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The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Doomed to spend eternity in suspended animation, China's ruthless Dragon Emperor (Jet Li) and his 10,000 warriors have lain forgotten for eons, entombed in clay. Tricked into awakening the ruler from eternal slumber, Alex O'Connell (Luke Ford) turns to the only people he can think of with the skill and knowledge to combat the undead: his parents, Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn (Maria Bello).

I'm a fan of the Mummy franchise, and I eagerly anticipated watching the third installment, but unfortunately, it falls short of the previous two. The plot is weak, the script is poorly written, and the casting is even worse. Replacing Rachel Weisz as Evelyn is Maria Bello, who can't consistently pull off an English accent, and her chemistry with Brendan Fraser is nonexistent. Furthermore, Luke Ford is much too old to play the O'Connell's son, who should be in his teens, not his late twenties. At least John Hannah is back as Evelyn's brother, but the funny one-liners from the previous films are few and far between.

Being a new release, I expected a stellar video presentation, and for the most part, it delivers. My biggest complaint is the soft focus on longer shots, which look blurry at times, but the close-ups and medium medium-length shots retain the detail expected from HD with razor-sharp images. Deep reds and rich golden hues dominate the color palette, and the black levels are solid and inky. Compression is never is an issue with the AVC encode, but the CGI effects are poorly rendered and are easy to pick out.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is phenomenal with very active surround channels with, discrete effects, and seamless panning from speaker-to-speaker. Dialog is intelligible throughout, and the dynamic track tests the resolve of the LFE channel on many occasions with foundation-shaking bass.

The abundant bonus features include deleted/extended scenes, a bevy of behind-the-scenes featurettes, and a feature commentary with director Rob Cohen. Blu-ray exclusive supplements include Universal's U-Control with PIP that includes cast and crew interviews, a visual commentary with Rob Cohan, and an interactive game. Rounding things out are a couple of BD-Live features for scene sharing and downloading exclusive content.

This is a badly written film that on many occasions insults the audience's intelligence on many occasions. The casting choices are suspect, the action scenes are boring, and the dialog is anything but witty and funny—two of the strongest attributes of the first two films. Rent it—but even that's a stretch.

Release Date: December 16, 2008

Movie: 4/10
Picture: 8/10
Sound: 9/10

Review System

Source
Panasonic DMP-BD55

Display
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Electronics
Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 Amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner

Speakers
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Cables
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector

Acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics

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