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Discuss this week's Joe Loves Crappy Movies here!

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Love crappy movies but are too ashamed to admit it? Are you a big Rob Schneider fan but you're tired of being burned? Not sure if you want to waste your money on the same old movie? That's why you have Joe.

Joe Loves Crappy Movies is by Joseph Dunn. Joe willingly goes to see the very worst that Hollywood has to offer. Whenever a crappy movie comes out Joe will be there to see it, make fun of it, and actually review it. Nothing is safe, and nothing is sacred. From the big budget action disasters to the low brow fart based comedies, to anything starring Martin Lawrence? Joe will tear it apart.

With each entry you'll get not only a comic poking fun at the movie, but also a detailed review. Joe's not educated in film or cinematography or acting, he's just a guy that draws comics and likes movies. So if you're looking for the everyman perspective and a little joke in comic form... you're in the right place.

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The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, Maria Bello, John Hannah, Michelle Yeoh, Luke Ford, Isabella Leong

Directed by: Rob Cohen

New Line Cinemas

The Official Site of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Discuss The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor on the boards!

It took seven years and it cost them one leading lady (something I’ll get to a little later) but the Mummy franchise is back! This time in a brand new corner of the world, with a brand new monster and an execution so poor I had to restrain myself more than once from standing up letting the rest of the crowd know how ridiculous it was. (Which happens to be today’s incentive image.) I had high hopes that director Rob Cohen, a newcomer to the franchise but no stranger to a big action scene (xXx, The Fast and the Furious), would inject this third outing with some much-needed adrenaline. My hopes were dashed on the backs of blank performances and cartoon Yetis.

This is especially upsetting because The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is a really cool story. A brand new mummy in a completely different location promised us new threats and a new perspective unimaginable in the context of the first two films. The Mummy 3 takes your expectations of what a mummy movie is supposed to be and adds a whole new spin to it.

This time around the walking dead is Emperor Han from China (played with a lot of teeth-gritting panache by Jet Li) who has mastered elemental magic and longs for immortality. After betraying a witch he is frozen in a terracotta prison where he and his army must await some foolish soul to set him free. Awesome idea, but like the bulk of the movie it falls apart under a sloppy presentation.

Traditionally the Mummy films start of with a brief, informative and exciting flashback to set-up who the Mummy is and what he’s coming back for. The beauty of these flashbacks is that they’re brief recaps so that when the movie’s jump can get a running start once they flash forward. This is way better than a block of text with a desert backdrop. The characters carry more weight if we see their origins first hand. Emperor Han’s flashback on the other hand rambles on far too long, setting a sluggish and uneven pace the movie spends a lot of time trying to shake.

The real trick with a sequel that switches gears as drastically as The Mummy 3 does is reintroducing the same familiar faces (not all of them so familiar, but I’ll get to that in a second) into the new adventure without it being too jarring. Rick and Evelyn O’Connel, on the eve of retirement but still itching for excitement, end up taking one last adventure chaperoning an artefact to Shanghai where there son happens to be excavating his first big find. Two adventures running from a simple life of peace and quiet that awaits them. Another great idea that, even through the rocky performances and adjustments to the casting switch (I’ll get to it), gave me a glimmer of hope that this movie was on the right track. It wasn’t. Sadly, the random references throughout to Rick and Evey’s espionage adventures during the large gap between films sounded a lot more interesting than any of the mystical battles that awaited them here.

It quickly becomes clear that The Mummy 3 is a “passing of the torch” movie from the aging adventuring couple to their son and his mysterious new firecracker of a love interest. Unfortunately Alex and Lin (Jack Ford and Isabella Leong) are the kind of firecrackers that don’t go off. They’re barely sparklers even with all their back flips and gunfire. If the future of the franchise is in their hands, I want nothing to do with it.

