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Weekend Forecast for August 1-3, 2008

By Reagen Sulewski

August 1, 2008

And stay off my lawn!

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With the change of the calendar to August, there's a noticeable sea change in the box office. Although it's still summer, blockbuster fatigue starts to set in, and the releases that are designed to be the big ones of the weekend can just feel off, like this week's.

The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is a classic example of the sort of late summer substandard "blockbuster" that I'm talking about. A second sequel that no one was really clamoring for, with numerous cast and locale changes, it's one of those sequels that seems to have been made for no other reason than that the cast was under contract.

Brendan Fraser returns as his knockoff Indiana Jones mummy hunter Rick something or other, with the scene shifting to China, where they apparently had mummies there too, 2,000 years ago. And they apparently knew kung fu, considering this one is played by Jet Li (who retires from action films about as well as Brett Favre retires from football). After awakening his spirit, he attempts to take over the world using his control over the five elements (earth, fire, air, water, and uh...maybe love? They're clearly just making this stuff up as they go) and a whole lot of terracotta warriors. Oooh, clay. Scary!




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Rachel Weisz, who obviously shoved her Oscar in the producers' face, has been replaced as Fraser's wife by Maria Bello, attempting an accent and dyed brunette. Oded Fehr is nowhere to be found, and we suddenly have Fraser's grownup son appear, who ages in soap opera time. Michelle Yeoh is on hand for good measure as our female ass kicker, loading up the cast to critical levels.

Where this film appears to go wrong is that the fun loving spirit of the first two Mummy films seems to be gone, in favor of soulless CGI battles. What made this series stand out in the action-adventure genre was the joy it seemed to have with the concept of fighting undead monsters. Now it feels like they're wildly swinging about for a reason to make this movie. Fraser gives is a go, and he's never not enthusiastic and charming on screen, but as the recent Journey to the Center of the Earth shows, that's not always enough. Despite all these negatives, it's likely to have at least one good weekend based on the franchise name. It's set to challenge for top spot this weekend, and with about $41 million, it could grab it.

It's difficult to tell if Swing Vote arrives the perfect time, or just at the wrong time. Or perhaps, given that it's a political satire starring Kevin Costner, there's no right time for it.

Costner stars as a bit of a reprobate single dad, who's guilted into voting for President by his daughter. Through a series of wacky (and impossible, and possibly unconstitutional, but let's give the movie its premise) events, his vote is swallowed up by a glitch and an exact tie is declared in his state, leaving his re-vote to decide the entire Presidential election.


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