and when he appears in modern day, he is actually more intimidating than when he becomes human again. The only redeeming scene for him is when he becomes the 3 headed dragon or when the filmmaker’s realized it was Jet Li and let him do some martial arts.

Final verdict on The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. I probably have made this sound worse than it is. Truth be told, this is a film that would be enjoyable on a Saturday afternoon when you just need something to watch. However, this was meant to keep the franchise going, or at least revive it, but instead it seemed to kill it (along with other factors). There is obvious effort here to make a worthy film but, in the end I cannot in good faith recommend this to anyone, unless you just want to complete the trilogy.

3 out of 5 stars

Advertisements

Rise of the Guardians

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The story begins with the spirit of winter, Jack Frost being raised from a frozen lake, but he returns to the world unseen by people and it is learned that he cannot be seen because he is not believed in, and all of his memories from his former life are gone. Only his name, given to him by the Man in the Moon who raised him, is known to him.

300 years later, North receives a vision in his workshop of the boogeyman Pitch Black, and alerts the other Guardians; the head of the tooth fairies Tooth, the short tempered Australian-accented E. Aster Bunnymund and the gentle, non-speaking Sandy to the North Pole. Upon their arrival, they do not want to believe that Pitch poses a threat, but their guide the Man in the Moon suggests otherwise and instructs them to induct Jack Frost as a new Guardian to combat the threat. Meanwhile, Jack instills fun and laughter in children from his childish nature and inspires a snowball fight between a young believer named Jamie and the local children, but still they do not believe in him and he is still invisible. Jack is taken forcibly to the North Pole by North’s Yeti workshop workers, but declines joining the Guardians as his centuries-long isolation has left him bitter to the responsibility they hold dear to protect the children of the world. North tries to convince him otherwise, but they are alerted to an attack on Tooth’s palace. When they arrive, they discover Pitch’s nightmares taking all of the childrens’ teeth and the baby tooth fairies that work as Tooth’s assistants. Jack saves one before they are confronted by Pitch, who states he intends to stop the childrens’ belief in the Guardians so he instead is believed in, wielding a power like Sandy’s to turn his dreams into nightmares. Pitch escapes and the loss of belief in the tooth fairy seems to immediately effect Tooth. Jack volunteers to help when he discovers that the teeth provide the memories of the children they came from including his own and seeks to find his place among them. They manage to collect the teeth in one night and faith in Tooth is restored though they are caught by Jamie who can see them all with the exception of Jack. Jack and Sandy are attacked by Pitch’s nightmares and though Jack’s efforts are valiant, Sandy is overcome and seemingly destroyed by Pitch. With Easter a day away, the group agrees to help Bunny distribute his eggs. They find Jamie’s toddler sister Sophie at the Warren and manage to decorate eggs for distribution, Jack then takes Sophie home.

Lured by a familiar voice calling to him from under a bed in the forest, Jack and Baby Tooth discover Pitch’s hideout. Pitch offers Jack’s canister of memories in exchange for remaining a neutral party, but Jack refuses and in retaliation, Pitch destroys all the eggs before they make their way to the surface, destroying the childrens’ belief in the Easter Bunny. Being blamed for the failure, Jack leaves the Guardians and isolates himself in Antarctica where he encounters Pitch again who offers a partnership to spread fear to all the children. But Jack wants to be loved, not feared and rejects Pitch’s offer again. Pitch holds Baby Tooth hostage for Jack’s staff and then he sends Jack and Baby Tooth into a crevasse when Jack hands the staff over. Baby Tooth suggests Jack open his memories, where he discovers he was a teenage boy who had saved his sister from falling through thin ice by alleviating her fear with fun, in turn though he’d fallen in, but that sacrifice inspired the Man in the Moon to resurrect him as Jack Frost. Inspired by this, Jack returns to save the last light of belief on Earth; Jamie. Not only does Jack succeed in reaffirming Jamie’s faith in the Guardians, but he also instills a belief in him, allowing Jamie to see and hear him, much to Jack’s delight. The other woefully weakened Guardians join Jack to face off against Pitch, and Jamie has his own friends join in the seemingly impossible fight; but their faith is more than a match for Pitch’s nightmares and also causes Sandy’s resurrection, which sends Pitch running. No longer feared, Pitch cannot be seen or heard by the human children, and his fear turns his own nightmares against him, dragging him back under the bed.

Jack accepts his place with the Guardians and says goodbye to Jamie and his friends, their hope renewed and their belief strong Jack assures Jamie that they are now in his heart and as long as they believe the Guardians will always be there to protect them

REVIEW:

Let’s face it, there were a bunch of animated films that were released last year. Some have argued that there may have been too many. One of the films that many have overlooked, partially because of the massive shadow by Wreck-It Ralph and all the holiday films that were released around the same time, is Rise of the Guardians.

What is this about?

In this animated adventure, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and Jack Frost come together to battle Pitch, a malicious spirit determined to take over the world and destroy the innocent beliefs and dreams of children.

What did I like?

Not what you know. Normally, I’m a purist. Give me what I know and I’ll be happy. No need to go around changing stuff for the sake of change. This film won’t change my stance on that, but I did appreciate the new versions of our well-known holiday icons. No longer is Santa a jolly old elf, but a Russian biker type, for instance.

Children. Children, and humans, in films like this seem to be nothing more than an annoyance. Thankfully, the children don’t really have much to do with most of the picture and the focus is on the guardians, which is what the audience came to see, after all. I’m sure there are those out there that feel they could have more of an impact on the proceedings, but I’m not one of those. The decision to not have some cheeky, disrespectful child mucking things up was brilliant.

Pitch. I really like the villainous Pitch Black, otherwise known as the Boogeyman. The look of him reminds me of a vampire and for a character than is all about the darkness, that works. Jude Law’s voice also really worked…better than I thought it would. With all that said, he still is no Oogie Boogie.

What didn’t I like?

Origin. We get Jack Frost’s origin and a little bit of Pitch Black’s, but the others, not so much. Reading a little background on this film, and it turns out that it is set 200 years after the book series, which gives each character their own story, apparently. I’m not saying the film should have went into great detail about each one, but maybe a scene where they are sitting around getting to know each other and we get a quick reference to what their past is would have been nice.

Sandman. I loved the little Sandman guy. He actually may have been my favorite, but two things bothered me. First, whose idea was it to have him be silent? If anything, that seems like something better suited for the Tooth Fairy. Second, why did they have to kill him? I can understand not killing off Santa or the Easter Bunny. Can you imagine the shock and horror on the kids’ faces?!? I just don’t feel it accomplished what the filmmakers were attempting. Now, if he would have just been kidnapped, that may have worked better.

Timing. So, this doesn’t take place around Christmas, but rather Easter. Does that make any sense? Not to me, it didn’t. Around one of the major holidays like that, when the guardians are at their strongest, might not have been the best time to launch an attack. Perhaps Pitch should have tried one of the lesser Patriotic holidays like Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, etc.

When all is said and done, Rise of the Guardians should have risen to the top of the box office for weeks, but it didn’t, for whatever reason. Such a shame for such a grand film. The few qualms I have with this film are minute as it is a very well made and entertaining film. I highly recommend it, especially around the holidays (Easter or Christmas).

4 1/2 out of 5 stars