The only people, besides Jet Li, who could charm his way out of anything with a roundhouse kick, that are even remotely interesting to watch on screen are the returning cast (You’ll notice I said “returning”. I’ll get to it.) John Hannah brings his reliable comic relief but it’s Fraser that really holds this movie together. He’s a natural. Even with all his unnecessary yelling and goofy one-liners the guy is still a blast to watch on screen and a natural action hero. At one point (mild spoilers here) his character’s life is threatened. I won’t say one way or the other whether he lives or dies because it’s actually one of the most effective cliff hangers of the movie, but even the option of his possible death left me with the chilling realization that if he were to die I’d have no reason to stick around and watch the rest of the movie. Sure, the last third promised some nice visual effects and I was curious to see the three-headed dragon that bounds recklessly through the trailer (kind of a let down?), but when you’re talking about a movie where the current high point was a yak getting air sick then the loss of a capable leading man is kind of a big deal!

It wouldn’t be if Rachel Weisz (the original Evelyn) hadn’t won that damn Oscar. Even though they’re smart enough to make light of the obvious replacement (I told you I’d get to it), Maria Bello is just doing a 2-hour Rachel Weisz impression. I’d just watched The Mummy Returns where Weisz is irresistible and it was impossible to get through 30 seconds of Bello’s forced accent without drawing comparisons. She looked uncomfortable and I had a difficult time getting past the distraction.

This raises a question that’s been debated in the nerdiest corners of the internet for the last week, “Why recast at all?” Theoretically Rick could go on without Evey to help their son against this new threat. In watching The Mummy 3 though I realized that part of the charm of this series is that they’re a family unit. They’re incomplete without each other and if she weren’t there we would have missed her. We would have missed what her character brings to the table. If this were a comic, the punch line would be “Boobs. She brings boobs to the table.”

Once I realized how key the family unit was to The Mummy I found myself forgiving the film some of its smaller imperfections. An effort was made here to remain true to the characters and you have to respect that. Even if it was a failure.

For that reason though, part of me hopes the Mummy films don’t die here, not because it’s a horrible note to go out on, but because there are still adventures to be had! The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor showed us how different a movie like this can be by escaping the standard outline of every mummy film that’s ever been made. Just because it did so poorly doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be nice to see it done right somewhere else. Hopefully by then Evey 2 will have grown on us.

Rating: 4 out of 10 - The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is a good story trapped in a bad presentation. It’s a disappointment to be sure, but the first two films didn’t exactly kick you in the ass with awesome either.

It’s important to remember that these are movies not to take too seriously. They’re fun, loud escapes that you can go hoot and holler at on a Friday night with your friends. I feel like The Mummy 3 doesn’t follow through in every area as you might hope. Gone is the old Hollywood charm and creepy scares that made the first films work, but there are some fun gadgets and really impressive dead vs. dead battles that are certainly notable. And the Yeti fight works a little better than I may have implied earlier. The whole thing just feels incomplete though.

I just can’t see me buying The Mummy 3 on DVD, and that’s coming from someone that owns every movie in this franchise (Including The Scorpion King) with pride. I’m sure I’d be able to take something new from a second viewing but it’s not worth paying fifteen bucks six months from now just to see if I judged the movie to harshly now. I anxiously await its debut on the Sci-Fi channel between Aztec-Croc and… The Scorpion King 2

Short and sweet today gang, just a quick reminder about The Gotham Ninjas Athletic T, in both men's and women's sizes and that the deadline for that pre-order ending August 15th. Also, I wanted to say thanks to Josh over at Game U who had some really nice things to say about Matriculated in his latest “What I’m reading” section. You guys should be reading Game U. Matriculated too, if you’re not. Actually Turtle vs Bunny too. Seriously, get with the program, man…

More soon! For more Mummy talk as well as the really strong Kevin Costner film Swing Vote, be sure to stop by tonight at 10pm to listen to The Triple Feature!

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Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - The Introduction

Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.

First Appearance - Fever Pitch

Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.

First Appearance - V for Vendetta

Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison

Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.

First Appearance - 300

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe

Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.

First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet

Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.

First Appearance - Four Brothers

Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.

First Appearance - Ultraviolet

Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.

First Appearance - The Producers

Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!

Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?

First Appearance - Saw IV

Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V

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